Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902) was a teacher of Vedanta philosophy, and one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of Hinduism. He considered Karna and Lord Rama as the supreme of all human beings in Mahabharata and Ramayana.
- To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. "I will drink the ocean", says the persevering soul; "at my will mountains will crumble up". Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal.
- Vedânta philosophy : Lectures by the Swâmi Vivekânanda on Râja Yoga (1899), Ch. VI : Pratyâhâra and Dhâraṇâm
- A perfect life is a contradiction in terms.
- Swâmi Vivekânanda on Râja Yoga (1899), Ch. VI : Pratyâhâra and Dhâraṇâ
- There can be no men like Karna and Rama in Purushartha and their glories have been sung since times immemorial and inspires the awakening world but Buddha, Krishna and Shiva are the treasures of India which cannot be spent.
- If I do an evil action, I must suffer for it; there is no power in this universe to stop or stay it.
- Swâmi Vivekânanda on Râja Yoga (1899), Ch. VI : Pratyâhâra and Dhâraṇâ
- No one ever landed on English soil with more hatred in his heart for a race than I did for the English, and, on this platform, are present English friends who can bear witness to the fact, but the more I lived among them, saw how the machine is working, the English national life, mixed with them, found where the heart-beat of the nation was, the more I loved them. There is none among you here present, my brothers, who loves the English people more than I do. You have to see what is going on there, and you have to mix with them. As the philosophy, our national philosophy of the Vedanta, has summarised all misfortune, all misery from that one cause, ignorance, herein also we must understand that the difficulties that arise between us and the English people are mostly due to that ignorance; we do not know them, they do not know us.
- Spoken on his return to India from England, as recorded in From Colombo to Almora (1904), p. 221
- Mohammed spoke some wonderful truths. If you read the Koran, you find the most wonderful truths mixed with superstitions. How will you explain it? That man was inspired, no doubt, but the inspiration was as it were, stumbled upon. He was not a trained Yogi, and did not know the reason of what he was doing. Think of the good Mohammed did to the world, and think of the great evil that has been done through his fanaticism! Think of the millions massacred through his teachings, mothers bereft of their children, children made orphans, whole countries destroyed, millions upon millions of people killed!
So we see this danger by studying the lives of great teachers like Mohammed and others. Yet we find, at the same time, that they were all inspired. Whenever a prophet got into the superconscious state by heightening his emotional nature, he brought away from it not only some truths, but some fanaticism also, some superstition which injured the world as much as the greatness of the teaching helped. To get any reason out of the mass of incongruity we call human life, we have to transcend our reason, but we must do it scientifically, slowly, by regular practice, and we must cast off all superstition. We must take up the study of the super-conscious state just as any other science. On reason we must have to lay our foundation, we must follow reason as far as it leads, and when reason fails reason itself will show us the way to the highest plane. When you hear a man say "I am inspired," and then talk irrationally, reject it. Why? Because these three states —instinct, reason, and super-consciousness, or the unconscious, conscious and super-conscious states—belong to one and the same mind. There are not three minds in one man, but one state of it develops into the others. Instinct develops into reason, and reason into the transcendental consciousness ; therefore not one of the states contradicts the others. Real inspiration never contradicts reason, but fulfils it. Just as you find the great prophets saying, "I come not to destroy but to fulfil," so inspiration always comes to fulfil reason, and is in harmony with it.
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1915), Vol. I, Ch. VII : Dhyana and Samadhi, p. 184
- It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else. If you go to other countries and ask Mohammedans or people of other religions to build a temple for you, see how they will help. They will instead try to break down your temple and you too, if they can.
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1915), Vol. 3, p. 114
- It was India's Karma, her fate, to be conquered, and in her turn, to conquer her conqueror. She has already done so with her Mohammedan victors: Educated Mohammedans are Sufis, scarcely to be distinguished from Hindus. Hindu thought has permeated their civilisation; they assumed the position of learners. And England will be conquered in her turn. Today she has the sword, but it is worse than useless in the world of ideas. You know what Schopenhauer said of Indian thought. He foretold that its influence would be as momentous in Europe, when it became well known, as the revival of Greek and Latin; culture after the Dark Ages."
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1915), Vol. 5, p. 190
- If all India stands up and takes all the mud that is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesimal part of that which you are doing to us.
- "Hindus and Christians", Detroit (21 February 1894), as quoted in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, AD 304 to 1996 (1996) by S. R. Goel, Ch. 13
- The highest truth is this: God is present in all beings. They are His multiple forms. There is no other God to seek. . . . It is a man-making religion that we want. . . . Give up these weakening mysticisms, and be strong. . . . For the next fifty years. ... let all other gods disappear from our minds. This is the only God that is awake, our own race, everywhere His hands, everywhere His feet, everywhere His ears; He covers everything. . . . The first of all worships is the worship of those all around us. ... He alone serves God who serves all other beings.
