12 April 2014

Swami Vivekananda's Top 10 Most Famous Quotes

In this website we have been writing and preparing many articles on Swami Vivekananda's quotes and gradually this website is becoming one of the most popular sites of the entire world wide web to find Swamiji's quotations.

Now here in this article we are going to prepare a list of Swami Vivekananda's top 10 most famous quotes

Note: If you have come from search engines to read complete collections/sets of Swami Vivekananda's quotes, this article might not be the best one to start with. You may click on "Contents" tab and explore other pages of this site too.

How did we do it?
Image source: Wikimedia Commons (modified)
Before starting the list, let us quickly explain, how did we make it. There are thousands of quotes of Swami Vivekananda. Of course, it was not an easy task to make this list. While preparing this list, we have studied the following—
  1. Number of occurrences in the Complete Works (for example the quote "Arise, awake. . ." may be found a dozen times in the CW
  2. Reference in other works.
  3. Google search trends.
Also note, in this list we have not included non-Swami Vivekananda quotes. For example "When I asked God for strength. . ." is most probably not a Vivekananda quotation. You'll not find this and similar quotes in this collection.

10. "That man or that society which has nothing to learn. . ."

The 10th quotation of this series is—
There are many things to learn, he must struggle for new and higher things till we die — struggle is the end of human life. Shri Ramakrishna used to say, "As long as I live, so long do I learn." That man or that society which has nothing to learn is already in the jaws of death.[Source]
The quotation first appeared in Swamiji's prose-work Modern India, originally published in Bengali as Bartaman Bharat (Bengali: বর্তমান ভারত). The original Bengali text is given below—
শিখিবার অনেক আছে, যত্ন আমরণ করিতে হইবে, যত্নই মানবজীবনের উদ্দেশ্য। শ্রীরামকৃষ্ণ বলিতেন, 'যতদিন বাঁচি, ততদিন শিখি।' যে ব্যক্তি বা যে সমাজের শিখিবার কিছুই নাই, তাহা মৃত্যুমুখে পতিত হইয়াছে।

09. "The world is a great gymnasium. . ."

Swami Vivekananda compared the world or the human life as a "gymnasium" where we come to strengthen ourselves. This particular comparison may be found several times in his works—
  • The world is a grand moral gymnasium wherein we have all to take exercise so as to become stronger and stronger spiritually.[Source]
  • This universe is simply a gymnasium in which the soul is taking exercise; and after these exercises we become gods. So the value of everything is to be decided by how far it is a manifestation of God. Civilisation is the manifestation of that divinity in man.[Source]

We have a separate article on this quotation here.

08. "Have no fear. Fear is death, fear is sin. . ."

There are many quotations on "fear" in Swamiji's Complete Works. Here is one of them—
Be a hero. Always say, "I have no fear." Tell this to everybody --"Have no fear". Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in this world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear. This fear alone has kept the sun, air and death in their respective places and functions, allowing none to escape from their bounds. Therefore the Shruti says (Katha Upanishad, II.iii,3) says:
"भयादस्याग्निपति भयात्तपति सूर्य:।
भयादिन्द्रश्च वायुश्च मृत्युर्धावति पञ्चम:॥
-- Through fear of this, fire burns, the sun heats; through fear Indra and Vayu are carrying on their functions, and Death stalks upon this earth." When the gods Indra, Chandra, Vayu, Varuna will attain to fearlessness, then will they be one with Brahman, and all this phantasm of the world will vanish. Therefore I say, "Be fearless, be fearless."[Source]
If you want to read more Swami Vivekananda's quotes on "fear", start from here.

07. "Take up one idea. . ."

The seventh quotation of this collection—
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, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.
This quotation may be found in Swamiji's book Raja Yoga.

05. "You will be nearer to Heaven through football. . ."

The fifth quotation of this series is—
You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are bold words; but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda told these words in a public lecture in 1897. Later it was published in his book Lectured from Colmobo to Almora. We have a presentation on this quotation.

05. "Everything can be sacrificed for truth. . ."

This is also a very famous saying of Swamiji—
Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.[Source]
Bengali সত্যের জন্য সব কিছু ত্যাগ করা যায়, কিন্তু কোনও কিছুর জন্য সত্যকে ত্যাগ করা যায় না

You may see this article: Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything

04. "One who serves jiva, is indeed worshipping Shiva"

This is the last stanza of Swamiji's poem To a friend
These are His manifold forms before thee,
Rejecting them, where seekest thou for God?
Who loves all beings without distinction,
He indeed is worshipping best his God.[Source]
The poem was originally written in Bengali as Sakhar Prati (Bengali: সখার প্রতি). The Bengali verse (specially the last two lines) is, most probably, more famous than the English one—
বহুরূপে সম্মুখে তোমার, ছাড়ি কোথা খুঁজিছ ঈশ্বর ?
জীবে প্রেম করে যেই জন, সেই জন সেবিছে ঈশ্বর ।।

03. "O India! Forget not . . ."

