Vivekananda and EnglandWhat Vivekananda, as a boy, despised and obstinately refused to learn, proved, in his glorious youth, a mighty instrument of victory in his hands. Apart from his towering spiritual personality, his hold on the English tongue gave his hold on the mind, heart and soul of East and West. His obstinacy failed to reverse God's Will that was shaping his destiny.
I hope, it will not be out of place to cite a few momentous lines from that book just to make my readers intimate with the significance and necessity of the English language in India.
It will be no exaggeration to say that by virtue of the English language alone India stands in the vanguard of the political history of mankind.
As each individual has a distinct place to fill in the world, even so every language has an important role. And it has been an established fact that no other European tongue has so much power of assimilating elements from foreign languages as does the English language.
The English language was brought into Britain by Teutonic invaders.
These invaders were of three types: Jutes, Saxons and Angles. In fact, modern English has undergone a considerable change. It is no more the language brought into Britain by the Saxons and the Angles.
Grimm, a German linguist, writes in his famous book On the Origin of Languages that "English possesses a veritable power of expression such as perhaps never stood at the command of any other language of men. Its highly spiritual genius and wonderfully happy development and condition have resulted from a surprisingly intimate union of the two noblest languages in modern Europe, the Teutonic and the Roman."
Not only in his boyhood, but also in the prime of his youth while his feet were touching the alien shores Vivekananda's ruthless contempt for England is almost unbelievable. As regards the English national life a strong suspicion was then haunting his mind.
To quote him:
Had we been able to share this lofty truth of Cicero's there would not have existed the giant wall of misunderstanding between England and India. The arrow of England is Matter. The arrow of India is Spirit. The victory of either can never be the true fulfilment of human birth. Both the arrows must be united to pierce the veil of Ignorance. Lo, the victory of victories, the fulfilment of fulfilments are at our disposal. Vivekananda's supremely pathetic voice runs:
Obedience and self-respect are the two divine qualities in a human being. If one can combine these two unique virtues, then truly one has achieved something invaluable. About the greatest achievement of the English Vivekananda's lofty appreciation runs: “They have known how to combine obedience with self-respect.”
I am sure, I will lose much here in this humble attempt of mine if the ever-inspiring memory of Nivedita does not echo in my heart. In sending out his spiritual daughter Nivedita's supreme sacrifice into the world Swami Vivekananda declared: “Nivedita is the fairest flower of my work in England.” The presiding Deity of England not only claps her hands with delight but burns herself, as it were, in the flames of ecstasy to hear from a spiritual Giant of the East: “My work in England has been more satisfactory than anywhere else. I firmly believe that if I should die tomorrow, the work in England would not die, but would go on expanding all the time.” The disciple of Sri Ramakrishna was a live spring of spiritual force. No hyperbole, he was the Recoverer and Vivifier of the submerged soul of India. It is with his Master's immortal teachings that he vitalised the sinews of India and illumined her darkened soul. Vivekananda was not only a great Indian figure, but a world influence. What we actually learn from him is to fight while there is life within our limbs. Fight against what? Fight against Weakness, fight against Ignorance.