In this article we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comment on Vedanta. Related articles are listed at the bottom of the page.
Swami Vivekananda on Vedanta
Swami Vivekananda told—
- A real Vedantist must sympathise with all.[Source]
- According to the Vedanta, when a man has arrived at that perception, he has become free, and he is the only man who is fit to live in this world.[Source]
- Do you know what my idea is? By preaching the profound secrets of the Vedanta religion in the Western world, we shall attract thy sympathy and regard of the mighty nations, mainlining forever the position of their teacher in spiritual matters, and they will remain our teachers in all material concerns.
- For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam — Vedanta brain and Islam body — is the only hope. I see in my mind’s eye the future perfect India rising out of this chaos and strife, glorious and invincible , with Vedanta brain and Islam body.[Source]
- Give up hope, says the Vedanta. Why should you hope? You have everything, nay, you are everything. What are you hoping for?[Source]
- He whom the sages have been seeking in all these places is in our own hearts; the voice that you heard was right, says Vedanta, but the direction you gave to the voice was wrong.
- I am a Vedantist; Sachchidananda — Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute — is my God.[Source]
- In our country there is only this religion of Vedanta. Compared with the Western civilisation, it may be said, we have hardly got anything else. But by the preaching of this universal religion of Vedanta, a religion which gives equal rights to acquire spirituality to men of all creeds and all paths of religious practice, the civilised West would come to know what a wonderful degree of spirituality once developed in India and how that is still existing.[Source]
- It is weakness, says the Vedanta, which is the cause of all misery in this world. Weakness is the one cause of suffering. We become miserable because we are weak. We lie, steal, kill, and commit other crimes, because we are weak. We suffer because we are weak. We die because we are weak. Where there is nothing to weaken us, there is no death nor sorrow. We are miserable through delusion. Giving up the delusion, and the whole thing vanishes.
- Man, therefore, according to the Vedanta philosophy, is the greatest being that is in the universe, and this world of work the best place in it, because only herein is the greatest and the best chance for him to become perfect. Angels or gods, whatever you may call them, have all to become men, if they want to become perfect. This is the great centre, the wonderful poise, and the wonderful opportunity — this human life.[Source][Recommended video: Human Planet Trailer of BBC One]
- Not only is Vedanta the highest philosophy in the world, but it is the greatest poem.[Source]
- Our Vedanta is the assertion of freedom always.[Source]
- Realisation of love comes to none unless one becomes a perfect Jnani. Does not the Vedanta say that Brahman is Sat-Chit-Ânanda— the absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss? [Source]
- The caste system is opposed to the religion of the Vedanta. Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against caste, and every time it has only riveted the chains. Caste is simply the outgrowth of the political institutions of India; it is a hereditary trade guild. Trade competition with Europe has broken caste more than any teaching.[Source]
- The essence of Vedanta is that there is but one Being and that every soul is that Being in full, not a part of that Being.
- The first step for the pure Vedantist is to be Abhih, fearless. Weakness has got to go before a man dares to become a Vedantist, and we know how difficult that is.[Source]
- The ideal of Vedanta is to know man as he really is.[Source]
- The less you read, the better. Read the Gita and other good works on Vedanta. That is all you need. The present system of education is all wrong. The mind is crammed with facts before it knows how to think. Control of the mind should be taught first. If I had my education to get over again and had any voice in the matter, I would learn to master my mind first, and then gather facts if I wanted them. It takes people a long time to learn things because they can’t concentrate their minds at will.[Source]
- The principles of religion that are in the Vedanta are unchangeable.[Source]
- The solution of the Vedanta is that we are not bound, we are free already. Not only so, but to say or to think that we are bound is dangerous— it is a mistake, it is self-hypnotism. As soon as you say, ‘I am bound’, ‘I am weak’. ‘I am helpless’, woe unto you; you rivet one more chain upon yourself. Do not say it, do not think it.