- As quoted in Our Oriental Heritage (1935) by Will Durant
- After so much austerity I have known that the highest truth is this: He is present in every being! These are all in manifold forms of him. There is no other God to seek for! He alone is worshipping God, who serves all beings!
- As quoted in Vivekananda : The Yogas and Other Works (1953), p. 173; also at "The Story Of Swami Vivekananda: Mission Impossible" at MyLifeYoga (10 December 2011)
- Learn to recognise the mother in Evil, Terror, Sorrow, Denial, as well as in Sweetness and in Joy.
- Address to his English disciples, as quoted in The life of Vivekananda and the Universal Gospel, 5th edition (1960) by Romain Rolland, p. 53
- In spirituality the Americans are very inferior to us. But their society is very superior to ours.
- As quoted in The life of Vivekananda and the Universal Gospel, 5th edition (1960) by Romain Rolland, p. 74
- India is immortal if she persists in her search for God. But if she goes in for politics and social conflict, she will die.
- A few hours before his death, as quoted in Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Volume 14 (1963), p. 469
- "And may I ask you, Europeans, what country you have ever raised to better conditions? Wherever you have found weaker races, you have exterminated them by the roots, as it were. You have settled on their lands and they are gone forever. What is the history of your America, your Australia and New Zealand, your Pacific Islands and South Africa? Where are those aboriginal races there today? They are all exterminated, you have killed them outright, as if they were wild beasts. It is only where you have not the power to do so, and there only, that other nations are still alive."
- As quoted in The Rigveda : A Historical Analysis (2000) by S. Talageri
- The greatest error is to call a man a weak and miserable sinner. Every time a person thinks in this mistaken manner, he rivets one more link in the chain of avidya that binds him, adds one more layer to the "self-hypnotism" that lies heavy over his mind.
- As quoted in The Acknowledged Christ of Indian Renaissance (1976) by M. M. Thomas, 2nd Edition, p. 125; cited in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, AD 304 to 1996 (1996) by S. R. Goel, Ch. 13
- Ye are the children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth — sinners! It is a sin to call man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, lions! and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal.
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1985), Vol I. p. 11, as quoted in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, AD 304 to 1996 (1996) by S. R. Goel, Ch. 13
- One of the chief distinctions between the Vedic and the Christian religion is that the Christian religion teaches that each human soul had its beginning at its birth into this world, whereas the Vedic religion asserts that the spirit of man is an emanation of the Eternal Being and has no more a beginning than God Himself.
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1985), Volume VI, p. 85; cited in History of Hindu-Christian Encounters, AD 304 to 1996 (1996) by S. R. Goel, Ch. 13
- He who is the true son of Shri Ramakrishna will manifest the practical side of religious ideas and will set to work with one-pointed devotion without paying heed to the prattling of men or of society. Haven't you heard of the couplet of Tulsidas: "The elephant walks the market-place and a thousand curs bark at him; so the Sadhus have no ill-feeling if worldly people slander them." You have to walk in this way.
- Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (1985), Volume 7, from the Diary of a Disciple (Shri Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, B.A.))
- This is the ancient land where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country, the same India whose influx of spirituality is represented, as it were, on the material plane, by rolling rivers like oceans, where the eternal Himalayas, rising tier above tier with their snowcaps, look as it were into the very mysteries of heaven. Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived. Here first sprang up inquiries into the nature of man and into the internal world. Here first arose the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the existence of a supervising God, an immanent God in nature and in man, and here the highest ideals of religion and philosophy have attained their culminating points. This is the land from whence, like the tidal waves, spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world, and this is the land from whence once more such tides must proceed in order to bring life and vigour into the decaying races of mankind. It is the same India which has withstood the shocks of centuries, of hundreds of foreign invasions of hundreds of upheavals of manners and customs. It is the same land which stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigour, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature as the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal; and we are the children of such a country.
- Vivekananda, The Future of India, Complete works vol 3.
Call to the Nation
- Quotes from Vivekananda : His Call to the Nation, Advaita Ashrama ISBN 81-7505-018-7
- He is an atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself.
- Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God, this is the secret of greatness. If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological Gods, and in all the Gods which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you.
- The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of strength that is already within them.
- Death is better than a vegetating ignorant life; it is better to die on the battle-field than to live a life of defeat.
- This world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.
- It is the coward and the fool who says, This is my fate – so says the Sanskrit proverb. But it is the strong man who stands up and says, I will make my own fate. It is people who are getting old who talk of fate. Young men generally do not come to astrology.
- Buddha is the only prophet who said, I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good.
Address at the Rameswaram Temple on Real Worship
- " Address at the Rameswaram Temple on Real Worship", in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 3
- It is in love that religion exists and not in ceremony, in the pure and sincere love in the heart. Unless a man is pure in body and mind, his coming into a temple and worshipping Shiva is useless. The prayers of those that are pure in mind and body will be answered by Shiva, and those that are impure and yet try to teach religion to others will fail in the end. External worship is only a symbol of internal worship; but internal worship and purity are the real things. Without them, external worship would be of no avail. Therefore you must all try to remember this.
People have become so degraded in this Kali Yuga that they think they can do anything, and then they can go to a holy place, and their sins will be forgiven. If a man goes with an impure mind into a temple, he adds to the sins that he had already, and goes home a worse man than when he left it.
- This is the gist of all worship — to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste, or creed, or race, or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.
- A rich man had a garden and two gardeners. One of these gardeners was very lazy and did not work; but when the owner came to the garden, the lazy man would get up and fold his arms and say, "How beautiful is the face of my master", and dance before him. The other gardener would not talk much, but would work hard, and produce all sorts of fruits and vegetables which he would carry on his head to his master who lived a long way off. Of these two gardeners, which would be the more beloved of his master? Shiva is that master, and this world is His garden, and there are two sorts of gardeners here; the one who is lazy, hypocritical, and does nothing, only talking about Shiva's beautiful eyes and nose and other features; and the other, who is taking care of Shiva's children, all those that are poor and weak, all animals, and all His creation. Which of these would be the more beloved of Shiva? Certainly he that serves His children. He who wants to serve the father must serve the children first. He who wants to serve Shiva must serve His children — must serve all creatures in this world first. It is said in the Shâstra that those who serve the servants of God are His greatest servants. So you will bear this in mind.
- Let me tell you again that you must be pure and help any one who comes to you, as much as lies in your power. And this is good Karma. By the power of this, the heart becomes pure (Chitta-shuddhi), and then Shiva who is residing in every one will become manifest. He is always in the heart of every one. If there is dirt and dust on a mirror, we cannot see our image. So ignorance and wickedness are the dirt and dust that are on the mirror of our hearts. Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. He who thinks, "I will eat first, I will have more money than others, and I will possess everything", he who thinks, "I will get to heaven before others I will get Mukti before others" is the selfish man. The unselfish man says, "I will be last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing so I can help my brothers." This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva. Whether he is learned or ignorant, he is nearer to Shiva than anybody else, whether he knows it or not. And if a man is selfish, even though he has visited all the temples, seen all the places of pilgrimage, and painted himself like a leopard, he is still further off from Shiva.
Pearls of Wisdom
- Pearls of Wisdom edited by the Ramakrishna Mission
- Arise, awake and Stop not till the Goal is Reached.
- Let positive, strong, helpful thoughts enter into your brains from very childhood. Lay yourselves open to these thoughts, and not to weakening and paralysing ones.
- Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles. Where would be the poetry of life? Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow—never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.
- Say, ‘This misery that I am suffering is of my own doing, and that very thing proves that it will have to be undone by me alone.’ That which I created, I can demolish; that which is created by someone else, I shall never be able to destroy. Therefore, stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creators of your own destiny. All the strength and success you want is within ourselves.
- We must overcome difficulty by constant practice. We must learn that nothing can happen to us unless we make ourselves susceptible to it.
- Take up an idea, devote yourself to it, struggle on in patience, and the sun will rise for you.
- Education is the manifestation of perfection present already in man. Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man.
- Give me few men and women who are pure and selfless and I shall shake the world.
- Strength is Life, Weakness is death.
- Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.
- This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.
- You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.
- When we really begin to live in the world, then we understand what is meant by brotherhood or mankind, and not before.
- External nature is only internal nature writ large.
- The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.
- Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.
- The will is not free—it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect—but there is something behind the will which is free.
- The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.
- There is nothing beyond God, and the sense enjoyments are simply something through which we are passing now in the hope of getting better things.
- The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him — that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
- Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.
- That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.
- You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.
- The goal of mankind is knowledge. . . . Now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man "knows," should, in strict psychological language, be what he "discovers" or "unveils"; what man "learns" is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.
- If money help a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.
- All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.
- To devote your life to the good of all and to the happiness of all is religion. Whatever you do for your own sake is not religion.
- The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!
- The spirit is the cause of all our thoughts and body-action, and everything, but it is untouched by good or evil, pleasure or pain, heat or cold, and all the dualism of nature, although it lends its light to everything.
- It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thought make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light. First, believe in this world — that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you are not understanding it in the right light. throw the burden on yourselves!
- In one word, this ideal is that you are divine.
- All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.
- If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished.
- Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being?
- The Vedanta teaches that Nirvana can be attained here and now, that we do not have to wait for death to reach it. Nirvana is the realization of the Self; and after having once known that, if only for an instant, never again can one be deluded by the mirage of personality.
- The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.
- Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin — to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
- Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
- "I am the thread that runs through all these pearls," and each pearl is a religion or even a sect thereof. Such are the different pearls, and God is the thread that runs through all of them; most people, however, are entirely unconscious of it.
