History of Aryan Race

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Lectures and Discourses/History of the Aryan Race [A Jnâna-Yoga class delivered in London, England, on Thursday morning, May 7, 1896, and recorded by Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin] I have told you how I would divide the subject into four Yogas, but, as the bearing of all these various Yogas is the same — the goal they want to arrive at is the same — I had better begin with the philosophical portion: the Jnana-Yoga. Jnâna means knowledge, and, before going into the principles of the Vedanta philosophy, I think it is necessary to sketch in a few words the origin and the beginning and the development — the historical portion of that system. Most of you are now familiar with the words Arya and Aryan, and many things have been written on these words. About a century ago there was an English judge in Bengal, Sir William Jones. In India, you know, there are Mohammedans and Hindus. The Hindus were the original people, and the Mohammedans came and conquered them and ruled over them for seven hundred years. There have been many other conquests in India; and whenever there is a new conquest, the criminal laws of the country are changed. The criminal law is always the law of the conquering nation, but the civil law remains the same. So when the English conquered India, they changed the criminal law; but the civil law remained. The judges, however, were Englishmen and did not know the language of the country in which the civil laws were written, and so they had to take the...

The Mundaka Upanishads

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Lectures and Discourses/The Mundaka Upanishads (New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 557-68) [A Jnâna-Yoga class delivered in New York, January 29, 1896, and recorded by Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin] In the last Jnana-Yoga (Vide [6]Complete Works, II.) lecture, we read one of the Upanishads; we will read another [the Mundaka Upanishad]. Brahmâ was the first of the Devas, the Lord of this cycle and its protector. He gave this knowledge of Brahman, which is the essence of all knowledge, to his son Atharvan. The latter handed it over to his son Angiras, he to his son, Bharadvâja, and so on. There was a man called Shaunaka, a very rich man, who went to this Angiras as a learner. He approached the teacher and asked him a question. “Tell me, sir, what is that which, being known, everything else is known?” One [knowledge] is supreme and the other is inferior. The Rig-Veda is the name of one of the different parts of the Vedas. Shikshâ is the name of another part. All different sciences are inferior. What is the supreme science? That is the only science, the supreme science, by which we reach the Unchangeable One. But that cannot be seen, cannot be sensed, cannot be specified. Without colour, without eyes, without ears, without nose, without feet — the Eternal, the Omnipresent, the “Omnipenetrating”, the Absolute — He from whom everything comes. The sages see Him, and that is the supreme knowledge. Just as the Urnanâbhi, a species of spider, creates a thread out of his own body and takes it back, just as the...

Bhakthi Yoga

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Lectures and Discourses/Bhakti-Yoga (New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 543-54.) [A bhakti-yoga class delivered in New York, Monday morning, January 20, 1896, and recorded by Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin] We finished in our last [class the subject] about Pratikas. One idea more of the preparatory Bhakti, and then we will go on to the Parâ, the Supreme. This idea is what is called Nishthâ, devotion to one idea. We know that all these ideas of worship are right and all good, and we have seen that the worship of God, and God alone, is Bhakti. The worship of any other being will not be Bhakti, but God can be worshipped in various forms and through various ideas. And we have seen that all these ideas are right and good, but the difficulty is here: If we just stop with this last conclusion, we find that in the end we have frittered away our energies and done nothing. It is a great tendency among liberal people to become a jack-of-all-trades and master of none — to nibble a little here and there and, in the long run, find they have nothing. In this country it many times grows into a sort of disease — to hear various things and do nothing. Here is the advice of one of our old Bhaktas: “Take the honey from all flowers, mix with all with respect, say yea, yea to all, but give not up your seat”. This giving not up your own seat is what is called Nishtha. It is not that one should hate, or even criticize,...

The first step towards Jnana

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Lectures and Discourses/The first step towards Jnana [A Jnâna-Yoga class delivered in New York, Wednesday, December 11, 1895, and recorded by Swami Kripananda] The word Jnâna means knowledge. It is derived from the root Jnâ — to know — the same word from which your English word to know is derived. Jnana-Yoga is Yoga by means of knowledge. What is the object of the Jnana-Yoga? Freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from our imperfections, freedom from the misery of life. Why are we miserable? We are miserable because we are bound. What is the bondage? The bondage is of nature. Who is it that binds us? We, ourselves. The whole universe is bound by the law of causation. There cannot be anything, any fact — either in the internal or in the external world — that is uncaused; and every cause must produce an effect. Now this bondage in which we are is a fact. It need not be proved that we are in bondage. For instance: I would be very glad to get out of this room through this wall, but I cannot; I would be very glad if I never became sick, but I cannot prevent it; I would be very glad not to die, but I have to; I would be very glad to do millions of things that I cannot do. The will is there, but we do not succeed in accomplishing the desire. When we have any desire and not the means of fulfilling it, we get that peculiar reaction called misery. Who is the cause of desire? I,...

The Women of India

From Volume 9 of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda – Lectures and Discourses (New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 411-26.) The following lecture was delivered at Cambridge, December 17, 1894, and recorded by Miss Frances Willard’s stenographer. Swami Vivekananda faced bigotry in America on several issues of Indian culture — one was the Indian woman. Naturally he sought to correct Western misconceptions. When he lectured in his own country, however, there was no greater advocate for improving the life of Indian women than the Swami. In speaking about the women of India, ladies and gentlemen, I feel that I am going to talk about my mothers and sisters in India to the women of another race, many of whom have been like mothers and sisters to me. But though, unfortunately, within very recent times there have been mouths only to curse the women of our country, I have found that there are some who bless them too. I have found such noble souls in this nation as Mrs. [Ole] Bull and Miss [Sarah] Farmer and Miss [Frances] Willard, and that wonderful representative of the highest aristocracy of the world, whose life reminds me of that man of India, six hundred years before the birth of Christ, who gave up his throne to mix with the people. Lady Henry Somerset has been a revelation to me. I become bold when I find such noble souls who will not curse, whose mouths are full of blessing for me, my country, our men and women, and whose hands and hearts are ever ready to do service to humanity. I first intend to...