Swami Vivekanand is a man who don't need any kind of introduction. No words can define the significance of his teachings. All the great leaders, scientists not only in India but across the world are inspired by Swami Vivekananda.
He is the man who spread our knowledge from the Vedas and Upanishads globally. Many people still believe that Swami Vivekananda is the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Birth and Early Life
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 for the child.
Narendra was born on 12 January 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.
Narendra was born in a prosperous family. His father Vishwanath that was an attorney and a social Influencer personality. Narendra's father was quite strict and a 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 young age. Narendra was very closed to his mother. That's family environment was very religious.
When Narendra was too young, he set with her mother and listened to the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He also sang the bhajans and worshipped with his mother.
From there his curiosity started in Vedas and the concept of God. I was immensely influenced by Lord Rama and his ideologies.
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 scolded a lot and his father lock 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.
Narendra has started his primary and secondary education at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar Institutions. After that, he was enrolled for graduation at the most popular college, Presidency College, Calcutta.
During his college life, he took actively part 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. Narendra was influenced by the religious environment of his family, the result of which was that he read Hindu Scriptures, Bhagwat Geeta, and other Upnishads
He didn't stop here, on the other hand, he explored Christianity and western philosophy by Herbert Spencer and David Hume. So, he was learned and grew dynamically.
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 was unable to entirely dismiss the fact that there is something supreme that 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:
In Hinduism, the place of Guru is considered supreme, the place of 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 person 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 you. 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 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 was 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 that 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 was suffering from throat cancer. So Ramakrishna along with his disciples, including Vivekananda shifted to Cossipore. They all came together and take care of their Guru.
On 16 August 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 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 practiced 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, lifestyles, and religious aspects of the people. As well as he felt the daily lives, the pain, and sufferings of ordinary people.
A Message to the world from America
Swamiji got the 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, 11 September 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, 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 Ramakrishna Mission was to help the impoverished society, suffering, or needy people. They have served their country through several efforts. Swamiji and other disciples were established many schools, colleges, rehabilitation centers, 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.
Swami Vivekananda always knew that he would not live till the age of 40 and at the age of 39, on 4 July 1902, Swami Vivekananda left this material world and merged with the supreme energy forever.
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), 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 12th, India celebrates the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda which is known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti or National Youth Day.
On September 11th, 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: