About

Swami Vivekanand is a man who doesn’t need any introduction. No words can define the significance of his teachings. Swami Vivekananda inspires all the great leaders and scientists in India and worldwide.

Narendranath Datta, known as Swami Vivekananda, was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, writer, and religious teacher. He was also Ramakrishna’s most important pupil. Swami Vivekananda lived from January 12, 1863, to July 4, 1902. He is credited with promoting interfaith understanding and elevating Hinduism to the position of a major international religion. He had a significant role in introducing Vedanta and Yoga to the West.

After having great success at the Parliament, Vivekananda continued to spread the fundamental principles of Hindu philosophy by giving hundreds of lectures across the United States, England, and Europe. He also founded the Vedanta Societies of New York and San Francisco (now known as the Vedanta Society of Northern California), which served as the cornerstones for Vedanta Societies in the West. Vivekananda established the Ramakrishna Math in India, which offers spiritual instruction to monks and lay devotees, and the Ramakrishna Mission, which promotes charity, social work, and education.

In the India of his day, Vivekananda was a leading social reformer and philosopher. He was also one of the most effective Vedanta missionaries in the West. In addition, he had a significant role in modern Hindu reform movements and helped colonial India’s conception of nationalism. He is now largely considered a national saint and one of the most significant figures in contemporary India. India observes National Youth Day on the day of his birth. Many people still believe that Swami Vivekananda is the incarnation of Lord Shiva.

Birth and Early Life

Childhood Photo
Childhood Photo

The birth name of Swami Vivekananda is Narendra Nath Dutta. It says that Narendra’s mother prayed to Lord Shiva for a child, and Lord Shiva came in her dream and gave blessings to the child. He was one of nine siblings and came from a conventional family. Vishwanath Datta, his father, worked as a lawyer at the Calcutta High Court. Sanskrit and Persian scholar Durgacharan Datta, Narendra’s grandfather, abandoned his family at age 25 to become a monk. Bhubaneswari Devi, his mother, was a devoted housewife. Narendra’s father had a progressive, logical outlook, while his mother had a devout temperament, which influenced his thinking and personality. From an early age, Narendranath was interested in spirituality and used to perform meditations in front of pictures of gods like Shiva, Rama, Sita, and Mahavir Hanuman. He was enthralled by monks and ascetics who wandered. Narendra was a naughty and restless boy, and his parents frequently struggled to keep him under control.

Narendra was born on January 12, 1863, in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata), West Bengal, India. He was born just before sunrise and on the very significant festival of Hindus ‘Makar Sankranti’, which means the rising of the new Sun.

Family Background

Family Background
Family Background

Narendra was born into a prosperous family. His father, Vishwanath, was an attorney and a social Influencer personality. Narendra’s father was quite a strict and disciplined person. But his mother was the exact opposite of his father.

His mother, Bhuvneshwari Devi, was a devoted housewife. His mother has deep faith in God. Narendra was dear to his mother since childhood. Narendra was a very sweet and naughty boy at a young age. Narendra was very close to his mother. That’s family environment was very religious.

When Narendra was too young, he sat with her mother and listened to the Ramayana and Mahabharata stories. He also sang the bhajans and worshipped with his mother.

Education Life

Swami Vivekananda obtained his primary education at home from his parents and individual instructors. Narendra started his primary and secondary education at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Institutions. He had a broad cultural and spiritual upbringing from them.

In 1879, Vivekananda joined Presidency College in Kolkata, where he pursued studies in arts and later shifted his focus to philosophy. During college, he delved into various subjects, including Western philosophy, history, social sciences, and literature. He also developed a keen interest in Hindu scriptures and Indian philosophy.

Vivekananda first met Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a well-known mystic and spiritual leader, in college. Ramakrishna became Vivekananda’s Guru and had a significant impact on his intellectual and spiritual growth. Vivekananda actively participated in Ramakrishna’s teachings and spiritual practices.

After graduation, Vivekananda faced a period of intense spiritual exploration and contemplation, seeking answers to his existential questions and pursuing the direct experience of truth.

Vivekananda officially accepted monastic life in 1881 and joined Ramakrishna’s following. He gave up his material belongings and started on a path to spiritual enlightenment. He undertook significant travel around India at this time, leading an austere life and engaging in intense introspection.

Vivekananda deepened his understanding of Vedanta, the historic Indian philosophy, through his considerable spiritual practice and academic studies. To better humanity, he attempted to harmonize the philosophical underpinnings of Vedanta with the pragmatic elements of contemporary life.

During college, he actively participated in every sport, such as gymnastics, bodybuilding, and wrestling. Narendra was fond of music. He loved both kinds of music; instrumental and vocal (Indian classical).

From childhood, Narendra was a too curious child. He was fond of reading, so he had a good grab on various subjects. His family’s religious environment influenced Narendra, resulting in him reading Hindu Scriptures, Bhagwat Geeta, and other Upanishads.

He didn’t stop here; on the other hand, he explored Christianity and Western philosophy by Herbert Spencer and David Hume. So, he learned and grew dynamically.

A Kind-Hearted

Narendra was very kind-hearted from childhood. He had immense respect for the Monk. Whenever a monk came to us for alms, whatever food, things, and money Narendra got, he used to give it. For this matter, once upon a time, he was often scolded, and his father locked him in the room.

Narendra was a very intelligent, sincere, and curious child. He was the most loving student of his teachers. He had immense respect and love for the animals and nature.

Not So Religious

He grew up in a religious home, but he always questioned the existence of God, and he occasionally believed in Agnosticism. However, he could not entirely dismiss the fact that something supreme is behind all phenomena of the Cosmos.

Narendra was extremely inspired by the ideologies of Brahmo Samaj. So in 1880, he joined the Brahmo Samaj. Also, he became a member of Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Vidhan. At that time, the institution was led by Debendranath Tagore and Keshab Chandra Sen.

The ideologies of Brahmo Samaj were different from Hinduism. Let’s see some major factors of differences:

  • The ideologies of Brahmo Samaj were quite inspired by Western philosophy and spirituality.
  • Brahmo Samaj believed in one God. It means that the whole universe is working on one energy.
  • Brahmo Samaj didn’t have faith in idol worship as Hinduism believes.
  • Brahmo Samaj was recognized for people uplifting and helping those in need.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa

In Hinduism, the place of the Guru is considered supreme, the place of the Guru is considered above parents and even God. It is believed that Guru is the only means of attaining Moksha (salvation).

When Ramakrishna was young, Lord Vishnu had come into his dreams. He had also seen visions. He was a devotee of Devi Kaali.

The First Meeting of Narendra and Ramakrishna Paramhansa

William Hastie, the Principal of the Scottish Church College, was the first to introduce him to Shri Ramakrishna. Narendra was a seeker and found something interesting so he eventually met Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.

Ramakrishna Paramhansa recognized Narendra as soon as he saw the first glimpse of him. Actually, Lord Vishnu had appeared to Ramakrishna many times in a dream and said that one day I will definitely come looking for him. And you will help me to reach the Supreme Father, the Supreme Soul.

Have You Seen God?

Narendra was very curious since childhood and he was always interested in one question, which was; Have you ever seen God?

Narendra had been asking this question to everyone like monks, priests, and his teachers since childhood. But he never got an answer. Narendra asked the same question to Ramakrishna.

Narendra was immensely influenced by Rama Krishna Paramhansa from his earlier meeting. He often visited him at Dakshineshwar Kali temple. where he received various solutions to the concerns that had been bothering him.

Major Turning Point

When Swami Vivekananda’s father died, the entire family was thrown into a financial crisis. They didn’t even have proper food for two times. At that time Vivekananda was shattered and he believed that there is no such thing as God or Supreme Energy.

He reached Ramakrishna and requested that he pray for his family, but Ramakrishna denied it and said him to pray by himself in front of Goddess Kali.

