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Swami Vivekananda Quotes - 108 Quotes of Swami Vivekananda

A collection of some of the popular Swami Vivekananda Quotes. The quotes are mostly from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vedanta Kesari and Prabuddha Bharata magazines . There are more than 108 quotes.

Swami Vivekananda Quotes

  • This meditative stage is the highest state of existence.
  • Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being. All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls.
  • Worship of society and popular opinions is idolatry. The soul has no sex, no country, no place, no time.
  • So long as there is desire, no real happiness can come.
  • It is only the contemplative, witness-like study of objects that brings us real enjoyment and happiness.
  • The animal has its happiness in the senses, the man in his intellect, and the god in spiritual contemplation.
  • It is only to the soul that has attained this contemplative state that the world really becomes beautiful.
  • To him who desires nothing, and does not mix himself with them, the manifold changes of nature are one panorama of beauty and sublimity.

    108 Quotes of Swami Vivekananda

  • All science is bound to come to this conclusion in the long run. Manifestation, and not creation, is the word of science today, and the Hindu is only glad that what he has been cherishing in his bosom for ages is going to be taught in more forcible language and with further light from the latest conclusions of science.
  • Face the brutes.” That is a lesson for all life—face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them. The earth is enjoyed by heroes”—this is the unfailing truth. Be a hero. Always say, “I have no fear.
  • As our human relations can be made divine, so our relationship with God may take any of these forms and we can look upon Him as our father or mother or friend or beloved. Calling God Mother is a higher ideal than calling Him Father; and to call Him Friend is still higher; but the highest is to regard Him as the Beloved. The highest point of all is to see no difference between lover and beloved.
Swami Vivekananda: I am the disciple of a man who could not write his own name, and I am not worthy to undo his shoes. How often have I wished I could take my intellect and throw it into the Ganges!
Student: But, Swami, that intellect is the part of you I like best.
Swami Vivekananda: That is because you are a fool, Madam, like I am.
  • No one should be judged by their defects. The great virtues a person has are his or her especially. But their errors are the common weakness of humanity and should never be counted in estimating a person’s character.
  • Work and worship are necessary to take away the veil, to lift off the bondage and illusion.
  • A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean, carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we may at times float aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss.
  • After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains – one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Atman is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it; we have it; only wash away the dross and see it.
  • The animal has its happiness in the senses, the human beings in their intellect, and the gods in spiritual contemplation. It is only to the soul that has attained to this contemplative state that the world really becomes beautiful.
  • This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others. He who has served and helped one poor man, seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste or creed or race, or anything – with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.
  • Why, to the women of this country I would say exactly what I say to the men. Believe in India and in our Indian faith. Be strong and hopeful and unashamed, and remember that, with something to take, Hindus have immeasurably more to give than any other people in the world.
  • Never quarrel about religion. All quarrels and disputes concerning religion simply show that spirituality is not present. Religious quarrels are always over the husks. When purity, when spirituality goes, leaving the soul dry, quarrels begin and not before.
  • Doing is very good, but that come from thinking…Fill the brain, therefore, with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work.
  • If the mind is pleased with praise, it will be displeased with blame. All pleasures of the senses or even of the mind are evanescent; but within ourselves is the one true unrelated pleasure, dependent upon nothing. It is perfectly free, it is bliss. The more our bliss is within, the more spiritual we are.
  • First, have faith in yourselves. Know that though one may be a little bubble and another may be a mountain-high wave, yet behind both the bubble and the wave there is the infinite ocean.
  • He who gives man spiritual knowledge is the greatest benefactor of mankind and as such we always find that those were the most powerful of men who helped man in his spiritual needs, because spirituality is the true basis of all our activities in life. . .
  • Next to spiritual comes intellectual help. The gift of knowledge is a far higher gift than that of food and clothes; it is even higher than giving life to a man, because the real life of man consists of knowledge. Ignorance is death, knowledge is life. Life is of very little value, if it is a life in the dark, groping through ignorance and misery.
  • Next in order comes, of course, helping a man physically. Therefore, in considering the question of helping others, we must always strive not to commit the mistake of thinking that physical help is the only help that can be given. It is not only the last but the least, because it cannot bring about permanent satisfaction.
  • The misery that I feel when I am hungry is satisfied by eating, but hunger returns; my misery can cease only when I am satisfied beyond all want. Then hunger will not make me miserable; no distress, no sorrow will be able to move me. So, that help which tends to make us strong spiritually is the highest, next to it comes intellectual help, and after that physical help.
  • All knowledge is within us. All perfection is there already in the soul. But this perfection has been covered up by nature; layer after layer of nature is covering this purity of the soul. What have we to do? Really, we do not develop our souls at all. What can develop the perfect? We simply take the veil off; and the soul manifests itself in its pristine purity, its natural, innate freedom.
We have all been hearing from childhood of such things as love, peace, charity, equality, and universal brotherhood; but they have become to us mere words without meaning... Great souls, who first felt these great ideas in their hearts, manufactured these words; and at that time many understood their meaning. Later on, ignorant people have taken up those words to play with them and made religion a mere play upon words, and not a thing to be carried into practice.

