Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902):- Swami Vivekananda was born in Kolkata on 12th January, 1863. His father’s and mother’s name was Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneshwari Devi. He had launched a revolution that still resonates around the world today. As a vehicle for his Guru’s message, he has been an inspiration for youth around the world for over a century. Swami Vivekananda known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta. His father was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.
Swami Vivekananda With Sri Ramakrishna
At the threshold of youth Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. It was at that time he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors at college. One day in November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. He straightaway asked the Master a question which he had put to several others but had received no satisfactory answer: “Sir, have you seen God?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intenser sense.” Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love. Thus began a guru-disciple relationship which is quite unique in the history of spiritual masters. Narendra now became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar and, under the guidance of the Master, made rapid strides on the spiritual path. At Dakshineshwar, Narendra also met several young men who were devoted to Sri Ramakrishna, and they all became close friends.
After a few years two events took place which caused Narendra considerable distress. One was the sudden death of his father in 1884. This left the family penniless, and Narendra had to bear the burden of supporting his mother, brothers and sisters. The second event was the illness of Sri Ramakrishna which was diagnosed to be cancer of the throat. In September 1885 Sri Ramakrishna was moved to a house at Shyampukur, and a few months later to a rented villa at Cossipore. In these two places the young disciples nursed the Master with devoted care. In spite of poverty at home and inability to find a job for himself, Narendra joined the group as its leader.
Life’s Mission Awareness
Vivekananda returned to India in 1897 amidst warm reception from the common and royal alike. He reached Calcutta after a series of lectures across the country and founded the Ramakrishna Mission on May 1, 1897 at Belur Math near Calcutta. The goals of the Ramakrishna Mission were based on the ideals of Karma Yoga and its primary objective was to serve the poor and distressed population of the country. The Ramakrishna Mission undertook various forms of social service like establishing and running school, collages and hospitals, propagation of practical tenets of Vedanta through conference, seminars and workshops, initiating relief and rehabilitation work across the country. His religious conscience was an amalgamation of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual teachings of Divine manifestation and his personal internalization of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. He directed to achieve the divinity of the soul by undertaking selfless work, worship and mental discipline. According to Vivekananda, the ultimate goal is to achieve freedom of the soul and that encompasses the entirety of one’s religion.
Swami Vivekananda was a prominent nationalist, and had the overall welfare of his countrymen topmost in his mind. He urged his fellow countrymen to “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”.
Death Of An Indian Monk
Swami Vivekananda had predicted that he will not live till the age of forty. On July 4, 1902, he went about his days’ work at the Belur Math, teaching Sanskrit grammar to the pupils. He retired to his room in the evening and died during meditation at around 9. He is said to have attained ‘Mahasamadhi’ and the great saint was cremated on the Banks of river Ganga.
Swami Vivekananda revealed to the world the true foundations of India’s unity as a nation. He taught how a nation with such a vast diversity can be bound together by a feeling of humanity and brother-hood. Vivekananda emphasized the points of drawbacks of western culture and the contribution of India to overcome those. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose once said: “Swamiji harmonized the East and the West, religion and science, past and present. And that is why he is great. Our countrymen have gained unprecedented self-respect, self-reliance and self-assertion from his teachings.” Vivekananda was successful in constructing a virtual bridge between the culture of East and the West. He interpreted the Hindu scriptures, philosophy and the way of life to the Western people. He made them realize that in spite of poverty and backwardness, India had a great contribution to make to world culture. He played a key role in ending India’s cultural isolation from the rest of the world.
Date of Birth:- January12, 1863
Place of Birth:- Calcutta, Bengal Presidency (Now Kolkata in West Bengal)
Parents:- Vishwanath Dutta (Father) and Bhuvaneshwari Devi (Mother)
Education:- Calcutta Metropolitan School; Presidency College, Calcutta
Institutions:- Ramakrishna Math; Ramakrishna Mission; Vedanta Society of New York
Religious Views:- Hinduism
Philosophy:- Advaita Vedanta
Publications:- Karma Yoga (1896); Raja Yoga (1896); Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897); My Master (1901)
Death:- July 4, 1902
Place of Death:- Belur Math, Belur, Bengal
Memorial:- Belur Math, Belur, West Bengal