But due to his vow, he couldn’t ask for money and wealth so he prayed for seclusion and conscience. On that day, he experienced enlightenment. Then he truly believed in Ramakrishna and adopted him as Guru.

The Purest Bond

Narendra was very attached to his Guru Ramakrishna. Rama Krishna had also predicted his death, so he expressed his desire to give his early education and knowledge to Swami Vivekananda.

Ramakrishna said the last words to Vivekananda that Narendra I have given you my everything and now I can attain salvation. I have no desires left.

So, he gave all his knowledge to Vivekananda and said to him that finally, the day has come for which you were born. Ramakrishna said to him now go and describe the knowledge of our Vedas and the significance of Hinduism to the youth of the country.

Narendranath Dutt Became Swami Vivekananda

During the last few years of Ramakrishna’s life, he had throat cancer. So Ramakrishna and his disciples, including Vivekananda, shifted to Cossipore. They all came together and took care of their Guru.

On August 16 1886, Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa left his mortal body and the materialistic world. Everything that Narendra learned from his Guru, he started to teach others the most effective way to worship God was to serve others.

In 1887, fifteen disciplines of Ramakrishna including Narendranath took monastic vows. And from there, Narendra became Swami Vivekananda. The meaning of the word ‘Vivekananda’ is ‘the bliss of perceiving wisdom.’

After Ramakrishna’s death, all fifteen disciples lived together at Baranagar in North Calcutta which was known as Ramakrishna Math. They all practised yoga and meditation.

Furthermore, Vivekananda left the Math and embarked on a journey across India on foot, which he dubbed “Parivrajak” which means a monk who always travels.

During his journey, he has experienced a variety of cultural, lifestyle, and religious aspects of the people. As well as he felt the daily lives, pain, and sufferings of ordinary people.

A Message to the World from America

Swamiji got an invitation from the World Parliament in Chicago, America. He was eager to represent India globally and share his Guru’s philosophies at the gathering. He went to the Religious meeting after a series of misfortunes.

On, September 11 1893, Swami Vivekanand entered the stage and addressed the people of America with these words by saying, “My brothers and sisters of America”. The whole American public was astonished to hear these words.

He earned a standing ovation from the audience for this. He explained the fundamental ideologies of our Vedas and their spiritual meaning, and so on.

These words were enough to show the significance of Indian Culture to the entire world. That was the day when Vivekananda explained the importance of India and Indian culture to the whole world.

Foundation of Ramakrishna Mission

The love of the country and the soil here did not allow him to stay abroad for long and Vivekanand returned to India about 1897. Swamiji settled in Calcutta, where he laid the foundation of the Ramakrishna Mission on May 1, 1897, at Belur Math.

In America, Swami Vivekananda has realized that the people of America spent thousands of dollars on their lifestyle, clothes, and accessories and in India, people don’t have food even once a day. These experiences shattered him and he felt an urge to do something for these people.

The primary goal behind the establishment of the Ramakrishna Mission was to help the impoverished society, suffering, or needy people. They have served their country through several efforts. Swamiji and other disciples established many schools, colleges, rehabilitation centres, and hospitals.

Seminars, conferences, and workshops, as well as rehabilitation work, were used to spread Vedanta teachings across the country.

Most of the spiritual practices, Swami Vivekananda learned by Shri Ramakrishna. According to Vivekananda, the ultimate purpose of life is to acquire soul freedom, which includes all of one’s religious beliefs.

Death

On July 4, 1902, Swami Vivekananda passed away. At 39, he passed suddenly in India’s Belur Math, close to Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). He died from unknown causes. However, it is thought that he had several medical conditions, including diabetes and asthma, which may have contributed to his premature passing.

On the day of his death, Swami Vivekananda had been meditating and teaching his disciples at the Belur Math. He delivered a lecture in the morning and later retired to his room. In the evening, he experienced a sudden collapse, and his disciples rushed to his aid. Despite their efforts to revive him, he passed away.

The news of Swami Vivekananda’s passing shocked his supporters and lovers worldwide. His teachings had a profound impact on many people, and his reach was very broad. Although he no longer exists physically, his legacy and teachings still inspire and guide people today. His body of work and his message of enlightenment, religious tolerance, and social advancement have forever changed the globe.

Source of Inspiration

Although he lived for a very short period (thirty-nine years), yet he will be a source of inspiration for the whole world for hundreds of years.

Swamiji left for posterity his four classics:

Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga (1896), and Raja-Yoga (1896).

He has written Vedanta Shastra (1896), and Speeches from Colombo to Almora (1897).

All of his creation was an excellent treasure of Hindu Philosophy and Spirituality. He gave countless speeches, sent his hand-written letters to his friends and other monks, and he also composed several poetries.

He was a true monk and mentor who served not only his country but also the entire mankind.

In the Memory of Swami Ji

Every year on January 12, India celebrates the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda which is known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti or National Youth Day.

On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered his first international speech and represented India in Chicago. And he got a standing ovation from the people of America. Because he addressed the American people as “Sisters and Brothers of America.”

No greater example of brotherhood can be seen anywhere else. Therefore, every year on September 11, the whole world celebrates Universal Brotherhood Day.

He is one of India’s finest leaders and proponents of youth empowerment. He inspired youth for self-exploration and self-realization and will continue to inspire for many more years.

Facts About Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda learned the central and fundamental philosophy behind Hinduism. And all his learnings, he shared with the world. Let’s see some facts and know more about the life of Swami Vivekananda:

  • Although Swami Vivekananda was very calm, when he got angry in childhood, his mother poured cold water on his head and said, “Om Namah Shivaya”. And he calms down after doing this.
  • After the death of his father, his entire family went through the hardest time. They didn’t even have proper food. The rest of the people in the house got proper food, that’s why they used to lie many times that someone had invited them.
  • Swamiji(Vivekanand) was very charming and attractive especially his eyes. Once a woman said to him that leave all this nonsense God and meditation. And marry me. But Swamiji practiced celibacy for life.
  • Swamiji was very closed to his mother. But he made a rule that no woman could enter his Monastery, not even his mother. Once his mother came to the monastery, he became very angry at her.
  • Swami Vivekananda was the only one who brought Indian Vedas and Upanishads to every country in America and Europe. He founded the Ramakrishna Mission, which he continues to run.
  • Vivekananda learned from Ramakrishna that the service of humanity is more important than the service of God. He lived his entire life on this principle.
  • Swami Vivekananda considered the whole world a part of himself. He established the Vedanta Society in San Francisco and the Peace Ashram in California.
  • In 1897, Swamiji came back to India, gave many speeches, and addressed the Youth of India. His speeches worked as a source of inspiration for many people like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • Due to the influence of Swamiji, people all over the world understood the significance of Hinduism and many people adopted Hinduism.
  • Swamiji was fond of Tea and Kichadi. He prepared and served Kichadi in his Monastery on a regular basis.

Conclusion

Swami Vivekananda’s life was a profound embodiment of spiritual enlightenment, intellectual brilliance, and social reform. His teachings and actions continue to resonate with people across the globe. Through his transformative speeches and writings, he brought the ancient wisdom of Hindu philosophy to the modern world, emphasizing the unity of all religions and the importance of self-realization.

His powerful speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 in Chicago was a turning point that exemplified his ideal of interreligious peace and interhuman brotherhood. The teachings of Swami Vivekananda touch the hearts of those looking for truth and significance in their lives across the borders of time, culture, and religion.

Moreover, he recognized the socio-economic challenges of his time and dedicated himself to uplifting society’s marginalized sections. Establishing the Ramakrishna Mission and the Ramakrishna Math is a testament to his commitment to humanitarian service.

Swami Vivekananda passed away prematurely at 39, yet his legacy lives on and still inspires millions of people. His example of courage, empathy, and selfless devotion has had a lasting influence on spirituality, social consciousness, and the quest for knowledge. People pursuing spiritual development, social justice, and realizing human potential can find endless inspiration in Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and amazing life.

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