A Short Biography on Swami Vivekananda
Hindu Dharma has a glorious past of great Saints and Sages. Several Saints ascended to the state of Guru and showed the path of God realisation to many. They also taught spirituality to the society through their conduct and actions. Their mission was not just limited to spirituality but they also did substantial work for the defence of nation whenever it was in difficulties. Some of the Saints travelled all over the world and disseminated the spiritual knowledge of Bharat there without any personal expectations. Millions of people abroad are getting benefit of that. For last lakhs of years, the Sages took tremendous efforts to preserve the Vedic Knowledge which is the pride of Bharat. They also created many subjects connected with the human life and made it easy. The most important thing however is that the Saints of Bharat have donated the world the tradition of Guru-disciple.
The current scene however is different. The cricketers, movie heroes and heroines have become the ideals of Hindus. Also the two vices of selfishness and narrow mindedness have become dominant in Hindus which is causing lot of harm to Hindu society. Under such circumstances it has become essential to study and follow the life of Saints who have imparted the teaching of sacrifice, love. devotion to righteousness, devotion to nation, helping the society and kashtradharma( duty of a warrior). We are hereby publishing the matter related to them so that people should come to know about such great Saints. We pray at the feet of God that let Hindus get the inspiration to study and follow their biography and teachings.
Birth, Childhood and Education:
The original name of Swami Vivekanand was Narendranath. He was born on 12th January, 1863 at Kolkata (Swamiji's Jayanti i.e. birth anniversary is celebrated as the 'International Youth Day'). Right from childhood, two aspects of his behavior could clearly be noticed. One was his devout and compassionate nature and the other was his readiness to perform any act of courage. Since his whole family was spiritually inclined, he received an appropriate religious upbringing.
In 1870 he was admitted to the school founded by Sree Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. While in school he focused both on studies as well as body building. He had great respect for his mother tongue. One such incident was when he had and English language class in school, he said, "I shall not learn the language of the white master." At least for 7 - 8 months he abstained from learning that language. Later he learnt English owing to compulsion. He stood first in his matriculate examination and added to the glory of his family and school. Then he joined the Presidency College in Kolkata and completed his M.A. in Philosophy.
Meeting his Guru and accepting Sanyas:
Dr. Ramchandra Dutt, a relative of Narendra who had been raised in his house was a disciple of Sree Ramkrishna Paramhansa. He noticed that Narendra was inspired by religious feelings to such an extent that he was contemplating renunciation in his childhood itself. He once told Narendra, “Brother, if your only goal in life is to further the enhancement of our religion, then do not get involved in the Bramho Samaj or others. You go to Dakshineshwari and meet Sree Ramkrishna.” Narendra met Sree Ramkrishna at his neighbor Surendranath’s house itself. Initially for some days Sree Ramkrishna did not allow Narendranath to leave his side even for a moment. He made Narendra sit next to him and gave him much advice & counsel. The two of them would have great discussions when alone.
Sree Ramkrishna had decided to give Narendra the responsibility of carrying on his incomplete mission. One day Sree Ramkrishna wrote on a piece of paper, “Narendra will perform the task of enlightening the masses.” Somewhat hesitantly Narendranath replied, “I won’t be able to do all this.” Sree Ramkrishna immediately spoke with great resolve, “What? Won’t be able? Your bones will perform this task?” Later Sree Ramkrishna initiated Narendranath on the path of Sanyas and gave him the name Swami Vivekanand.
Commencement of Preaching : Establishment of Ramkrishna Mission
After Sree Ramkrishna’s Mahasamadhi, Swami Vivekanand along with Taraknath, another disciple of Ramkrishna, established the Ramkrishna Mission. It began its activities from a dilapidated building at Varahnagar, near Kolkata. Earlier it was believed that this place was a haunted house. Vivekanand kept Sree Ramkrishna’s mortal ashes and some other objects used by him, at this place. Soon Sree Ramkrishna’s disciples started living there.
