Born: 12 January, 1863
Place of Birth: Kolkata, India
Childhood Name: Narendranath Dutta
Father: Vishwanath Dutta
Mother: Bhuvaneshwari Devi
Education: Calcutta Metropolitan School; Presidency College, Calcutta
Founder of: Ramakrishna Mission (1897), Ramakrishna Math, Vedanta Society of New York
Philosophy: Advaita Vedanta
Literary works: Raja Yoga (1896), Karma Yoga (1896), Bhakti Yoga (1896), Jnana Yoga, My Master (1901), Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897)
Death: 4 July, 1902
Place of Death: Belur Math, Belur, Bengal
Memorial: Belur Math. Belur, West Bengal
Swami Vivekananda was an inspiring personality and was famous in whole world. He was born on 12 January, 1863, Kolkata (earlier Calcutta). He was a spiritual leader and social reformer. His lectures, writings, letters, poems, ideas motivated not only youth of India but also whole world. He is the founder of Ramakrishna Mission and Belur Math in Calcutta, which are still working towards helping the needy. He was the man of wisdom and a very simple human being. Let us study in detail about him through this article.
"Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is achieved" - Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda: Life History and Education
Source: www. medium.com
Vivekananda childhood name was Narendranath Dutta, belonged to an affluent Bengali family in Calcutta. He was one of the eight children of Vishwanath Dutta and Bhuvneshwari Devi. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti he was born on 12 January, 1863. His father was an attorney and an influential personality in the society. Vivekananda's mother was a woman who has faith in God and has a great impact on his son.
At the age of eight in 1871 Vivekananda was enrolled at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's Institution and later at the Presidency College in Calcutta. He was exposed to Western philosophy, Christianity and science. He had interest in music both instrumental as well as vocal. He was active in sports, gymnastics, wrestling and body building. He was also fond of reading and till the time he had completed his graduation from the college he had acquired a vast knowledge of various subjects. Do you know on the one hand he read Hindu scriptures like Bhagvad Gita and the Upanishads and on the other hand western philosophies and spirituality by David Hume, Herbert Spencer etc.
“Be an atheist if you want, but do not believe in anything unquestioningly.”- Swami Vivekananda
Spiritual Crisis and met with Ramakrishna Paramhansa
Source: www. swamishivapadananda.typepad.com
He had grown up in a religious family but studied of several religious books and knowledge led him to question the existence of God and some time he believed in Agnoticism. But he could not completely deny the fact about the supremacy of God. In 1880, he joined Keshab Chandra Sen's Nava Vidhan and also became a member of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj led by Keshab Chandra Sen and Debendranath Tagore.
Brahmo Samaj recognised one God unlike idol-worship. Several questions were running in the mind of Vivekananda and during his spiritual crisis he first heard about Shri Ramakrishna from William Hastie, the Principal of the Scottish Church College. He finally met Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa at Dakshineshwar Kali Temple and Vivekananda asked him a question, "Have you seen God?" which he had asked so many spiritual leaders but was not satisfied. But when he asked from Ramakrishna, he gave such a simple answer that "Yes, I have. I see God as clearly as I see you, only in a much deeper sense". After this Vivekananda started visiting Dakshineshwar and got several answers of the questions that were in his mind.
When Vivekananda's father died, whole family faced financial crisis. He went to Ramakrishna and asked him to pray for his family but Ramakrishna refused and told Vivekananda to pray himself in front of Goddess Kali. He could not ask for wealth, money but instead of it he asked for conscience and reclusion. That day he was marked with spiritual awakening and a way of ascetic life was started. This was the turning point in his life and accepted Ramakrishna his Guru.
“Take risks in your life. If you win, you can lead, if you lose, you can guide.” Swami Vivekananda
In 1885, Ramakrishna developed throat cancer and was transferred to Calcutta and then later to a garden house in Cossipore. Vivekananda and other disciples of Ramakrishna took care of him. On 16 August, 1886, Shri Ramakrishna gave up his mortal body. Narendra was taught that the service to men was the most effective worship of God. After the demise of Ramakrishna, fifteen of his disciples including Narendranath began to live together at Baranagar in North Calcutta, which was named as Ramakrishna Math. In 1887, all the disciples took vows of monkhood and Narendranath emerged as Vivekananda that is "the bliss of discerning wisdom." All of them performed yoga and meditation. Further, Vivekananda left the math and decided to tour whole India on foot which was came to be known as 'Parivrajak'. He saw several social, cultural and religious aspects of the people and also saw what common people faced in their daily life, their sufferings etc.
Swami Vivekananda attended World Parliament of Religions
Source: www. indiatvnews.com
When he came to know about the World Parliament that was organised in Chicago, America. He was keen to attend the meeting, to represent India and his Guru's philosophies. After various troubles, he attended the Religious meeting. On 11 September, 1893, he came up on the stage and stunned everyone while saying "My brothers and sisters of America". For this he received a standing ovation from the audience. He described the principles of Vedanta, their spiritual significance etc.
He stayed around two and half years in America itself and founded the Vedanta Society of New York. He also travelled to United Kingdom to preach the philosophies, spiritualism and principles of Vedanta.
“Learn everything that is good from others but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others.” Swami Vivekananda
He founded Ramakrishna Mission
Around 1897, he returned to India and reached Calcutta where he founded Ramakrishna Mission on 1 May, 1897 at Belur Math. The goals of the mission were based on the Karma Yoga and its main objective was to serve the poor and suffering or disturbed population of the country. Several social services are also performed under this mission like establishing schools, colleges and hospitals. Teachings of Vedanta were also provided through conference, seminars and workshops, rehabilitation work across the country.
Let us tell you that Vivekananda's teachings were mostly based on the Ramakrishna's spiritual teachings of Divine manifestations and his personal internalisation of the Advaita Vedanta Philosophy. According to him, the ultimately goal of life is to achieve the freedom of soul and that encompasses the entirely of one's religion.
He predicted that he will not live till the age of 40. Therefore, on 4 July, 1902, he died while doing meditation. He is said to have attained 'Mahasamadhi' and was cremated on the Banks of river Ganga.
“A man is not poor without a rupee but a man is really poor without a dream and ambition.” Swami Vivekananda
Key Works of Swami Vivekananda
- The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
- Swami Vivekananda’s Speeches at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 1893
- Letters of Swami Vivekananda
- Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge
- Yoga: The Yoga of Love and Devotion
- Yoga: The Yoga of Action
- Raja Yoga: The Yoga of Meditation
Key Works on Swami Vivekananda
- Vivekananda A Biography, by Swami Nikhilananda
- Swami Vivekananda by Eastern and Western Disciples
- The Master As I Saw Him, by Sister Nivedita
- Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda
- The Life of Vivekananda, by Romain Rolland
No doubt Swami Vivekananda's teachings not only motivated the youth but also the whole world. He laid the true foundations of India's unity as a nation. He taught how to live together with so much of diversities. He was successful in constructing a virtual bridge between the culture of East and the West. He played a key role in isolating India's culture from rest of the World.
“Take up one idea, make that one idea your life, think of it, dream of it, let the brain, 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.” Swami Vivekananda