The third quotation of this list is—
O India! With this mere echoing of others, with this base imitation of others, with this dependence on others this slavish weakness, this vile detestable cruelty — wouldst thou, with these provisions only, scale the highest pinnacle of civilisation and greatness? Wouldst thou attain, by means of thy disgraceful cowardice, that freedom deserved only by the brave and the heroic? O India! Forget not that the ideal of thy womanhood is Sita, Savitri, Damayanti; forget not that the God thou worshippest is the great Ascetic of ascetics, the all-renouncing Shankara, the Lord of Umâ; forget not that thy marriage, thy wealth, thy life are not for sense-pleasure, are not for thy individual personal happiness; forget not that thou art born as a sacrifice to the Mother's altar; forget not that thy social order is but the reflex of the Infinite Universal Motherhood; forget not that the lower classes, the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper, are thy flesh and blood, thy brothers. Thou brave one, be bold, take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian, and proudly proclaim, "I am an Indian, every Indian is my brother." Say, "The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the Pariah Indian, is my brother." Thou, too, clad with but a rag round thy loins proudly proclaim at the top of thy voice: "The Indian is my brother, the Indian is my life, India's gods and goddesses are my God. India's society is the cradle of my infancy, the pleasure-garden of my youth, the sacred heaven, the Varanasi of my old age." Say, brother: "The soil of India is my highest heaven, the good of India is my good," and repeat and pray day and night, "O Thou Lord of Gauri, O Thou Mother of the Universe, vouchsafe manliness unto me! O Thou Mother of Strength, take away my weakness, take away my unmanliness, and make me a Man!"[Source]
This is the last part of Swami Vivekananda's prose-work Modern India, originally published in Bengali as Bartaman Bharat (Bengali: বর্তমান ভারত). If you can read Bengali, here we are providing the original Bengali quotation too—
হে ভারত, এই পরানুবাদ, পরানুকরণ, পরামুখাপেক্ষা, এই দসসুলভ দুর্বলতা, এই ঘৃণিত জঘন্য নিষ্ঠুরতা-এইমাত্র সম্বলে তুমি উচ্চাধিকার লাভ করিবে? এই লজ্জাকর কাপুরুষতাসহায়ে তুমি বীরভোগ্যা স্বাধীনতা লাভ করিবে? হে ভারত, ভুলিও না—তোমার নারীজাতির আদর্শ সীতা, সাবিত্রী, দময়ন্তী; ভুলিও না—তোমার উপাস্য উমানাথ সর্বত্যাগী শঙ্কর; ভুলিও না-তোমার বিবাহ, তোমার ধন, তোমার জীবন ইন্দ্রিয়সুকের-নিজের ব্যক্তিগত সুখের জন্য নহে; ভুলিও না—তুমি জন্ম হইতেই 'মায়ের' জন্য বলিপ্রদত্ত; ভুলিও না—নীচজাতি, মূর্খ, দরিদ্র, অজ্ঞ, মূচি, মেথর তোমার রক্ত, তোমার ভাই! হে বীর, সাহস অবলম্বন কর; সদর্পে বল—আমি ভারতবাসী, ভারতবাসী আমার ভাই। বল—মূর্খ ভারতবাসী, দরিদ্র ভারতবাসী, ব্রাহ্মণ ভারতবাসী, চণ্ডাল ভারতবাসী আমার ভাই, ভারতবাসী আমার প্রাণ, ভারতের দেবদেবী আমার ঈশ্বর, ভারতের সমাজ আমার শিশুশয্যা, আমার যৌবনের উপবন, আমার বার্ধক্যের বারাণসী; বল ভাই—ভারতের মৃত্তিকা আমার স্বর্গ, ভারতের কল্যাণ আমার কল্যাণ; আর বল দিন-রাত, 'হে গৌরীনাথ, হে জগদম্বে, আমায় মনুষ্যত্ব দাও; মা, আমার দুর্বলতা কাপুরুষতা দূর কর, আমায় মানুষ কর।'

02. "Arise, awake, and stop not. . ."

The second quotation of this list—
Any Swami Vivekananda admirer or reader surely heard or read this quote hundreds of times. We have a separate article on this quotation.

01. "Sisters and brothers of America. . ."

Although not an "actual quotation", undoubtedly these are the most famous words uttered by Swami Vivekananda. On 11 September 1893, Swami Vivekananda began his very first lecture at the Parliament of the World's Religions Chicago with these words—
Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. . .[Source]
You may read our special article here

We have an e-book on Swami Vivekananda's lecture at the Parliament of the World's Religions, you can download it from the "Books" page for free.

This page was last updated on:  8 May  2014, 4:14 am IST (UTC+5:30 hours) 
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