Learn, Unlearn, Re-learn: Lessons to be learnt from Swami Vivekananda

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Swami Vivekananda mesmerized everyone when he exhorted, “My brothers and sisters of America” at the World Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. It was a landmark speech. The unmatched oratorical skills and the encyclopedic range of knowledge of the spiritual leader put the Indian religion on the world map. He was a philosopher and thinker par excellence who made his strong presence felt on the world platform. No wonder, his teachings reverberate still and will continue to in the times to come, given the timelessness of their utility.

People around the globe accept and admire the ideals of Swamiji as they vividly reflect his progressive thinking and modern bent of mind alongside age-old religious values which strike the right chord with those who care to change their current state of affairs towards betterment and are willing to go an extra mile to grasp in the key ideals. Swamiji’s philosophical musings offer some precious life lessons which are bound to make us rediscover ourselves if we choose to. The wisdom that they carry, make them unsurmountable;

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves”: This principle of self-belief is the be-all and end-all of our entire being. It is pivotal to how you perceive the world around you and how you connect, keeping your sense of being intact and all-powerful. It is required right off the bat to acknowledge the power of self-belief that carries the enormous power of shaping and reshaping your life.

“Anything that makes weak – physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject it as poison”: Strength begets strength. You need to identify the phenomenon that weakens your soul and takes you down the hill. It is crucial indeed to assess and reassess your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual status, time and again. This would lead to nurturing the things that matter and weeding out the rest.

“Arise, awake, stop not till the goal is reached”: Commitment to the goals is predominantly important in life. It would be better to journal them on a regular basis and subsequently get into action mode. Planning is important and so is the execution. Fine-tuning the two is the key. There is limitless joy in perseverance. Get Set Go!

“The fire that warms us can also consume us; it is not the fault of the fire”: Because it is all about discretion, discipline and common sense- the triumvirate makes us sagacious. In addition, skilling and upskilling lead to skilled usage of resources and negate all casualties whatsoever, quite literally.

“Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes”: There lies enormous power in acceptance. Once you accept what comes your way, staying calm and composed, you can always come up with a bundle of solutions to untie the knotty problems. Let them be colossal and gigantic, your patience will prove to be a game-changer.

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful”: This life lesson by Swamiji is undeniably a sure-shot success mantra. It gives you a new dimension and broadens your horizon. This thought, because of its inherent purity, has the power to uplift even the lowliest souls and take them to a higher plane where selflessness remains the biggest virtue that determines every road taken and every bend forsaken.

“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path”: Problems are part and parcel of our journey. They are bound to come. When they come and you tackle them with full force, you know you are growing in the right direction. Your dexterity in the art of solving the puzzles makes you what you are finally. So, let them come! Keep the weaponry ready and know when to fire the salvo.

“Learn Everything that is Good from Others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others”: Originality is the key. Learning and evolving is a must-do but not at the cost of your distinct identity. Maintain your individuality and cherish it with full vigour. It is for you to protect yourself from being dissolved and diminished. Stay afloat. At the same time welcome the positive influences coming in from every direction. Moreover, learn precious life lessons by paying attention to the minutest detail. The wealth of ideas abound. Choose wisely.

“Talk to yourself once in a day, otherwise you may miss meeting an intelligent person in this world”: Know thyself! It is important to talk to yourself as it allows you to reinvent through inner workings. Your happiness depends to a large extent on the rapport that you share with your own self. Be kind to yourself when need be and be a hard-task-master when it’s time to repair and rectify. In addition, be your best friend and the best counsellor because what comes from within hardly goes amiss.

“Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything”: Be ready to pay the price for your stance! Being truthful is the most recommended thing to do. There might be repercussions but so be it. Truthfulness is accompanied by its own set of challenges. You got to deal with it, tooth and nail. Truth cannot and should not be compromised, under all circumstances. Stay true to your own self, to begin with. One can lie to the world but not to one’s own self. Truthfulness is a source of power that forever burns bright. So just be!

To sum it all up, learning is a life-long process. The more you learn, the more you grow. By learning the philosophical nuggets of Swami Vivekanand, you can improve the quality of your life. What it takes is the readiness to learn and the willingness to absorb. Let us make our lives more meaningful by being a better version of our-self. Other things can wait.

Prof. (Dr.) Simmi Gurwara

Additional Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)

Professor of English

Convener, Swami Vivekanand Chair

Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, Meerut


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