VIVEKANANDA – The Concept of Personality

Vishwa Bhaarath
VIVEKANANDA – The Concept of Personality

By: Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Se. M. Ed, Ph.D, Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India

The metaphysics which Vivekananda strongly believes hold that every soul is destined to be perfect, and every being, in the end, will attain a state of perfection. Whatever we are now is the result of our acts and thoughts in the past, and whatever one shall be in the future will be the result of what one thinks and do now. But this, the shaping of our own destinies does not preclude our receiving help from outside; in the vast majority of cases, such help is absolutely necessary. When it comes, the higher powers and possibilities of the soul are quickened, spiritual life is awakened, growth is animated, and man becomes holy and perfect in the end The Indian tradition provides a very rich of concepts and ideas in the domain of personality development, These ideas have been presented elaborately in the Vedas and Upanishads which are the richest sources of understanding personality development in ancient Indian thought. The issues of self, soul, human nature, human existence, and human experience in terms of what they are, what they mean, how they are determined, their manifestation in the human being, and their role in mediating personality development from the core themes around which personality development can understand according to the ancient philosophical tradition. Vivekananda's concept of the development of personality is very much influenced by this philosophical notion.
VivekanandaThe Concept of Personality
The Concept of Personality

Personality Composition

Vivekananda believes that a human being is not simply a composite of body and mind. He is something more. According to the Vedanta philosophy, a human being has five sheaths, or coverings: the physical sheath, the vital sheath, the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath.

Today’s education can at best touch the first four sheaths, but not the last one. Secular knowledge, skills, and moral values may take care of the first four sheaths, but spiritual knowledge is essential for the fifth. Moreover, it should be noted that the fifth sheath is the reservoir of bliss, knowledge, and strength, and all the other sheaths are activated by the fifth.

Personal Magnetism

In accordance with a general point of view that Personality is your effect on others Vivekananda also supports this view. His observations regarding this are a clear indication of his agreement. ”You see what is happening all around us. The world is one of influence. Part of our energy is used up in the preservation of our own bodies. Beyond that, every particle of our energy is day and night being used in influencing others. Our bodies, our virtues, our intellect, and our spirituality, all are continuously influencing others; and so, conversely, we are being influenced by them. This is going on all around us.

Now, to take a concrete example: a man comes, you know he is very learned, his language is beautiful and he speaks to you by the hour but he does not make any impression. Another man comes, and he speaks a few words, not well arranged, ungrammatical perhaps; all the same, he makes an immense impression. Many of you have seen that. So it is evident that words alone cannot always produce an impression. Words, even thoughts, contribute only one-third of the influence in making an impression, the man, two-thirds. What you call the personal magnetism of the man is what comes out and impresses you.

The great leaders-The Role Model

Vivekananda strongly feels the necessity of presenting an ideal personality for moldings in the desired direction.He suggests the personality of great leaders of mankind of the development of personality in the desired format. ‘‘Coming to great leaders of mankind, we always find that it was the personality of the man that counted. Now, take all the great authors of the past, the great thinkers. Really speaking, how many thoughts have they thought? Take all the writings that have been left to us by the past leaders of mankind; take each one of their books and appraise them. The real thoughts, new and genuine, that have been thought in this world up to this time, amount to only a handful. Read in their books the thoughts they have left to us. The authors do not appear to be giants to us, and yet we know that they were great giants in their days. What made them so? Not simply the thoughts they thought, neither the books they wrote nor the speeches they made, it was something else that is now gone, that is their personality. As I have already remarked, the personality of the man is two-thirds, and his intellect, his words, are but one-third. It is the real man, the personality of the man that runs through us

The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What uses shining up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training are to make the man grow.

Power to Influence

Our actions are but effects. Actions must come when the man is there; the effect is bound to follow the cause. Vivekananda clarifies the effect in a positive direction He suggests religious leaders as a role model for the same.” Compare the great teachers of religion with the great philosophers. The philosophers scarcely influenced anybody’s inner man, and yet they wrote most marvelous books. The religious teachers, on the other hand, moved countries in their lifetime. The difference was made by personality. In the philosopher it is a faint personality that influences; in the great Prophets, it is tremendous.

In the former we touch the intellect, in the latter, we touch life. In the one case, it is simply a chemical process, putting certain chemical ingredients together which may gradually combine and under proper circumstances bring out a flash of light or may fail. On the other, it is like a torch that goes round quickly, lighting others. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow-beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes: that personality put upon anything will make it work.

Acquisition of Perfection

As per the concept of education suggested by Vivekananda  ‘Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man’ (CW, vol.IV, p. 358). he himself questions “ Can there be any limit then, till you come to perfection? So, what comes of it? That a perfect man, that is to say, the type that is to come of this race, perhaps millions of years hence, that man, can come today. All great Incarnations and Prophets are such men; they reached perfection in this one life. We have had such men at all periods o the world’s history and at all times. Quite recently there was such a man who lived the life of the whole human race and reached the end even in this life. Even this hastening of the growth must be under laws. Suppose we can investigate these laws and understand their secrets and apply them to our own needs; it follows that we grow. We hasten our growth, we hasten our development, and we become perfect, even in this life. This is the higher part of our life, and the science of the study of mind and its powers has this perfection as its real end. The utility of this science is to bring out the perfect man, and not let him wait and wait for ages, just a plaything in the hands of the physical world, like a log of driftwood carried from wave to wave and tossing about in the ocean. This science wants you to be strong, to take the work in your own hand instead of leaving it in the hands of nature, and get beyond this little life.

