Life Lessons From The Teachings Of Swami Vivekananda Your Child Must Learn
These anecdotes from the life of Swami Vivekananda inspire us and tell us about his extraordinary qualities. Share them with your child to teach him some very important life lessons.
By Leena Ghosh
“Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”
This is just one of the many inspirational quotes by Swami Vivekananda. The teachings of Swami Vivekananda inspire us to strive for success and aspire for a more meaningful life. Swami Vivekananda's teachings and lessons on love, life and spirituality continue to set life goals for people across generations, all over the world. We can learn a lot by following the principles of Swami Vivekananda, his trials as well as his achievements.
We tell you a few anecdotes from the life of Swami Vivekananda and the lessons you can share with your children. These learnings from the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda will encourage them to aim higher and live life without fear.
Anecdote: Swami Vivekananda's teaching for students
Once, Swami Vivekananda, known as Narendranath Dutta during his younger days, was talking to his classmates during the recess. After the recess, the students went back to their classrooms and the teacher began to teach. However, Narendra continued to whisper to his classmates. All of them were engrossed in Narendra’s story and did not pay attention to what the teacher was saying. Annoyed, the teacher asked the students to repeat what he had just said.
None of them except Narendra could answer. This was because of young Narendra's remarkable quality of listening to his teacher even while he was talking with his friends.
The teacher then asked the students, “Who was whispering?” Everyone pointed their finger at Narendra; but, the teacher refused to believe it.
To punish the students, the teacher asked all of them, except Narendra, to stand up on the bench. But, Narendra also stood up on the bench with his classmates. When the teacher asked him to sit down, he said, “Sir, It was I who was talking, so I should also stand up.”
Lesson to share with your child: Honesty, at all costs
Young Narendra could have escaped punishment as he had answered the question correctly. However, he chose to tell the truth and face the consequences for his actions. Tell your child that being honest and true to herself and others, despite what the outcome might be, is an important part of being a successful individual.
Anecdote: Vivekananda teachings on concentration and focus
Once, while in the USA, Vivekananda was watching a few boys trying to shoot egg shells floating on the river. But they missed each time. So, Vivekananda took the gun and shot all the shells, one by one. Astonished by the feat, the boys asked Vivekananda how he could do this. And Vivekananda said, “Concentrate and focus on whatever you are doing. If you are shooting, you should only focus on the target. If you are learning your lessons, concentrate only on the lesson.”
Lesson to share with your child: Focus on the goal
The ability to focus on a task is a skill that leads to successes. Teach your child that no matter how tough a task is, if he puts his mind to it, he will complete it successfully. As Vivekananda famously said, “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”
Anecdote: Teachings from Vivekananda’s mother
One day at school, in the Geography class, the teacher asked Vivekananda a question. Although he answered correctly, the teacher thought he was wrong and punished him. But Vivekananda protested and said, “Sir; I am sure what I said is right.” On hearing this, the teacher got angry and caned him.
Back home, Vivekananda recounted this incident to his mother. To which his mother responded, “My son, why do you care if you are right? Follow the truth always, whatever happens.” Swami Vivekananda followed this philosophy throughout his life.
Lesson to share with your child: Focus on the truth
Even though Vivekananda was punished, he continued to stand up for the truth. He followed this practice throughout his life. Tell your child that, at times, people may not be willing to listen to him or agree with him when he speaks the truth. During such times, it is important to adhere to what he believes in.
Anecdote: Vivekananda’s humanitarianism
Once, Vivekananda had to spend some time in a railway station in Rajasthan. During that time, a lot of people came to see him and listen to his message, but none of them offered him anything to eat or drink. It was only on the third day that a cobbler hesitantly approached him and offered him some baked bread. Vivekananda gladly accepted the food and thanked the cobbler.
However, some individuals objected to Swamiji accepting food from a cobbler, who was considered an untouchable. To this, Vivekananda said, “You claim to be gentlemen and boast of your high caste. But, in the past three days, none of you cared to inquire if I had taken any food. And, all of you condemn this man as untouchable. How could you overlook the kindness he has shown and despise him?”
Lesson to share with your child: Don’t discriminate based on caste or religion
The character of a person is defined by his actions and not by his caste, religion or economic status. Vivekananda believed that “the greatest religion is to be true to your own nature.” So, teach your child not to discriminate based on caste or background. She should learn to value and respect people based on their actions and thoughts.
Anecdote: Facing your troubles
Once in Varanasi, as Vivekananda came out of a temple, he was surrounded by many monkeys. To avoid them, Vivekananda started running and the monkeys started chasing him. On seeing this, an old woman told Vivekananda to stop and face the monkeys. Following the advice, he stopped and turned around to face the monkeys. And, the monkeys ran away. Many years later Vivekananda said, “If you ever feel afraid of anything, always turn around and face it. Never think of running away.”
Lesson to share with your child: Have courage to face your troubles
Problems follow us wherever we go and whatever we do. Running away never solves any problems. So, face the troubles and deal with them. Teach your child to face hurdles, whether in school or his career or personal life, with courage and deal with them instead of putting them off for later.
Anecdote: Test before placing trust
Vivekananda was a devoted disciple of Sree Ramakrishna Paramhansa, but he didn’t blindly believe his guru's teachings. He always debated and questioned Ramakrishna to truly understand the meaning behind his philosophies. Once Ramakrishna told Vivekananda that he was allergic to money and couldn’t bear its touch. So, one day, Vivekananda placed a coin under his guru’s mattress to test if he was truly allergic to money. Soon Ramakrishna became restless and started complaining of a stinging pain. He removed the mattress and saw the coin and asked who put it there. When Vivekananda told him it was he who put the coin there, Ramakrishna said, “Naren, never trust anything blindly. Test it.”
Lesson to share with your child: Don’t accept anything on face value
No matter how great the preacher or how respected the source, do not take anything at face value. Study and test the claims made by others before you accept them as the truth. Tell your child to always try to find the meaning or substance behind what anyone says and not take anything for granted.
Swami Vivekananda survived through trying times to become one of the greatest youth icons the world has ever seen. Share these lessons with your child to enable her to get a better and wider perspective of life. Following Swami Vivekananda's teachings will lead your child towards becoming a better individual.
About the author:
Written by Leena Ghosh on 11 January 2018; updated on 6 September 2019
The author is a journalist, writer, editor and the mother of a spirited young girl. In between juggling the roles of being a full-time cheerleader for her daughter, a thorough professional and a part time chef, she dreams of finishing the first page of her unwritten book.
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