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Remembering Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, which is observed as the National Youth Day in India, is set for celebrations on January 12. The Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897, today has 144 centres across India; all of them are celebrating the day in their different capacities.

The Mumbai centre, has scheduled a day-long event at two different venues (South Mumbai Khar) with various activities. The event is expected to see participation in large numbers, especially, children and young people. The Ramakrishna Mission was established with the aim to achieve spiritual fulfilment, harmony of religions for the betterment of mankind and bridging of the East and the West.

Swami Muktidananda Maharaj, secretary of the Mumbai centre, said, “There are various activities planned along with the launch of the book ‘Youth Power and The Power of Ideas’ written by Swami Bhajananandaji Maharaj. This book is knowledge and value oriented, and is based on Swami Vivekananda’s ideas. It incorporates the wisdom of East and the West.” He hopes that this book can be a life companion and guide for the youth of India. A few weeks ago, the mission conducted competitions around Swami Vivekananda’s ideals in 200 schools across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Around 1,000 prizes will be distributed for the student’s exceptional work in elocution, essay writing, power point presentation, music and artwork, at the Gateway venue, where Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta will be the chief guest.

However, what is interesting is the venue of the book launch — the Gateway of India — as it holds significance in Swami Vivekananda’s life.

It is from the Gateway of India that Vivekananda, aged 30, started on his voyage to the USA to attend the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 where he was representing India and Hinduism. It was here that he made his historic speech in which he made an attempt to explain on the global platform the reasons for disagreements between various sects and religions. Using the allegory of a frog, Vivekananda illustrated: “I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Muslim sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world.”

The Ramakrishna Mission, now a worldwide spiritual movement, conducts extensive social work in rural management, healthcare, betterment of tribal communities and teaching underprivileged students. It also strives towards harmonising the West and the East through Vivekananda’s teachings. This can be seen from the fact that today, the organisation has 39 centres outside of India and houses 1,500 plus monks globally.

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