Home > Musings > The message of Swami Vivekananda in action…

The message of Swami Vivekananda in action…

March 12, 2015

This incident happened a few days ago. I was walking towards the Ramakrishna Ashram in Mysore and was waiting at a streetlight to cross the road. Being a 4-way junction, the wait seemed to be a long one. It was then that I noticed a middle-aged woman selling bananas by the street corner. Working with street vendors for a few years now, I had learnt that life was never easy for them. From meager profits, to haggling customers to corrupt civic and police officials – they had to deal with them all on an everyday basis. My intelligent guess was that this woman would possibly earn not more than Rs 40-50 as profits on a good day. Validating my thoughts, I found one customer haggling as though his entire future depended on it. And all this for an extra banana that he thought was his rightful due. Around the same time, I found a 4-5 year old girl standing and sobbing by the way side. She seemed to be hardly noticed by either the tens of pedestrians or the innumerable vehicles driving by. On hearing her sobs, this street vendor spontaneously reached out to her to inquire if she was lost and crying for her mother. The little girl pointed to the construction across the street and mentioned that her mother worked there. Her sobbing was due to her unbearable hunger and that her mother had nothing to give her. Without batting an eyelid, I found this women street-vendor tear out a couple of bananas and thrust them into the child’s hands. And then quietly returned back to her business…Not being able to contain myself, I asked her about what she had done…In her own characteristic way, she simply said that here was a poor hungry soul in need of help and she just did it. That was it – neither complex theories of development nor any high spiritual explanation. Just a simple humane response from one human being to another.

Finding her vending so close to the Ramakrishna Ashram, I enquired whether she had heard of either Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda. While both these names meant nothing to her, here she was living their philosophy in the only way she understood it. Sri Ramakrishna’s exhortation of ‘Shiva Jnane, Jeeva Seva’ (Knowledge of God through the service of man) to his disciples came effortlessly to her. Swami Vivekananda had proclaimed ‘Darida narayano bhava’ (the poor are my gods) and here was this poor woman worshiping the only god she knew. It is no exaggeration to say that the poor are the ones who understand poverty and hunger the best. While the rest of us are more adept at intellectualizing and spending endless hours in debating poverty and hunger, here was this noble soul living the message of Swami Vivekananda without having heard of him even. This was truly Swami Vivekananda and his message in action.

– Balu

Categories: Musings
  1. Arun Karpur
    March 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

    What a wonderful story — so common, but so forgotten. Human to human help is always meaningful. No expert economist or social scientist or political science expert can give this. Society has to find ways to encourage and nurture such behaviors. Some how the knowledge world has made us too selfish and too conceited. Please keep writing such observations as these are important to see for our ignorant minds.

  2. Michelle
    March 12, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Beautiful reflection about how simple and powerful can our actions be when they come from our human essence….that essence that is present in all of us, and that bind us together as humanity. ‘Shiva Jnane, Jeeva Seva’ is a call to action, and every day comes full of opportunities to serve and let our humanness manifest.

  3. Kartik Shankar M
    March 12, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    A clear example discounting so calledf “book reading” or university degrees to be a hearty or good human being ! Very lucidly written ! Kudos to Dr Balu to have brought out the greatness in ordinary people which the great Swami Vivekananda often spoke of,ordinarily invisible and scattered across this great country of ours.

  4. Prashant
    March 12, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, really we waste lot of time debating instead of being part of such moment atleast once…we complicate a lot by connecting the simple situation in front of us to all corrupted stories and debates in our life….. This women is really living a meaningful life

    Thanks Balu Sir for sharing this wonderful incident

  5. Noothan Venkatesh Varma
    March 12, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    God bless her

  6. Venkata ramana rao M
    March 12, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Recently there was a Social experiment by few youngsters regarding how people react to when asked to share their food with one who pretended to be hungry surprisingly it was the poor destitute person who responded to other man’s hunger,i have pesonally experienced help from else where when i had helped some other person in some other situation.

  7. professorram
    March 12, 2015 at 9:41 am

    sir, you forget that swami vivekananda was the saint who proclaimed that even god dare not appear before a hungry man except in the shape of food! he himself suffered pangs of hunger and had to eat on bread a few days old. not before it was soaked in water.
    yes, we eugolise daridra and forget the narayana who is present in all of us. and other religions exploit this callousness for their propaganda purposes.
    you have shared a profound truth without grasping the full implications. our sanatana dharma is sharing , sharing, sharing, without publicity, without making a song or dance about it . give freely and give what you have and what you can. need and response. the very essence of all life.

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