Fri, 03 Jul 2020
Swami Vivekananda (12th January, 1863 – 4th July, 1902)
Vivekananda was born Narendranath Datta in a Bengali family in Calcutta, on 12 January, 1863, during the Makar Sankranti festival. He was interested in spirituality from a young age and used to meditate. He was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks and also by Hindu scriptures. He was known for his prodigious memory and the ability at speed reading.
In 1881 Narendra first met Ramakrishna, who became his spiritual focus. As a member of Brahmo Samaj, he opposed idol worship. He considered brahmacharya as the source of his physical and mental stamina and eloquence. He advised his followers to be holy, unselfish and to have shraddhā (faith) as he believed that a country’s future depends on its people. He developed sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the people and resolved to uplift the nation.
He started his journey to the West on 31 May, 1893, reaching Chicago on 30 July, 1893, where the ‘Parliament of Religions’ took place in September 1893. There, he attracted widespread attention and the press called him the ‘Cyclonic monk from India’. After that, he toured many parts of the US as a guest. An important element in his adaptation of Hindu religiosity was the introduction of his ‘Four Yogas’ model.
From the West, Vivekananda revived his work in India. On 1 May 1897 in Calcutta, Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission for social service. On 4 July, 1902 (the day of his death), Vivekananda awoke early, went to the monastery at Belur Math and meditated for three hours. He died at 9:20 p.m. while meditating. According to Subhas Chandra Bose, Vivekananda was ‘The maker of modern India’.