National Youth Day!

By Shweta Siddha-Deshmukh - January 12, 2018


“My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the service of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.” – Swami Vivekananda

January 12th is celebrated as National Youth Day in India on the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda's lectures and writings have inspired people worldwide and this day aims to motivate the youths of the country through the way of his life and ideas. The Government of India had quoted, “The philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth.”

Swami Vivekananda was a monk, the disciple of Sri. Ramakrishna and the founder of Ramakrishna mission. He had travelled extensively and played an important role in introducing Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world. He is a youth icon and influenced number of youths worldwide. For today’s youth facing challenging times, the thoughts and teachings of Swamiji will be very relevant!

His ideas for meaningful life:

Physical Quest: The youth can lead a successful life only when they are physically fit.

Social Quest: He wanted the young to undertake social activities for the betterment of society and individual growth.

Intellectual Quest: He advocated intellectual quest like running schools, colleges and awareness and empowerment programs.

Spiritual Quest: Today’s youth have material success but face isolation, depression and more. They should go for a spiritual quest and achieve greater goals.

Staying fit with the changing times and lifestyles is one of the most challenging tasks for today’s young generation. This physical and spiritual quest can be achieved through Yoga! Swami Vivekananda described Yoga as a practice that joins human to “reality” or “God”. Some of his thoughts on yoga are shared below:

Yoga is the method to understand reality

From Complete Works of Swami VivekanandaNotes from Lectures and Discourses[Source]

The ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and end of all religions, is but one—re-union with God, or, what amounts to the same, with the divinity which is every man's true nature. But while the aim is one, the method of attaining may vary with the different temperaments of men. 

Both the goal and the methods employed for reaching it are called Yoga, a word derived from the same Sanskrit root as the English "yoke", meaning "to join", to join us to our reality, God. There are various such Yogas, or methods of union—but the chief ones are—Karma-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Râja-Yoga, and Jnâna-Yoga.

Every man must develop according to his own nature. As every science has its methods, so has every religion. The methods of attaining the end of religion are called Yoga by us, and the different forms of Yoga that we teach, are adapted to the different natures and temperaments of men. We classify them in the following way, under four heads: 

  1. Karma-Yoga: The manner in which a man realizes his own divinity through works and duty.
  2. Bhakti-Yoga: The realization of the divinity through devotion to, and love of, a Personal God.
  3. Raja-Yoga: The realization of the divinity through the control of mind.
  4. Jnana-Yoga: The realization of a man's own divinity through knowledge.

These are all different roads leading to the same centre - God.

Utility of Yoga

From Complete Works, Volume II, The Powers of the Mind[Source]

The utility of this science (Yoga) is to bring out the perfect man, and not let him wait and wait for ages, just a plaything in the hands of the physical world, like a log of drift-wood carried from wave to wave and tossing about in the ocean. This science wants you to be strong, to take the work in your own hand, instead of leaving it in the hands of nature, and get beyond this little life. That is the great idea.

“Our young men must be strong. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman when your body stands firm upon your feet, and you feel yourselves as men.” –Swami Vivekananda