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Introduction:The 3 Greatest Super Souls of The World:
I am going to express some unknown and untold facts about the greatest super souls and three most hon’ble men of the world : Vivekananda – Leo Tolstoy – and Gandhi.
I have written several articles about Swami Vivekananda in my blog. Even I authored a book on Swami Vivekananda – Bharatchetana and the West and published from Kolkata.
Because this Indian Saint and thinker is our source of strength and energy. Although, these three great personalities of the world – Vivekananda – Leo Tolstoy – and – Gandhi had an enormous impact on the people of India as well as the world.
Though they ruled completely there different sectors, despite they have an intense connection with each other. Eventually, these three – Vivekananda – Tolstoy – Gandhi are the world – thinkers to whom we are indebted.
In course of our lives – journey when we have to face any troubles, Vivekananda gives us strength and light. So repeatedly we consider Vivekananda as our torch- bearer.
Today, in this post I will have to focus on them . I’m sure that you will enjoy this post on” The Three Greatest Super Souls of The World: Vivekananda – Tolstoy – and – Gandhi “. If you get inspired, please comment.
Table of Contents
Introduction – Table of Contents – Leo Tolstoy’s Views on Vivekananda – Reminisce of Makovitsky – Tolstoy: The Doyen of Russian Literature – Tolstoy popularity in India – Vivekananda’s Influence on Tolstoy – The Inquisitiveness of Tolstoy about India & Ramkrishna – Vivekananda – Gandhi – Romman Rolland on Ramkrishna – Vivekananda & India – Independence of India & Role of Them – Gandhi & Tolstoy – The Bottom Line
Leo Tolstoy’s Views on Vivekananda
On June 5, 1908, Leo Tolstoy told, D.P.Makovitsky expressed the moment: Since six in the morning I have been thinking of Vivekananda. Yesterday, read Vivekananda the whole day. There is a chapter on the justification of violent means of resisting evil. Very wisely written.
Reminiscences of Makovitsky
Again Makovitsky wrote on 26 June 1908:
Yesterday Tolstoy came to the hall with one of Swami Vivekananda’s three volumes. ” Excellent book, so many thoughts are here for the circle of reading”, said Tolstoy.
He further told the awaiting crowd there that these books contain such knowledge that is treasures of true knowwledge.
Each and everybody should read and follow it. So it is useful to all and everyone. He also advised his students to translate these books into the Russian language.
But it was uncertain as to how this great Russian writer, Tolstoy became a fan of Swami Vivekananda. We know that Vivekananda wrote a book ” Raja Yoga ” for his American disciples was what impressed Tolstoy first.
As a result, he constantly brought up Swami Vivekananda in his conversations with his students and well-wishers.
Leo Tolstoy: The Doyen of Russian Literature
Leo Tolstoy is familiar with the doyen of Russian literature. He had a profound philosophical and academic interest in India and Indian philosophy. Tolstoy cast a great influence over Mahatma Gandhi.
But the man who deeply influenced Tolstoy was none other than the young monk of India, Swami Vivekananda.
But it remains still obscure or known in a distorted form is about the relationship between Tolstoy and Swami Vivekanand’s spiritual teacher, the grest Sri Ramkrisna .
He was Tolstoy’s contemporary, one of the most eminent thinkers and social leaders of modern India. Luckily, Swami Vivekananda’s preceptor, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, held in Tolstoy’s quests of spiritual life in the last years of his life.
- Some Russian Indologists, like A. I. Shifman, K. Lomunov, E. P. Chelyshev, Professor V. S.Kostyuchenko of Moscow University had tried to explore by their interests about the relation of Tolstoy and India.
- Tolstoy’s Popularity in India
- TOLSTOY- AND – GANDHI AND INDIA: The Three Greatest Super Souls of The World
In India, Tolstoy has been enjoying singular popularity out of love and respect that he is a Rishi. We know that it is an epithet and most Indian use this term for the sages of yore right from the time of the Vedas.
However, the contemporary eminent thinkers and social leaders of modern India, Swami Vivekananda and his preceptor, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, influenced profoundly this great writer and saint.
Curiously enough, just as much as Tolstoy’s books have had an amazing influence on Indian readers, India had also a strong impact on Tolstoy.
Tolstoy became interested in the thoughts of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna. Therefore, he had several contacts and admirers in India, such as Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi.
From his young age he started reading about Indian thought. Indian ideas, values and ethics had a part in Tolstoy’s philosophy. Moreover, he adapted Indian stories into Russian.
Thus, we have to read Tolstoy’s letters when we’re going to reveal the Tolstoy’s interest in Indian thought.
In the letter, written by Tolstoy in 1908 to a Indian freedom-fighter, Mr. Taraknath Das, following the later’s request for support from Tolstoy for India’s independence, is indicative of the influence of Indian philosophy and religions on Tolstoy.
- Tolstoy, in his letters, quotes from the Vedas and Upanishads as well as excerpt from Lord Krishna’s teaching. He stresses on the importance of love. Because they only source of freedom from every form of enslavement.
- He had received the third volume of Vivekananda’s works in early 1909. Within a few months, he requested an editor of a prominent Russian Publishing House that Vivekananda was the most eminent of modern Indian thinkers and his works should be published in Russian.
- Vivekananda’s speeches mesmerized Tolstoy. Through him, Tolstoy felt about Indian values and ethics, Indian spiritual knowledge.
- 14 December, 1908, he wrote:
- In India over 200 million people, highly gifted in both spiritual and physical strength, are under the rule of totally alien small circle of peoples. They are immeasurably lower than those whom they rule.
- The reason thereof, as seen from your letter… and from extremely interesting works of the Hindu writer, Swami Vivekananda, is the absence of a rational religious doctrine.
- ( Letter to a Hindu)
Even today, 110 years after his death, Leo Tolstoy’s books are the wealth of library. It continues to have a profound influence on thousands of people across the world.
Most book lovers invariably have at least one or two masterpieces of the great Russian writer on their bookshelves – perhaps War and Peace or Anna Karenina.
Prime Minister Modi, addressing an economic forum in Russia said that Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi had an “indelible effect” on each other. Therefore, India and Russia must take inspiration from them to strengthen bilateral ties.
But I will say here that it was Swami Vivekananda who tied up with the Russia and India through Tolstoy.
In this respect, we can remember another eminent thinkers of the world. He is Romman Rolland. He translated the most profound and extensive works on Vivekananda and Ramakrishna into the Russian language.
These works have, over the years, been a good source of inspiration. These books influenced not only for the scholars of the subject but also for those who have been interested in modern Indian thought.
Ramkrishna – Vivekananda’s Influence on Tolstoy according to Rolland
Romain Rolland remarks in his translation of Vivekananda’s works( Volume -14, p. 338):
” The religious firmament of India was most brightly illuminated by stars of the first magnitude that had suddenly started shining in it…
…. the two wonders of the spirit: Ramakrishna (1836 – 1886), the godly inspired man who had enveloped all forms of deity with his love, and his pupil, still more powerful than the teacher, Vivekananda (1863 – 1902).
His tempestuous energy had awakened the effective god, the god of Gita in his suffering people, for centuries to come…. Tolstoy, with his vast curious spirit, of course knew about them.”
Rolland further wrote: ” In 1896 he had felt exhilarated to see Vivekananda’s first published works . These are Philosophy and Lectures on Raja Yoga. He was also delighted at Vivekananda’s book on Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna.”
In his biography of Vivekananda, Romain Rolland adds that up to June 1895 he had completed the redaction of his famous treatise on Raja Yoga. It was destined to inspire Tolstoy.
But, Rolland continues in his Life of Tolstoy: ‘ the fatal movement of the historical stream took Tolstoy away from the yogis with their terror of God to the threshold of the great work of Vivekananda and Gandhi Hind Swaraj.( Vol.14, p.338).
Howsoever one perceives Tolstoy and his books are inspiring. So there is no doubt that he was a powerful writer, and his books have an enduring appeal.
More so, in the time of the ongoing pandemic that has seen sales of his books soar. (https://vivekavani.com)
Curiously enough, just as much as Tolstoy’s books have influenced Indian readers. Besides, India also had a strong impact on Tolstoy.
Inquisitiveness of Tolstoy about India: The 3 Greatest Super Souls of The World:
However,he became interested in Indian thought as a young man. So he started reading about it. Indian ideas had a part in Tolstoy’s philosophy, and he adapted Indian stories into Russian.
Later, he also became interested in the thoughts of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna and had several contacts and admirers in India such as Tagore and Gandhi.
The Russian writer and thinker wrote a letter in 1908 to the Indian revolutionary, Taraknath Das. The later’s requested for support from Tolstoy for India’s independence.
Practically it is indicative of the influence of Indian philosophy and religions on Tolstoy.
Leo Tolstoy quotes from the Vedas and the Upanishads. He also excerpts from Lord Krishna’s teachings. He stresses on the importance of love as the only source of freedom from every form of enslavement.
The letter was later passed on to Gandhi. Tarak Nath Das translated it from Russian and published it in an Indian newspaper,” Free Hindustan”.
The letter was then published in the form of a slim book titled Letter to a Hindu with a foreword by Gandhi. Thus, began a series of correspondence between the two.(name – fame.com) / keepsmiling.com
“I read your book with great interest,” Tolstoy later wrote of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj (“Indian Home Rule”). “because I think that the question you treat in it – passive resistance – is a question of the greatest importance not only for India but for the whole of humanity.”
In early 1909, Tolstoy had received the third volume of Vivekananda’s works. Of course, within a few months, he told an editor of a prominent Russian publishing house that Vivekananda was the most eminent of modern Indian thinkers. Therefore it is necessary to publish his works in Russian language.
India’s Independence & Role of Gandhi and Tolstoy
VIVEKANANDA- TOLSTOY – and GANDHI (https://www.swamivivekananda.guru)
Mahatma Gandhi and Tolstoy exchanged seven letters in 1909-10. Tolstoy was one of the sources of inspiration for Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence.
Hence, Tolstoy has inspired Gandhi. He was greatly influenced by Tolstoy’s book “The Kingdom of God is Within You” and his essay on Christianity and Patriotism.
Tolstoy’s ideal of the simplicity of life and purity of purpose influenced Gandhi deeply. Therefore, no wonder, when he started an ashram on a 1,000-acre farm in Johannesburg in 1910, he named it Tolstoy Farm.
Gandhi made this farm for his Satyagraha campaign to protest discrimination against India .
Meanwhile, Tolstoy’s literary output as well as the philosophy of his later years became popular reading in India. Mainly it was through English translations. Moreover, it was through Indian languages.
Noted litterateur D Javare Gowda has translated at least three major works of Tolstoy into Kannada.
The reasons may differ. Yet most readers will agree with the assessment of British poet Matthew Arnold that “a novel by Tolstoy is not a work of art but a piece of life.”
To end, a memorable line from Tolstoy: “We can only know that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
Read more: 1. SWAMI VIVEKANANDA ON NARADA-BAKTI-SUTRA. 2. JESUS CHRIST IN THE DREAM OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA