YOUTH! ARISE, AWAKE
To cherish high ideals, to reach great heights in life, to come out with flying colours in all one’s endeavours, to attain the desired goal, even after facing mighty obstacles, is the ambition of every youth. This ambition is really wonderful, marvellous, a sign of real youth, without that life is meaningless, useless and monotonous. Youth must always look forward and should never be satisfied with anything less than what they want to achieve in life.
Stagnant life is a sign of death. “Go forward, go forward, go forward – never look back even for a moment.” These are the encouraging words of great ones. “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached!” May these inspiring words Swami Vivekananda ring in the minds of our youth day and night. Succeed you must. Nothing to depair, Nothing to lower your spirit, you have within you that power, that infinite strength to reach your goal, to achieve everything, infinite strength. Awake to rise, rise to long, long to achieve, achieve to fulfill. Always remember the spirited words of Swami Vivekanand: “Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny.”
ii) Who is a Real Youth?
Physical growth alone is not a sign of real youth. There are hundreds and thousands of youth. There are hundreds and thousands of such youth, but their faces do not reflect the qualities that every youth should possess. Will you call him a youth who is chickenhearted, with a pale and long face, sickly in appearance, indisciplined senses, restless mind, dull intellect and an incarnation of laziness? Never, never! We want the youth of Swami Vivekananda’s dream. He said, “Arise, awake, for your country needs this tremendous sacrifice. It is the young men that will do it. The young, the energetic, the strong, the well-built, the intellectual, for them is the task. ” Development of these qualities will certainly transform our so-called youth into real youth, then alone will they be able to break all barriers that hamper their progress. Swami Vivekananda was confident about such transformation when he said, ” My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation: out of them will come my workers. They will work the whole problem, like lions.”
Swami Vivekananda wanted our youth to be like lions. He himself was a lion and came to this world to transform everyone into lions. The effect of his thunderbolt-like words was such that many youths who fought for the country’s freedom were transformed into real lions; to mention a few names – Subhash Chandra Bose, Lokamanya Tilak, Aurobindo, Sister Nivedita, Mahatma Gandhi – who made India free. His only mission in life was to awaken the youth of this country to bring back the lost glory of our motherland. His life and message are a perennial source of inspiration to our modern youth. This is not a mere exaggeration but the testimony of facts. His biographers did not fail to notice the youthful qualities of young Narendranath (later, Vivekananda): ” His mind filled with a hundred soaring visions, heart soaked in affection, intellect razor-sharp, courage boundless, inventive genius astounding, working capacity unreckoned, and enthusiasm irrepressible – Naren was peerless even from childhood. Above all was his spontaneous inclination towards God.”
These shining qualities made Vivekananda a renowned figure. The world recognized him as a great, inspiring personality when he appeared as a delegate at the famous Parliament of Religions held in 1893 at Chicago. These qualities of young Narendranath convinced the Government of India to announce his birthday, i.e. 12th January, as the National Youth Day.
iii) True Education:
Are our modern youth of India anywhere near this ideal youth, Narendranath? It is for the youth to rebuild our nation. Alas, they are not able even to build their own character! How will they be able to build a new India? If they cannot solve their own problems of the nation? The minds of our modern youth are becoming storehouses of multiple complexes, such as sex complex, fear complex, etc. All such negative emotions are making their lives a playground for all types of vices. They are unable to get out of the clutches f these terrible demons. Unless they are determined to escape from these vices, there is no hope for them or for the country. To create such youth, who will bring glory to our motherland, we have to train them in the right direction. It is high time we exposed our youth to positive methods of learning. Swami Vivekananda has already suggested the type of education that our youth need today. He said, “We want that education by which character is formed, the strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”
iv) Strength is Life:
“Strength is life, weakness is death.”
In this changing scenario, modern youth are facing enormous problems. No one has sympathy for them. Everyone wants them to be the best in every field. Pressure pressurize them to get good ranks, teachers expect the best performance; employers demand skilled and experienced hands, not to speak of cutthroat competition to secure jobs; above all, lack of parental love and proper understanding are causing perversions in the minds of modern youth, resulting in depression, trauma, hatred, disobedience, fear complex, frustration, and even psychological disorders and suicides. On the other hand, electronic media is doing a lot of harm by not only killing their but also by contaminating their minds with vulgarity and obscenity.
To face these challenges it is obvious that our youth need to equip themselves with superhuman strength. Modern educational system and book learning alone is not going to help them in solving problems. They will have to discover that strength within themselves. Let us have faith in the words of Swami Vivekananda: “All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak. Stand up and express the divinity within you.”
Swami Vivekananda is the architect of modern India. To acquire firsthand knowledge of the Indian people, he went round the whole country as a wandering monk. He was shocked to see everywhere emaciated and physically weak youth. What was his advice to them? “First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterward. Be strong, my young friends: that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are my bold words, but I have to say them, for I love you. 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 strong blood in you.”
What are we doing to make our youth strong? It is not just enough to provide them with food, Shelter, clothing to provide them with food, shelter, clothing, and education. What is more important is to prepare them for the battle of life through a positive outlook and practical wisdom. From the morning till the evening students are confined either to classrooms or to houses. They don’t have time to play or exercise. Attending coaching classes, preparing for competitive exams, entrance exams, homework and spending time sitting before television and computers – that is their daily routine. Unfortunately, parents also don’t encourage them to spend some time on playgrounds: for them, it is a waste of time. This sedentary lifestyle is causing health hazards to many of our youth. India needs heroic sons and daughters and not just goody-goody bookworms. What made Sardar Patel a great leader and the iron man of India? His biographer writes, ” At school, Vallabhbhai was more fond of games than of books. He had no great love of study and preferred to learn from men with whom he mixed freely. He observed them closely and saw the impact of foreign influences on the old traditions and culture of the country. The town people admired the British, who had become masters of the world. They aped their manners. their dress and their way of living. Vallabhbhai wondered what their source of strength was. It was said that they devoted much time to sports and games which developed endurance, team-spirit, and discipline. Somebody had said that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. Young Vallabh became fond of sport and devoted all his spare time to it.”
Practical wisdom and physical and mental strength made young Vallabhbhai a wonderful leader, a Sardar in the true sense, who was ever ready to face challenges and difficulties with courage and boldness. When we come across such great characters, we instantly remember the inspiring words of the great hero, Swami Vivekananda. He said, ” What our country now needs are muscles of iron and nerves of steel, gigantic wills Which nothing can resist, which can penetrate into the mysteries and the secrets of the universe, and will accomplish their purpose in any fashion, even if it means going down to the bottom of the ocean and meeting death face to face,”
v) The strength of Character:
“Neither money pays, Nor name, nor fame, nor learning; it is CHARACTER that can cleave through adamantine walls of difficulties.”
– Swami Vivekananda
There is a popular saying,” If wealth is lost nothing is lost if health is lost something is lost, but if the character is lost everything is lost”, But today what we see in society is quite the contrary. Money is playing a very dominant role in the present society. People are prepared to do anything for money, they can go any extent, they are least bothered about the means. They are busy amassing wealth even at the cost of others. Their hearts are dead. They are living corpses. They have no compassion, love or sympathy for other human beings. Adulteration, Cheating, bribery, theft, scams, scandals, dowry harassment, robbery, exploitation are rampant everywhere. Surprisingly, It is perpetuated by the so-called educated people. In the modern educational system, only the intellect is being developed but there is no scope making people more and more selfish and greedy. Swami Vivekananda observed this when he said. ” Bring light to the ignorant, and more light to the educated, for the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous.”
In the midst of chaos and confusion, here and there we come across a few great characters who have left their marks through their wonderful contribution. Among such we have the most celebrated personality, Sir Moksha Gundam Vishveswaraiah, a great engineer produced by India in the last century. He is a bright example to our youth. He lived for 102 years and was full of enthusiasm, Zeal, and energy, almost till the end of his life. His dedication, sincerity, hard work, skills, integration, honesty, the spirit of service, patriotism, above all his undaunted courage and disciplined life made him a unique personality. He was awarded the highest civilian award. ‘Bharat Ratna’, for his great contribution to our motherland. His biographer writes, “He was an unblemished pure life. No blemish could he would use Government vehicle, otherwise his own car. He never used Government paper and stationery for personal and nonofficial correspondence. When in doubt, whether it was Government paper or not, he would examine in bright light to detect the embossed mark, ‘Government Stationery.’ When he was asked about the eradication of poverty, he said, ‘poverty is not natural. It is unnatural. It is inefficiency, Laziness; want of the spirit of enterprise is the real causes of poverty.”
Gandhiji’s slogan was ‘Industrialise and perish’, whereas Sir Vishveswaraiah’s slogan was ‘Industrialise or perish.’ Both were right: one was emphasizing human values, the other material prosperity. Swami Vivekananda came to harmonize these two apparently contradictory views. He encouraged Sir Jamshedji Tata to establish heavy industries in India and asked Mysore Maharaja to help Jamshedji by way of providing land and infrastructure for the same. Swamiji wanted India to be great in every field, but not at the cost of long-cherished values and culture. He was sure that unless we combine both there cannot be real progress. The education which provides us both these aspects was real education, according to him. He said, “What we want are Western science coupled with Vedanta, Brahmacharya as the guiding motto, and also shraddha and faith in one’s own self,”
Unfortunately, after independence, we are mostly concentrating on only one aspect, that is, western science; the other one is completely neglected. In the name of secularism, we have carefully avoided long-cherished values which our ancestors lived for and practiced. Due to the lack of character energy, we have converted human beings into machines. Every tear we are manufacturing thousands of Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Managers, Administrators but not real human beings. Human values such as love, compassion, peace, happiness, truthfulness, honesty, sincerity, Contentment, nonviolence, patriotism, fearlessness, confidence, courage, selfishness, violence, self-indulgence,etc., which has created a vacuum in the hearts of people. We have never seen in the history of India such degradation of human values.