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Swami Vivekananda

Narendranath Datta, popularly known as Swami Vivekananda, was an Indian scholar and pioneer of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga. He also helped spread awareness about teachings of Indian mystic Ramakrishna Paramahams. Narendranath founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. Narendranath represented India at the Parliament of the World's Religions which was held at Chicago in 1893. Narendranath's birthday 12 January is celebrated as National Youth Day in India.
 Swami Vivekananda

Childhood and Education

Narendranath Datta was born on 12 January 1863 at Calcutta, in British India. His father Vishwanath Datta was an attorney at the High Court of Calcutta. Narendranath's grandfather became as ascetic and left house at an early age. Narendranath too was drawn towards ascetic life and used to meditate regularly. He went to Vidyasagar College and later enrolled in Presidency College, Calcutta. He found interest in reading wide range of subjects such as philosophy, religion, social science, history, art and literature. He was specially drawn to Indian epics such as Mahabharat and Ramayan, spiritual texts of Bhagavad Gita, Purana, Ved and Upnishads. He read extensively about Western philosophy and works of David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Charles Darwin and other great personalities. Narendranath translated Herbert Spencer's book 'Education' into Bengali.

Spiritual Awakening

Narendranath was influenced by Brahmo Samaj, which was founded by Rammohan Roy. He met Debendranath Tagore who had different spiritual views than Narendranath. Debendranath suggested him to meet Ramakrishna to seek knowledge. Narendranath asked Ramakrishna if he has seen God. Ramakrishna replied "Yes, I see Him as I see you, only in an infinitely intense sense". Though in the beginning, Narendranath did not agree with Ramakrishna’s ideas, he continued to visit him. He was against Ramakrishna’s belief in idol worship and practice of polytheism. Ramakrishna patiently asked him to seek truth from all angles. Narendranath's father's demise in 1884 left him financially unstable. Narendranath gradually renounced all the worldly affairs and accepted Ramakrishna as his Guru (spiritual teacher). Ramakrishna taught Narendranath that service to men was the most effective worship of God. Ramakrishna succumbed to throat cancer in August 1886. After his Guru's demise, Narendranath followed in his footsteps and started first Ramakrishna Math at Baranagar. At the end of same year, he took formal monastic vows and took the name "Swami Vivekananda".

The Wandering Monk

Swami Vivekananda left the monastery and adopted the life of a Parivrajaka, a wandering monk. He visited several learning centers across India and acquainting himself with diverse social patterns. During his travels, he met Indians from all walks of life and saw the sufferings of people. He mostly travelled on foot and through trains.

Parliament of the World's Religions

Swami Vivekananda was set to represent India in the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago. On the route to USA, he stopped by Japan, China and Canada. He reached Chicago on 30 July 1893 and the Parliament opened on 11 September. When it was Vivekananda's turn to speak, he began by saying "Sisters and Brothers of America..". The crowd applauded and gave him a standing ovation. He continued his speech after silence was restored. His views on way of life and that of religion were appreciated. American media called him the "cyclonic monk from India". He was in fact seen as the most influential man in the parliament. People were impressed by his knowledge and the way he preached religious tolerance.

Tours Across West

After departing from the US, Vivekananda began to take tours across Europe and the rest of the Western world. During his visit to the UK, he met Margaret Elizabeth Noble who would become Sister Nivedita and impart education to Indian women. She accompanied Vivekananda to India. She devoted her life towards betterment of India and its struggle for Independence.

Back in India

On his way to India, Vivekananda visited British Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and there he delivered his first public speech in East. He toured the southern part of India and delivered speeches there. He addressed social issues such as elimination of caste system, upliftment of people and promotion of science. He was in favor of Industrialization. Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission on 1 May 1897 in Calcutta. Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have their headquarters at Belur Math.

Demise

Swami Vivekananda was a diabetic and was struggling with asthma. He once said he would not live forty years. On 4 July 1902, he woke up early and meditated as he used to. He taught Shukla-Yajur-Veda to his pupils and then went to his room in the evening. He asked not to be disturbed. Few hours later, he passed away while meditating. His disciples believed that he attained MahaSamadhi. Vivekananda was 39 at the time of his death.
Vivekananda's Trivia
➯ Narendranath Datta, alas Swami Vivekananda, was an Indian scholar and pioneer of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga
➯ Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 at Calcutta.
➯ Vivekananda studied Indian epics, Vedas, Purans extensively.
➯ Vivekananda read about the Western Philosophies as well.
➯ Vivekananda accepted Monk Ramakrishna as his spiritual Guru.
➯ Vivekananda followed into footsteps of his Guru after his death in 1886.
➯ Vivekananda represented India at Chicago's Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893.
➯ Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission on 1 May 1897 in Calcutta.
➯ Vivekananda passed away on 4 July 1902 while meditating.
Vivekananda's Personal Quotes
➯ "Arise, awake and Stop not till the Goal is Reached".
➯ "Take up an idea, devote yourself to it, struggle on in patience, and the sun will rise for you".
➯ "This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive".
➯ "Strength is Life, Weakness is death".
➯ "That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material".
➯ "A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century".
➯ "All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind".
➯ "All truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls".
➯ "The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you free".
➯ "Whenever we attain a higher vision, the lower vision disappears of itself".
Content Source: wikipedia
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