Today is the Birthday of Swami Vivekanand.

Swami Vivekanand: A Hero of Humanity

(by Sanjana Agrawal)

Swami Vivekanand’s birth as Naren­dranath Dutta was an Indian monk, reformer, philoso­pher, and one of the most cel­e­brated spir­i­tual leaders of India.  He was an inspir­ing per­son­al­ity and is well known both in India and America since the last decade of the nine­teenth century.  He is an example of a person who despite having a short life, lived it to the fullest.  He taught uncon­di­tional love, how to be a better person, and rein­forced the impor­tance of giving back to society.

Naren­dranath Dutt was born into an afflu­ent Bengali family on January 12,1863 in Cal­cutta (now known as Kolkata), in West Bengal.  His parents were Vish­wanath Dutt and Bhu­vanesh­wari Deri.  His father was a suc­cess­ful attor­ney and his mother was a strong, endowed, woman with a God-fearing mind who had a great impact on her son.

He went to Cal­cutta Met­ro­pol­i­tan School for his early edu­ca­tion and later enrolled the Pres­i­dency College of Cal­cutta.  IN 1880, he joined Keshab-Chandra Sen’s Nava Vidhan and also became a member of Sad­ha­ran Brahma Samaj led by Keshab Chandra Sen and Deben­dranath Tagore. In 1881, he passed the fine arts exam­i­na­tions and com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in 1884. he was a sharp, intel­lec­tual student and was inter­ested in music as well as excelling in studies. He also scru­ti­nized Hindu scrip­tures — the Upnishads on one hand while on the other hand he studied western phi­los­o­phy and spirituality.

As he grew up, his knowl­edge led him to ques­tions about the exis­tence of God. Inves­ti­gat­ing this, he met many monks but none  of them could provide answers to his deep ques­tions. As he met Ramakr­ishna Paramhansa at Dak­shi­nesh­war kali temple he asked him the same ques­tion: ” Have you seen the God? ” He was given a simple answer, ” Yes,I have seen. I have seen God as clearly as I see you, only in a much deeper sense. ” This inspired Vivekanand to con­tinue meeting him.

In 1884, when his father died, there were many finan­cial crises in his family and that was the turning point in his life as he accepted Ramakr­ishna Paramhans as his life-mentor.  One year later, In 1885, Ramakr­ishna suf­fered from throat cancer and was trans­ferred to Cal­cutta. His dis­ci­ples took care of him. Ramakr­ishna gave up his life on 16 August, 1886. After this inci­dent they all started to live together and they per­formed math, Yoga and med­i­ta­tion. But, after some time he left this and decided to tour around the world to know about several soci­eties and cul­tures, and also under­stand and prac­tice what is common in their daily life.  Vivekanand carried out his “free-think­ing” phi­los­o­phy into a new par­a­digm.   He went off to Chicago USA to attend the meeting of the World Par­lia­ment Organization.

On 11 Sep­tem­ber 1893, in Chicago, Swami Vivekanand gave an out­stand­ing speech full of wisdom.  He started his speech by address­ing the audi­ence as “broth­ers and sisters of America”.  in his speech, he described the prin­ci­ples of Vedanta.  This led to a huge silence amongst the crowd, and at the end he received a stand­ing ovation.

When he returned to India in 1897, he founded Ramakr­ishna Mission in Belur Math, Cal­cutta.  The main vision of the mission was to love life, focus on the sig­nif­i­cance of the indi­vid­ual — his pres­ence and abil­i­ties.  A school, college, and hos­pi­tal was estab­lished under this.  In the mission, his teach­ing was pur­posely based on the Vedanta and spir­i­tual teach­ing of Ramakrishna.

On the evening of 4 July, 1902, he died at the age of 39 while per­form­ing medi­a­tion at Belur Math, Cal­cutta.  He attained Mahasamadhi, and was cre­mated on the banks of the river Ganga.

Here are some addi­tional stories and facts about Swami Vivekanand:

  1.  He was a very naughty and angry boy during his child­hood.  His mother poured cold water on him and said “Om Namah Shivay” to make him calm down.
  2. When his father died, his family faced finan­cial hard­ship.  He went to Ramakr­ish­nappa to ask for help, but was refused because he was too to pray for himself, not for wealth, but for a deeper con­science and reclu­sion.  That was a turning point for him.
  3. Once when Swamiji went to America, a woman expressed her desire to marry him because she wanted a son like him.  So he answered her by saying that he was a monk which pre­vented him from mar­ry­ing, but she can always think of him as her son.
  4. His birth­day, 12 January, is also cel­e­brated on National Youth Day start­ing in 1984 out of respect and acknowl­edge­ment of his phi­los­o­phy and ideas for which he lived and worked.

This essay was written by Sanjana Agrawal (who also cel­e­brates her birth­day today ;^).  Thank you Sanjana for sharing your article with us.