All over the country, since Independence, there has been a great deal of enthusiasm amongst the people, particularly among our young men, to rebuild our nation. It is very commendable. But then, before one takes up this work one must have a clear idea of the India that is to be. A painter paints a picture on the canvas only after he has a clear image, as it were, in his mind of what he wants to paint. Similarly, an engineer, before he begins the construction of any building, first gets complete information as to what purpose the building will be used for—school, hospital, public office, or residence. After that he draws the plan and then constructs the building accordingly. So we too must have a clear picture of the future India and then begin building the nation. Are we going to make India a great military nation? I am sure we are not, for no military power has lived long. Just see the fate of Hitler and Mussolini.
We are a poor nation, and we want wealth to be able to feed our masses. But will mere bread and butter solve our problem? Have the people of America and other advanced nations peace of mind and true happiness in spite of their wealth? They do not seem to have. Look at the young people of some of these countries, children of affluence, boys and girls, who feel frustration with nothing to achieve in life, wandering about. Some of them are very, very rich, but often they feel a sort of terrible purposelessness, having no goal in life. We want military strength to protect our freedom and not to rob our neighbours; we want wealth to feed our masses who are poor, but this cannot be the ideal of the nation. Something more is required besides these two. What is that which will bring peace to us along with wealth and power?
It is possible to go through our ancient history and see how great India was in power, wealth, and happiness during the times of Ashoka, Chandragupta, Kanishka and others. During the Vedic period and during the Buddhistic period evidently we had great ideals that could make India so great in the past. But then how has this degeneration come about? We have to find out the causes that led to our downfall. So in constructing the future India we must accept the ideals that made us great, reject what caused degeneration, and supply newly what were not there at that time, viz. science and technology.
We nowadays swear by science. We say, if something is not scientific, it is superstitious. But is it scientific to ignore altogether our past, not caring to know what good it contained and what has sustained us as a nation for the last three thousand years, and to run after Western ideas which have not stood the test of time, which are at best two hundred years old and some of them of even more recent times? Have these ideals solved the problem of the Western nations? Are they happy and at peace? They do not seem to be. So why go after those ideals?
We are human beings. God has given us reason to be used, and not to allow ourselves to be driven like cattle by anyone and everyone who comes and tells us something vehemently. So I feel that we should gather all materials, all information about our past and present, think well, and plan the future. We should not be led by emotion.
First of all, the most necessary thing is character. Without character nothing great can be achieved. Look at Mahatmaji. See how by his character he swayed the nation and forced England to quit India. He did not use guns, atom-bombs, etc. So if we want to make India great, we must build our character first, then use our reason and find out what sort of India we want to build, and then begin to work for it, even if it means sacrificing our lives for it. For this kind of study, Swami Vivekananda’s works will be a guidebook to us to introduce us to the greatness of Indian culture and ideals.
This brochure collected from Swamiji’s works will give at a glance his ideas about the causes of India’s fall, her present condition, and the way to her regeneration. I hope this book will help our young men who are aspiring to build a great India.
23 December 1980 (Swami Vireswarananda)
President Belur Math Ramakrishna Math and