Vivekananda was truly a lion among men. Without doubt, he deserves the status of an idol for the kind of men we need Mother India to produce. Not only was he a true Rishi, but also a man of the highest order. He personified the teachings of the Upanishads. The more I read about him, the more I realise his greatness. And yet, I don’t follow him blindly. I seek out from his writings only what conforms to my reason. I think critically, and if something does not seem to make sense to my mind, I leave it aside (for the time being at least).
Recently, I looked up his views on Gita and expected a thorough interpretation by him. But seems like he only gave discourses on it. I understand that the actual essay (which appears in Vol. 4 of the Complete Works of Vivekananda) may be boring to some of you. So I took the “pleasure” of picking out relevant paragraphs and reproducing them below. Kindly have a read. It is bound to inspire you regardless of the profession you work in, for Gita was written for the common, working man. Not just for sannyasis.
Note: I’ve emboldened certain sentences to emphasise them.
(1) One thing should be especially remembered here, that there is no connection between these historical researches and our real aim, which is the knowledge that leads to the acquirement of Dharma. Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today, it will not in the least be any loss to us. Then what is the use of so much historical research, you may ask. It has its use, because we have to get at the truth; it will not do for us to remain bound by wrong ideas born of ignorance.
In this country people think very little of the importance of such inquiries. Many of the sects believe that in order to preach a good thing which may be beneficial to many, there is no harm in telling an untruth, if that helps such preaching, or in other words, the end justifies the means. Hence we find many of our Tantras beginning with, “Mahadeva said to Parvati.” But our duty should be to convince ourselves of the truth, to believe in truth only.
Such is the power of superstition, or faith in old traditions without inquiry into its truth, that it keeps men bound hand and foot, so much so, that even Jesus the Christ, Mohammed, and other great men believed in many such superstitions and could not shake them off. You have to keep your eye always fixed on truth only and shun all superstitions completely.
(2) In order to remove this delusion which had overtaken Arjuna, what did the Bhagavan (God) say? As I always preach that you should not decry a man by calling him a sinner, but that you should draw his attention to the omnipotent power that is in him, in the same way does the Bhagavan speak to Arjuna.
(3) So says the Bhagavan: क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ — Yield not to UNMANLINESS, O son of Pritha. There is in the world neither sin nor misery, neither disease nor grief; if there is anything in the world which can be called sin, it is this — ‘fear’; know that any work which brings out the latent power in thee is Punya (virtue); and that which makes thy body and mind weak is, verily, sin. Shake off this weakness, this faintheartedness! क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ। — Thou art a hero, a Veer; this is unbecoming of thee.”
If you, my sons, can proclaim this message to the world — क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते — then all this disease, grief, sin, and sorrow will vanish from off the face of the earth in three days. All these ideas of weakness will be nowhere. Now it is everywhere — this current of the vibration of fear. Reverse the current: bring in the opposite vibration, and behold the magic transformation! Thou art omnipotent — go, go to the mouth of the cannon, fear not.
Hate not the most abject sinner, fool; not to his exterior. Turn thy gaze inward, where resides the Paramatman (God). Proclaim to the whole world with trumpet voice, “There is no sin in thee, there is no misery in thee; thou art the reservoir of omnipotent power. Arise, awake, and manifest the Divinity within!”
If one reads this one Shloka —क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते । क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परंतप॥ — one gets all the merits of reading the entire Gita; for in this one Shloka lies imbedded the whole Message of the Gita.
To read this in the original source i.e. Vol. 4. of The Complete Works of Vivekananda, click here.