38 Inspiring Swami Vivekananda Quotes

Looking at some of the most influential Swami Vivekananda quotes will likely lead you to some thought-provoking inspiration for both spiritual practice and everyday living.

Swami Vivekananda is arguably the first global guru to successfully teach Hindu philosophy and is considered one of the most prevalent spiritual teachers of his time.

In this article we will look explore:

  • Who was Swami Vivekananda?
  • What was the essence of his teaching?
  • Noteworthy quotes by Swami Vivekananda to apply to everyday living and spiritual growth.
Swami Vivekananda photograph

Who Was Swami Vivekananda?

Vivekananda was born into a middle-class family in Bengal and like many other influential teachers, he showed an interest in spirituality from an early age. 

Let’s look at some key information about Swami Vivekananda –

  • He was born Narendranath Dutta in Kolkata, India.
  • His relatively short life spanned from January 1863 – July 1902.
  • He was the founder of the Ramakrishna Mission (a global organization dedicated to spiritual study)
  • Vivekananda studied Western philosophy and European history
  • He was influenced by western esoteric thought

He became a disciple of Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa and embraced the ideology that we are the embodiment of a formless God. Following the death of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda toured Indian and later America seeing it as his duty to serve humanity by disseminating the spiritual teachings of India.

Swami Vivekananda statue in a park

Vivekananda and Nationalism

Vivekananda’s thoughts and teachings were rooted in the concepts of nationalism and colonialism in India.  He helped to change the way Westerners viewed India and its ideologies,  and he is credited for promoting inter-faith and Hindu awareness worldwide.

“His many talks, speeches, and seminars given in England and America on his 1895-6 tour were significant to many in pointing a way beyond the social and cultural borderlines which colonial times had embedded.”

The Open University
Swami Vivekananda painting

Swami Vivekananda‘s teachings

Vivekananda spent four years traveling through America propagating the teachings of Hindu philosophy lecturing on jñānabhaktīkarma, and rāja yoga.  He combined the theory and practice of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra and the teachings of Vedānta with aspects of self-realization.

Vivekananda did not favor the rigors of haṭha yoga, and subsequently prioritized the mental disciplines of the yoga practice.  While he did teach techniques such as prānāyāma, in general, he deemed the practices of haṭha yoga futile. 

His approach, which was influenced by western philosophy, was widely accepted unlike the more esoteric haṭha practices of yoga which were viewed with suspicion due to their links with black magic and voodoo.

He received international acclaim in his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago where he represented India.  This Swami Vivekananda quote is taken from his famous 1983 speech

“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth”

Swami Vivekananda

Vikenenanda’s teaching contributed to Neo-Vedānta which assimilated aspects of Western esoteric ideology such as New Thought with Hinduism.  He was responsible for disseminating the ideas that all regions were paths to one goal and that Hinduism did not need to be isolated to India.

Ultimately Vivekananda shared the belief that all living creatures are one and the same with God. Thus, in serving humanity the yogi would also be serving God.

Daniel Simpson says that Vivekananda was “reinterpreting Hinduism to make it compatible with reason and science.  The result mixed Christian thinking with Vedānta, and its message was universal: there is ultimately only one God, who is present in all beings, yet has no form.”

Despite not even reaching the age of 40, Vivekananda made a huge impact globally, was regarded as a saint in his native India, and continues to inspire modern audiences with his work.

Ready to be inspired by a Swami Vivekananda quote?

candles lit in a line

Quotes by Swami Vivekananda for Everyday Contemplation

“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are traveling in a wrong path” -Swami Vivekananda.

Experience is the only teacher we have. We may talk and reason all our lives, but we shall not understand a word of truth.” -Swami Vivekananda.

Take risks in your life. If you win, you can lead, if you lose, you can guide.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Do not wait for anybody or anything. Do whatever you can, build your hope on none.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“He who struggles is better than he who never attempts.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“If I love myself despite my infinite faults, how can I hate anyone at the glimpse of a few faults.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Talk to yourself once in a day, otherwise you may miss meeting an intelligent person in this world.” -Swami Vivekananda.

We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.”  -Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda statue

Swami Vivekananda Quotes for Spiritual Growth

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Death is but a change.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“When I asked God for strength, he gave me difficult situations to face.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“The fire that warms us can also consume us; it is not the fault of the fire.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Be true unto death.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun dissipated. When they are concentrated, they illumine.” -Swami Vivekananda.

a man meditating on a rock at sunset

“So long as there is desire or want, it is a sure sign that there is imperfection. A perfect, free being cannot have any desire.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“I pity the Hindu who does not see the beauty in Jesus Christ’s character. I pity the Christian who does not reverence the Hindu Christ.” -Swami Vivekananda.

You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”-Swami Vivekananda.

“Do one thing at a Time, and while doing it put your whole Soul into it to the exclusion of all else.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.” -Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda Quotes for Community and Humanity

“Golden rules: Who is helping you, don’t forget them. Who is loving you, don’t hate them
Who is trusting you, don’t cheat them.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“Every act of love brings happiness; there is no act of love which does not bring peace and blessedness as its reaction.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“God is here in all these human souls.” -Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda quotes written on a photo of him

“Learn everything that is good from others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them” -Swami Vivekananda.

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” -Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda Quotes for Success

“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.” -Swami Vivekananda.

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.” -Swami Vivekananda.

True progress is slow but sure.” -Swami Vivekananda.

“The gift of knowledge is the highest gift in the world.” -Swami Vivekananda.

woman holding up the sun

“Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and above all, love.” –Swami Vivekananda.

“Be not Afraid of anything. You will do marvelous work. It is Fearlessness that brings Heaven even in a moment.” -Swami Vivekananda.

 “A man is not poor without a rupee, but a man is really poor without a dream and ambition.” -Swami Vivekananda

“Do not lower your goals to the level of your abilities. Instead, raise your abilities to the height of your goals.” -Swami Vivekananda.

More Vivekananda?

If these Swami Vivekananda quotes have left you seeking more then it would be worth exploring Vedanta and the teachings of Ramamkrishna

Swami Vivekananda’s most widely known book Rāja Yoga is an interpretation of the Classical yoga text  Yoga Sutras by Patañjali where you’ll find further Swami Vivekananda quotes to inspire and uplift you.

Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams

Sarah is a Brighton-based yoga teacher and teacher trainer with a passion for teaching self-inquiry and rest.

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