- "Comfort" is no test of truth; on the contrary, truth is often far from being "comfortable."
- "Face the brutes." That is a lesson for all life — face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them.
- A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century.
- A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean, carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we may at times float aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss.
- All is the Self or Brahman. The saint, the sinner, the lamb, the tiger, even the murderer, as far as they have any reality, can be nothing else, because there is nothing else.
- All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind.
- All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
- All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls.
- All who have actually attained any real religious experience never wrangle over the form in which the different religions are expressed. They know that the soul of all religions is the same and so they have no quarrel with anybody just because he or she does not speak in the same tongue.
- Anything that brings spiritual, mental, or physical weakness, touch it not with the toes of your feet.
- Anything that is secret and mysterious in these systems of yoga should be at once rejected. The best guide in life is strength. In religion, as in all other matters, discard everything that weakens you, have nothing to do with it.
- Are great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience, and indomitable will must show.
- Are you unselfish? That is the question. If you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into a single church or temple.
- As body, mind, or soul, you are a dream; you really are Being, Consciousness, Bliss (satchidananda). You are the God of this universe.
- As long as we believe ourselves to be even the least different from God, fear remains with us; but when we know ourselves to be the One, fear goes; of what can we be afraid?
- As soon as I think that I am a little body, I want to preserve it, to protect it, to keep it nice, at the expense of other bodies; then you and I become separate.
- As soon as you know the voice and understand what it is, the whole scene changes. The same world which was the ghastly battlefield of maya is now changed into something good and beautiful.
- Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind; therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.
- Be a hero. Always say, "I have no fear." Tell this to everyone—"Have no fear."
- Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business.
- Blows are what awaken us and help to break the dream. They show us the insufficiency of this world and make us long to escape, to have freedom.
- Both the forces of good and evil will keep the universe alive for us, until we awake from our dreams and give up this building of mud pies.
- Come out into the broad light of day, come out from the little narrow paths, for how can the infinite soul rest content to live and die in small ruts?
- Come out into the universe of Light. Everything in the universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love. If you every felt you wanted to do that, you have felt God.
- Delusion will vanish as the light becomes more and more effulgent, load after load of ignorance will vanish, and then will come a time when all else has disappeared and the sun alone shines.
- Desire, ignorance, and inequality—this is the trinity of bondage.
- Despondency is not religion, whatever else it may be.
- Do any deserve liberty who are not ready to give it to others? Let us calmly go to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary fretting and fuming.
- Do not look back upon what has been done. Go ahead!
- Don't look back—forward, infinite energy, infinite enthusiasm, infinite daring, and infinite patience—then alone can great deeds be accomplished.
- Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.
- Even the greatest fool can accomplish a task if it were after his or her heart. But the intelligent ones are those who can convert every work into one that suits their taste.
- Every action that helps us manifest our divine nature more and more is good; every action that retards it is evil.
- Every individual is a center for the manifestation of a certain force. This force has been stored up as the resultant of our previous works, and each one of us is born with this force at our back.
- Every step I take in light is mine forever.
- Everything must be sacrificed, if necessary, for that one sentiment: universality.
- Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in the world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear.
- Fill the brain with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work.
- First get rid of the delusion "I am the body," then only will we want real knowledge.
- First, believe in the world—that there is meaning behind everything.
- Freedom can never be reached by the weak. Throw away all weakness. Tell your body that it is strong, tell your mind that it is strong, and have unbounded faith and hope in yourself.
- Go on saying, "I am free." Never mind if the next moment delusion comes and says, "I am bound." Dehypnotize the whole thing.
- God is merciful to those whom He sees struggling heart and soul for realization. But remain idle, without any struggle, and you will see that His grace will never come.
- God is self-evident, impersonal, omniscient, the Knower and the Master of nature, the Lord of all. He is behind all worship and it is being done according to Him, whether we know it or not.
- God is very merciful to those whom He sees struggling heart and soul for spiritual realization. But remain idle, without any struggle, and you will see that His grace will never come.
- Great work requires great and persistent effort for a long time. … Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles.
- Have you got the will to surmount mountain-high obstructions? If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?
- He whom the sages have been seeking in all these places is in our own hearts; the voice that you heard was right, says Vedanta, but the direction you gave to the voice was wrong.
- Hold to the idea, "I am not the mind, I see that I am thinking, I am watching my mind act," and each day the identification of yourself with thoughts and feelings will grow less, until at last you can entirely separate yourself from the mind and actually know it to be apart from yourself.
- However we may receive blows, and however knocked about we may be, the Soul is there and is never injured. We are that Infinite.
- I fervently wish no misery ever came near anyone; yet it is that alone that gives us an insight into the depths of our lives, does it not? In our moments of anguish, gates barred forever seem to open and let in many a flood of light.
