Last Updated: October 18, 2018 Tanisha Sharma
There’s a part of India that applauds the people who never let the threads of its land let loose. Among the same crowd of people were the great personalities of India out of which outshines the name of Swami Vivekananda, a great spiritual leader who spread the word of brotherhood in not just India but also across the globe and with every passing day gave in more efforts in the service of his country. From the very beginning of his life, he was deeply indulged into studies and later became the guiding light for the whole nation. Swami Vivekananda isn’t just any name in the history of monks; he is one of those people who taught India how becoming selfless in life and inclining towards spirituality makes one attain a successful life. Remembering his tireless efforts for India, this blog takes one on a journey on the path followed by the one and only Swami Vivekananda.
When is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda celebrated?
Vivekananda Jayanti which is also known as National Youth Day was first celebrated on 12 January 1985. This celebration takes place on every 12th of January to applaud the great Hindu monk.
Why is Vivekananda Jayanti also known as National Youth Day?
In the year 1984, the government of India declared that the birthday of Swami Vivekananda that is 12 January will be celebrated as the National Youth Day. It was decided so because the country realised that the ideology and vision of Swamiji for which he lived and worked can be a great way to inspire the coming generation that is the Indian Youth.
A Closer Look into the Life of Swami Vivekananda
Born on the prosperous day of Makar Sankranti, 12 January 1863 in a Bengali family, he was given the name Narendranath Datta. His parents, Vishwanath Datta, an attorney and Bhuvaneshwari Devi, a strong headed and devout woman were spending their life in Calcutta along with their 8 children when Narendra upon his birth. Sharing a close bond with his mother, Narendra gave all the credit to her for bestowing upon him the great lessons and for the right upbringing. From a very young age, the monk started showing great interest in studies and was an all-rounder during his preliminary education at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s Metropolitan Institution. Not only did he focus on setting his mind to different studies that of history, philosophy, spirituality but also in sports, wrestling, bodybuilding, and gymnastics.
By the time it was 1884, Narendra completed his graduation in arts from Presidency College, Calcutta and started being pulled towards spirituality. However, during his studies, his mind started running in circles around the question of the existence of God as his spiritual thoughts conflicted with the knowledge he had been gained leading him to believe in Agnosticism. During the same time, he became a part of the Brahmo Movement which was led by Keshab Chandra Sen. The Brahmo Samaj believed in one formless god which was not characterised by idol worshipping. Narendra spent some time engaging people with his musical voice but the search for his answers still didn’t come to an end. As things take time, it was when Narendra met Ramakrishna that his question “Have you seen God?” was finally answered. Ramakrishna answered “Yes, I have. I see God as clearly as I see you, only in a much deeper sense.”
When did Narendra(Swami Vivekananda) become a monk?
It was after the death of his beloved teacher, Ramakrishna Paramahansa that Narendra and his fellow monks were invited to Antpur village by the mother of Baburam. As soon as the Christmas Eve came close, Narendra took the name of Swami Vivekananda and decided to take monastic vows along with his monk fellows and spend the rest of their lives as their master, Ramakrishna.
Do we really look up to Swami Vivekananda now?
Swami Vivekananda wasn’t just a mentor for most of the generation centuries back, but also a friend and a father who guided them towards the light at the end of the cave. Not only did he put meaning into the head of many about Hinduism and gave it the stature it deserved but also spread awareness about interfaith. Preaching the words “man-making is my mission”, Swami Vivekananda always said one thing aloud that the future of the country depends on its people. And hence aspired to root out the social issues and change thinking towards education, women, faith and more aspects. The monk and his teachings fit perfectly with the current scenario of India more than ever. And if we start to think about the qualities that one can look up Swami Vivekananda for, then the discussion can go on and on. But here are some of the qualities that made the monk famous and loved in both his own country and across the globe. Moreover, if the population of India would become even some percent like Swami Vivekanand especially the youth, in whom his faith resided, the country would soon be as developed as other countries.
