If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed Punyabhumi (holy land), to be the land to which all souls on this earth must come to account for Karma, the land to which every soul that is wending its way Godward must come to attain its last home, the land where humanity has attained its highest towards gentleness, towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality – it is India.
Our sacred motherland is a land of religion and philosophy-the birth place of spiritual giants-the land of renunciation, where and where alone, from the most ancient to the most modern times, there has been the highest ideal of life open to man.
It is the same India which has withstood the shocks of centuries, of hundreds of foreign invasions, of hundreds of upheavals of manners and customs. It is the same land which stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigour, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature of the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal, and we are the children of such a country.
When the real history of India will be unearthed, it will be proved that as in the matter of religion, so in fine arts, India is the primal guru of the whole world.
(The above video is from YouTube. We reproduce it here because there was nothing better that could denote our emotions on this day. May our country remain safe in his hands! May our children be as sincere and passionate as he!)
I discard the idea that India was ever passive. Nowhere has activity been more pronounced than in this blessed land of ours. And the great proof of this activity is that our most ancient and magnanimous race still lives, and at every decade in its glorious carrier seems to take on fresh youth-undying and imperishable.
India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with power of the spirit; not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin; not by the power of the wealth, but by the power of begging bowl. But one vision I see clear as life before me that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on here throne – rejuvenated, more glories than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction. (IV.353)
I love my nation, I cannot see you degraded, weakened any more than you are now. Therefore I am bound for your sake and for truth’s to cry, “Hold!” and to raise my voice against this degradation of my race. Give up these weakening mysticisms and be strong… The truths of the Upanishads are before you. Take them up, live up to them, and the salvation of India will be at hand.
What a land! Whosoever stands in this sacred land, whether alien or a child of the soil, feels himself surrounded – unless his soul is degraded to the level of brute animals – by the living thoughts of the earth’s best and purest sons, who have been working to raise the animal to the divine through centuries, whose beginning history fails to trace. The very air is full of the pulsations of spirituality.
I was asked by an English friend on the eve of my departure, “Swami, how do you like now your motherland after four years experience of the luxurious, glorious, powerful West?” I could only answer, “India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now to me holy; it is now the holy land, the place of pilgrimage, the Tirtha.” (III.309)
Our life-blood is spirituality. If it flows clear, if it flows strong and pure and vigorous, everything is right; political, social, any other material defects, even the poverty of the land, will be cured if that blood is pure. (III.288)
The longest night seems to be passing away, the sorest trouble seems to be coming to an end at last, the seeming corpse appears to be awaking. She is awakening, this motherland of ours, from her deep long sleep. None can resist her anymore; never is she going to sleep anymore; no outward powers can hold her back anymore; for the infinite giant is rising to her feat. (III.145-146)
(From selected sayings from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. We reproduce it here with thanks to the publishers because who can say it better than Swami Vivekananda? – Editor)