- I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything he really deserves.
- If a piece of burning charcoal be placed on a man’s head, see how he struggles to throw it off. Similar will be the struggle for freedom of those who really understand that they are slaves of nature.
- If superstition enters, the brain is gone.
- If there is one word that you find coming out like a bomb from the Upanishads, bursting like a bombshell upon masses of ignorance, it is the word "fearlessness."
- If you think that you are bound, you remain bound; you make your own bondage. If you know that you are free, you are free this moment. This is knowledge, knowledge of freedom. Freedom is the goal of all nature.
- If you want to have life, you have to die every moment for it. Life and death are only different expressions of the same thing looked at from different standpoints; they are the falling and the rising of the same wave, and the two form one whole.
- Impurity is a mere superimposition under which your real nature has become hidden. But the real you is already perfect, already strong.
- Is there any sex-distinction in the Atman (Self)? Out with the differentiation between man and woman—all is Atman! Give up the identification with the body, and stand up!
- It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.
- It is the cheerful mind that is persevering. It is the strong mind that hews its way through a thousand difficulties.
- It is the patient building of character, the intense struggle to realize the truth, which alone will tell in the future of humanity.
- Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom. If we can bring ourselves down by our karma, surely it is in our power to raise ourselves by our own karma.
- Knowledge can only be got in one way, the way of experience; there is no other way to know.
- Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power.
- Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power. It is not in the brain but in the heart that the Atman, possessed of knowledge, power, and activity, has its seat.
- Let us not depend upon the world for pleasure.
- Let us worship the spirit in spirit, standing on spirit. Let the foundation be spirit, the middle spirit, the culmination spirit.
- Look upon every man, woman, and everyone as God. You cannot help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord Himself, if you have the privilege.
- Nature, body, mind go to death, not we. We neither go nor come. The man Vivekananda is in nature, is born and dies; but the Self we see as Vivekananda is never born and never dies. It is the eternal and unchangeable Reality.
- Neither seek nor avoid; take what comes. It is liberty to be affected by nothing. Do not merely endure; be unattached.
- No authority can save us, no beliefs. If there is a God, all can find Him. No one needs to be told it is warm; all can discover it for themselves. So it should be with God. He should be a fact in the consciousness of every person.
- One who leans on others cannot serve the God of Truth.
- Our first duty is not to hate ourselves, because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. Those who have no faith in themselves can never have faith in God.
- Our supreme duty is to advance toward freedom—physical, mental, and spiritual—and help others to do so.
- Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through selfless work.
- Perfection is always infinite. We are the Infinite already.You and I, and all beings, are trying to manifest that infinity.
- Please everyone without becoming a hypocrite or a coward.
- Pray all the time, read all the scriptures in the world, and worship all the gods there are ...but unless you realize the Truth, there is no freedom.
- Pray all the time, read all the scriptures in the world, and worship all the gods there are …[but] unless you realize the Self (atman), there is no freedom.
- Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and, above all, love.
- Religion as a science, as a study, is the greatest and healthiest exercise that the human mind can have.
- Religion has no business to formulate social laws and insist on the difference between beings, because its aim and end is to obliterate all such fictions and monstrosities.
- So long as there is desire or want, it is a sure sign that there is imperfection. A perfect, free being cannot have any desire.
- Soft-brained people, weak-minded, chicken-hearted, cannot find the truth. One has to be free, and as broad as the sky.
- Stand as a rock; you are indestructible. You are the Self (atman), the God of the universe.
- 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. All the strength and succor you want is within yourself. Therefore make your own future.
- Stand upon the Self, only then can we truly love the world. Take a very high stand; knowing our universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world.
- Strength is the sign of vigor, the sign of life, the sign of hope, the sign of health, and the sign of everything that is good. As long as the body lives, there must be strength in the body, strength in the mind, strength in the hand.
- Superstition is our great enemy, but bigotry is worse.
- Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better.
- Thank God for giving you this world as a moral gymnasium to help your development, but never imagine you can help the world.
- The essence of Vedanta is that there is but one Being and that every soul is that Being in full, not a part of that Being.
- The essential thing in religion is making the heart pure; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, but only the pure in heart can see the King. While we think of the world, it is only the world for us; but let us come to it with the feeling that the world is God, and we shall have God.
- The first sign that you are becoming religious is that you are becoming cheerful.
- The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!
- The human soul has sojourned in lower and higher forms, migrating from one to another according to the samskaras or impressions, but it is only in the highest form as a human being that it attains to freedom.
- The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence.
- The important thing is: how much less you think of the body, of yourself as matter—as dead, dull, insentient matter; how much more you think of yourself as shining immortal being.
- The less passion there is, the better we work. The calmer we are, the better for us and the more the amount of work we can do. When we let loose our feelings, we waste so much energy, shatter our nerves, disturb our minds, and accomplish very little work.
