National Youth Day and Swami Vivekananda

India is celebrating Swami Vivekananda’s 160thbirth anniversary today. The 19thcentury philosopher and reformer is known for his modern approach towards spirituality, science and education and is considered an inspiration for youth for his youthful and inspiring ideas. Swami Vivekananda passed away at a young age of 39 years in the year 1902, yet a century later, he continues to remain relevant for the aspirational youth. 

Since 1985, Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary has been celebrated as National Youth Day in India because the government then believed, “philosophy of Vivekananda and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youth”. Now the time has come to utilize this youth force for the reconstruction of modern India.

Swami Vivekananda believed in the power of the youth, according to him the youth can play an important role in India’s socio economic regeneration. He called upon youth to work for reviving the glory of India in his lectures and writings. In one of his lectures during his visit to Madras now Chennai he said, “My hope is in you. Will you respond to the call of your nation? Each one of you has a glorious future if you dare believe me. Have that faith, each one of you, in yourself and you will revive the whole of India”.

Swami Vivekananda’s influence on youth also is evident from the fact that young revolutionaries of the time like Subhash Chandra Bose and Aurobindo Ghosh, who considered him as their direct inspiration. 

Swami Vivekananda bought the Vedic wisdom to the reach of everyone, as he interpreted the ancient Hindu scriptures to motivate the modern youth to achieve material as well as spiritual success. Swami Vivekananda also declared spirituality and modern scientific approach complement each other. He believed in the synthesis of material development in the West and Indian spirituality, can help the regeneration of the world, as he was open to the ideas and philosophy that is good for all.

But Swami Vivekananda was also right when he criticised the Western education system in India, “Education is not the amount of information that we put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life”. He defined Education in a new light when he declared, “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man

Well versed in all religious philosophies of the world, Swami Vivekananda was of the of the opinion that, “If you are born a Christian, be a good Christian. If you are born a Hindu, be a good Hindu. If you are born a Muslim, be a good Muslim”, this reflects his thoughts on communal harmony.

India is the youngest country in the world, with an average age of 29 years and with 64 percent of its population under the working age group. This equation can help in the addition of atleast 2 percent points yearly to the economy till 2030. Therefore not just celebration year after year but a concrete plan to utilize youth as the work force for the reconstruction of Swami Vivekananda’s dream India will be a befitting tribute the revolutionary monk.