The Science of Yoga

The science of Yoga claims that it has discovered the laws which develop this personality, and by proper attention to those laws and methods, each one can grow and strengthen his personality.

This is one of the great practical things and this is the secret of all education. This has a universal application. In the life of the householder, in the life of the poor, the rich, the man of business, the spiritual man, in everyone’s life, it is a great thing, the strengthening of this personality. They are laws, very fine, which are behind the physical laws, as we know. That is to say, there are no such realities as a physical world, a mental world, a spiritual world. Whatever is, is one. Let us say, it is a sort of tapering existence, the thickest part is here, it tapers and becomes finer and finer; the finest is what we call spirit; the grossest, the body. And just as it is here, in the microcosm, it is exactly the same in the macrocosm. This universe of ours is exactly like that; it is the gross external thickness, and it tapers into something finer and finer until it becomes God. We also know that the greatest power is lodged in the fine, not in the course. We see a man take up a huge weight, we see his muscles swell and all over his body we see signs of exertion, and we think the muscles are powerful things. But it is the thin thread-like things, the nerves, which bring power to the muscles; the moment one of these threads Is cut off from reaching the muscles, they are not able to work at all. These tiny nerves bring the power from something finer still thought, and so on. So, it is the fine that is really the seat of power.

Of course, we can see the movements in the gross; but when fine movements take place, we cannot see them. When a gross thing moves, we catch it,

and thus we naturally identify movement with things that are gross. But all the power is really in the fine. We do not see any movement in the fine, perhaps because the movement is so intense that we cannot perceive it. But if by any science, any investigation, we are helped to get hold of these finer forces which are the cause of the expression, the expression itself will be under control. There is a little bubble coming from the bottom of a lake; we do not see it coming all the time, we see it only when it bursts on the surface; so, we can perceive thoughts only after they develop a great deal, or after they become actions. We constantly complain that we have no control over our actions, over our thoughts. But how can we have it? If we can get control over the fine movements, if we can get hold of thought at the root, before it has become thought, before it has become action, then it would be possible for us to control the whole. Now, if there is a method by which we can analyze, investigate, understand and finally grapple with those finer powers, the finer causes, then alone is it possible to have control over ourselves, and the man who has control over his own mind assuredly will have control over every other mind. That is why purity and morality have been always the object of religion; a pure, moral man has control of himself. And all minds are the same, different parts of one Mind. He who knows one lump of clay has known all the clay in the universe. He, who knows and controls his own mind knows the secret of every mind and has power over every mind.

Impact of Cultural Evolution

Like Will Durant Vivekananda also believes that ‘Evolution in human personality during the recorded time has been social rather than biological: it has proceeded not by heritable variations in the species, but mostly by economic, political, intellectual and moral innovation transmitted to individuals and generations by imitation, custom or education.

Society is forever adding to its learning and culture., Education was but a manifestation of culture. The purpose of education, it seems, is to transmit culture: so culture is likely to be limited to what can be transmitted by education. ’Similarly, Vivekananda observed that, through education, a child learns the culture, and his behavior is molded accordingly, and he is thus guided towards his eventual role in society. In this process, several agents – such as his parents, peers, and teachers – assist him

Each man in his childhood runs through the stages through which his race has come up; only the race took thousands of years to years. The child is first the old .savage man and he crushes a butterfly under his feet. The child is at first like the primitive ancestors of his race. As he grows, he passes through different stages until he reaches the development of his race. Only he does it swiftly and quickly. Now, take the whole of humanity as a race, or take the whole of the animal creation, man and the lower animals, as one whole. There is an end towards which the whole is moving. Let us call it perfection.

Therefore only when wisdom, peace, strength, unselfishness, loving concern for others and other virtues become evident the personality of  a person is  transformed  from a sensuous being to a true human being

Future of mankind

Some men and women are born who anticipate the whole progress of mankind. Instead of waiting and being reborn over and over again for ages until the whole human race has attained that perfection, they, as it were, rush through them in a few short years of their life. And we know that we can hasten these processes if we are true to ourselves. If a number of men, without any culture, be left to live upon an island and are given barely enough food, clothing, and shelter, they will gradually go on and on, evolving to higher and higher stages of civilization. We know also, that this growth can be hastened by additional means. We help the growth of trees, do

we not? Left to nature they would have grown, only they would have taken a long time; we help them to grow in a shorter time than they would otherwise have taken. We are doing all the time the same thing, hastening the growth of things by artificial means. Why cannot we hasten the growth? of man? We can do that as a race. Why are teachers sent to other countries? Because by these means we can hasten the growth of races. Now, can we not hasten the growth of individuals? We can. Can we put a limit to the hastening? We cannot say how much a man can grow in one life.

You have no reason to say that this much a man can do and no more. Circumstances can hasten him wonderfully.


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