Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free - This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta at 3, Gourmohan Mukherjee Street in Calcutta, the capital of British India, on 12 January 1863 during the Makar Sankranti festival. He was an Indian Hindu monk and chief disciple of the 19th-century saint Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India. On 1 May 1897 in Calcutta, Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission for social service. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day in India.
Influenced by his guru, Ramakrishna, he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self; therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to mankind. Narendra was interested in spirituality from a young age, and used to play at meditating before the images of deities such as Shiva, Rama, and Sita. He was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks. Narendra was naughty and restless as a child, and his parents often had difficulty controlling him. His mother said, "I prayed to Shiva for a son and he has sent me one of his demons".
He received first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination. Narendra was an avid reader and was interested in a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, religion, history, social science, art and literature. He was trained in Indian classical music, and regularly participated in physical exercise, sports and organised activities. Narendra studied Western logic, Western philosophy and European history at the General Assembly's Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College). In 1881 he passed the Fine Arts examination, and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884.
Narendra became a member of a Freemasonry lodge and a breakaway faction of the Brahmo Samaj led by Keshub Chandra Sen and Debendranath Tagore. His initial beliefs were shaped by Brahmo concepts, which included belief in a formless God and the deprecation of idolatry. At this time, Narendra met Debendranath Tagore (the leader of Brahmo Samaj) and asked if he had seen God. While explaining the word "trance" in William Wordsworth's poem, The Excursion, Hastie suggested that his students visit Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. This prompted some of his students (including Narendra) to visit Ramakrishna. His meeting with Ramkrishna proved to be a turning point in his life. Although he did not initially accept Ramakrishna as his teacher and rebelled against his ideas,gradually grew ready to renounce everything for the sake of realising God, and accepted Ramakrishna as his guru.
In 1888, Narendra left the monastery as a Parivrâjaka— the Hindu religious life of a wandering monk, "without fixed abode, without ties, independent and strangers wherever they go". His sole possessions were a kamandalu (water pot), staff and his two favourite books: the Bhagavad Gita and The Imitation of Christ. Narendra travelled extensively in India for five years, visiting centres of learning and acquainting himself with diverse religious traditions and social patterns. He developed sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the people, and resolved to uplift the nation. Living primarily on bhiksha (alms), Narendra travelled on foot and by railway (with tickets bought by admirers). After visiting historical sites at Delhi, Narendra started his travel towards Rajputana. In these days, he drew inspiration from the words of the Gautama Buddha:
Go forward without a path,
Fearing nothing, caring for nothing!
Wandering alone, like the rhinoceros!
Even as a lion, not trembling at noises,
Even as the wind, not caught in the net,
Even as the lotus leaf, untainted by water,
Do thou wander alone, like the rhinoceros!
Narendra visited Ahmedabad, Wadhwan and Limbdi; at the former, he completed his studies of Islamic and Jain cultures. He remained for nine months at Porbander, furthering his philosophical and Sanskrit studies with learned pandits. In october 1892 he spent three days at Rachol Seminary (the oldest convent in Goa, with rare religious manuscripts and printed works in Latin) studying Christian theological works. Jamsetji Tata was inspired by Vivekananda to establish the Indian Institute of Science, one of India's best-known research universities. He told a Muslim religion scholar that one significant feature of the Quran is, though it was written a thousand years ago, the book was free from "interpolation" and retained its original purity. He met Bal Gangadhar Tilak during a train journey and stayed with Tilak for a few days in Pune. At Kanyakumari, Narendra meditated on the "last bit of Indian rock" (later known as the Narendra Rock Memorial); had a "vision of one India" (the "Kanyakumari resolve of 1892"). He wrote:
"At Cape Camorin sitting in Mother Kumari's temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian rock—I hit upon a plan: We are so many sanyasis wandering about, and teaching the people metaphysics—it is all madness. Did not our Gurudeva use to say, 'An empty stomach is no good for religion?' We as a nation have lost our individuality and that is the cause of all mischief in India. We have to raise the masses."
He was disappointed to learn that no one without credentials from a bona fide organisation would be accepted as a delegate. Vivekananda contacted Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who invited him to speak at Harvard. On learning that Vivekananda lacked credentials to speak at the Chicago Parliament, Wright said "To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens". Vivekananda wrote of the professor, "He urged upon me the necessity of going to the Parliament of Religions, which he thought would give an introduction to the nation". The Parliament of the World's Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the World's Columbian Exposition.
On this day, Vivekananda gave a brief speech representing India and Hinduism. He was initially nervous, bowed to Saraswati (the Hindu goddess of learning) and began his speech with "Sisters and brothers of America!". At these words, Vivekananda received a two-minute standing ovation from the crowd of seven thousand. When silence was restored he began his address, greeting the youngest of the nations on behalf of "the most ancient order of monks in the world, the Vedic order of sannyasins, a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance".
On 4 July 1902 (the day of his death) Vivekananda awoke early, went to the chapel at Belur Math and meditated for three hours. At seven p.m. Vivekananda went to his room, asking not to be disturbed; he died at 9:10 p.m. while meditating.
SOME INTERESTING POSTS!!!!!
Tribute to the STALWART who reformed the social system and architected Independent India's constitution !!!!
To honor his work, his name was given to the man who calculated the age of the Earth - Kelvin