Religions of the world have become lifeless mockeries. What the world wants is character. The world is in need of those whose life is one burning love, selfless. That love will make every word tell like thunderbolt.

Intellect is necessary, for without it we fall into crude errors and make all sorts of mistakes. Intellect checks these; but beyond that, do not try to build anything upon it. It is an inactive, secondary help; the real help is feeling, love. Do you feel for others? If you do, you are growing in oneness. If you do not feel for others, you may be the most intellectual giant ever born, but you will be nothing; you are but dry intellect, and you will remain so. And if you feel, even if you cannot read any book and do not know any language, you are in the right way. The Lord is yours.

There is really no difference between matter, mind, and Spirit. They are only different phases of experiencing the One. This very world is seen by the five senses as matter, by the very wicked as hell, by the good as heaven, and by the perfect as God. (Complete Works, Vol. Seventh Edition, p.272)

No religion on earth preaches the dignity of humanity in such a lofty strain as Hinduism and no religion on earth treads upon the necks of the poor and the low in such a fashion as Hinduism. (Complete works, Vol.V, p.15)  

We profess the highest philosophy and we indulge in low behavior. Why? Swami Vivekananda diagnosed this as a lack of will power to carry idea into practice.

Truth, purity, and unselfishness. Wherever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof. Equipped with these, one individual is able to face the whole universe in opposition.

Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world. And thus, become pure and perfect. Be grateful to the man you help, think of him as God. Is it not a great privilege to be allowed to worship God by helping our fellowmen?

This is the gist of all worship - To be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Siva (God) in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Siva, and if He sees Siva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Siva in him, without thinking of his caste, creed or race, or anything, with him, Siva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in church or temples.

Everything that has selfishness for its basis, competition for its right hand, and enjoyment as its goal, must die sooner or later.

What good is it if we acknowledge in our prayers that God is the Father of us all, and in our daily lives do not treat every man as our brother?

Sincerity of conviction and purity of motive will surely gain the day.

The cause of all miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for.

Go on doing good, thinking holy thoughts continuously; that is the only way to suppress base impressions. Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits, and repeated habits alone can reform character.

Teach yourselves, teach everyone his/her real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self conscious activity.

Do not disturb your mind by vain arguments; this truth only becomes effulgent in the heart which has been made pure.

He who cannot be seen without the greatest difficulty, He who is hidden, He who has entered the cave of the heart of hearts—the Ancient One—cannot be seen with the external eyes; seeing Him with the eyes of the soul, one gives up both pleasure and pain. He who knows this secret gives up all his vain desires, and attains this superfine perception, and thus becomes ever blessed. That is the way to blessedness. He is beyond all virtue, beyond all vice, beyond all duties, beyond all non-duties, beyond all existence, beyond all that is to be; he who know this, alone knows.

The more you approach your real Self, the more this delusion vanishes. The more all differences and divisions disappear, the more you realize all as the one Divinity.

God exists; but He is not the man sitting upon a cloud. He is a pure Spirit.

Where does He reside? Nearer to you than your very self. He is the Soul. 

How can you perceive God as separate and different from yourself? When you think of Him as some one separate from yourself, you do not know Him. He is you yourself. 

Change is always subjective. To talk of evil and misery is nonsense, because they do not exist outside. If I am immune from all anger, I never feel angry. If am immune from all hatred, I never feel hatred.

There cannot be added in the economy of this universe one particle of matter or one foot-pound of force, nor can one particle of matter or one foot-pound of force be taken out.

If that be the case, what is this intelligence? If it was not present in the protoplasm, it must have come all of a sudden, something coming out of nothing, which is absurd.

