One of the most famous and most misunderstood sayings of Swami Vivekananda is as follows:
“First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards. Be strong my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to heaven through football, than through the study of the Gita. These are bold words; but I have to say them for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atma when your body stands firm upon your feet, and you feel like men. Thus we have to apply these to our needs.”
The above quote by Vivekananda is much deeper. There has been a lot of confusion over him advocating the sport of football over the reading of the Bhagavad Gita and that isn’t surprising.
But what he actually meant was that one must give utmost importance to his or her physical fitness. The example of football refers to getting into a physical activity to keep ourselves physically strong. The example of football can be replaced by any physical sport or activity for that matter.
Vivekananda is just stressing over the fact that it is of no use to keep reading the Gita religiously without bothering about your physical health. By not being concerned over his or her health, a person is bound to fall sick and suffer from conditions like diabetes and heart disease. What is the use of all the scriptural knowledge when you are struggling to even walk briskly for a few minutes?
This is more relevant in today’s times than ever when people, especially youngsters, are giving physical activities a miss by being addicted to their phones and laptops for various reasons. It also makes us think that even if a person earns mammoth amount of wealth, it is of no use if his or her health is going down the drain.