Swami Vivekananda and his compassion

Year 1902, Place: Belur Math
Swami Vivekananda was staying in the Math. Some Santhal laborers used to work in the Math. They were poor, uneducated and simple. Swamiji had great sympathy, bordering on love, for these laborers who, despite honest and hard labor, could not feed their family adequately. The compassionate heart of Swami Vivekananda would grieve and melt for these poor fellows. He would inquire about their family, say simple jokes, and mix with these ‘lowly fellows’. The spiritual personality of Swamiji would see suffering Narayana in them. His heart would get filled with unparalleled pity, compassion, and kindness towards these Santhal workers.

Like Gopis of Vraja, who would protest to Krishna not to play the sweet music on his flute, for it attracted them to Him and His Raas Lila with such great intensity that they used to forget their homes and husbands, these workers would also protest: “O my Swamiji, do not come to us when we are working, for while talking to you our work stops and the supervising swami rebukes us afterwards.” With such intensity of love, Swami Vivekananda would attract these poor laborers.

One day Swamiji had a desire to feed these workers. Accordingly, he made arrangements for their lunch. At his orders, bread, curry, sweets, and curds etc. were arranged for the Santhals. Sitting before the Swami, all of them relished the sumptuous food. One Keshta said: “O Swami, whence have you got such a thing! We never tasted anything like this.” Feeding them to their heart’s content, Swami Vivekananda said, “You are Narayana, God manifest; today I have offered food to Narayana.”

Turning to the disciple, the Swami said: “I found them the veritable embodiment of God – such simplicity, such sincere guileless love I have seen nowhere else.” And later addressing the sannyasins of the Math, Swami Vivekananda had said: “Can you mitigate their misery a little! Otherwise, of what good is the wearing of the Gerrua (ochre) robe? Sacrifice of everything for the good of others is real sannyasa…” “Seeing the poor people of our country starving for food, a desire comes to my mind to overthrow all ceremonial worship and learning, and go around from place to place to serve these poor and afflicted…”

Such love for suffering humanity had come to the heart of Swami Vivekananda from the teachings of his Master, Sri Ramakrishna. Seeing God everywhere, and in particular His most dramatic and full expression in human beings was the main emphasis of the teaching of New Vedanta as propagated by Sri Ramakrishna. Innumerable examples can be cited to highlight this point. For instance, Sri Ramakrishna once remarked, ‘I wondered why should be God meditated upon only with eyes closed, He should be seen all around us in all human beings even with eyes wide open!’


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