Home > Vivekananda and Vedanta > Ridicule, Opposition and finally Acceptance…

Ridicule, Opposition and finally Acceptance…

April 5, 2012

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari had this to say of the great patriot saint: “Swami Vivekananda saved Hinduism, and saved India. But for him we would have lost our religion and would not have gained our freedom. We therefore owe everything to Swami Vivekananda. May his faith, his courage and his wisdom ever inspire us so that we may keep safe the treasure we have received from him.” In a letter to T.S.Avinashilingam, Mahatma Gandhi wrote on 22nd July 1941, “Surely Swami Vivekananda’s writings need no introduction from anybody. They make their own irresistible appeal.”

Anyone reading through the writings of Swami Vivekananda cannot but be inspired to take on the cause of National Reconstruction. Many a young freedom fighter including Netaji Subash Chandra Bose owed their inspiration to the writings of Swamiji. Many people of the present generation owe our entire work to the message of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji has said, “Life is short, give it up to a great cause.” Such strong inspirational statements can make us jump into action. It is only after we begin to understand the complexities of society and its response to our work will reality sink in. It is during those times that one very practical statement of Swamiji helped me. He mentions, “All good work must pass through three stages – Ridicule, Opposition and finally will come Acceptance.”

I was 19 years old when under such an inspiration, I had founded the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement. It was during those times that I felt that one could achieve anything that one set out to do. We were running a weekly dispensary in a village near Mysore and would go there every Sunday. While I had expected that my friends and well-wishers would wholeheartedly support me in this work, I found ridicule instead. People ascribed all kinds of selfish reasons for our work. They would mock us as we left the medical college hostel with boxes of medicines for the rural dispensary. It was not difficult for one to feel deflated and demotivated.

Many years later, as the work gathered momentum and we were living in the tribal area, we faced so much opposition. There were many vested interests in the Government, other NGOs and amongst the community itself who felt that our presence was an irritant. They did everything possible to keep us off. From smear campaigns to getting us arrested, to threats of getting us beaten – everything was tried but we would not buckle. Opposition ended up strengthening our resolve to persevere. After all, the exploiters would not like their exploitation to be exposed.

Gradually as support for our work grew, we found attitudes too changing. Today we are respected and admired for our work and we are beginning to find the acceptance that Swami Vivekananda wrote about. Now I can see new meaning in what Swamiji said. I now realize that it is not the ridicule, opposition or acceptance of society or anybody external that matters. Swamiji possibly spoke of something higher. While it is easy to be affected by the outside world, what truly matters is how we see our work and ourselves. It is so easy to ridicule ourselves and create opposition for our ideals in our own mind. Opposition comes in very subtle forms – it could be our own egoistic desire to be in control, to seek name and fame for what we are doing and to fall prey to the temptation of becoming the ‘provider’. It is only when we are able to see ourselves as instruments of a higher power through which good work gets done, will we able to stay rested with the feeling of ‘Acceptance’.

Kannada version in Prajavani (12-Apr-12)


  1. Ram Narayan
    April 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Balu,

    Thanks for sharing an inspirational piece !! Super work being done and great to see the progress of this movement.

  2. Indu Ramesh
    April 7, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Great thinking. There are so many people wanting to do so many things, but somehow, not all can. You are doing a great job. I do hope many young people will be inspired by you.

  3. Raghu Mavinahalli
    April 6, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Dear Balu:

    Well said, really inspirational and educative for those who are really want to serve the society. Thanks for sharing your own experience and connecting those experience with the Swami Vivekananda’s words.

  4. Govind Pai
    April 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    The road less traveled! Was just reading another article about a girl who graduated from IIM, Kolkotta and rejected plum job offers, preferring to work with her husband to start a college and school in rural U.P, focusing especially on poor girls. A refreshing change from the media clamor about “pay packets” in the IIM’s, which gives one the sickening impression that only zombies study there. On a personal note, I have been trying to steer my daughter, who is studying medicine, towards more meaningful and socially relevant work like yours. Being in the government quota she will probably need to serve a couple of years in rural areas, but I hope (as Dr.Abdul Kalam mentioned during the RGUHS graduation day last week) she would do it nevertheless and remember that a doctor should be a healer, not a trader. And this inevitably takes one into social activism of some kind. (Another friend of mine, Dr. Kavery Nambisan, the well known doctor and writer, also has spent most of her career as a surgeon in places like rural Bihar and UP). May your tribe increase, Balu! (Wonder if your tribal friends tell you that!)

  5. V. Srinivasan
    April 5, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Dear Balu, What a nice one to read as I opened my iPad on reaching Delhi this morning! Many of your blogs like this one are reminders to today’s youth, who are constantly in the look out for inspiration, encouragement and examples of perseverance. Your success story is one clear example of how to face the challenges of ridicule and opposition to ultimately achieve acceptance under today’s reality.

  6. Meenakshi Devi
    April 5, 2012 at 11:27 am

    very true, lot of perseverance is required till we the reach the stage of ‘acceptance’.

  7. Indu Ramesh
    April 5, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Great, inspiration for people who want to be different, do something different. I know how difficult it is to overcome the ridicule and opposition for things one wants to do.

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