- He was born on 12th January 1863 in Calcutta and was originally named Narendranath Datta.
- In his honour, the Government of India in 1984 declared his birthday National Youth Day.
- From a young age, he nurtured an interest in Western philosophy, history, religion, spirituality and theology.
- He was well-read in many subjects and would meditate in front of the images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
- He met the religious leader Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who later became his Guru and he remained devoted to him until the latter’s death in 1886.
- In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so, changing from ‘Sachidananda’ that he used before.
Death: He attained Mahasamadhi on 4th July 1902.
Contributions and Significance
- He was one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders and inspired the youth of India to become better, leading a life of purity
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called him the “Maker of Modern India”.
- Focus on Indian Philosophies:
- Yoga is an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness.
- Vedanta is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and is based on Upanishads and their interpretation.
- Its aim was to enquire about ‘Brahman’ (ultimate Reality). It sees Veda as the ultimate source of information and whose authority could not be questioned.
- He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
Tour and Lectures:
- He is best known for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
- He began delivering lectures at various places in the US and UK and became popular as the ‘Messenger of Indian Wisdom to the Western World’.
- He formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897.
- He toured across India and set after educating the masses about ways to improve their economic condition as well as imparting spiritual knowledge.
- In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.
- He laid the greatest emphasis on education for the regeneration of India and advocated for a character-building education
- According to him, a nation is advanced in proportion as education is spread among the masses.
- He was determined to spread education among women and the lower castes.
- It was a prominent element of Vivekananda’s thought, and he joined the brahmo samaj, dedicated to eliminating child marriage and illiteracy.
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