PLAN OF ACTION The Mission of Reform


A beautiful, large edifice, the glorious relic of a hoary antiquity has, out of neglect or disuse, fallen into a dilapidated condition; accumulations of dirt and dust may be lying everywhere within it, maybe some portions are tumbling down to the ground. What will you do ti it? Will you take in hand the necessary cleansing and repairs and thus restore the old, or will you pull the whole edifice down to the ground and seek to build another in its place, after a sordid modern plan whose permanence has yet to be established? We have to reform it, which truly means to make ready or perfect by necessary cleansing and repairs, not by demolishing the whole thing. There the function of reform ends, when the work of renovating the old is finished, what further necessity does it serve? Do that if you can, if not, hands off!

The band of reformers in our country want, on the contrary, to build up a separate sect of their own. They have, however, done good work; may the blessings of God be showered on their heads! But why should you, Hindus, want to separate yourselves from the great common fold? Why should you feel ashamed to take the name of Hindu, which is your greatest and most glorious possession? Tis national ship of ours, ye children of the immortals, my countrymen, has been plying for ages, carrying civilizations and enriching the whole world with its inestimable treasures. For scores of shining centuries this national ship of ours has been ferrying across the ocean of life, and has taken millions of souls to the other shore, beyond all misery. But today it may have sprung a leak and got damaged, through your own fault or whatever cause it matters or not. What would you, who have placed yourselves in it, do now? Would you go about cursing it and quarrelling among yourselves! Would you not all unite and put your best efforts to stop the holes? Let us all gladly give our heart’s blood to do this; and this if we fail in the attempt, let us all sink and die together, with blessings and not curses on our lips.

(The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.3,

Advaita Ashram, revised edition 2012, page 460-461)