Decoding the wisdom of Swami Vivekananda


“India must conquer the world, and nothing less than that is my ideal. It may be very big, it may astonish many of you, but it is so.” – Swami Vivekananda

By Unknown author – Old photo, Public Domain,

Swami Vivekananda (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal) traveled to America in 1893 and spoke at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago and received a rock star reception. Harvard and Columbia made him an offer to head a new Department of Eastern Religions which Swami Ji declined.

Conquering the world and emerging Vishwa Guru are the same, and, it is not a military conquest.

This opportunity to conquer the hearts and minds of global citizens couldn’t have come about at a more opportune time as India has opted for the theme, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, one world, one family, during its presidency of the G-20 this year.

Swami Ji’s 1896 book, Raj Yoga: Commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, explains how his vision may be actualized, but the wisdom has to be deciphered.

Think back to ancient times, thousands of years ago, when there wasn’t yet much knowledge present. Then, sages first went into meditation, “downloaded” the Vedas from the source, and revealed it to humanity. This method of discovery goes by the name, Shruti.

We can only now corroborate some of the knowledge the sages revealed:

For example, the Gayatri mantra from Rig Veda can remove the asymmetry in neurochemicals in the two hemispheres of our brain (Jaisundar, AIIMS, 2000), and mantras from Yajurveda can strengthen that part of the brain responsible for cognition (Hartzell, 2019).

Vivekananda formally states this method of discovery in his book, Raj Yoga thus: Indian thought dares to seek and successfully find something higher than reason.

This remark is in contrast to the assertion of renowned 18th century German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, All knowledge begins with the (five) senses, flows then to the understanding, and ends in reason. There is nothing higher than reason.

Vedas are an example of “something higher than reason.”

As proof of Swami Ji’s wisdom, “Intuition” is knowing something without the benefit of the five senses. Purposeful inculcation of intuition means that there is something higher than reason.

These two video clips (Aha Dharana, Kaun Banega Crorepati) prove that intuition can be purposefully inculcated.

The upshot of the foregoing discussion is that there are two methods of discovery:

(1) Discovering something from the ocean of existing knowledge; this is tantamount to connecting the dots, and

(2) Producing new knowledge, let’s call it an invention, which cannot come about through existing knowledge. Both methods of discovery are essential.

As to the second gem of wisdom, Vivekananda reveals that the basis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is Saamkhya. Saamkhya was developed between the time of the Vedas and the time of Bhagvad Geeta. There is a chapter on Saamkhya Yoga in the Bhagvad Geeta.

According to Saamkhya, all creation is made up of five principal elements: Earth, Water, Fire (Heat), Air and Akash (consciousness and energy). Furthermore, all creation is endowed with three attributes (Gunas) Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, or equivalently, with two emotions: positive emotions and negative emotions.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras detail a process with which to return to the source at the end of life.

Yogis refer to the process of returning to the source as Jeeva Samadhi while in Buddhism the process is called Thukdam.

Swami Ramalingam Vallalar (1823 – 1874) was a revered saint in Tamil Nadu, India. On October 22, 1873, he gave a lecture on spiritual progress and the nature of powers that lie beyond us and move us. On January 30, 1874, Ramalingam entered his room, locked himself from inside and told his followers not to open it. This story spurred many rumors and the Government of Madras finally forced open the doors in May. The room was empty with no clues. Records of his disappearance were published in the South Arcot District’s Madras District Gazetteers in 1906.

Under the guidance of H. H. the Dalai Lama, Russian neuroscientists have found that the body of a monk undergoing Thukdam ( can remain warm and free of decomposition, implying that some of the principal elements had remained even after clinical death.

The universe may end one day, but consciousness will remain for it is eternal. —

H. H. the Dalai Lama (Nobel Prize, Peace, 1989)

See this video clip ( showing a Thai Buddhist monk living behind his body consciously in about six minutes.

Most people would have little interest in returning to the source at the end of life, but the processes that can lead an aspirant to the source, transcending reason, will also bring about a tremendous rise in emotional excellence along the way, meaning a shift from negative emotions to positive emotions.

This is hugely consequential as emotional excellence has a strong influence on the performance in the external world. This includes pursuit of exemplary performance, health & wellness, creativity, and peace.

Thus, products of reason and the need to transcend reason, are both important

With the help of a friend, Sanjeev Aroskar, B. Tech (Electronics and Computers, IIT Bombay), we have shown that verses from Yoga Sutras raise the level of emotional excellence.

In summary, the victory over global hearts and minds will require the understanding of two concepts: (1) That there are two methods of discovery, and both are required to make breakthrough discoveries, and to solve problems, and (2) Emotional excellence deeply impacts the performance in the external world, and therefore, it is essential to raise emotional excellence. The way to offer convincing evidence to the world that India is ready to assume the role of Vishwa Guru is to demonstrate the efficacy of these two assertions. That will pave the way to actualizing Swami Vivekananda’s vision.


This article is written with the blessings of H. H. Guru Mahan ( The editorial assistance of Tony Belak, Mediation Consultant and former Ombudsman, University of Louisville, is much appreciated.


Pradeep B. Deshpande

Pradeep Deshpande is Professor Emeritus in and former Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Louisville, and President and CEO of Six Sigma and Advanced Controls.



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