Believe in yourself
One of the most important things Swami Vivekananda always preached about was to always believe in oneself. The monk said it’s hard to grow in life if one doesn’t believe in his/her own capabilities. Putting trust in oneself and pushing discomforts behind, and move forward with confidence as that’s the only way to have faith in oneself and believe in God as well.
Pursue your dreams
Believing in oneself and dreaming go hand in hand often. If one has adequate trust upon his/her capabilities to strive forward then only they can pursue their dreams. According to Swamiji, in order to make our dreams come true, we should dream and work towards making it come true. Our whole body should not stop until and unless we get what we want in life.
According to Swamiji, we become what we think and our actions are a representation of the same. We should always understand the situation and then start putting our thoughts to it as that’s what makes us rational and wise. Besides, a positive attitude is what makes us even wiser according to Swamiji.
In almost everything that we do, we have to put all our focus into it in order to achieve the results. Swamiji believed that no matter what happens, we should always put all our energy and focus on one idea in order to come close to the desired goal of life.
Throughout his life, Swami Vivekananda believed in the value of honesty and how it led to a successful life. What we can learn from him is that no matter how hard or difficult is it speak the truth, we should always stick to it and face the consequences bravely.
Spreading interfaith awareness all his life and uniting everyone, Swamiji always preached that the mankind should be served irrespective of their economic status, caste or religion. One of the most important lessons in life is to never discriminate and always promote human welfare.
Swamiji not only loved but served his country as his mother. He was of this thinking that even though he has given up his material things after adopting a monk life, the need to satisfy the material world doesn’t end there. He took the duty of bringing together his nation as one and always protecting the country.
As Swamiji believed and adhered in his life that running away from problems isn’t the best of the solutions, he also conveyed the same to everyone through his words. Being a coward when a problem surfaces is not what we should do, rather we should gather all our courage and face it no matter what the repercussion might be.
Swami Vivekananda’s impact on India
Swami Vivekananda brought with him a new air of change in the second half of the 19th century. During that time the country was under the rule of British and had only a little control over its own land. The British wanted to revamp India by adding a touch of westernization while setting aside culture and traditions of India. And this is where Swami Vivekananda came into the picture who wanted a practical way out for his nation amidst all that was happening. Swamiji’s speech brought in a new sort of confidence in the heart of Indians and made them feel proud of their uniqueness and heritage. Working upon the same, Swamiji suggested that the west learns from the east and vice versa.
Moreover, as Swami Vivekananda from his graduation days believed in agnosticism and later became a part of the Brahmo Movement, continued to think that Vedanta is practical rather than theoretical. And hence, he brought about a change in the age-old rituals and turned into a faith. He started looking for God in the people of his nation. Furthermore, he vested all his time and energy in the betterment of the mankind. With his constant efforts, Swami Vivekananda managed to loosen the grip of religion from the pandits and priests and brought to the nation the actual Vedanta philosophy. All of which brought a new side of Hinduism. The whole country, especially the youth instantly got attracted to the ideals of Hinduism and the revival of religions took place.
Moving a step closer to bring the nation together, Swami Vivekananda followed these aspects to turn India into a stronger nation:
- Bringing together the masses
- Unity and love for the nation
- Looking back at what we left behind
- Practicality in terms of religion
- Importance of physical strength
- Political independence
Swami Vivekananda’s impact on the post-independence India
It took India over 40 years after Swami Vivekananda departed to gain the independence it deserved from the British. While the nation gave credit to its great leaders who never lost their hope, India didn’t forget the one leader who started it all, Swami Vivekananda. The Hindu popular monk helped the country realise its value and what standing together as a united nation means. Along with spreading the message of togetherness, loving the nation as their mother, carry forwarding the essence of the past, Swami Vivekananda also raised his concern about education, discrimination and women empowerment. Not only did he wish to see the country being together but also strong enough in terms of knowledge which included both men and women.
Famous quotes of Swami Vivekananda to learn from and bestow upon the coming generation
- “You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”
- “Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached.”
- “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.”
- “In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart.”
- “They alone live, who live for others.”
- “Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes.”
- “Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable.”
- “Do one thing at a Time, and while doing it put your whole Soul into it to the exclusion of all else.”
