Apart from being a great religious leader popularly known to be preaching Practical Vedanta across the world, Swami Vivekananda was a successful institution-builder. A fact not generally recognised and appreciated. He was adept in modern management practices like team building, crowd-sourcing, mentoring and so on. He had definite ideas on how to remove poverty and industrialise India. This book deals with such lesser known dimensions of his personality and achievements.
B. Bhattacharyya is an acclaimed academician, author and columnist. He was Dean, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and also served as Senior Adviser, United Nations. His last published work is: Myths, Mythology and Management (2018).
Had there been another Vivekananda, only he could have fully appreciated what I could achieve.
" Swamiji was heard muttering these words to himself on the day of his mahaprayan.
In the long tradition of having a mystique with regard to birth of religious leaders, possibly beginning with Gautama Buddha and in more recent times Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda was no exception. His mother, Bhubaneswari Devi, was a great devotee of Shiva and to get a son, she requested one of her relatives then residing in Kashi to organize a daily puja in the Bireswar Shiva Mandir. One night, Bhubaneswari Devi had a wonderful dream that Shiva had taken the form of a small child as if he was her own son. Swamiji was born few months later.
His divinity was recognized by his spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna from day one so to speak, who had, infact, narrated Swamiji's divine antecedents to his devotees on several occasions. Once Sri Ramakrishna observed that Vivekananda (then Narendra Nath) was one of the seven great Rishis, known as Saptarshi in ancient Indian scriptures. He also said that once Naren would come to know who he actually was, he would leave this world through yoga. In fact, Swamiji did say to one of his disciples that he would not live more than 40 years. He left his mortal self when 39 years and 5 months in deep meditation. This is the Vivekananda whose portrait is on the altar of every Ramakrishna Mission prayer hall along with Thakur Sri Ramakrishna and Ma Saroda and in millions of homes.
There was another Vivekananda, the icon of young India, the highest source of inspiration for those fighting for the nationalistic cause. There is still another Vivekananda in whom many see a great manifestation of Vaidic Hinduism, a great reformer as well as somewhat paradoxically, a revivalist Hindu leader.
This is inevitable; this problem of divergent perceptions for any great personality. In fact, Vivekananda spoke of this issue of different perceptions with reference to Sri Ramakrishna:
"Each devotee colours Sri Ramakrishna in the light of his own understanding and each forms his own idea of him from his peculiar standpoint. He was, as it were, a great Sun, and each one of us is eyeing him, as it were, through a different kind of coloured glass...."
My Vivekananda is a leader, a leader of men, in modern sense of the term as we define in management literature. He was like a CEO, with a perfect clarity of what he wants to achieve and how, after factoring in all types of resource constraints. He dreamed of creating a massive organization, with nothing more tangible than the blessings of Thakur Ramakrishna and Ma Saroda, of a monastic Order which would change the world, not only spiritually but also materially. And he accomplished all these, at least in terms of setting up a firm foundation, within just a decade.
This is super-human, almost divine; this accomplishment of an impoverished monk was not recognized in India till he found fame abroad and had a failing health.
My Vivekananda is the most inspired institution-builder that I have read about; to this cause he devoted his entire life, too short though, suppressed some of his dearest longings, almost tormented himself to death: all for a single cause, when paradoxically, at the deepest core of his heart he was an inspired Bohemian, as Brajendra Nath Seal, philosopher and one year his senior in college, so lovingly put in his reminiscences.
I needed to find out my Vivekananda, as distinct from the one who sat in deepest meditation as in a photograph most popular, hung on the wall, placed on the altar, worshipped along with Thakur and Mother by millions of devotees who have hardly any knowledge that Swamiji was also a teacher par excellence, an organizer with a vision which would make any top notch CEO go green with envy and an orator who looked like an angel and then made you roar with laughter just as he himself did like an innocent child.
For one who conceptualised, coined the phraseology 'practical vedanta', toiled to the last breath, literally so, for its propagation, the choice of the 'adjective' provides a glimpse of the orientation of Swamiji.
He once observed that the message of his Guru is to be found in the life he lived. Does not this observation apply equally to him?
Even a cursory look at Vivekananda's life suggests that his life's message can be capsuled in one word— work, ceaseless unselfish work, not a moment to be lost for life is so short, for the welfare of all, none excluded. Preaching became practice, practice became life, life became message, flaming radiant and pure like a sacrificial fire.
If one has an inquisitive mind, life of Vivekananda is an infinite source of insights on almost all dimensions of management, be it team building, conflict resolution, conceptualisation of institutional structure, or at a slightly different level how to develop phenomenal memory or to become a legendary orator. This book is an attempt to focus on these dimensions of Vivekananda's immense contribution to nation building. His ultimate aim was to make a 'man' of all of us. Hopefully, this book may be of some help in that direction.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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