- The mind is but the subtle part of the body. You must retain great strength in your mind and words.
- The mistake is that we cling to the body when it is the spirit that is really immortal.
- The more you think of yourself as shining immortal spirit, the more eager you will be to be absolutely free of matter, body, and senses. This is the intense desire to be free.
- The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future will be more glorious still.
- The power is with the silent ones, who only live and love and then withdraw their personality. They never say "me" and "mine"; they are only blessed in being instruments.
- The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun when they are concentrated they illumine.
- The power of purity — it is a definite power.
- The powers of the mind should be concentrated and the mind turned back upon itself; as the darkest places reveal their secrets before the penetrating rays of the sun, so will the concentrated mind penetrate its own innermost secrets.
- The Self when it appears behind the universe is called God. The same Self when it appears behind this little universe — the body — is the soul.
- The Soul is not composed of any materials. It is unity indivisible. Therefore it must be indestructible.
- The varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage us to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making a successful appeal to the divine instinct in all of us.
- The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you free.
- The whole universe is one. There is only one Self in the universe, only One Existence.
- The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration.
- There cannot be friendship without equality.
- There is no help for you outside of yourself; you are the creator of the universe. Like the silkworm you have built a cocoon around yourself…. Burst your own cocoon and come out as the beautiful butterfly, as the free soul. Then alone you will see Truth.
- There is one thing to be remembered: that the assertion — I am God — cannot be made with regard to the sense-world.
- There is only one sin. That is weakness.... The only saint is that soul that never weakens, faces everything, and determines to die game.
- There is to be found in every religion the manifestation of the struggle toward freedom. It is the groundwork of all morality, of unselfishness, which means getting rid of the idea that human beings are the same as this little body.
- This earth is higher than all the heavens; this is the greatest school in the universe.
- This I have seen in life — those who are overcautious about themselves fall into dangers at every step; those who are afraid of losing honor and respect, get only disgrace; and those who are always afraid of loss, always lose.
- This is no world. It is God Himself. In delusion we call it world.
- This is the first lesson to learn: be determined not to curse anything outside, not to lay the blame upon anyone outside, but stand up, lay the blame on yourself. You will find that is always true. Get hold of yourself.
- This is the great lesson that we are here to learn through myriads of births and heavens and hells — that there is nothing to be asked for, desired for, beyond one’s spiritual Self (atman).
- This life is a hard fact; work your way through it boldly, though it may be adamantine; no matter, the soul is stronger.
- Those who grumble at the little thing that has fallen to their lot to do will grumble at everything. Always grumbling, they will lead a miserable life, and everything will be a failure. But those who do their duties as they go, putting their shoulders to the wheel, will see the light, and higher duties will fall to their share.
- Those who work at a thing heart and soul not only achieve success in it but through their absorption in that they also realize the supreme truth—Brahman. Those who work at a thing with their whole heart receive help from God.
- To believe blindly is to degenerate the human soul. Be an atheist if you want, but do not believe in anything unquestioningly.
- Truth does not pay homage to any society, ancient or modern. Society has to pay homage to Truth or die.
- Understanding human nature is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing it can we know God. It is also a fact that the knowledge of God is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing God can we understand human nature.
- Unselfishness is God.
- Watch people do their most common actions; these are indeed the things that will tell you the real character of a great person.
- We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough. You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free, ever blessed. Have faith enough and you will be free in a minute.
- We believe that every being is divine, is God. Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance; the difference between soul and soul is owing to the difference in density of these layers of clouds.
- We came to enjoy; we are being enjoyed. We came to rule; we are being ruled. We came to work; we are being worked. All the time, we find that. And this comes into every detail of our life.
- We have to go back to philosophy to treat things as they are. We are suffering from our own karma. It is not the fault of God. What we do is our own fault, nothing else. Why should God be blamed?
- We must approach religion with reverence and with love, and our heart will stand up and say, this is truth, and this is untruth.
- We must be bright and cheerful. Long faces do not make religion. Religion should be the most joyful thing in the world, because it is the best.
- We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful toward those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent. These attitudes will make the mind peaceful.
- We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise.
- We want to know in order to make ourselves free. That is our life: one universal cry for freedom.
- What do you gain in heaven? You become gods, drink nectar, and get rheumatism. There is less misery there than on earth, but also less truth.
- What the world wants is character. The world is in need of those whose life is one burning love, selfless. That love will make every word tell like a thunderbolt.
- When we come to nonattachment, then we can understand the marvelous mystery of the universe: how it is intense activity and at the same time intense peace, how it is work every moment and rest every moment.
- When we have become free, we need not go mad and throw up society and rush off to die in the forest or the cave; we shall remain where we were but we shall understand the whole thing. The same phenomena will remain but with a new meaning.
- When we have become free, we need not go mad and throw up society and rush off to die in the forest or the cave; we shall remain where we were, only we shall understand the whole thing.
- Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself.
- Who makes us ignorant? We ourselves. We put our hands over our eyes and weep that it is dark.
- Why are people so afraid? The answer is that they have made themselves helpless and dependent on others. We are so lazy, we do not want to do anything ourselves. We want a Personal God, a Savior or a Prophet to do everything for us.
- Woman has suffered for eons, and that has given her infinite patience and infinite perseverance.
- Women will work out their destinies — much better, too, than men can ever do for them. All the mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women.
- Work and worship are necessary to take away the veil, to lift off the bondage and illusion.
- Work on with the intrepidity of a lion but at the same time with the tenderness of a flower.
- Worship of society and popular opinion is idolatry. The soul has no sex, no country, no place, no time.
Patanjali Yoga Sutras (translation and commentary by Swami Vivekananda c. 1890)
Chapter I - Samadhi Pada: Concentration: Its Spiritual Uses
- 26. स पूर्वेषाम् अपि गुरुः कालेनानवच्छेदात् ॥ २६ ॥
sa poorvesham api guruh kalenanavachchhedat
He is the Teacher of even the ancient teachers, being not limited by time. It is true that all knowledge is within ourselves, but this has to be called forth by another knowledge. Although the capacity to know is inside us, it must be called out, and that calling out of knowledge can only be got, a Yogi maintains, through another knowledge. Dead, insentient matter, never calls out knowledge. It is the action of knowledge that brings out knowledge. Knowing beings must be with us to call forth what is in us, so these teachers were always necessary. The world was never without them, and no knowledge can come without them. God is the Teacher of all teachers, because these teachers, however great they may have been—gods or angels—were all bound and limited by time, and God is not limited by time. ...
- 27. तस्य वाचक् प्रिव् ॥ २७॥
tasya vachakah prannavah
His manifesting word is Om...
The commentator says the manifesting word of God is Om. Why does he emphasise this? There are hundreds of words for God. One thought is connected with a thousand words; the idea, God, is connected with hundreds of words, and each one stands as a symbol for God...
Is there any material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations, one which is the most natural sound? Om (Aum) is such a sound, the basis of all sounds. The first letter, A, is the root sound, the key, pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate; M represents the last sound in the series, being produced by the closed lip, and the U rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth. Thus, Om represents the whole phenomena of sound producing.
It must be the natural symbol, the matrix of all the variant sounds. It denotes the whole range and possibility of all the words that can be made. Apart from these speculations we see that around this word Om are centred all the different religious ideas in India; all the various religious ideas of the Vedas have gathered themselves round this word Om.
The word has been retained at every stage of religious growth in India, and it has been manipulated to mean all the various ideas about God. Monists, Dualists, Mono-Dualists, Separatists, and even Atheists, took up this Om. Om has become the one symbol for the religious aspiration of the vast majority of human beings.
Take, for instance, the English word God. It conveys only a limited function, and if you go beyond it, you have to add adjectives, to make it Personal, or Impersonal, or Absolute God. So with the words for God in every other language; their signification is very small. This word Om, however, has around it all the various significances. As such it should be accepted by everyone.
- 28. तज्जऩस्तदथबय ावनभ ॥् २८॥
The repetition of this (Om) and meditating on its meaning (is the way).
Why should there be repetition? We have not forgotten that theory of Samskaras, that the sum-total of impressions lives in the mind. Impressions live in the mind, the sum-total of impressions, and they become more and more latent, but remain there, and as soon as they get the right stimulus they come out. Molecular vibration will never cease.
When this universe is destroyed all the massive vibrations disappear, the sun, moon, stars, and earth, will melt down, but the vibrations must remain in the atoms. Each atom will perform the same function as the big worlds do. So the vibrations of this Chitta will subside, but will go on like molecular vibrations, and when they get the impulse will come out again. We can now understand what is meant by repetition. It is the greatest stimulus that can be given to the spiritual Samskaras.
"One moment of company with the Holy makes a ship to cross this ocean of life." Such is the power of association. So this repetition of Om, and thinking of its meaning, is keeping good company in your own mind. Study, and then meditate and meditate, when you have studied. The light will come to you, the Self will become manifest.
But one must think of this Om, and of its meaning too.
Avoid evil company, because the scars of old wounds are in you, and this evil company is just the heat that is necessary to call them out. In the same way we are told that good company will call out the good impressions that are in us, but which have become latent. MVR<There is nothing holier in this world than to keep good company, because the good impressions will have this same tendency to come to the surface.
- 29. तत् प्रत्यक्चेतनाणधगभोऽप्यन्तयामाबावि ॥ २९॥
From that is gain (the knowledge of) introspection, and the destruction of obstacles.
The first manifestation of this repetition and thinking of Om will be that the introspective power will be manifested more and more, and all the mental and physical obstacles will begin to vanish. What are the obstacles to the Yogi?
