One of the popular biographies of Swami Vivekananda (The Life of Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and Western Disciples) opens with this note:
"To the task of writing his life, we fervently set ourselves, conscious of unworthiness; for who can know the inner self of even the least of men, much less that of a Vivekananda! And who can sound the depths of his realization! The task is, in a way, beyond us, yet the world must know the greatness of the life that has thrilled it through its Eastern heart and Western mind."
No others words can express better the feelings of anyone who attempts to sketch a portrait of this wonderful personality. It is in the same spirit of humility that I begin this new series on the life and message of the Swami, which will alternate with my columns on Vedanta.
Vivekananda has been a perennial source of inspiration since my student days, as he has been to many others – from the foremost leaders of the society down to the common man – his life and message has touched and transformed the lives of millions of people across the world. Jamshedji Tata founded the famous Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore because the Swami told him to set up an scientific institution of excellence on par with such research institutes all over the world. Many decades after his passing away, another visionary, Eknath Ranade founded the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari which is carrying on wonderful service activities through its unique team of non-monastic 'Seva Vratis'.
You can derive inspiration and gain knowledge from his works whether you are a student, sportsman, patriot, social worker, politician or a spiritual aspirant. There is no aspect of human life which the Swami does not touch and ennoble.
It is the dignity and magnificence of the Swami's character that touches me deeply. The Swami's response to every situation, circumstance and hurdle in life is consistently in keeping with the highest ideals that this culture has evolved over millennia – satyam, dharma, tyaga and seva. I hope that this through this column a few more will discover or rediscover this perennial source of inspiration and be transformed similarly.
To be continued