A man once called cyclonic monk of India when he represented Hinduism at the parliament of the world’s religion in Chicago in1893, who had the charm that people used to sit on the rails to force the train to stop so they could hear him. Yes! The man who influenced people all around the globe with his great spiritual presence and tremendous intellect is Swami Vivekananda.
Born on 12 January 1863 into an aristocratic Bengali family in Calcutta and studied western logic, philosophy and European history at the general assembly’s institution. He was named Narendranath Dutt until he changed his name to Swami Vivekananda after joining the Ramakrishna Math. He was influenced by his guru Ramakrishna and learned that all living beings are the representation of the divinity of the lord so, service to god could be rendered by service to mankind. After the demise of Ramakrishna in 1886, Vivekananda decided to live life like his guru and established first Ramakrishna Math at Baranagar.
In 1888, leaving his responsibility of the monastery to his disciples he started living the Hindu religious life of a wandering Monk without fixed abode with a Kamandala (water pot) and two books: the Shrimad Bhagavad Geeta and the Imitation of Christ. He traveled for five years and visited many places in India to acquaint himself with the diversity of India. He developed sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the people and decided to uplift the nation. During his travel, he met many scholars, Rajas who sponsored his trips in his respect. In 1893 he started his journey to the west and visited many cities in Japan, China, and Canada then en route to the USA where he gave his speech in Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
After his speech in Chicago, he went on a tour to various parts of USA and UK as a guest. He founded the Vedanta Society in 1894 in New York. When he was on tour in the UK, he met a social worker Margaret Elizabeth Noble, an Irish woman who became sister Nivedita, and she dedicated the rest of her life to the education of women and India’s independence. His popularity and his views on life and religion gave a new direction to the thoughts of many. During a question-answer session at Brooklyn ethical society, he remarked that ” I have a message to the west as Buddha had a message to the east.”
Vivekananda attracted many followers and admirers in the US and Europe. Some of his followers like Marie Louise French women became Swami Abhayananda and Leon Landsberg became Swami Kripananda, later on, they worked for the mission of Vedanta society. This society is still in existence and its largest American center is the Vedanta Society of Southern California in Hollywood. After returning from his tour, Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission for Social service in India. On 4 July 1902 Vivekananda died while meditating and joined the divine soul. He was cremated on the bank of river Ganga in Belur, opposite to the place where his guru had been cremated sixteen years ago.
He wrote many books in his lifespan like Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Vedanta Philosophy etc. Some were published posthumously also like Bhakti Yoga, inspired talks etc. He influenced many people like Subhash Chandra Bose, Max Muller, Nikola Tesla and many more. Jamshedji Tata was inspired by him to set up a research and educational institution, Indian Institute of Science, one of India’s best-known research universities. His birthday is celebrated as a youth day in India. His teaching and thoughts are still motivating people all around the world. His thoughts are the source of wisdom for mankind who yearn to find success.