Swami Vivekananda was an admirer of Jesus Christ (or Jesus of Nazareth). Between 1888—1893, when he travelled widely in many states of India, he had nothing but a kamandalu and two books with him— a) Bhagavad Gita and b) The Imitation of Christ (written by Thomas à Kempis).
His suggestion was— “To obtain Bhakti, seek the company of holy men who have Bhakti, and read books like the Gita and the Imitation of Christ; always think of the attributes of God.”[Source]
Later in life, Vivekananda himself translated first few chapters of the book The Imitation of Christ. In the introduction section of the book, he wrote—[Source]
The Imitation of Christ is a cherished treasure of the Christian world. This great book was written by a Roman Catholic monk. “Written”, perhaps, is not the proper word. It would be more appropriate to say that each letter of the book is marked deep with the heart’s blood of the great soul who had renounced all for his love of Christ.
Vivekananda was undoubtedly a follower and admirer of Jesus of Christ. In another lecture he told—[Source]
Jesus Christ was God — the Personal God become man. He has manifested Himself many times in different forms and these alone are what you can worship. God in His absolute nature is not to be worshipped. Worshipping such God would be nonsense. We have to worship Jesus Christ, the human manifestation, as God. You cannot worship anything higher than the manifestation of God. The sooner you give up the worship of God separate from Christ, the better for you.”In the famous lecture Christ, the Messenger (delivered at Los Angeles, California in 1900) Vivekananda told—
If I, as an Oriental have to worship Jesus of Nazareth, there is only one way, that is, to worship him as God and nothing else.[Source]
In this page we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes, comments and opinions on Jesus Christ.
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Swami Vivekananda’s quotes and comments on Jesus Christ
- Christ, being man, had to see impurity and denounced it; but God, infinitely higher, does not see iniquity and cannot be angry.[Source]
- Christ’s public life extended only over eighteen months, and for this he had silently been preparing himself for thirty – two years.[Source]
- Christ said, “I and my father are one”, and you repeat it. Yet it has not helped mankind. For nineteen hundred years men have not understood that saying. They make Christ the saviour of men. He is God and we are worms![Source]
- Even now, when you get love, you see Radha. Become Radha and be saved. There is no other way, Christians do not understand Solomon’s song. They call it prophecy symbolising Christ’s love for the Church. They think it nonsense and father some story upon it.[Source]
- Everything is the living God, the living Christ; see it as such.[Source]
- Everything progresses in waves. The march of civilization, the progression of worlds, is in waves. All human activities likewise progress in waves — art, literature, science, religion. Great waves succeed each other, and between these great waves is a quiet, a calm, a period of rest, a period of recuperation. All manifest life seems to require a period of sleep, of calm, in which to gain added strength, renewed vigour, for the next manifestation, or awakening to activity. Thus is the march of all progress, of all manifest life — in waves, successive waves, [of] activity and repose. Waves succeed each other in an endless chain of progression. Such a one was Jesus of Nazareth.[Source]
- Father is the existence out of which everything comes; Son is that knowledge. It is in Christ that God will be manifest. God was everywhere, in all beings, before Christ; but in Christ we became conscious of Him. This is God. The third is bliss, the Holy Spirit.[Source]
- Give up bondage; become a son, be free, and then you can “see the Father”, as did Jesus.[Source]
- Had I lived in Palestine, in the days of Jesus of Nazareth, I would have washed his feet, not with my tears, but with my heart’s blood![Source]
- I have come to deal with principles. I have only to preach that God comes again and again, and that He came in India as Krishna, Rama, and Buddha, and that He will come again. It can almost be demonstrated that after each 500 years the world sinks, and a tremendous spiritual wave comes, and on the top of the wave is a Christ.[Source]
- I pity the Hindu who does not see the beauty in Jesus Christ’s character. I pity the Christian who does not reverence the Hindu Christ.[Source]
- If Jesus Christ was not perfect, then the religion bearing his name falls to the ground.[Source]
- It is an irrational claim to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and at the same time to hold that the greater part of his teachings have no application at the present time. If you say that the reason why the powers do not follow them that believe (as Christ said they would) is because you have not faith enough and are not pure enough—that will be all right. But to say that they have no application at the present time is to be ridiculous.[Source]
- Jesus Christ was willing to admit every good man to the family of God. It is not the man who believes a certain something, but the man who does the will of the Father in heaven, who is right. On this basis—being right and doing right—the whole world can unite.[Source]
- Let the churches preach doctrines, theories, philosophies to their hearts’ content, but when it comes to worship, the real practical part of religion, it should be as Jesus says, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret”.[Source]
- “None is good, save One, that is, God”, as the Lord Jesus bath said. The rest are only tools in His hands. “Gloria in Excelsis”, “Glory unto God in the highest”, and unto men that deserve, but not to such an undeserving one like me. Here “the servant is not worthy of the hire”; and a Fakir, especially, has no right to any praise whatsoever, for would you praise your servant for simply doing his duty?[Source]
- Nothing is gained except by sacrifice…. The holiest function of our human consciousness, the noblest, do not make it unclean! Do not degrade it to the level of the brutes…. Make yourselves decent men! … Be chaste and pure! … There is no other way. Did Christ find any other way? … If you can conserve and use the energy properly, it leads you to God. Inverted, it is hell itself ….[Source]
- Religion is not an imitation of Jesus or Mohammed. Even if an imitation is good, it is never genuine. Be not an imitation of Jesus, but be Jesus, You are quite as great as Jesus, Buddha, or anybody else. If we are not … we must struggle and be. I would not be exactly like Jesus. It is unnecessary that I should be born a Jew.[Source]
- Remember the words of Christ: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” These words are literally true, not figures or fiction. They were the outflow of the heart’s blood of one of the greatest sons of God who have ever come to this world of ours; words which came as the fruit of realisation, from a man who had felt and realised God himself; who had spoken with God, lived with God, a hundred times more intensely than you or I see this building.[Source]
- Renounce and give up. What did Christ say? “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Again and again did he preach renunciation as the only way to perfection. There comes a time when the mind awakes from this long and dreary dream—the child gives up its play and wants to go back to its mother.
- Renunciation is not asceticism. Are all beggars Christ? Poverty is not a synonym for holiness; often the reverse.[Source]
- The Christians believe that Jesus Christ died to save man. With you it is belief in a doctrine, and this belief constitutes your salvation. With us doctrine has nothing whatever to do with salvation. Each one may believe in whatever doctrine he likes; or in no doctrine.[Source]
- The Church tries to fit Christ into it, not the Church into Christ.[Source]
- The great secret of true success, of true happiness, then, is this: the man who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish man, is the most successful. It seems to be a paradox: do we not know that every man who is unselfish in life gets cheated, gets hurt? Apparently, yes. “Christ was unselfish, and yet he was crucified.” True, but we know that his unselfishness is the reason, the cause of a great victory— the crowning of millions upon millions of lives with the blessings of true success.
- The old Hebrew people did not care for any heaven. That is one of the reasons they [opposed] Jesus of Nazareth — because he taught life after death.[Source]
- The three years of his ministry were like one compressed, concentrated age, which it has taken nineteen hundred years to unfold, and who knows how much longer it will yet take! Little men like you and me are simply the recipients of just a little energy. A few minutes, a few hours, a few years at best, are enough to spend it all, to stretch it out, as it were, to its fullest strength, and then we are gone for ever. But mark this giant that came; centuries and ages pass, yet the energy that he left upon the world is not yet stretched, nor yet expended to its full. It goes on adding new vigour as the ages roll on.[Source]
- The Trinitarian Christ is elevated above us; the Unitarian Christ is merely a moral man; neither can help us. The Christ who is the Incarnation of God, who has not forgotten His divinity, that Christ can help us, in Him there is no imperfection.[Source]
- We have read different stories that have been written about him; we know the scholars and their writings, and the higher criticism; and we know all that has been done by study. We are not here to discuss how much of the New Testament is true, we are not here to discuss how much of that life is historical. It does not matter at all whether the New Testament was written within the five hundred years of his birth; nor does it matter, even, how much of that life is true. But there is something behind it, something we want to imitate. To tell a lie, you have to imitate a truth, and that truth is a fact. You cannot imitate that which you have never perceived. But there must have been a nucleus, a tremendous power that came down; a marvellous manifestation of spiritual power; and of that we are speaking. It stands there. Therefore, we are not afraid of all the criticisms of the scholars. If I, as an Oriental have to worship Jesus of Nazareth, there is only one way, that is, to worship him as God and nothing else.[Source]
- You have heard that Christ said, ‘My words are spirit and they are life’. So are my words spirit and life; they will burn their way into your brain and you will never get away from them![Source]
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”
Main article:Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
[Site admin’s note: This is the eighth verse of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Read more about Matthew 5:8 at Bible Hub or Christianity Today.]
- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Can we see God? Of course not. Can we know God? Of course not. If God can be known, He will be God no longer. Knowledge is limitation. But I and my Father are one: I find the reality in my soul. These ideas are expressed in some religions, and in others only hinted. In some they were expatriated. Christ’s teachings are now very little understood in this country. If you will excuse me, I will say that they have never been very well understood.[Source]
- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This sentence alone would save mankind if all books and prophets were lost. This purity of heart will bring the vision of God. It is the theme of the whole music of this universe. In purity is no bondage. Remove the veils of ignorance by purity, then we manifest ourselves as we really are and know that we were never in bondage. The seeing of many is the great sin of all the world. See all as Self and love all; let all idea of separateness go. . .[Source]
- The Messenger came to show the path: that the spirit is not in forms, that it is not through all sorts of vexations and knotty problems of philosophy that you know the spirit. Better that you had no learning, better that you never read a book in your life. These are not at all necessary for salvation — neither wealth, nor position nor power, not even learning; but what is necessary is that one thing, purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” for the spirit in its own nature is pure. How can it be otherwise? It is of God, it has come from God. In the language of the Bible, “It is the breath of God.” In the language of the Koran, “It is the soul of God.” Do you mean to say that the Spirit of God can ever be impure? But, alas, it has been, as it were, covered over with the dust and dirt of ages, through our own actions, good and evil. Various works which were not correct, which were not true, have covered the same spirit with the dust and dirt of the ignorance of ages. It is only necessary to clear away the dust and dirt, and then the spirit shines immediately. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Where goest thou to seek for the Kingdom of God, asks Jesus of Nazareth, when it is there, within you? Cleanse the spirit, and it is there. It is already yours. How can you get what is not yours? It is yours by right. You are the heirs of immortality, sons of the Eternal Father.[Source]
“I and my Father are one”
Main article: Swami Vivekananda’s quotes and comments on “I and my Father are one”
[Site admin’s note: Read more about John 10:30 at Bible Hub.]
- It is the Man who said, “I and my Father are one”, whose power has descended unto millions. For thousands of years it has worked for good. And we know that the same Man, because he was a non-dualist, was merciful to others. To the masses who could not conceive of anything higher than a Personal God, he said, “Pray to your Father in heaven.” To others who could grasp a higher idea, he said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” but to his disciples to whom he revealed himself more fully, he proclaimed the highest truth, “I and my Father are one”.
- That soul is strong that has become one with the Lord; none else is strong. In your own Bible, what do you think of the cause that strength of Jesus of Nazareth, that immense, infinite strength, which laughed at traitors, and blessed those that were willing to murder him? It was that, “I and my Father are one”; it was that prayer, “Father, just as I am one with you, so make them one with me”.
