Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 in Kolkata to Vishwanath Dutta and Bhubaneswar Devi .Swami Vivekananda’ s childhood name was Narendranath Dutta. His father was an Attorney-at-low in the Calcutta high court. He was proficient in English and Persian .he had also in depth knowledge of bible and Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit. His mother was a deeply religious lady, well-versed in the art of story -telling .swami Vivekananda was very much attached to his mother. She used to tell him mythological stories which he heard with great concentration and interest. He often said that it was his mother who had been the source of constant inspiration in his life. He had learnt epics and Purina’s from his mother.
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Since his childhood Vivekananda was very intelligent and had great attraction for spiritual matters. Vivekananda retained everything he was once told. He always spoke the truth and always wanted to test the truth of whatever he was told. He was very bold and courageous even in the middle of danger. He was equally good at singing and sports. He was born leader.
Narendra passed his entrance examination from the metropolitan institute. He did graduation from Christian college Calcutta .Hastie, the principal of the college was highly impressed by him. Mr. Hastie was known to have made his remark about Narendranath,”Narendranath is really genius. I have travelled far and wide, but I have never come across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German Universities among philosophical student. He is bound to make a mark in life.”He had a wide range of interests ranging from sports and music to wrestling, philosophy and poetry. He had great love for the poetry of Shelley, Wordsworth Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill. Narendra did not enjoy worldly pleasures. He was always on the look for something beyond worldly and materialistic world. His life completely changed when he met with Sri Ramakrishna. He became Swami Vivekananda from Narendranath Dutta after he met Sri Ramakrishna for the second time.
As a child, Vivekananda was strong -willed and restless. as a student of philosophy ,he had various questions related to god such as ,if there was any God ,how He looked ,why he created this world ,what relationship does He has with the people and the like , but there was none who could satisfy his queries. Narendra loved and admired Ramakrishna, but never surrendered his independence of judgement. Sri Ramakrishna suffered a deadly disease and very soon passed away. Before his death Ramakrishna brought his young disciples under the leadership of Narenda. He also transmitted his power to Narendra and said,”By the force of the power transmitted by me, great things will be done by you.” When Sri Ramakrishna passed away in august 1886, all his young disciples under Narendra laid the foundation of Ramakrishna brotherhood at baranagore. It was during this time that Narendra along with his disciple brothers took the vow of sannaysa and renunciation and felt the need of wandering life of the sannaysa. And towards the close of 1888, Narendra too began to take temporary excursions away from the monastery. He founded the Ramakrishna Mission, one of India’s leading charitable institutions.
Narendra wanted to have a good understanding of Indians, Indian cultures and traditions. For this he undertook extensive travelling, taking leave of his brother monks with the firm resolve to cut himself free from all ties and to go into the solitude of the Himalayas. This was a great departure .like a diver he plunged into the Ocean of India and the Ocean of India covered his tracks. He was an unidentified monk with exceptional genius. He met many leading personalities’ lawyers, teachers, and rulers .He appealed them all to do something for the suffering masses. A few among them came forward and provided him financial support so as to take a journey to the west and make them known of the eternal religion of the modern world.
Carrying forward his noble mission, Narendra, with the help of subscription rose by some of his young disciples, visited America to attend the parliament of religions convened at Chicago. At the young age of 30, he reached Chicago to represent Hinduism there. The appeal of his simple words of burning sincerity, his great personality and his bright countenance were so great that the next day the newspaper described him as the greatest figure in parliament of religions. When this quite unknown young man of thirty appeared in Chicago at the inaugural meeting of the parliament of religions opened in September 1893, by cardinal gibbons, all his fellow members were forgotten in his commanding presence. The thoughts of this warrior prophet of India left a deep mark upon the United States. This simple monk had become the man of the hour. His address to the parliament of religions established him as an exponent of India’s age old values. Overnight he became a great national hero of India. Suddenly it brought to the Indians that there must be something in the Indian thought that the Western intelligentsia feel compelled to admire. It is for the first time that they awoke to the richness of their heritage .His visit to Chicago was a tremendous success. After he made visit to England and Switzerland. He spread his message there .He got the chance of meeting and lecturing various kinds of people .Swami’s lecture at these places aimed at raising big funds to help relieve the suffering and poverty of Indian masses as well as to bring to the West the ancient Indian wisdom of Vedanta and practices of classical yoga.
Vivekananda stayed in America for more than three years. This long stay was full of intense activity .Vivekananda began to offer classes, free of any charge to his sincere students. After delivering numerous lectures and classes in New York during this time, he founded first Vedanta Society in America. He also trained a group of close disciples at Thousand Island park. Swami saw in Margaret a great future in the work for India. Swami’s lectures in England form Janna yoga. The results of his work produced such an impression that he was offered the chair of Eastern Philosophy at both Harvard University and Columbia University. He had laboured hard to give this message to the West that Vedanta forms the universal principle basic to all religions and his efforts resulted in the establishment of the first centre for yoga work on a permanent basis in the United States. He returned to India at 1896.At madras he delivered public lectures which was a call to rise and build a new India.
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He described India’s neglect of masses as a national sin. The social status of women in India was also a matter of grave concern for him. India’s ethnic and religious diversity for him was never a matter to be worried about, for India had always sought her unity in love and respect for different sects and communities .He aspired for a new social order and new civilization in which best spiritual traditions of India would be combined with the latest advancement in the field of science and technology. He preached “Jive is shiva”, meaning every being is a part of God. He gave this call to Indians to “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”
This great man of India died at the young age of 39 on the 4th of July 1902.He established two monasteries in the name of Sri Ramakrishna, one at baronage and the other at blur, near Calcutta. Till today his work is carried out in these Missions. He said to his followers, “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body-to cast it off like a worn -out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.”Tagore once advised Romaine Rolland,”If you want to know India, study Vivekananda”. In a short life of 39 years, he produced classics such as Janna yoga, Bhatia yoga, Karma yoga and raja yoga. He delivered numerous lectures, composed many poems and was spiritual guide to many seekers who came to him for instruction.He organized Ramakrishna order of monks. Swami Vivekananda once spoke of himself as a “Condensed India”.
Swami Vivekananda said that “Mukti and all else appear of no consequences to me”. And “sell it, if necessary we are Sanyasins, We ought always to be ready to sleep under the trees and live on what we beg every day”.
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