Updated: Sep 10
I used to have a huge photograph of Swami Vivekanand in my home. When I was young, I used to look at it and wonder why he was dressed in orange attire with a book in his hand. I remember how, in the photograph, he stood tall, brimming with conviction, pride, and purpose. Now that I know who he is and his revered legacy, which has laid the groundwork for developing leadership and character attributes, it's evident that Swami Vivekanand, through his unfailing source of wisdom, has always fostered a deep susceptibility to the evils
prevalent in the socio-economic and moral structure of the society. Also regarded as the youth icon of this country, Swami Ji has personified the eternal energy of youth and their restless quest for truth. His quote, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached,” is partially taken from the Sanskrit verse of Katha Upanishad, which was one of his favorite Upanishads. Through this, he aimed to motivate the country's youth to serve the poor and live for the nation and the welfare of fellow men and women. He strived to let the youth know the value of life and find their purpose. Throughout his life, he has enlightened the youth about the power of subconscious and self; how the entire power of the universe is within us; that courage is correlated with fear, both existing within us, and we must reflect upon our fears and bring them forward, as when we do that, we seek what's inside. When that happens, we proceed towards self-knowledge, helping us grow spiritually and achieve our goals.
Sanya's Message to India's Youth I firmly believe in the spirits of youth. I am aware of my responsibilities as a youth of this country. Our country can go to different heights if we understand our strengths and put them in the right direction.
This quote from Swami Ji has always pushed me to aspire for more. I have always wanted to do something for the society that we live in. As this country's youth, the least we can do is serve the people in our utmost capacity. I joined an NGO called 'The Period Protection' last
year. I vividly remember the day I conducted my first menstrual hygiene awareness drive in the local slums. My team and I had anticipated the day for a long time, from planning the entire event to its promotion on social media. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I had my apprehensions that the women and girls living in the slums wouldn't interact with me or would not be receptive to my actions. However, when I reached the site and explained the purpose of my visit to them, all I saw were curious faces with a hint of glimmer in their eyes. That day I realized that we live in a country where women are supposedly told "no" when they ask for something they direly need, where education still seems like a distant dream for them only because most of us are so blinded by our privileges that we fail to discern what's important for us and what isn't. In most parts of India, menstruation is still a social stigma that shouldn't be discussed. Even when I discussed it with those women, I could sense the hesitation behind the answers. I was disappointed to see that even today when our country progresses on so many fronts, a community is still excluded from the sociocultural lifestyle. And this drove me to do something for them, give them the recognition they deserve in every aspect of their lives, and make them comfortable with themselves. While working on this cause, I was uncertain whether I would achieve my goal: Will I be able to impact the lives of those fifty women in that area? How will I do it all alone? What if my parents don't support me? What if people don't support me? All these questions were waiting for an answer, an answer that was hidden somewhere within me, within my perseverance, dedication, and will to do something that would touch the lives of those who were waiting for their voice of change. People asked, "Why only menstruation?" But when I knew that every other girl suffered from low self-esteem, confidence, and bias, I had no option of quitting. I realized those girls weren't impotent; they lacked support, and I wanted to become their catalyst. I organized several sanitary pad donation drives in that area. I started with just five hundred rupees and a team of four people. With that amount, I distributed around twenty packets. I shared their story with the world and asked for support from people. I wasn't sure if people would trust me, but after my first drive, I raised ten thousand rupees to distribute sanitary pads to all those women and girls who lived in the slums of nearby areas. Although I doubted my abilities at times, I never looked back. I organized a health check-up camp in a government school in my locality, had three more drives, and did a rally in Connaught Place, Delhi. Sometimes you think of an idea, and it's just there; you don't give much thought to it, nor do you think it might be possible for it to ensue. I never thought I would be the one to bring joy into people's lives. Yet I took the risk and went ahead with leading the cause. I won't deny that I wasn't irresolute, but the mere thought of improving someone's life with my passion got me going.
I agree that it does take a lot of time and patience to change something prevalent in our society for so long, but the key is to take that first step, overcome your fear, and give it your best shot. Even if my cause had limited outreach, I am still happy that I started somewhere, as only collective action leads to change. And call it god's grace or my luck, I was also awarded a gold medal for my contribution to uplifting these menstruators by an NGO called Umeed in May 2022. You don’t expect anything in return when you do something for others. Nonetheless, when such initiatives get acknowledged, you get encouraged to work for the community despite the challenges. This incident made me realize that even if I am a student with limited resources, I do have infinite influence over people. It helped me understand that, with my potency, I can bring about any transformation I want. We have buried ourselves in the outer world, forgetting our real nature. We don't realize that the competition is within and not with others. Swami Ji believed that for our country to reach great heights, the youth should rise like a tidal wave to turn their dreams into reality. To achieve success, they need to awaken from their egotism by being mindful. And finally, being consistent in pursuing their dream will help them succeed, overcome the struggles of life, and help those in need. India has all the required resources; it has the intellect and the money, and all it needs is the enthusiasm of the youth with a vision in mind to develop human dignity and national pride. After all, it's the present that guides the future, it's the strength of the character that evokes faith and it's the youth that is the sole identity of the nation!
About the author Sanya, a vibrant and inspiring nineteen-year-old student, embodies a passion for finding inspiration in life's simplest moments. Her unwavering belief in the power of persistence and helping others drives her to volunteer for various community causes. Sanya's zestful and approachable personality, coupled with her exceptional communication skills, makes her a ray of sunshine in any environment. Her article, "Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached," was recognized as an outstanding contribution to 'The Trailblazers 2023,' a national-level article writing competition organized by the Youthisthan Foundation on the occasion of National Youth Day 2023, celebrating the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. In her article, Sanya undoubtedly imparts a message of relentless determination and unwavering optimism.