“Resist not evil”
Main article: Swami Vivekananda’s quotes on “Resist not evil”
- Christ said, “Resist not evil”, and we do not understand it until we discover that it is not only moral but actually the best policy, for anger is loss of energy to the man who displays it. You should not allow your minds to come into those brain-combinations of anger and hatred.[Source]
- “Why should I become angry just because another man has made a fool of himself. Do thou resist not evil!” That is what the lovers of God say. Whatever the world does, wherever it goes, has no influence [on them].[Source]
“Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor”
[Site admin’s note: This is the twenty-first verse of the nineteenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. Read more about Matthew 19:21 at BibleHub]
Do you believe what Christ says, “Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor?” Practical equality there; no trying to torture the texts, but taking the truth as it is. Do not try to torture texts. I have heard it said that that was preached only to the handful of Jews who listened to Jesus. The same argument will apply to other things also. Do not torture texts; dare to face truth as it is. Even if we cannot reach to it, let us confess our weakness, but let us not destroy the ideal. Let us hope that we shall attain to it sometime, and strive for it. There it is — “Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and follow me.” Thus, trampling on every privilege and everything in us that works for privilege, let us work for that knowledge which will bring the feeling of sameness towards all mankind. You think that because you talk a little more polished language you are superior to the man in the street. Remember that when you are thinking this, you are not going towards freedom, but are forging a fresh chain for your feet. And, above all, if the pride of spirituality enters into you, woe unto you. It is the most awful bondage that ever existed. Neither can wealth nor any other bondage of the human heart bind the soul so much as this. “I am purer than others”, is the most awful idea that can enter into the human heart. In what sense are you pure? The God in you is the God in all. If you have not known this, you have known nothing. How can there be difference? It is all one. Every being is the temple of the Most High; if you can see that, good, if not, spirituality has yet to come to you.[Source]
“Kingdom of Heaven” or “Kingdom of God”
- The kingdom of heaven is within us. The Jewish idea was a kingdom of heaven upon this earth. That was not the idea of Jesus.[Source]
- “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Where goest thou to seek for the Kingdom of God, asks Jesus of Nazareth, when it is there, within you? Cleanse the spirit, and it is there. It is already yours. How can you get what is not yours? It is yours by right. You are the heirs of immortality, sons of the Eternal Father.[Source]
- Until we give up the world manufactured by the ego, never can we enter the kingdom of heaven. None ever did, none ever will.[Source]
- “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all good things will be added unto you.” Follow God and you shall have whatever you desire.[Source]
- “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Unto him everything who does not care for anything.[Source]
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon”
- Renunciation means that none can serve both God and Mammon.[Source]
- The way to God is the opposite to that of the world. And to few, very few, are given to have God and mammon at the same time.[Source]
From a letter written to D. R. Balaji Rao
Swami Vivekananda wrote this in a letter written to D. R. Balaji Rao—[Source]
“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Thus said the old Jewish saint when suffering the greatest calamities that could befall man, and he erred not. Herein lies the whole secret of Existence. Waves may roll over the surface and tempest rage, but deep down there is the stratum of infinite calmness, infinite peace, and infinite bliss. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” And why? Because it is during these moments of visitations when the heart is wrung by hands which never stop for the father’s cries or the mother’s wail, when under the load of sorrow, dejection, and despair, the world seems to be cut off from under our feet, and when the whole horizon seems to be nothing but an impenetrable sheet of misery and utter despair — that the internal eyes open, light flashes all of a sudden, the dream vanishes, and intuitively we come face to face with the grandest mystery in nature — Existence. Yes, then it is — when the load would be sufficient to sink a lot of frail vessels — that the man of genius, of strength, the hero, sees that infinite, absolute, ever-blissful Existence per se, that infinite being who is called and worshipped under different names in different climes. Then it is, the shackles that bind the soul down to this hole of misery break, as it were, for a time, and unfettered it rises and rises until it reaches the throne of the Lord, “Where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest”. Cease not, brother, to send up petitions day and night, cease not to say day and night — THY WILL BE DONE.
