Rediscovering my hero

I did my secondary schooling in a Ramakrishna Mission school. Those four years of my life drilled a lot of good things into my character --- I'd say a large part of my present personality: whatever good is in there, is due to them. However, there is also a lot of crap and bullshit that got into me during that time. Part of the responsibility lies with the management and they way they interpreted and enforced the sayings of the wise; but far more significantly I have been responsible myself for learning and clenching on to some bullshit --- perhaps it was easier to just do what everyone said was good without evaluating it. I remember my parents trying to make me see sense: but I was too haughty to understand what they meant. Besides, my biases, prejudices, and insecurities made me build a firm and orthodox wall around myself; a wall of denial of the world and that good and bad co-existed everywhere. I buried my head behind the self-learnt pedagogies and pretended that nothing else existed!

But then, one cannot remain in his shell forever. Through high school, engineering college and workplace, chips were broken away gradually from that wall. I found, at many times, the futility of the idea that I believed in compared to what someone practically did and showed. My intellect told me that the person in front of me was indeed doing the right thing to survive in the world, but letting go of my own notions and believing that I was wrong proved to be the hard part. It began to appear to me that what I had been taught was wrong and completely useless beyond the textbooks and academic discussions. Something seemed terribly amiss --- it was a complete identity crisis!

I went back to reading the works and life of Swami Vivekananda --- to see if indeed he was wrong. This time, I was reading them not as a 'bhakt' but as a sceptic. And behold: I found him shining right through! All he had ever taught was very practical... only I had understood him wrong. I had mistook the zeal and fervour he wanted in a young man for dogmatism, I had mewed like a sheep where he wanted a lion to roar!! All this while it had been me who had not been following his teachings, the way he had shown --- and I had been squarely blaming him (or rather, those who interpreted him for me) for spoiling my life. The root of the mistake, I suppose, had been the fact that I was cowed into reading all his works as an unquestioning follower rather than a questioning sceptic. I just used to proclaim that the hero of my life is Swami Vivekananda: it drew appreciation from elders, a little bit of respect from some friends and it made me stand out sometimes in the crowd: I guess it was more of a cool thing to do.

But now, I no longer lay claim to anything like that. I'm reading some of his works again: this time as someone who questions every inch of the way. I quite like the way he drills in the truth, and never, I repeat: NEVER flinches from calling a spade a spade if need be. And there is indeed Truth in what he says and does. Even when Sri Ramakrishna was on his deathbed, Swami Vivekananda (then Narendranath Dutta) had questioned his divinity! It is this sceptic, this man who trusted nothing fully but once it had his trust he was prepared to lay down his life for it --- this is the man I revere. This has been a man who wasn't perfect, but a man who had the perfect attitude to life. He made mistakes, even after Sri Ramakrishna passed away: but he had the nerve to admit them and learn from them. This was a man who had supreme self-confidence, and yet someone who depended like a child on the Lord to see him through his difficulties. And that is what makes him my hero right now! He lived life like a lion --- he might have been recruited by The Paramahansa, but he still was the lion. The teachings did not make him a sheep, they just perfected his prowess.

Strangely, though, I don't think he ever answered the original question that he had gone to Sri Ramakrishna for: "Is there proof that there is a God? Can you see Him or feel Him?". Well, I don't really care about the answer yet --- I have my own personal opinion on the subject. Right now all I care about is to try and see if what that man had taught was indeed correct all the way. I don't know: from the initial signs he seems correct, but I'll give this a thousand thoughts before I commit to that camp again.

P.S. - For those interested, go to this link: The complete works of Swami Vivekananda.


  1. I haven't vivekananda too much so cannot comment on him much, but your post was quite.. lets say introspective!

    Beautifully written!


  2. We seek truth only when faced by crisis..this is also a time that tests the strength of our character..because it helps us in realizing how much really we live up to whatever we've instilled in ourselves from people who've inspired us throughout life.
    A really good post !!!
    I don't know much about the teachings of Swami Vivekanand but I'll follow that link u gave when I get time.-Ms NMA

  3. Supremus, thanks! :)

    Miss NMA, thank you very much. Do read through his famous lecture at the Columbus Hall in Chicago (1893).

  4. I too studied in an RKM institution for three years and was inspired by Vivekananda. Now you know why we are connected the way we are :-).

  5. rediscovering somethings that touched us deeply in childhood feels wonderful. from personal experience I feel we gain a deeper meaning of those same things during the rediscovery process. BTW, my grandpa introduced me to the swami vivekananda's chicago lecture. he was a great orator, much to learn there. thanks for writing this, a very good one.

  6. Thennavan, ahh... finally!! :)

    Life Lover, thanks... hope you too have some good memories refreshed by this!

  7. Your post was quite different from the ones you normally write. Nice one! :)

    I remember learning quite a few insightful chapters on Swami Vivekananda in school. Like Swami Vivekananda, a person who has deeply influenced me is Mother Teresa. I had this childhood dream of meeting her but it never came true.

  8. although i have not read any of Swamy Viveknandas books but i have watched him in TVs and Movies. May be its not what he actually is, but these visuals have helped me to see him as A Guide. A guide can show you the way, but it is upto you to take the path or create your own.

  9. It's odd how so many people i know seem to be talking of swami Vivekanand nowadays. it's like a second wind.

  10. Syrals, I must have built some kind of a reputation with everyone, if this one deviates from the usual! :) Great people do influence our lives a lot -- sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Never mind if you could never meet Mother Teresa in person: if you can follow her ideal, you'll make her soul happy.

    Chandan, well said: let us hope that we may live up to our guide's teachings.

    Gratisgab, hey long time no see. Lets hope that I can live up to the teachings beyond the 'fad' effect

  11. Beautiful and immaculate!!
    This post can move people to rediscover the forgotten hero!! and where they can find him..??
    deep inside themselves..

    I studied in RKM deoghar for about 3 years..:)


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