January 20, 2010
Amritapuri and Kochi Health Sciences Campuses
Swami Vivekananda’s birthday is celebrated in India every year as the National Youth Day. On the Amrita campuses also, students and faculty come together to celebrate the birth anniversary of this luminary in a befitting manner.
This year, students at two of Amrita’s campuses invited Sri. Vijay Menon, orator and famous expert, to expound on the topic — Swami Vivekanada and Human Excellence. Trained at the University of Leeds, England and the London School of Economics, the speaker had taught at the IIMs and IITs. He considered Swami Vivekananda as a great role model.
“Vivekananda had originality,” Sri. Vijay told the audience. “He encapsulated the essence of Indian-ness.” Vividly describing how as a young boy, Narendra as he was then known, used to pace up and down the corridors of his modest parental home in Calcutta, pondering on how his life could become meaningful for others, he recalled several incidents from Swamiji’s life.
“Who is a spiritual person?” Swami Vivekananda had asked. “Not necessarily one who knows all the scriptures or one who practices religious rituals from dawn to dusk. But one who has experienced oneness with all of creation.”
“One should not try to be someone else just to get a little bit of attention,” the speaker underlined. “This pretentiousness is the worst thing we can do to ourselves.” “We are too lost in selfishness, absolute mediocrity and petty games,” he stated emphatically.
The talk also advocated eternal values such as respecting elders, respecting the body by dressing modestly and vegetarianism. The speaker briefly described watching a disturbing video wherein a young calf had desperately clung on to the mother that was being led to slaughterhouse.
“I have decided to become a vegetarian,” stated Sharanja Bala of BBM, after the talk. “My grandmother would often tell me about the virtues of vegetarianism. But then I didn’t like her objecting to my eating non-veg and would reject her gentle admonitions with sarcasm.”
The speaker had clearly touched the students deeply. Several others also came up to the stage to share their feelings. A first-year student of B Com publicly acknowledged that in the past she had been rude to her grandparents, and that she now regretted her behavior.
At the Health Sciences campus, a benedictory address was delivered by Sampoojya Swami Atmaswaroopanada from Sri Ramakrishna Math at Vyttila. Swamiji distributed the book Vivekananda: The Friend of All to students as prasadam.
At the Amritapuri campus, students staged a skit and participated in debate competitions. Central aisles and atriums in both campuses were converted to poster exhibition halls depicting the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda.
“To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collection of facts” or “What you think, that you will be” or “What you have inside, is what you see in others” — the lovingly prepared posters echoed these lofty thoughts.