- 30. व्याणधस्त्यानसंशमप्रभादारस्याणवयणतभ्राणन्तदशनय ारब्धबणू भक - त्वानवणस्थतत्वाणन णचत्तणवऺऩे ास्तऽे न्तयामा् ॥ ३०॥
vyadhistyanasanshayapramadalasyaviratibhrantidar shanalabdhabhoomikatvanavasthitatvani chittavikshepastentarayah
Disease, mental laziness, doubt, calmness, cessation, false perception, non-attaining concentration, and falling away from the state when obtained, are the obstructing distractions.
Chapter IV – Kaivalya Pada Independence
- 33.... Nature’s task is done, this unselfish task which our sweet nurse Nature had imposed upon herself. As it were, she gently took the self-forgetting soul by the hand, and showed him all the experiences in the universe, all manifestations, bringing him higher and higher through various bodies, till his glory came back, and he remembered his own nature. Then the kind mother went back the way she came, for others who have also lost their way in the trackless desert of life. And thus she is working, without beginning and without end. And thus through pleasure and pain, through good and evil, the infinite river of souls is flowing into the ocean of perfection,of self-realisation. *Glory unto those who have realised their own nature! May their blessings be on us all!
Quotes about Vivekananda
- Vivekananda was a soul of puissance if ever there was one, a very lion among men, but the definite work he has left behind is quite incommensurate with our impression of his creative might and energy. We perceive his influence still working gigantically, we know not well how, we know not well where, in something that is not yet formed, something leonine, grand, intuitive, upheaving that has entered the soul of India and we say, "Behold, Vivekananda still lives in the soul of his Mother and in the souls of her children."
- Swami Vivekananda's close associate Sister Nivedita testifies that Swamiji was a great devotee of the Buddha: 'Again and again he would return upon the note of perfect rationality in his hero. Buddha was to him not only the greatest of Aryans but also 'the one absolutely sane man' that the world had ever seen. How he had refused worship! (...) How vast had been the freedom and humility of the Blessed One! (...) He alone was able to free religion entirely from the argument of the supernatural, and yet make it as binding in its force, and as living in its appeal, as it had ever been." Sister Nivedita also relates that Swamiji's first act after taking Sannyas was to "hurry to Bodh Gaya, and sit under the great tree"; and that his last journey, too, had taken him to Bodh Gaya.
- Vivekananda followed his teacher, Ramakrishna, in attributing a low value to scriptures and in upholding the supremacy of personal experience. The adequacy of scriptures is compared to the utility of a map to a traveller, before visiting a country. The map, according to Vivekananda, can create only curiosity for first-hand knowledge of the place and can communicate only a vague conception of its reality. Maps are in no way equivalent to the direct knowledge of the country, gathered by actually being there.
- Anantanand Rambachan, in "The Nature and Authority of Scripture: Implications for Hindu-Christian Dialogue" in Hindu-Christian Studies Bulletin 8 (1995), p. 23
- Vivekananda often asserted that only in becoming a ṛṣi does one understand the scripture properly. His argument appears to be that as products and records of direct perception, these texts were not written for the intellect, or for understanding through a process of rational inquiry and analysis. They become meaningful only when one has lifted oneself to the same heights of perception.
- Anantanand Rambachan, in "The Nature and Authority of Scripture: Implications for Hindu-Christian Dialogue" in Hindu-Christian Studies Bulletin 8 (1995), p. 23
- A great voice is meant to fill the sky. The whole world is its sounding- box ..... Men like Vivekanada are not meant to whisper. They can only proclaim. The sun cannot moderate its own rays. He was deeply conscious of his role. To bring Vedanta out of its obscurity and present it in a rationally acceptable manner; to arouse among his countrymen an awareness of their own spiritual heritage and restore their self-confidence; to show that the deepest truths of Vedanta are universally valid, and that India's mission is to communicate these truths to the whole world — these were the goals he set before himself.
- Romain Rolland, as quoted in The Spirit of Modern India; Writings in Philosophy, Religion & Culture (1974) edited by Robert Allen McDermott and V S Naravane, p. 6-7
- If you want to know India study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative.
- “The bird of the spirit of Humanity cannot fly with only one wing” —these are words of Vivekananda, who meant to affirm the great significance of the Feminine Principle. Man does not willingly give full rights to woman. However, this opposition but intensifies the forces; and woman, fighting for her cosmic rights, will acquire the knowledge of her power. (LHR I, p 325) (10 September 1934)
- Sister Nivedita (1867–1911), a disciple of Swami Vivekananda
- Complete Works of Vivekananda, Belur Math publication
- Vivekananda Vedanta Network
- Quotes of Swami Vivekananda (with source citations)
- inspirational quotes by Vivekananda
- Swami Vivekananda quotes for Success
- Swami Vivekananda MCQ and Answer