Swami Vivekananda as a contributor in Social Work

Topics: Swami Vivekananda, Sociology, Hinduism Pages: 10 (1182 words) Published: February 1, 2015
Swami Vivekananda as a
contributor in Social Work in India
Brajesh Kumar
M.A. Social Work in Child Rights



Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life
as Narendranath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata. His father Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.



First, in modern India, it was Vivekananda who first emphasized that our everyday lives would become more meaningful only when spiritualized. It was in this spirituality that he re-discovered, as it were, India's message to herself and to the world. For Vivekananda, this spiritual self-realization led to people more fully realizing their own potentialities. Especially in the context of a colonized society like that of 19th century India, this was tantamount to men and women locating greater self-belief in themselves.

Second, even though the Swami rejected political praxis and West inspired social and religious reforms, his essential message was the empowerment of the people: through education, collective thought and action but above all, realizing he underlying unity of all human existence. In the Hindu tradition, ascetic detachment from the world had been criticized even before Vivekananda but it was he who first actively joined the idea of individual renunciation to committed social service. In this sense, he gave new meaning or signification to the very idea and institution of sanyas. 3


Third, there is the love that Vivekananda consistently exhibited for the socially marginalized and oppressed. He could be equally at home in poor homes and princely quarters, be sumptuously hosted by the rich and the powerful and also share the coarse chapatti of a scavenger or share the hookah with a cobbler. It is he, who even before Gandhi, reinvented and effectively used the older religious idiom of God especially residing in the lowly and the poor (daridranarayan).

Vivekananda anticipates in yet another aspect and that lies in his prioritizing social amelioration to political work. He insisted on first closely acquainting himself with the people of India before he launching any schemes of social or political work. Through this he hoped to understand pressing contemporary problems, to energize a nascent nationhood and to restore to man, his innate dignity and self-confidence. 'Man-making, as it has been often said, was Vivekananda's first mission.



There are some contemporary relevance inasmuch as the Swami's project absolves the state from invariably taking the first step towards bringing education, enlightenment and progress to the common man. In his perception, the movement had to originate in the common people and benefit such themselves. Vivekananda always insisted on grass-roots reforms, not agendas imposed from above of which the common man had little or no understanding.

It was the Swami's consistent desire to bring back India's pride of place in the assembly of nations, as a civilization which, notwithstanding momentous historical changes, had yet retained subterranean threads of commonness and unity. At the same time, Vivekananda fully believed in universality, cosmopolitanism and compassion. As he saw it, mutual kindness and compassion between man and man was more important than that coming from a distant God



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