Chakravarti Rajagopalachari had this to say of the great patriot saint: “Swami Vivekananda saved Hinduism, and saved India. But for him we would have lost our religion and would not have gained our freedom. We therefore owe everything to Swami Vivekananda. May his faith, his courage and his wisdom ever inspire us so that we may keep safe the treasure we have received from him.” In a letter to T.S.Avinashilingam, Mahatma Gandhi wrote on 22nd July 1941, “Surely Swami Vivekananda’s writings need no introduction from anybody. They make their own irresistible appeal.”

Anyone reading through the writings of Swami Vivekananda cannot but be inspired to take on the cause of National Reconstruction. Many a young freedom fighter including Netaji Subash Chandra Bose owed their inspiration to the writings of Swamiji. Many people of the present generation owe our entire work to the message of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji has said, “Life is short, give it up to a great cause.” Such strong inspirational statements can make us jump into action. It is only after we begin to understand the complexities of society and its response to our work will reality sink in. It is during those times that one very practical statement of Swamiji helped me. He mentions, “All good work must pass through three stages – Ridicule, Opposition and finally will come Acceptance.”

I was 19 years old when under such an inspiration, I had founded the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement. It was during those times that I felt that one could achieve anything that one set out to do. We were running a weekly dispensary in a village near Mysore and would go there every Sunday. While I had expected that my friends and well-wishers would wholeheartedly support me in this work, I found ridicule instead. People ascribed all kinds of selfish reasons for our work. They would mock us as we left the medical college hostel with boxes of medicines for the rural dispensary. It was not difficult for one to feel deflated and demotivated.

Many years later, as the work gathered momentum and we were living in the tribal area, we faced so much opposition. There were many vested interests in the Government, other NGOs and amongst the community itself who felt that our presence was an irritant. They did everything possible to keep us off. From smear campaigns to getting us arrested, to threats of getting us beaten – everything was tried but we would not buckle. Opposition ended up strengthening our resolve to persevere. After all, the exploiters would not like their exploitation to be exposed.

Gradually as support for our work grew, we found attitudes too changing. Today we are respected and admired for our work and we are beginning to find the acceptance that Swami Vivekananda wrote about. Now I can see new meaning in what Swamiji said. I now realize that it is not the ridicule, opposition or acceptance of society or anybody external that matters. Swamiji possibly spoke of something higher. While it is easy to be affected by the outside world, what truly matters is how we see our work and ourselves. It is so easy to ridicule ourselves and create opposition for our ideals in our own mind. Opposition comes in very subtle forms – it could be our own egoistic desire to be in control, to seek name and fame for what we are doing and to fall prey to the temptation of becoming the ‘provider’. It is only when we are able to see ourselves as instruments of a higher power through which good work gets done, will we able to stay rested with the feeling of ‘Acceptance’.

Kannada version in Prajavani (12-Apr-12)