Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda is one of the greatest monks of India and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission. He is considered an important figure in introducing Yoga and Vedanta in America and Europe and in bringing Hinduism to the status of a world religion towards the end of the 19th Century.

Early life
Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Dutta to Visvanath Dutta and Bhubaneshwari Devi on 12 January 1863 in Kolkata. He completed his primary education from Sri Eswar Chandra Vidya Sagar. He completed his secondary education of three years in just one year and passed out with distinction. He joined college at the age of 16 years and studied philosophy and logic. In 1880 Vivekananda joined the Arts faculty of Presidency College and studied English, Mathematics, History, Psychology, Philosophy and Logic for his graduation. He had a good voice and had keen interest in music and drawing. Vivekananda was bold and good looking. His mastery over English language helped him to be an eloquent orator.

Religious life
Since childhood Vivekananda was inclined towards spiritualism. He went to Dakshineswar Kali temple to meet Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa to find out whether god really existed or not. Once, Naren, as he was popularly known, sang some devotional songs at the request of Sri Ramakrishna. The saint on hearing his songs went into trance where he was able to meet god. Vivekananda was greatly inspired by Sri Ramakrishna and became his follower. After the demise of his father, Vivekananda took up a teacher's job to support his family. Sri Ramakrishna continued to be in touch with Vivekananda and endowed him with all his spiritual powers and made him his successor. Vivekananda became a 'Sanyasi' (monk) and took up the name 'Swami Vivekananda'.

After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda carried forward the work of the saint and also established a mutt at Belur, named after Ramakrishna as 'Ramakrishna Math'. He left the Ramakrishna Mission in July 1890 to a life of wandering monk and went for an all-India tour. He befriended both prince and pauper during his journey. Swami Vivekananda visited Kanyakumari, where he swam across the ocean and reached a nearby rock to meditate. There he realised his mission of making India realize that her actual glory, originality and strength lay in her spiritual consciousness.

With the financial help from Maharaja of Khetri he attended the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago to make the West realise about the greatness of Hindu religion. He began his address with the words "My dear Sisters and Brothers of America". This delighted the audience, as this greeting reflected the spirit of universal brotherhood. He took several religious tours to America and Europe. It was during this period that Margaret, a young lady, became his disciple and later came to be known as Sister Nivedita.

Swami Vivekananda died while meditating at the Ramakrishna Math in Belur, on 4 July 1902. He left behind an immortal legacy for the youth of India.

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