Swami Vivekananda Biography
One of the chief disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda was born as Narendra Nath Datta on January 12, 1863, in Kolkata, West Bengal, to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneswari Devi. He took the name Swami Vivekananda after becoming a monk. He was a good student, besides being proficient in music and sports. He stood up against many of the superstitions prevalent during that time and had great affection and respect for ascetics.
He entered the hallowed portals of the Presidency College in 1879. After a year, he joined the Scottish Church College in Kolkata and studied philosophy, western logic, western philosophy and the history of European nations. His studies made him question the existence of God. Though he associated himself with the Brahmo Samaj for some time, he did not get the answers to his questions. It was then that he went to visit Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Soon, he became Ramakrishna’s disciple.
Ramakrishna passed away in 1886. Swami Vivekananda and a few other disciples of Ramakrishna decided to become monks and renounced everything. In 1890, he set out on an on a long journey across the length and breadth of the country. This brought him in close contact with various kinds of people: rich as well as poor, good as well as bad. He reached Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of mainland India, in December 1892 and started meditating on a lone rock. He meditated for three days; this rock has presently become popular as the Vivekananda memorial.
His greatest moment came when in 1893; he went to the United States and addressed the Conference of World Religions in Chicago. He mesmerized everyone with his speech. People of Chicago were extremely influenced by his speech, they named a street after his name in Chicago. He also traveled to England. He returned to India in 1897 after four years and started the Sri Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. This great saint and philosopher passed away for his heavenly abode on July 4, 1902.
Swami Vivekananda’s Teachings
Swami Vivekananda’s teachings were focused on various aspects of religion, education, social issue, character building, etc. As a Hindu monk, his role was noteworthy as he introduced Vedanta to the Western world while revitalizing and redefining some aspect of the religion within India. He realized and taught that a country’s future depends on its people. He stressed how important man-making was. His real ideals were to preach divinity and how to manifest it in our life.
In his famous speech of Chicago, he said “The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth” which shows his greatness. This example delivered by him reflects his teachings which mesmerized the Britishers.
<bSwami Vivekananda on education
Swami Vivekananda believed that education is the manifestation of perfection. He contemplated that the existing education system is not enabled to make a person stand on his own feet, as it did not teach a person self-confidence and self-respect. To him, education wasn’t just a compilation of information, but it was rather something meaningful. He considered education to be a character-building and life-shaping phase. He believed, ” Education is the manifestation of perfection already in a man”.
Swami Vivekananda on youth
Swami Vivekananda believed that highest value of the period of youth is immeasurable and inexpressible. It is the most precious time of life and is considered as the best time of life. The way one utilizes this period will decide his or her future years. Happiness, success, honor, good name depend on the way a person lives in this period as it the first state of their entire life. He wanted the youth to know that this youth period is a privilege and an adventure. He considered youth as the pillars of development. It is because of his influential teachings that the government of India has considered 12th January (birthday of Swami Vivekananda) as National Youth Day. Some of his most motivating quotations for youth are –
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. 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.”
“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you,
none can make you spiritual.
There is no other teacher but your own soul”
Swami Vivekananda on meditation
The teachings of Swami Vivekananda on meditation, its values, and practice reveals the profundity and span of the mystic traditions of India and his own internal realizations. He is the one who introduced Yoga and Vedanta to the World. He believed, “To practice meditation, one should be able to resist all things negative and get hold of your mind. As the mind is like a lake and each stone drop creates a ripple and disturbance, we should keep our mind calm as a still lake as the ripples block our path of visualization. Be calm and keep quiet, then only we will be able to meditate.”.
Swami Vivekananda on Nationalism
For Swami Vivekananda, Nationalism and Patriotism were not just emotions for public use but it replicated a deeper, practical belief which resulted in the real act. Real act of Nationalism and Patriotism, were simple examples like wiping away a widow’s tear, giving food to the orphans, it meant declaring fight against poverty, eliminate social evils and make every effort to bring equity and fair justice in the country.
His famous quote, “When the real history of India will be unearthed, it will be proved that, as in matters of religion, so in fine arts, India is the primal Guru of the whole world”, shows he had immense love for his country. This saint was just a preacher of peace.
Once Swami Vivekananda said, “I do not come to convert you to a new belief. I want you to keep your own belief; I want to make the Methodist a better Methodist; the Presbyterian a better Presbyterian; the Unitarian a better Unitarian. I want to teach you to live the truth, to reveal the light within your own soul” on one occasion in America. This reflects his ideas and makes us realize his greatness.