National Youth Day has been celebrated every year on Swami Vivekananda’s birthday since 1984. It is an occasion to acknowledge and honour his teachings.
Swami Vivekananda’s ideas of rationality make him popular among the youth. He used to believe that education is the only tool to empower people. He felt that educating the youth will help in nation-building.
“We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”
This is just one of the many inspirational quotes by Swami Vivekananda. The teachings of Swami Vivekananda inspire us to strive for success and aspire for a more meaningful life.
On this auspicious day of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti, we share with you a few anecdotes from the life of Swami Vivekananda and the lessons we can learn from it.
Once, Swami Vivekananda, known as Narendranath Dutta during his younger days, was talking to his classmates during recess. After the recess, the students went back to their classrooms and the teachers resumed their lessons. However, Narendra continued to whisper to his classmates. All of them were engrossed in Narendra’s story and did not pay attention to what the teacher was saying. Annoyed, the teacher asked the students to repeat what he had just said.
None of them except Narendra could answer. This was because of young Narendra’s remarkable quality of listening to his teacher even while he was talking with his friends.
The teacher then asked the students, “Who was whispering?” Everyone pointed their finger at Narendra but the teacher refused to believe it.
To punish the students, the teacher asked all of them, except Narendra, to stand up on the bench. But, Narendra also stood up on the bench with his classmates. When the teacher asked him to sit down, he said, “Sir, it was I who was talking, so I should also stand up.”
Young Narendra could have escaped punishment as he had answered the question correctly. However, he chose to tell the truth and face the consequences of his actions. We learn that being honest and true to ourselves and others, despite what the outcome might be, is an important part of being a successful individual.
Once, while in the USA, Vivekananda was watching a few boys trying to shoot eggshells floating on the river. But they missed each time. So, Vivekananda took the gun and shot all the shells, one by one. Astonished by the feat, the boys asked Vivekananda how he could do this. And Vivekananda said, “Concentrate and focus on whatever you are doing. If you are shooting, you should only focus on the target. If you are learning your lessons, concentrate only on the lesson.”
The ability to focus on a task is a skill that leads to success. No matter how tough a task is, if you put your mind to it, you will complete it successfully. As Vivekananda famously said, “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
Once, Vivekananda had to spend some time in a railway station in Rajasthan. During that time, a lot of people came to see him and listen to his message, but none of them offered him anything to eat or drink. It was only on the third day that a cobbler hesitantly approached him and offered him some baked bread. Vivekananda gladly accepted the food and thanked the cobbler.
However, some individuals objected to Vivekananda accepting food from a cobbler, who was considered untouchable (these were days where caste discrimination was widespread). To this, Vivekananda said, “You claim to be gentlemen and boast of your high caste. But, in the past three days, none of you cared to inquire if I had taken any food. And all of you condemn this man as untouchable. How could you overlook the kindness he has shown and despise him?”
The character of a person is defined by his actions and not by his caste, religion, or economic status. Vivekananda believed that “the greatest religion is to be true to your own nature.”
Once in Varanasi, as Vivekananda came out of a temple, he was surrounded by many monkeys. To avoid them, Vivekananda started running and the monkeys started chasing him. On seeing this, an old woman told Vivekananda to stop and face the monkeys. Following the advice, he stopped and turned around to face the monkeys. And, the monkeys ran away.
Many years later Vivekananda said, “If you ever feel afraid of anything, always turn around and face it. Never think of running away.”
Problems follow us wherever we go and whatever we do. Running away never solves any problems. So, face the troubles and deal with them. Vivekananda teaches us to face the hurdles with courage, whether in school or personal life and deal with them instead of putting them off for later.
Vivekananda was a devoted disciple of Sree Ramakrishna Paramhansa, but he didn’t blindly believe his guru’s teachings. He always debated and questioned Ramakrishna to truly understand the meaning behind his philosophies.
Once Ramakrishna told Vivekananda that he was allergic to money and couldn’t bear its touch. So, one day Vivekananda placed a coin under his guru’s mattress to test if he was truly allergic to money.
Soon Ramakrishna became restless and started complaining of stinging pain. He removed the mattress and saw the coin and asked who put it there. When Vivekananda told him it was he who put the coin there, Ramakrishna said, “Naren, never trust anything blindly. Test it.”
No matter how great the teacher or how respected the source, do not take anything at face value. Study and test the claims made by others before you accept them as the truth.
Swami Vivekananda survived through trying times to become one of the greatest youth icons the world has ever seen. We hope you found these anecdotes from his life interesting.
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Raza has been writing since 2008, be it fiction, poetry, or articles on science, politics, and history. He believes that words can change the world, and he uses them to inspire and empower people through his writing. When he is not working, he is watching nature documentaries or playing with his cats.
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