(Published in journal Sadhana, January 22, 1994)
Excerpts from the book ‘Social Harmony’ by Narendra Modi
If we look at the politics of our country in the five decades post – independence, we will see that rulers from the higher castes created their own different groups and enjoyed power by exploiting people. This has changed slightly now. Some of the forerunners from each caste are exploiting people from their own castes for their personal benefits and ensuring that the shack les of caste distinction stay rigid. This means that caste distinctions are not re moved and exploitation does not come to an end; only the persons responsible for the exploitation have changed.
This cannot be the solution to the problem. Hence, Swami Vivekananda predicted: “Over the ages, the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas have been in power. It is now time for the lower castes to come to administrative power and nobody will be able to thwart it.
In the context of the nation’s character and with a view to pointing the right direction for solving the problem, Swami Vivekananda says: “If we can create a state, where the knowledge of the ages comes from the Brahmins, the civility of the ages comes from the Kshatriyas, the distribution of time from the Vaishyas and the ideal of equality from the Shudras, this combination will eradicate all the evils of every age and result into a model state ”.
As a result of being under slavery, our country and its people have also become mental slaves; the feeling of self – respect had disappeared. When our social reformers and our thinkers have to worry only about social evils, it definitely points to a defect in our fundamental thinking.
We live in the illusion that our systems, traditions, culture and religion are at the root of all disease; only the Western countries are the best; and we will not be able to progress until we come out of our traditional culture. Such depressing thoughts have become a way of life.
Even today, there are many people with the mentality of slavery. Swami Vivekananda says about the mental weaknesses in society: “The boat of our nation has helped many souls to cross the immense sea of life. It has been floating in the ocean of the world since centuries, and it has helped many lives to reach fulfilment.
Today perhaps this boat has been a little damaged by your own fault, and developed a small leak. Does that mean that the boat is guilty?
It is right to blame the national boat which has served its people better than any other nation? If there is a leak in the boat of our nation and our society, we are sitting in it and hence we have to work hard to plug the leak irrespective of whether we are successful in doing so or not. If we are unable to plug the leak, we should die trying.
We should not utter a single word against our own society. We are sinking, our boat is sinking.
I have come to sit with you. If we have to sink, we will sink together. But not a single curse or bad word should be uttered from our mouths.
Concern about the Progress of the Sup pressed Class Swami Vivekananda was not a narrow – minded monk who only focused on spiritual progress.
Every suggestion of his was concerned with the upliftment of the deprived, the backward, the tyrannized, persecuted and downtrodden people.
He had presented a new concept of the poor people to society and that illustrated the excellence of his thought processes.
Unlike the vote hungry politicians of the present, who only make false promises to the down trodden, he was a high-order thinker who showed the best direction for the bright future of India.
He originated the development of backward classes in the real sense. He was concerned about the last person from the lowest strata of the society.
He said: “Our resolution is to provide the highest prosperity even to the lowest person, and in doing so, to accept whatever comes our way.” For Swami Vivekananda, the progress of the downtrodden and persecuted was more important than salvation.
Swami Vivekananda, who was devoted to the Vedant, was unhappy with social evils and firmly determined to eradicate them from society. He strongly believed that a harmonious society is the first step towards the welfare of mankind.
Swami Vivekananda chose the path of unity for achieving the highest goal. He worked very hard to build the bridge of emotion that would reach even the last person of the society. According to him, until and unless a heartfelt bond is creed with the entire society, all efforts in this direction were in vain.
He felt that the best way to solve all the problems is to create a harmonious society which has a feeling of belonging to each other, sensitivity for the society and close feelings for every person of the society. To achieve social harmony and awaken the innate energy of India, he said: “Do not forget that you have ties of blood with people of the lower castes, the unenlightened, the sweepers and the cobblers.
They are your brothers. Be fearless, strong and proud of being an Indian. Proclaim with pride that you are an Indian and that every Indian is your brother. Announce that every Indian – whether illiterate, poor, Brahmin or backward – is my brother.
Even if you have only a loincloth on your body, declare that every Indian is my brother, everything Indian is my life, every Indian God and Goddess is my Lord. The only solution for the welfare of the nation is to be free from social evils and adopt a harmonious way of life.
There should be closeness instead of rage. We must strengthen the societies instead of hankering after personal rights. We must care for the entire mankind and not only ourselves. A harmonious society will come into existence only on the basis of love and good feelings towards others.
Today when elements with vested interests are turning society into a battlefield, let us decide: Leave the battle, Let us go towards harmony. We don’t want to be soldiers in battle, Let us become servants of harmony.