If there’s one person that the entire world looks up to as a role model, it is Swami Vivekananda. Before the preacher started his monastic life, he was called Narendranath Datta, and was born in a wealthy family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. Narendranath’s father was a successful attorney and his mother, Smt. Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was known for her deep devotion and an eminent character. As a child, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had gainedknowledge from diverse subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. He was born with a yogic temperament; and used to practice meditation.
We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
After the sudden demise of his father, his family had become penniless and the entire burden of the family was now on his shoulders. Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. It was at that time he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors back at college. Sri Ramakrishna instilled in these young men the spirit of renunciation and brotherly and selfless love for one another. One day he distributed ochre robes among them and sent them out to beg food. In this way he himself laid the foundation for a new monastic order. He is known to have taught Narendra about the formation of the new monastic Order. Sadly, Sri Ramakrishna passed away on the day of16 August 1886.
After their Master’s passing, Sri Ramakrishna’s young disciples began to live together in a building at Baranagar in Kolkata. Under the leadership of Narendra, they formed a new monastic brotherhood, and in 1887 they took the formal vows of ‘sannyasa’, thereby accepting new names for them. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda. After establishing the new monastic order, Vivekananda knew from inside he had to fulfil a greater mission in his life.
During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling number of poverty and backwardness of the people. He was the first religious leader in India to have understood and openly declared that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the troubled backward people. One thing became clear to Swamiji: he wanted to carry out his plans for the spread of education and for the uplift of the poor masses, and also of women, and he knew that for this, an efficient organization of dedicated people was needed. As he said later on, he wanted “to set in motion machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.” It was to serve as this ‘machinery’ that Swamiji founded the Ramakrishna Mission a few years later.
The inspirational orator is famous throughout the world for his following speeches:
- World Parliament of Religions 1897– Swami Vivekananda
- On Hinduism– Swami Vivekananda
- Thoughts on Women– Swami Vivekananda
- The Ideal of a Universal Religion– Swami Vivekananda