January month is popular across the world for various reasons. January is celebrated across the world as the English New Year. Also all over the Ramakrishna Missions in the world, this day (1 January) is celebrated as Kalpataru Day. In the world, many Orthodox Christians celebrate 7 January as Christmas by following the Julian calendar. When I worked as Associate Professor in Eritrea I had observed they celebrate 7 January as Christmas.
Across India on 14/15 January is celebrated in different names. In Assam, the celebration is known as Magh Bihu; Lohri is celebrated in Delhi/New Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu; and Makar Sankranti in other parts of the country. It is pertinent to mention that the celebration is the same only the name of the celebration differs. On 26 January 1950, our constitution came into effect so we became a Republic. Also in this month, two great persons were born in India. They are Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda and master were born on 12 January 1863. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was born on 23 January 1897. Anyway, in history, we have read the contribution in the freedom movement of India to only two families’ names as if only for the two families we have got independence, but my salute to all who contributed to the freedom movement in India.
A few lines about Swami Vivekananda are presented here as his birthday tribute.
As mentioned already, Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 in Kolkata then Calcutta. His real name in school/college was Narendranath Dutta and his pet name was “Biley”. By this (“Biley”) name parents used to call him. Although he is considered a key personality in the introduction of Vedanta philosophy and Yoga to Western countries mainly in the USA and Europe, humanity was his only consideration. Swami Vivekananda was intelligent from childhood. He was the only student to have received first division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination. He was a positive and broad-minded person with a feeling for all human beings irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. This paragraph will say many things “All power is within you, you can do anything and everything. Believe in that; do not believe that you are weak. You can do anything and everything, without even the guidance of anyone. Stand up and express the divinity within you. Arise, Awake, and Sleep no more. Within each of you, there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries. Believe in this, and that power will be manifested”.
Love and affection towards others are reflected from his saying, “All expansion is life, and all contraction is death. All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is, therefore, the only law of life”. His positive feeling towards different religions is realised by this discourse, “The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth”. He further said, “Feel like Christ, you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is the feeling that is life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.”
His patriotic fervour can be understood through this line, “The soil of India is my highest heaven, the good of India is my good and repeat and pray day and night…….O Thou Mother of Strength, take my weakness, take my unmanliness and make me a man!”
Vivekananda passed away on 4 July 1902 but no Indian can forget him as his thought-provoking lecture in Chicago in 1893 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions conquered the hearts of millions of the people of the World. In 1984 the Government of India declared this day (12 January) as National Youth Day and since 1985 the event has been celebrated in India every year.