swami Vivekananda short biography

Born to an aristocratic Bengali family as Narendranath Dutta, Swami Vivekananda was one of the well-known Hindu monks and a chief disciple of the 19th century spiritual master Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.
He is known for introducing the philosophies of Vedanta – the purpose of the Vedas – and Yoga – spiritual discipline. Swami Vivekananda is credited for raising interfaith awareness in which he promoted cooperative, positive and constructive awareness among people of different religions.

At the time of crisis when young Narendra was faced with doubts about the existence of God, he heard about Sri Ramakrishna – the yogi. In the year 1881 Narendra visited Sri Ramakrishna and questioned him about the existence of God. Sri Ramakrishna not only cleared all his doubts but also gave him spiritual knowledge and love. With this began the guru-disciple love between them and under Sri Ramakrishna’s guidance, Narendra stepped onto the spiritual path.

After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendra took over as the leader of the group of disciples. Under his leadership, the new monastic brotherhood was formed and in the year 1887 they took vows of sanyasa thereby assuming new names. Narendra then became Swami Vivekananda. Having established the new monastic order, Swami Vivekananda heard an inner calling within him that urged him to achieve higher goals and greater missions in his life.

In the year 1890, haven taken blessings from Sri Sarada Devi, the consort of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda took upon the journey to explore and discover India.

During his journey, Swami Vivekananda was appalled to see poverty and illiteracy of the masses all over India. His travels taught him that the real cause for India’s downfall and slow progress was the backwardness of the masses. To uplift society, he worked to infuse faith in the minds of the masses and provided them two kinds of knowledge through education – secular knowledge to improve their economic condition and spiritual knowledge to infuse faith and confidence in themselves so that they can rise from their given state.

It was in the year 1893 when Swami Vivekananda decided to attend the World Parliament of Religion, which was to be held in Chicago. He knew that the Parliament would provide him the right platform to present the Master’s message and also seek financial aid to carry out his plans for uplifting the masses. Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the Parliament gained him the recognition of an orator by divine right and a Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western World.

After the Parliament, Swami Vivekananda spent some years spreading the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna to the eastern parts of USA and to London. Upon returning to India, in the year 1897 he founded the unique organization called Ramakrishna Mission in which monks and individuals would come together to improve the condition of the masses and provide social services such as education, rehabilitation, medical aid etc.

In the year 1898, Swami Vivekananda acquired a plot on the western bank of the Ganga at a place called Belur to establish a permanent abode for the monastery and the monastic order. This place came to be known as Belur Math.

On 4th July 1902, Swami Vivekananda breathed his last. All through his efforts at uplifting the condition of the masses, Swami Vivekananda had delivered a number of lectures to inspire the youth and the educated classes of the country to sympathise with the condition of the society and aid him in taking action to better the state of the downtrodden people.

In his lectures, he spoke about raising the religious consciousness of the people and creating in them pride about their rich cultural heritage. Inspired by his teachings, many became his disciples, some of them being Sister Nivedita, Josephine McLeod and Sara Ole Bull who then took over serving the society.