It, therefore, follows absolutely that the perfect man, the free man, the God-man, who has gone beyond the laws of nature, and transcended everything, who has no more to go through this process of evolution, through birth and death, that man called the ‘Christ-man’ by the Christians, and the ‘Buddha-man’ by the Buddhists, and the ‘Free’ by the Yogis—that perfect man who is at one end of the chain of evolution was involved in the cell of the protoplasm, which is at the other end of the same chain.

Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business.

Doing is very good, but that comes from thinking…fill the brain, therefore, with high thoughts, highest ideals, place them day and night before you, and out of that will come great work.

Religion is the manifestation of the natural strength that is the man. A spring of infinite power is coiled up and is inside this little body and that spring is spreading itself.

Free! We who cannot for a moment govern our own minds, cannot hold our minds on a subject, focus it on a point to the exclusion of everything else for a moment! Yet we call ourselves free. Think of it!

We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think.

So work, says the Vedanta, putting God in everything, and knowing Him to be in everything. Work incessantly, holding life as something deified, as God Himself, and knowing that this is all we have to do, this is all we should ask for.

God is in everything, where else shall we go to find Him? He is already in every work, in every thought, in every feeling. Thus knowing, we must work—this is the only way, there is no other. Thus the effects of work will not bind us.

We have seen how false desires are the cause of all the misery and evil we suffer, but when they are thus deified, purified, through God, they bring no evil, they bring no misery.

A man who does not know where he has come from surely does not know where he is going.

A wave in the ocean must be at the cost of a hollow elsewhere.

All the help that has come, was from within yourself.

Desire, ignorance, and inequality – this is the trinity of bondage.

Deep down in our subconscious mind are stored up all the thoughts and acts of the past, not only of this life, but of all other lives we have lived...

Each one of these is striving to be recognized, pushing outward for expression, surging, wave after wave, out upon the objective mind, the conscious mind.

These thoughts, the stored-up energy, we take for natural desires, talents, etc. It is because we do not realise their true origin. We obey them blindly, unquestioningly; and slavery, the most helpless kind of slavery, is the result; and we call ourselves free.

The goal of mankind is knowledge. Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for. After a time man finds that it is not happiness, but knowledge, towards which he is going, and that pleasure and pain are great teachers, and that he learns as much from evil as from good.

Experience is the only source of knowledge.

Any system which seeks to destroy individuality is in the long run disastrous.

Each life has a current running though it, and this current will eventually take it to God.

Swami Vivekananda on Vedanta

The Vedanta recognizes no sin, it recognizes only error; and the greatest error says the Vedanta, is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that. In you is all power. Summon up your all-powerful nature and this whole Universe will lie at your feet. It is the Self alone that predominates and not matter.

Vedanta does not destroy the world, but it explains it; it does not destroy the person, but explains him; it does not destroy the individuality, but explains it by showing the real individuality. It does not show that this world is vain and does not exist, but it says, “Understand what this world is, so that it may not hurt you..” The theme of the Vedanta is to see the Lord in everything, to see things in their real nature, not as they appear to be.

The Vedanta teaches men to have faith in themselves first. As certain religions of the world say that a man who does not believe in a Personal God outside of himself is an atheist, so the Vedanta says, a man who does not believe in himself is an atheist. Not believing in the glory of our own soul is what the Vedanta calls atheism. . . .There is neither man nor woman or child, nor difference of race or sex, nor anything that stands as a bar to the realization of the ideal, because Vedanta shows that it is realized already, it is already there.

Swami Vivekananda on the True Meaning of Non-attachment

The man who gives up living in houses, wearing fine clothes, and eating good food, and goes into the desert, may be a most attached person. His only possession, his own body, may become everything to him; and as he lives he will be simply struggling for the sake of his body.

Nonattachment does not mean anything that we may do in relation to our external body; it is all in the mind. The binding link of ‘I and mine’ is in the mind. If we have not this link with the body and with the things of the senses, we are nonattached, wherever and whatever we may be.

A man may be on a throne and perfectly nonattached; another man may be in rags and still very much attached.

Quotes on India from Swami Vivekananda

One vision I see as life before me, that the ancient Mother India has awakened once more sitting on her throne rejuvenated more glorious than ever.

If India wants to raise herself once more, it is absolutely necessary that she brings out her treasures and throw them broadcast among the nations of the earth and in return be ready to receive what others have to give her.

So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor, who having educated at their expense pays not the least heed to them… Kindle their knowledge with the help of modern science. Teach them history, geography, science, literature and along with these the profound truths of religion.