- “Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come back to you, but do not think of that now.”
- “God is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and next life.”
- “Take risks in your life, If you win, you can lead! If you lose, you can guide!”
- “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.”
- “Meditation can turn fools into sages but unfortunately fools never meditate.”
- “That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.”
- “If I love myself despite my infinite faults, how can I hate anyone at the glimpse of a few faults”..!
Vivekananda’s Neverending Hope from the Youth
Giving his everything in the service of the nation from a very young age, Swami Vivekananda set his faith in the coming generation to carry forward the legacy. He wanted the youth to work tirelessly for the welfare of the country and not run after the material world. From the time of his graduation, Swami Vivekananda started paving the path to a better India, which doesn’t believe in idol-worshipping rather it diverts its passion in praising one formless god. With each passing day, he started realising that serving the people of his nation is as good as serving the Lord. And that’s the message he left behind for the youth. His expectations from the youth weren’t material, instead, he wanted and still wants them to uplift the poor, spread the message of education for all, an equal treatment for women, no discrimination and more such aspects. According to him, it’s when we start believing in ourselves that we get to introspect what we want in life, which helps in pursuing our dreams, Swami Vivekananda’s dreams. No matter what one does, at the end of the day, it’s all about spreading a social message and indulging in activities that bring everyone at the same pedestal where everyone is equal.
Top personalities Swami Vivekananda had his influence on:
- Subhas Chandra Bose
- Rabindranath Tagore
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Barack Obama
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak
Ramakrishna’s influence on Swami Vivekananda’s life
Shuffling through the articles that are written about Swami Vivekananda, it is said that he came to know about Ramakrishna during a lecture by Principal of the Scottish Church College, Calcutta, Dr. William Hastie. In order to explain the meaning of ‘trance’ from the poem ‘The Excursion’ by William Wordsworth, the Professor mentioned that to understand it in the right sense one should visit Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar. This started an inner struggle within Swami Vivekananda and in the year 1881 or 1882, he visited Ramakrishna with his two friends. In the first place, Swamiji didn’t agree with the ideology and reasons of Ramakrishna but still, he visited him often. Having his faith in agnosticism and later being a part of the Brahmo Samaj, Swamiji considered the thinking of Ramakrishna as “hallucinations” and “mere figments of imagination” as despised his belief in Goddess Kali and was often questioned.
However, with the beginning of the year 1884, Swamiji lost his father and the family was doomed by debt. To seek help from this sudden problem, he approached Ramakrishna and asked him to pray for his family’s financial well-being to Goddess Kali. To which Ramakrishna said that he should pray on his own to attain the blessings. When Swami Vivekananda went to the abode of Goddess Kali he found himself unable to ask for such material blessings and in turn prayed for devotion and knowledge. With time, Swami Vivekananda became one of the most influenced followers of Ramakrishna who spread a modernised way of traditions followed in India.
Working on the vision of the 19th-century monk, Ramakrishna, this mission is a Hindu religious and spiritual organisation which gives spiritual training with its headquarter in Belur Math. It is an essential part of the Ramakrishna Movement which was started by the monk and hence the mission also passes on the movement’s teachings. The mission was started by one of the most influenced disciples of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda on 1 May 1987 giving out lessons on yogic ideals like jnana, bhakti, karma, and Raja Yoga and also Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. As the organisation works on the guidelines of Karma yoga which means selfless work which is done with perseverance to God, also spreads knowledge across India which it does so by large-scale educational work.
Ramakrishna Math is a core part of the Ramakrishna Movement which was started by Swami Vivekananda. The math is known as a monastic order which finds its place in Baranagar and was founded in the year 1886. Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are a twin organisation which works with the same purpose and has its headquarter at Belur Math in West Bengal. Moreover, Ramakrishna Math not only has its presence in India but in Russia, Argentina, Ireland, Germany, France, USA, Bangladesh and more such destinations across the globe.
