The great yogi Swami Vivekananda’s direct and simple exposition of complex spiritual texts made him most popular and revered among the common people as well as the elite. The revolutionary sage’s interpretation and teachings on the Vedas helped the people in India and the West understand one of the oldest sacred texts in the world.

Vivekananda believed: “All that is called knowledge is in the Vedas. Every word is sacred and eternal, eternal as the soul, without beginning and without end.”

He had once rued that humankind had the great doctrine of Vedanta but lacked the power to put it into practice. Vivekananda’s guru Sri Ramakrishna taught him how “The Vedanta of the forest can be brought to human habitation and be applied in practice to the work-a-day world.” Following his master’s teachings, Vivekananda breathed and lived Vedanta.

As much as he loved God, Vivekananda loved the poor, whose service and welfare he considered his sacred duty. In fact, “It is in the poor masses of India that he had found the Shiva that he was to serve for the rest of his life,” Chaturvedi Badrinath writes in his book, Swami Vivekananda: The Living Vedanta.

Badrinath says: “Vivekananda had recognised in himself two equally powerful but opposite forces at work, one demanding energetic action on behalf of the down-trodden masses of India, and the other seeking that state of being in which there is the limitless power of floating in sat-chit-ananda ― alone. Self-divided thus, he saw that the one could be achieved only at the expense of the other.”

Vivekananda’s life was ruled by love ― for the poor, God, and his disciples. His first direct monastic disciple, Swami Sadananda said there was only one word to describe Vivekananda ― love, love, love!

Indeed, many of those who knew Vivekananda closely described him by that one word ‘love.’ “And it is by that ‘love’, that he would best describe the Vedanta, the living Vedanta,” said Badrinath.

While other monks renounced family, Vivekananda’s perception of sanyasa was radically different.  His love for his mother never diminished and proved the “truth that love is the very foundation of renunciation,” whether it’s love for the poor, God or the family.

For Vivekananda, love was not maya or illusion. In fact, the great sage and guru touched the hearts and souls of countless people from India and the West by that very “maya of love.”

As Vivekananda said: “Madness of love, and yet in it no bondage. Why, this is the very essence of our Vedanta.” He went to the West to teach them, “all love is freedom and life, all hatred is bondage and death.”

Oswald Pereira

Vivekananda taught India and the world the universal gospel of Vedanta as love. His Vedanta is the universal foundation of what religion truly is, beyond its Semitic meanings.

His Vedanta was the living Vedanta, to be realised in the oneness of all life, not in theory alone but in daily practice, in the living of relationships,” Badrinath said. Vivekananda believed that “the essence of Vedanta is that there is but one Being and that every soul is that Being in full, not a part of that Being.”

Indian Mirror in a writeup on January 21, 1897, said, “Vendatism, as preached and inculcated by Swami Vivekananda, is the bridge of love, which is to extend from the East right away to the West, and make the two one in heart, one in spirit and one in faith.”

Badrinath added, “Sri Ramakrishna had pronounced Swami Vivekananda not only as a nitya-siddha, ‘ever-perfect,’ ‘ever-free,’ but also an incarnation of Narayana, ‘God’, who had come to serve the wretched and the miserable.”

Indeed, Swami Vivekananda’s universal gospel of Vedanta as love, may be the panacea for religious, communal and regional conflicts in India and the world over.

Oswald Pereira, a senior journalist, has also written eight books, including The Newsroom Mafia, Chaddi Buddies, The Krishna-Christ Connexion, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life and Crime Patrol: The Most Thrilling Stories. Oswald is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, and practises Kriya Yoga.

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