Swami Vivekananda Quotes on Upanishads

Strength, strength is what the Upanishads speak to me from every page. This is the one great thing to remember, it has been the one great lesson I have been taught in my life.

Strength, it says, strength, O man, be not weak. Are there no human weakness? – says man. There are say the Upanishads, but will more weakness heal them, would you try to wash dirt with dirt? Will sin cure sin, weakness cure weakness…. Ay, it is the only literature in the world where you find the word ‘abhih’ ‘fearless,’ used again and again; in no other scripture in the world is this adjective applied either to God or to man…. And the Upanishads are the great mine of strength.

Therein lies strength enough to invigorate the whole world. The whole world can be vivified, made strong, energized through them. They will call with trumpet voice upon the weak, the miserable, and the down-trodden of all races, all creeds, all sects, to stand on their feet and be free. Freedom – physical freedom and mental freedom, and spiritual freedom – are the watchwords of the Upanishads.

Swami Vivekananda Thoughts on Human Mind

How hard it is to control the mind! Well has it been compared to the maddened monkey? There was a monkey, restless by his own nature, as all monkeys are. As if that were not enough, someone made him drink freely of wine, so that he became still more restless. Then a scorpion stung him. When a man is stung by a scorpion, he jumps about for a whole day; so the poor monkey found his condition worse than ever. To complete his misery a demon entered into him.

What language can describe the uncontrollable restlessness of that monkey?

The human mind is like that monkey, incessantly active by its own nature; then it becomes drunk with the wine of desire, thus increasing its turbulence. After desire takes possession, comes the sting of the scorpion of jealousy at the success of others, and last of all the demon of pride enters the mind, making it think itself of all importance. How hard to control such a mind!

Way to Success – Swami Vivekananda

Take up one thing and do it, and see the end of it, and before you have seen the end, do not give it up. He, who can become mad with an idea, he alone sees light. . . . 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.

Swami Vivekananda on the Spirit of Giving

Learn that the whole of life is giving, that nature will force you to give. So, give willingly. Sooner or later you will have to give up.

You come into life to accumulate. With clenched hands, you want to take. But nature puts a hand on your throat and makes your hands open.

Whether you like it or not, you have to give.

The moment you say, ‘I will not’, the blow comes; you are hurt.

In the long run, all people are compelled to give up everything.

And the more one struggles against this law, the more miserable one feels. It is because we dare not give, because we are not resigned enough to accede to this grand demand of nature, that we are miserable.

The forest is gone, but we get heat in return. The sun is taking up water from the ocean, to return it in showers. You are a machine for taking and giving: you take, in order to give. Ask, therefore, nothing in return; but the more you give, the more will come to you. . .

A river is continually emptying itself into the ocean and is continually filling up again. Bar not the exit into the ocean. The moment you do that, death seizes you.

Swami Vivekananda on Fanaticism and Intolerance

This world is like a dog's curly tail, and people have been striving to straighten it out for hundreds of years; but when they let it go, it has curled up again. How could it be otherwise? One must first know how to work without attachment, and then one will not be a fanatic. When we know that this world is like a dog's curly tail and will never get straightened, we shall not become fanatics. If there were no fanaticism in the world, it would make much more progress than it does now.

It is a mistake to think that fanaticism can make for the progress of mankind. On the contrary, it is a retarding element creating hatred and anger, and causing people to fight each other, and making them unsympathetic. We think that whatever we do or possess is the best in the world, and what we do not do or possess is of no value. So, always remember the instance of the curly tail of the dog whenever you have a tendency to become a fanatic.

You need not worry or make yourself sleepless about the world; it will go on without you. When you have avoided fanaticism, then alone will you work well. It is the level-headed man, the calm man, of good judgment and cool nerves, of great sympathy and love, who does good work and so does good to himself. The fanatic is foolish and has no sympathy; he can never straighten the world, nor himself become pure and perfect.

We ought not to be fanatics of any kind, because fanaticism is opposed to love. You hear fanatics glibly saying, ‘I do not hate the sinner. I hate the sin,’ but I am prepared to go any distance to see the face of that man who can really make a distinction between the sin and the sinner. It is easy to say so. If we can distinguish well between quality and substance, we may become perfect men. It is not easy to do this. And further, the calmer we are and the less disturbed our nerves, the more shall we love and the better will our work be. (Source: We Help Ourselves, Not The World by Swami Vivekananda)