Places that Swami Vivekananda visited in India
And the international border that he spread his positivity across
Books written by Swami Vivekananda:
- Raja Yoga
- Karma Yoga
- Bartaman Bharat
- The East and West
- Vedanta Philosophy
- Bhakti Yoga
Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Built in the memory of the great Indian leader
Kanyakumari, the holy city of Tamil Nadu, welcomes all the travellers who wish to take a sightseeing tour to Vivekananda Rock Memorial a monument built in the loving memory of Swami Vivekananda. The memorial is a must visit tourist place when in the city as it is believed that Swamiji attained enlightenment sitting on the rock here. The memorial shares its pristine beauty with the Laccadive sea which surrounds the rock. Legend has it that Goddess Kumari performed austerity on the same rock. The memorial is blessed with different styles of architecture and is divided into two halls that is Vivekananda Mandapam and Shripada Mandapam. The Vivekananda Mandapam houses a Dhyana Mandapam where travellers can come and meditate.
Interesting facts about Swami Vivekananda you should know
- Before Swami Vivekananda became a monk he was known by the name Narendranath Datta. From a very young age, his temperament was that of a yogi and he used to meditate as well.
- Swamiji was born in a financially sound family. His father, Vishwanath Datta was an attorney and mother Bhuvaneswari Devi was a strong headed woman with great religious beliefs.
- Swamiji was born on 12 January 1863 in Calcutta (now Kolkata).
- Swami Vivekananda died on 4 July, 1902 in Kolkata.
- During his graduation in the year 1884, his father died which brought a lot of financial problems to the family.
- He approached Ramakrishna who was a devotee of Goddess Kali to pray for him and the financial stability of his family. Ramakrishna asked him to pray himself. Swamiji went to the temple of Kali but couldn’t ask for material prosperity and hence asked for just true knowledge.
- After attaining the gift of true knowledge from Goddess Kali, Swami Vivekananda became a divine follower of Ramakrishna.
- During the time his family was suffering from poverty, Swami Vivekananda used to go door to door looking for jobs but couldn’t get any. All of this made him an atheist.
- Even when his mother was a true believer of God and taught him many a thing, Swami Vivekananda underwent a spiritual crisis.
- He joined the Brahmo Movement during his college who worshipped one formless God and didn’t believe in idol-worshipping. Another reason for joining the movement was his love for music both vocal and instrumental.
- Ajit Singh’s mother used to secretly send 100 rupees to Swamiji’s mother to help them during their downfall.
- After the death of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda went to Chicago to attend and represent India at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The meeting was first held from 11 September to 27 September 1893.
- Swami Vivekananda received 2 minutes long standing ovation for his opening speech ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’.
Would India be what it is today without Swami Vivekananda?
Often this question is asked about what the mother nation would be like if there were no leaders to guide it through the freedom struggle. A simple answer to this can be that India would still have fought it with all its might but without the support of spiritual Hindu leader like Swami Vivekananda, the nation would have been different. There might be a case that the country would have been ruled for a long run by the British if not then by the people belonging to the upper class. I hold this opinion because if we look back in time then we can clearly see that such issues like discrimination towards different religions, men and women, education, employment had started to spring up. With people like Swami Vivekananda who burnt the midnight oil for the well-being and upliftment of his own nation who he treated and loved like his mother. And that’s not all, he gave a new meaning to religion, Hinduism and many such essential aspects of India and always maintained a great balance between the Western and eastern part of the world. In the words of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Swamiji was a “full-blooded masculine personality – and a fighter to the core of being” to which we agree on cent-percent.
With this, we come to the end of this blog which gave you insights about the life of Swami Vivekananda, one of the most revered spiritual leaders of India. I hope this blog covered everything you wanted to know about Swamiji and the humongous efforts he had put in to join all the missing blocks of India and make it one. If you loved this guide, then do like and share it among your friends.
Published: 17 Oct, 2018
Tanisha Sharma, born and brought up in Delhi is a travel writer who longs to travel the entire world someday, exploring all the heritage sites. She also tirelessly volunteers at various animal NGOs and is quite keen about working for wildlife conservation. She loves reading romantic and fictional novels and also devotes her time listening to music. Also she likes to visit places where she can savour her favourite junk foods like momos and pizza.