- The Vedanta claims that there has not been one religious inspiration, one manifestation of the divine man, however great, but it has been the expression of that infinite oneness in human nature; and all that we call ethics and morality and doing good to others is also but the manifestation of this oneness. There are moments when every man feels that he is one with the universe, and he rushes forth to express it, whether he knows it or not. This expression of oneness is what we call love and sympathy, and it is the basis of all our ethics and morality. This is summed up in the Vedanta philosophy by the celebrated aphorism, Tat Tvam Asi, “Thou art That”.[Source]
- The Vedanta does not in reality denounce the world.[Source]
- The Vedanta has no quarrel with Buddhism. The idea of the Vedanta is to harmonise all.[Source]
- The Vedanta is the rationale of all religions. Without the Vedanta every religion is superstition; with it everything becomes religion.[Source]
- The Vedanta philosophy is the foundation of Buddhism and everything else in India; but what we call the Advaita philosophy of the modern school has a great many conclusions of the Buddhists. Of course, the Hindus will not admit that—that is the orthodox Hindus, because to them the Buddhists are heretics. But there is a conscious attempt to stretch out the whole doctrine to include the heretics also.[Source]
- The Vedanta recognises no sin, it only recognises error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta, is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that. Every time you think in that way, you, as it were, rivet one more link in the chain that binds you down, you add one more layer of hypnotism on to your own soul. Therefore, whosoever thinks he is weak is wrong, whosoever thinks he is impure is wrong, and is throwing a bad thought into the world. This we must always bear in mind that in the Vedanta there is no attempt at reconciling the present life — the hypnotised life, this false life which we have assumed — with the ideal; but this false life must go, and the real life which is always existing must manifest itself, must shine out. No man becomes purer and purer, it is a matter of greater manifestation. The veil drops away, and the native purity of the soul begins to manifest itself. Everything is ours already — infinite purity, freedom, love, and power.[Source]
- The Vedanta recognises the reasoning power of man a good deal, although it says there is something higher than intellect; but the road lies through intellect.[Source]
- The Vedanta says, there is nothing that is not God. It may frighten many of you, but you will understand it by degrees. The living God is within you, and yet you are building churches and temples and believing all sorts of imaginary nonsense. The only God to worship is the human soul in the human body. Of course all animals are temples too, but man is the highest, the Taj Mahal of temples. If I cannot worship in that, no other temple will be of any advantage. The moment I have realised God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him — that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.[Source]
- The Vedanta says that Infinity is our true nature; it will never vanish, it will abide for ever. But we are limiting ourselves by our Karma, which like a chain round our necks has dragged us into this limitation. Break that chain and be free. Trample law under your feet. There is no law in human nature, there is no destiny, no fate.[Source]
- The Vedanta system begins with tremendous pessimism, and ends with real optimism. We deny the sense-optimism but assert the real optimism of the Supersensuous. That real happiness is not in the senses but above the senses; and it is in every man. The sort of optimism which we see in the world is what will lead to ruin through the senses.[Source]
- The Vedanta teaches that Nirvana can be attained here and now, that we do not have to wait for death to reach it. Nirvana is the realization of the Self; and after having once known that, if only for an instant, never again can one be deluded by the mirage of personality.
- The Vedanta was (and is) the boldest system of religion. It stopped nowhere.[Source]
- The Vedantic idea is the infinite principle of God embodied in every one of us.[Source]
- This Vedanta, the philosophy of the Upanishads, I would make bold to state, has been the first as well as the final thought on the spiritual plane that has ever been vouchsafed to man.[Source]
- Vedanta does not say, “Give it up”: it says, “Transcend it”.[Source]
- Vedanta formulates, not universal brotherhood, but universal oneness.[Source]
- Vedanta in its highest form can alone spiritualise their social aspirations.[Source]
- Vedanta philosophy is not the outcome of meditation in the forests only, but that the very best parts of it were thought out and expressed by brains which were busiest in the everyday affairs of life.[Source]
- Vedanta teaches the God that is in everyone, has become everyone and everything.[Source]
- Vedantism teaches that there is but one existence and one thing real, and that is God.[Source]
- We have a place for struggle in the Vedanta, but not for fear. All fears will vanish when you begin to assert your own nature. If you think that you are bound, bound you will remain. If you think you are free, free you will be.[Source]
- Whether we are conscious of it or not, we think the Vedanta, we live in the Vedanta, we breathe the Vedanta, and we die in the Vedanta, and every Hindu does that.[Source]
- You must always remember that the one central ideal of Vedanta is this oneness. There are no two in anything, no two lives, nor even two different kinds of life for the two worlds.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda’s discovery
In a letter written to Alasinga Perumal, dated 6 May 1895, Swami Vivekananda wrote—[Source]Now I will tell you my discovery. All of religion is contained in the Vedanta, that is, in the three stages of the Vedanta philosophy, the Dvaita, Vishishtâdvaita and Advaita; one comes after the other. These are the three stages of spiritual growth in man. Each one is necessary. This is the essential of religion: the Vedanta, applied to the various ethnic customs and creeds of India, is Hinduism. The first stage, i.e. Dvaita, applied to the ideas of the ethnic groups of Europe, is Christianity; as applied to the Semitic groups, Mohammedanism. The Advaita, as applied in its Yoga-perception form, is Buddhism etc. Now by religion is meant the Vedanta; the applications must vary according to the different needs, surroundings, and other circumstances of different nations. You will find that although the philosophy is the same, the Shâktas, Shaivas, etc. apply it each to their own special cult and forms. Now, in your journal write article after article on these three systems, showing their harmony as one following after the other, and at the same time keeping off the ceremonial forms altogether. That is, preach the philosophy, the spiritual part, and let people suit it to their own forms. I wish to write a book on this subject, therefore I wanted the three Bhashyas; but only one volume of the Ramanuja (Bhashya) has reached me as yet.
- Practical Vedanta Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume II