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5 Indian greats who were born in January

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1.  Swami Vivekananda- January 12, 1863

 

Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Dutta was one of the most admired spiritual leaders of India whose invaluable life and teachings enthralled the whole world. Born in an aristocratic middle-class Bengali family of Calcutta, this blithe spirit garnered the portrait of an inspiring Hindu monk in the world and was one of the main representatives of Neo-Vedanta, a modern interpretation of selected aspects of Hinduism.

Vivekananda manifested the idea of freedom in the pre-independent India, trapped in communal disharmony and sectarianism. He advocated that all sects within Hinduism (and all religions) are different paths to the same goal.

America’s Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 witnessed the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D C, mounting a large portrait of Swami Vivekananda as part of its exhibition ‘Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation’.

In his 39 years of life, Vivekananda suffered from various ailments as a result of tireless service to man and God. His motto was, “One has to die…it is better to wear out than to rust out.” (picture courtesy: indiawires.com)

 

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Karma Yoga: The concept of work and duty, as defined by Swami Vivekananda

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Karma Yoga

Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint, the torch bearer of Hinduism, had passed away but his teachings to humanity still lives on. One such teaching which he repeatedly spoke through out his life is about “Karma Yoga” – the concept of work and duty- the Karma Yoga. Before understanding what constitutes duty, we must first understand what constitutes Karma.

What Is Karma Yoga?

Swami Vivekananda Says:The word Karma is derived from the Sanskrit Kri, to do; all action is Karma.

Technically, this word also means the effects of actions. In connection with metaphysics, it sometimes means the effects, of which our past actions were the causes. But in Karma-Yoga we simply have to do with the word Karma as meaning work.” Therefore, all actions are Karma, from the most trivial actions like brushing the teeth to the highest elevating actions like meditation.

KARMA YOGA refers to all human activities performed with concentration, skill and finesse. The way to liberation is to perform your duties without attachment. In Bhagavad Gita Sri Krishna instructs Arjuna (all of mankind) to do their work most sincerely & with expertise and skill they have masterd, and without any attachment or expectation of rewards.

Types Of Karma Yoga:

  • Niskama Karma– work without attachment, which produces no bondage.
  • Sakama Karma-all work done for some end result, which leads to bondage for the doer.

More on “Karma Yoga” By Swami Vivekananda:

“Thus we are all doing Karma all the time. I am talking to you: that is Karma. You are listening: that is Karma. We breathe: that is Karma. We walk: Karma. Everything we do, physical or mental, is Karma, and it leaves its marks on us.”

What Is YOGA?

This is a much more confusing word. Yoga is generally understood as the activity of breath control or taking different body postures, or the activities mentioned by Pathanjali. But in Gita this word has a much wider and somewhat different meaning.

The word Yoga originated from the root ”YUJ” meaning Joining,tieing together etc. This word is used at innumerable places in the Gita with meanings like appropriateness, joining, expertise, attainment etc. The essential meaning of Yoga is explained by Sri Krishna himself as “Yogah Karmasu Kausalam” (Gita 2.50). Kausalam means a special talent, expertise or skill in doing something. So doing things with expertise is Yoga. A Yogi is one who does something with expert knowledge or skill. (according to speakingtree)

The goal of mankind is knowledge

Therefore, Karma is simple exertion of effort. Naturally the question arises, what is the ultimate goal of such efforts? Why should we perform actions?

Swami Vivekananda answers-

“The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy.Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.”

Therefore, the ultimate goal is not pleasure, not temporary happiness but Knowledge (Atma-Jnana) that liberates one from the limited bondage of the universe.

In another place, he states- “I have already tried to point out that goal. It is freedom as I understand it. Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards that freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom.”

Means are as important as the goal

A question may arise- If the goal of all actions is Liberation, then does it mean there is no importance to the actions that are employed as means to attain the goal? Can any one indulge indiscriminately in any kind of actions?

As if to answer, Swami Vivekananda declared-“One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end” in one of his lectures delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900.

Hence, while doing one’s actions, and while performing one’s duties, one should first and foremost concentrate on the immediate job that is in front of a person. It often happens that one tends to ignore the immediate task at hand, by indulging too much in the goal to be attained.

This will result in a person being shabby at his work. Further, over-indulgence with the idea of attaining the goal will make a person blind towards righteousness or unrighteousness of the means. Such, a person will often end up having results that are quite unfavorable and sometimes opposite of what was intended.

That is why Swami Vivekananda cautions-

“Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.”

Any action that makes us go Godward is duty

As means are very vital to reach the goal, it is necessary to understand, what actions can serve as a means to attain liberation. Swami Vivekananda calls these actions “Duty”.

He says-

“Any action that makes us go Godward is a good action, and is our duty; any action that makes us go downward is evil, and is not our duty. From the subjective standpoint we may see that certain acts have a tendency to exalt and ennoble us, while certain other acts have a tendency to degrade and to brutalize us.”

Therefore, only those actions that constitute duty and lead us to exaltation can be considered as the means to Liberation. These are the duties that Hindu scriptures call “svadharma”. What is right and good for one may not be so for another person. Every person should understand his own inherent nature, his position and stage in life and perform those duties that take him towards Liberation.

Swami Vivekananda himself clarifies this-

“The Bhagavad-Gita frequently alludes to duties dependent upon birth and position in life. Birth and position in life and in society largely determine the mental and moral attitude of individuals towards the various activities of life. It is therefore our duty to do that work which will exalt and ennoble us in accordance with the ideals and activities of the society in which we are born. But it must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries”

But this does not mean that people perform any actions according to their fancies and call it dharma. Though svadharma is different for every person, there are universal principles that are common to everyone.

Swami Vivekananda says-

“There is, however, only one idea of duty which has been universally accepted by all mankind, of all ages and sects and countries, and that has been summed up in a Sanskrit aphorism thus: “Do not injure any being; not injuring any being is virtue, injuring any being is sin.” Therefore, people must decide their own svadharma, not on the basis of their fancies but on the basis of these universal principles and how their application will take them towards liberation.”

Work performed without attachment leads to highest realization. The next question is, how should one perform one’s duty?

Swami Vivekananda says-

“When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. Thus, in the story, the Vyadha (hunter) and the woman did their duty with cheerfulness and wholeheartedness; and the result was that they became illuminated, clearly showing that the right performance of the duties of any station in life, without attachment to results, leads us to the highest realization of the perfection of the soul.”

Therefore, if the performance of duties in an unselfish manner, as an act of worship wherein the actions and its fruits are surrendered to God that leads to liberation. Hence, detached action is the key to liberation.

Swami Vivekananda summarizes this path of Karma-Yoga as-

“Karma-Yoga is the attaining through unselfish work of that freedom which is the goal of all human nature. Every selfish action, therefore, retards our reaching the goal, and every unselfish action takes us towards the goal; that is why the only definition that can be given of morality is this: That which is selfish is immoral, and that which is unselfish is moral.”

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Subhas Chandra Bose Didn’t Die in an Air Crash, Suggests French Report

The French government has always been silent on the issue, adding more significance to the findings

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Subhas Chandra Bose and the mystery around his death
Subhas Chandra Bose with Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian National Congress meeting. Wikimedia
  • Paris based historian, J B P More, through a brief French secret service report came up with a finding that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was alive in 1947
  • The French government has always been silent on the issue
  • The Indian government, supposedly ended the mystery some time ago, by replying to an RTI query

New Delhi, July 17, 2017: Seventy-two years since the report of the death of Subhas Chandra Bose, but the debate regarding the real timing and cause of his demise continues. Whether the plane crash story holds any ground or not, is still a mystery that is yet to be solved.

Three commissions were appointed by the government of India to resolve the deeply rooted mystery. Among them, The Shah Nawaz Committee (1956) and Khosla Commission (1970) concluded that Bose died in an air crash on August 18, 1945, at Taihoku airport in Japanese-occupied Taipei, whereas, the Mukherjee Commission came to the conclusion that he did not die in an air crash. Although the Government rejected the claims of the Mukherjee Commission, this did not refrain the scholars around the world to get deep into the case to find the truth.

Recently, Paris-based historian, J B P More stumbled upon a brief French secret service report dated December 11, 1947, at the National Archives of France. He came up with a finding that Bose didn’t die in an air crash and was still alive in 1947.

Also read: Personal life of Subhas Chandra Bose generates divisive views

“It is not stated in the document that Subhas Chandra Bose died in the air crash in Taiwan. Instead, it is reported that Bose’s present whereabouts were unknown as late as December 1947, which again implies that the French did not buy the theory that Bose died in the air crash on August 18, 1945,” said More, who teaches at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Economiques et Commerciales, Paris.

“But he escaped from Indochina alive and his whereabouts were unknown as late as December 11, 1947, as reported in the secret document. This implies that he was alive somewhere but not dead in 1947,” More added, quoting the report written for the “Haut Commisariat de France for Indochina” SDECE Indochinese Base BCRI No. 41283 csah Ex No. 616, under the title: “Archival Information on Subhas Chandra Bose.”

After Bose took off from Saigon on his way to Tokyo, the British and the Japanese too declared that Bose died in an air crash, but the French government always remained silent on the issue, though Vietnam/Indochina was a French colony during the 1940s.

Also read: 100 files related to Netaji declassified by PM Modi on his birth anniversary

Scholars have expressed their concern regarding the need for the findings in the report to be taken seriously. “Even though the Mukherjee Commission concluded that Bose didn’t die in an air crash, the government didn’t recognize it. The Centre’s idea to ‘declassify’ secret files on Bose may not help, But findings like this have significance,” said Kingshuk Nag, a noted journalist and author of the book “Netaji: Living Dangerously.”

Only some time ago, The Ministry of Home Affairs, India, supposedly ended the mystery by replying to a Right To Information query filed by Sayak Sen. MHA reportedly said: “After considering the reports of Shahnawaz Committee, Justice GD Khosla Commission and Justice Mukherjee Commission of Enquiry, the Government has come to the conclusion that Netaji has died in plane crash in 1945.”

Now, Paris-based historian J B P More, with his findings, seems to have given a new shape to this enigma.

– prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Ramakrishna Center in South Africa offers Classes on Hinduism to Children, also teaches about Valuable Life Skills

Age appropriate study materials have been designed for the students, which range from coloring, learning to studying about Ramayana, Hindu scriptures, philosophy

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Ramakrishna, Wikimedia

South Africa, March 7, 2017: Following the philosophy of Vivekananda, ” Education is not just the amount of information put into your head which riots in there; undigested all your life. We must have life-building, character-making assimilation of ideas”, classes on Hinduism are offered by Ramakrishna Center in South Africa, Ladysmith Sub-Centre, to children from pre-primary to 12th grade, every Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.

Classes are held in Ramakrishna Shrine in Agra Road. These classes not only impart knowledge about Hinduism but also instil life skill values in the students for their well-rounded development, mentioned ladysmithgazette.co.za website.

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Age appropriate study materials have been designed for the students, which range from coloring, learning to studying about Ramayana, Hindu scriptures, philosophy.

Light meals are served to the students after every class. Examinations are held at the end of every academic year and certificates are handed out at special awards ceremony and annually Northern KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Cultural Festival is held where students participate in various activities such as sketching, dancing, singing, according to PTI report.

– prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself