To realize this great ideal you further declared that the pure passion of (true) patriotism must burn bright in our hearts, and to the would - be - patriots you gave the following exhortation: “They talk of patriotism. I believe in patriotism, and I also have my own ideal of patriotism. Three things are necessary for great achievements. First, feel from the heart. What is in the intellect or reason? It goes a few steps and there it stops. But through the heart comes inspiration. Love opens the most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the secrets of the universe. Feel, therefore, my would - be - reformers, my would-be-patriots! Do you feel?
“Do you feel that millions and millions of the descendants of gods and of sages have become next door neighbours to brutes? Do you feel that millions are starving today, and millions have been starving for ages? Do you feel that ignorance has come over the land as a dark cloud? Does it make you restless? Does it make you sleepless? Has it gone into your blood, coursing through your veins, becoming consonant with your heartbeats? Has it made you almost mad? Are you seized with that one idea of the misery of ruin, and have you forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property, even your own bodies? Have you done that?"
That is the first step to become a patriot, the very first step. Are we anywhere near the achievement of this goal even after 40 years of independence? No one who takes a bird's eye-view of our national scenario will feel satisfied with our progress in spite of the fact that we are now making sophisticated gadgets, ocean-going frigates, tanks and fighter aircrafts. For, despite it all, grim poverty, illiteracy, superstition and divisiveness in the name of religion, language, caste and region — all standing in the way of creating a strong and integrated nation with a national character — remain with us as rampant as ever.
Our great leader Mahatma Gandhi, who finally led the nation to independence, warned us to avoid seven forms of public sin — politics without principles; wealth without work; pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice.
To be rid of these sins is the way for national purification, without which India cannot attain to that stature of being the spiritual guide of mankind, which Swami Vivekananda expected her to be. May the statue of that great son of India adorning the highway of this metropolitan city remind us of our great destiny and inspire us to realize the same.
About the author
This article is an excerpt from Swami Tapasyananda's “A Prayer To Swamiji" (Swami Vivekananda). Swami Tapasyananda was a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, the president of the Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. He was a prolific writer well-known for his austere life and intuitive intellect. This article carries the idea of what true patriotism is.