Swami Vivekanand shines at the World Parliament of Religions :
The premonition regarding the visit to Chicago
One night when Swami Vivekanand was half asleep, he saw a miraculous dream. Sree Ramkrishna’s blazing form was moving ahead over the seas and beckoning Swamiji to follow him. Immediately Swamiji opened his eyes. His heart was filled with indescribable ecstasy. At the same time he heard very clearly a divine voice saying, “Go”. Then he resolved to go abroad and completed all arrangements within a day or two.
Departure for the World Parliament of Religions
On 31st May, 1893, Swamiji left the Indian shores, aboard the ship, ‘Peninsular’. He reached Vancouver port in Canada on 15th July. From there he traveled by train to the famous city of Chicago in America. He came to know that a World Parliament of Religions was going to be held on 11th September. He did not have the Invite required to participate in this conference. Further even the date to register as a Representative had lapsed. Yet, wherever he went people were attracted to him. On the very first day he met Prof. J.H. Wright, who was teaching Greek at Harward University. The two of them conversed for almost four hours. The professor was so impressed by Swamiji’s talent and intellect that he accepted the responsibility of giving Swamiji admittance to the World Parliament of Religions as a representative.
Swami Vivekanand participates at the Chicago Interfaith conference
It must have been the divine plan to allow this saint to introduce the world to the great Hindu Dharma. Swami Vivekanand proved to be a true representative of Hinduism as he made his fervent appeal for tolerance to the whole world from the dais of the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago on 11th September, 1893. This conference was inaugurated with the Chanting of Hymns by the various religious heads. It was a melodious beginning the conference. On the dais, at the centre, was the religious head of the Roman Catholic Sect of America. Swami Vivekanand was not the representative of any particular sect. He had arrived at the conference as the representative of the Sanantan Hindu Vaidik Dharma of all Bharatvarsha.
The conference was attended by almost 6 to 7 thousand ladies and gentlemen. As per the instructions by the chairperson, each representative on the dais was reading out his pre-prepared speech. Swamiji had not prepared any written speech. Finally he stood up from his seat having sent a silent prayer to his Guru. He addressed the conference with the words, “Sisters and brothers of America”. These words had such miraculous strength in them that those thousands gathered stood up and there was continuous applause. The emotional appeal in those compassionate words had stirred every heart. It was the first time ever that any orator had referred to the whole of mankind as ‘Sisters and brothers’. Further he entranced all present with his brilliant and powerful oration.
After centuries someone had again shown to the Hindu society its own wide horizons. Swamiji did not criticise any religion. He did not degrade any religion. He only wiped the dirt that had accumulated on the Hindu Dharma owing to its ill-treatment and affronts at the hands of its invaders. He showed Hindu Dharma its own irradiant self and placed it on the highest pedestal of the World Parliament of Religions.
Swamiji’s sermons :
Having thus projected Bharat in its deserved glory, he returned back to Kolkata to a grand welcome. ‘The Plan of my movement’, ’Vedant in everyday life of Bharat’, ‘Our duty for the day’, ‘The great sons of Bharat’, ‘ Future of Bharat’ were some of the subjects on which he started delivering lectures. His language at all times remained resplendent throughout all his speeches. His incisive thoughts had a great impact on both Indian as well as foreign minds. He could spread the message of Vedant all around the world. Thus he won for Arya dharma, Arya people and Arya land its rightful prestigious position.
‘Real Sanyas is to sacrifice the self for the betterment of others ‘
Though he held a lot of respect for the spiritual heritage of Bharat, he did attack through his speeches its undesirable customs and the abominable caste system. Thus his speeches served as a wakeup call even to the Hindu society. His ardent appeal stuck lightening in the hearts of his dormant countrymen. His natural state of being would have been to meditate on the formless eternal entity i.e. Nirvikar Samadhi. Yet he set aside his own renunciation and thought about the mortal struggles, sorrows and joys of common people; throughout his life he strived for their upliftment. ‘Real Sanyas is to sacrifice the self for the betterment of others’ – he lived this axiom.
Source: Article Taken from Hindujagruti website