Swami Vivekananda – India’s youth icon

| Dr. Samskrati Gulvady Shenoy

Tesla cars. Who hasn’t heard about them? They are trending globally. The company is named after Nikola Tesla the electrical engineer par excellence who wrote thus about the use of akasha and prana in 1907 in an article titled ‘Man’s greatest achievement’ which was published posthumously:

Long ago…[mankind] recognized that all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the Akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never ending cycles all things and phenomena. The primary substance, thrown into infinitesimal whirls of prodigious velocity, becomes gross matter; the force subsiding, the motion ceases and matter disappears, reverting to the primary substance.

Swami Vivekananda

But hey, why are we discussing about Tesla cars and engineer Nikola Tesla in this article on Swami Vivekananda?

During his tour of America in 1896, Vivekananda was introduced to Tesla and their discussion on physics, electromagnetic fields and Vedanta philosophy led to creation of a new knowledge which formed the basis of Tesla’s understanding of the cosmos and akashic field.   

Cut to the present. It is the 159th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, celebrated as National Youth Day in India. It’s a day to get inspired, to make new resolutions and fulfill them too. Ever wondered why is he so relevant till date? Why do we consider him as a youth icon, a champion, a crusader, a hero?

Swami Vivekananda can be considered as a symphony of many melodies – a visionary, a scholar, a poet, an orator, a mystic, a yogi, a nation-maker, a world-builder, a patriot, a worthy disciple, a compassionate master, a divine dreamer, a man of action and more importantly a strong believer in the power of youth. Swamiji’s soul-stirring messages are in no way orthodox or old-fashioned, but modern, rational and profound – no wonder he is still relevant. Self-reliance, skillfulness, perseverance, buoyancy, and an appetite for self- development – these were his mantras to the youth.

Youth! Arise, Awake and know your strength

Swami Vivekananda penned these lines in his thoughts on “Be fearless”:

“Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvelous work.

The moment you fear, you are a nobody.

It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world.

It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions.

It is fear that is the cause of our woes,

and it is fearlessness that brings heaven even in a moment. Therefore,


These words of Swami Vivekananda inspire the youth to aspire and cherish high ideals, to reach great heights in life, to come out in flying colours in all endeavors and to attain the desired goal in spite of obstacles. Life would be pointless, dull and boring without ambition. Swamiji reiterated the concept of success where one does not lower their spirits (josh), the power within, that infinite strength to reach the goal, and to achieve all that is wished. And to do so, the youth must put efforts to know their strengths, hidden strengths, and infinite strengths. Awake to rise, rise to long (desire), long to achieve, achieve to fulfil. His words – “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” will undeniably kindle the spirit among the youth.

Who is the real youth?

Physical growth is not the only sign of real youth. Nor is the stylish, trendy, fashionable physical appearance. Can we call a nervous person with a pale and long face, sickly in appearance, undisciplined senses, restless mind, dull intellect and laziness as a real youth? Swami Vivekananda wanted youth to be like lions – fearless and goal-oriented. He himself had a majestic personality and also transformed everyone into lions who came into contact with him. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh, Sister Nivedita, Mahatma Gandhi are few among those who transformed into real lions under the influence of Swami Vivekananda’s powerful words. The European engineer Nikola Tesla was one of those many people who understood and were convinced by the depth of Vivekananda’s knowledge.

Swami Vivekananda’s clarion call to the youth

Educational institutions, personality development centres, motivational speakers, celebrity influencers, personality grooming gurus of the 21st century emphasize the importance of several competences that are quintessential to be successful. Its not surprising that Swami Vivekananda had advocated all those skills and many more from a holistic approach much earlier to transform the youth who are the key stakeholders of India’s future. 

“My child, what I want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel, inside which dwells a mind of the same material as that of which the thunderbolt is made” – was his aspiration for the youth of India.

He encouraged the youth to inculcate the following ideals to acquire an exceptional personality:

  1. Education: His definition of education was that of life-giving, man-making, character-building, assimilation of ideas. Swamiji warned the youth against allowing their minds to be a store house of fear, ego or inferiority complex. He knew that negative emotions made life a playground for demons of vices (unwanted or inappropriate desires), and hence he stressed that our education should be built on a strong foundation of character, strength and intellect.

2. Strength: Today’s youth are facing enormous problems. Are we sympathizing with their situation? ‘Success’ has become a social expectation instead of a journey or a destination. Pressure is increasing day by day from all sides – parents, teachers, social expectations, employers…cut-throat competition everywhere causing mental trauma, hatred, disobedience, fear, frustration and psychological disorders. The other silent or unseen harm is coming from social media which is not only killing our precious time but also contaminating our minds with obscene information.

To counter such strong challenges, our youth need to equip themselves with superhuman strength. Think of our puranic hero Hanuman who realized his strengths and tackled all challenges that came his way. Strength comes from good health. Good health comes by following an active and healthy lifestyle. Over the years, we are leading a sedentary lifestyle which is giving rise to several lifestyle diseases like early diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, depression, etc. Engaging oneself in yoga practice or any exercises will help strengthen the body and mind. Sardar Vallabhai Patel became the Iron Man of India due to his love for sports more than books, and learning from interactions with wise men. Hence it is necessary to come out of the invisible walls that we have built around ourselves.

3. Character: There is an old saying – “If wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; but if character is lost, everything is lost”. Our education system churns out thousands of doctors, engineers, lawyers, managers, administrators, accountants…. but very few real human beings. Human values such as love, compassion, peace, happiness, truthfulness, honesty, sincerity, contentment, nonviolence, patriotism, fearlessness, confidence, courage, self-restraint are replaced by hatred, cruelty, deceit, greed, dishonesty, lust, anger, fear, cowardice, selfishness, violence, self-indulgence, etc must be sown in the hearts of people. The youth must develop the power of concentration, will power and motivation for a good and socially useful life.

4. Will-power: Developing tremendous will power is a remedy to resist the evils surrounding us. Those evils which will distract us from our path towards success. Identify your drawbacks and challenge yourself to keep yourself steadfast on the path of constructive transformation.

5. Self-confidence: We cannot blame others, fate or circumstances when situations don’t go as per our expectations. Only a confident person will be able to convert a challenge into an opportunity. Confidence needs to be cultivated with self-effort and determination. Successful people become successful because they never consider defeats and failures as obstacles – rather turn them into stepping stones to success. On the other hand, ordinary people get discouraged and stop moving further.

So be confident and march ahead. However, there is a thin line dividing confidence and ego; and we have to be very careful about it. When ego dominates, every success turns into failure. Over-confidence can be barrier too. Mighty Duryodhana became the cause of his downfall due to his over-confident attitude.

Youth can build self-confidence by having a firm conviction about their ability, hard work, will power, self-respect, preparation, good/polite communication, commitment, discriminating between real and unreal – right and wrong – vice and virtue, definite goal, concentration and strength. Some hints to develop self-confidence: introspection (talk to yourself, spend time to think), study; meditation; prayer; attitude; food; exercise; and will power.

6. Respect: This is a basic quality that each human being needs to have. Respect parents – they are our care takers and well-wishers; our gurus – they are the source of our knowledge; our service providers – domestic helpers, electrician, plumber, vegetable vendor, etc – they are humans too. Respect the soul within them and not their position/status. Respect the nature – the five elements (Pancha Boota) – Prithvi, Aakash, Jal, Vaayu and Agni. See God in everything and everybody.

Following and executing these principles will help us add value to our lives making you invincible – like Mahabali Hanuman. Success is assured to the one who is able to mobilize these principles.

The words of Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore echo the principles that Swami Vivekananda propounded:

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high,
where knowledge is free.
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection.
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habit.
Where the mind is led forward by thee
into ever widening thought and action.
In to that heaven of freedom, my father,

Eternal relevance – connecting past, present and future

Vivekananda as a thinker and motivator sowed the seeds of Vedanta in the minds of Nikola Tesla in the 19th century. In the 21st century Tesla has risen as a global brand. Let’s connect the dots. Swami Vivekananda can be compared to a magnet who attracted and inspired the western people intellectually, and continues to do so with his timeless thoughts. When he can be relevant to our brothers and sisters of the other continents, it is but logical that his principles are relevant to us Indians too.

Our youth eulogize sports celebrities or film actors and look up to them as role models. The spotlight on such celebrities may be short-lived until they are performing well on field or on screen. But Swami Vivekananda lives on to inspire youngsters even after so many years of leaving his physical body.

India is a Yuva (young) country with a puratana parampara (ancient heritage).  Let us take help from our glorious past, connect it to benefit our present and build a strong future. Like our Sanatana dharma, Swami Vivekananda’s ideals are nitya nootana, chira puratana.

Swami Vivekananda’s hope and confidence lay in the youth of the country.

Dear Youth of India… Arise, awake and see your role model in Swami Vivekananda whose charisma will continue inspire many more generations and centuries.

(Author is an Assistant Professor, Department of Mass Communication at University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Salalah, Sultanate of Oman)

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  • ಸದಾಶಿವ ನಾಯಕ್

    ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ವಿವೇಕಾನಂದರ ವಿಷಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ಸಂಗತಿ ಗಳು ನನಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತೇ ಇರಲಿಲ್ಲ,ಎಲ್ಲ ಭಾರತೀಯರೂ ತಿಳಿದು ಕೊಳ್ಳ ಬೇಕಾದ ವಿಚಾರ

  • S.Vijayakumar

    A very valuable article to be read, re-read and assimilated by everyone despite the barriers of physical age. In her charming and lucid style, the author categorically lists out the qualities to be acquired by one for transforming oneself into the aspiration levels set by Swami Vivekananda. The author also emphasizes that youthfulness is but a state of mind rather than an advantage of time.

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