“Ours not to question why,
Ours but to do and die.”
When will Christ come again?
I never take much notice of these things. I have come to deal with principles. I have only to preach that God comes again and again, and that He came in India as Krishna, Rama, and Buddha, and that He will come again. It can almost be demonstrated that after each 500 years the world sinks, and a tremendous spiritual wave comes, and on the top of the wave is a Christ.
There is a great change now coming all over the world, and this is a cycle. Men are finding that they are losing hold of life; which way will they turn, down or up? Up, certainly. How can it be down? Plunge into the breach; fill up the breach with your body, your life. How should you allow the world to go down when you are living?
The difference between man an Christ
There is much difference in manifested beings. As a manifested being you will never be Christ. Out of clay, manufacture a clay elephant, out of the same clay, manufacture a clay mouse. Soak them in water, they become one. As clay, they are eternally one; as fashioned things, they are eternally different. The Absolute is the material of both God and man. As Absolute, Omnipresent Being, we are all one; and as personal beings, God is the eternal master, and we are the eternal servants.
You have three things in you: (1) the body, (2) the mind, (3) the spirit. The spirit is intangible, the mind comes to birth and death, and so does the body. You are that spirit, but often you think you are the body.
When a man says, “I am here”, he thinks of the body. Then comes another moment when you are on the highest plane; you do not say, “I am here”. But if a man abuses you or curses you and you do not resent it, you are the spirit. “When I think I am the mind, I am one spark of that eternal fire which Thou art; and when I feel that I am the spirit, Thou and I are one”– so says a devotee to the Lord. Is the mind in advance of the spirit?
God does not reason; why should you reason if you knew? It is a sign of weakness that we have to go on crawling like worms to get a few facts and build generalisations, and then the whole thing tumbles down again. The spirit is reflected in the mind and everything. It is the light of the spirit that makes the mind sensate. Everything is an expression of the spirit; the minds are so many mirrors. What you call love and fear, hatred, virtue, and vice are all reflections of the spirit; only when the reflector is base the reflection is bad.
On Christ’s crucifixion
Swami Vivekananda was asked—Do you believe in Christ’s crucifixion?Vivekananda’s reply was—[Source]
Christ was God incarnate; they could not kill him. That which was crucified was only a semblance, a mirage.
On the Sermon on the Mount
Swami Vivekananda was asked—
Do you believe Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount?
His reply was—[Source]
I do believe he did. But in this matter I have to go by the books as others do, and I am aware that mere book testimony is rather shaky ground. But we are all safe in taking the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount as a guide. We have to take what appeals to our inner spirit. Buddha taught five hundred years before Christ, and his words were full of blessings: never a curse came from his lips, nor from his life; never one from Zoroaster, nor from Confucius.
Are Christ and Buddha identical?
It is my particular fancy that the same Buddha became Christ. Buddha prophesied, “I will come again in five hundred years”, and Christ came here in five hundred years. These are the two Lights of the whole human nature. Two men have been produced, Buddha and Christ; these are the two giants, huge gigantic personalities, two Gods. Between them they divide the whole world. Wherever there is the least knowledge in the world, people bow down either to Buddha or Christ. It would be very hard to produce more like them, but I hope there will be. Mohammed came five hundred years after, five hundred years after came Luther with his Protestant wave, and this is five hundred years after that again. It is a great thing in a few thousand years to produce two such men as Jesus and Buddha. Are not two such enough? Christ and Buddha were Gods, the others were prophets. Study the life of these two and see the manifestation of power in them — calm and non – resisting, poor beggars owning nothing, without a cent in their pockets, despised all their lives, called heretic and fool — and think of the immense spiritual power they have wielded over humanity.[Source]
- Christ, the Messenger — Swami Vivekananda’s lecture on Jesus Christ delivered at Los Angeles in 1900 (PDF document)
- The Divine Incarnation Or Avatara from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume VIII