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Swami Vivekananda (

Shmi Bibeknondo (helpinfo); pronounced: IPA: [ami bibekanono]) (12 January


18634 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta

(IPA: [n

), was an Indian Hindu monk.

He was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedantaand Yoga to the western world,

and was credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major

world religion in the late 19th century.

He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and

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contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India. He was the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of America," which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893. Born in aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, Swami Vivekananda showed an inclination towards spirituality and God realisation. Hisguru, Ramakrishna, taught him Advaita Vedanta (nondualism); that all religions are true and that service to man was the most effective worship of God. After the death of his guru, Vivekananda became a wandering monk, extensively touring the Indian subcontinent and acquiring first-hand knowledge of conditions in India. He later travelled to the United States and represented India as a delegate in the 1893 Parliament of World Religions. He conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in America, England and Europe. He established the Vedanta societies in America and England. In America Vivekananda became India's spiritual ambassador. His mission there was the interpretation of India's spiritual culture and heritage. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of Americans through the teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In India Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint of modern India and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day. In Swami Vivekananda's own words, he was "condensed India". William James, the Harvard philosopher, called Vivekananda the "paragon of Vedantists". Rabindranath Tagore's suggestion (to Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland) was "If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative."
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1 Early life (18631888)

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1.1 Birth and childhood 1.2 College and Brahmo Samaj 1.3 With Ramakrishna 1.4 Founding of the Ramakrishna Math

2 As a wandering monk in India (18881893)

o o o o o

2.1 Northern India 2.2 The Himalayas 2.3 Rajputana 2.4 Western India 2.5 Southern India

3 Visit to Japan (1893) 4 First visit to the West (18931897)

o o

4.1 Parliament of the World's Religions 4.2 Lecturing tours in America and England

5 Back in India (18971899)

o o o

5.1 Colombo to Almora 5.2 Founding of the Ramakrishna Mission 5.3 Visit to Punjab

6 Second visit to the West and last years (18991902) 7 Death 8 Teachings and philosophy 9 Influence 10 Works

10.1 Books by Swami Vivekananda

11 See also 12 References

o o o

12.1 Notes 12.2 Citations 12.3 Bibliography

13 External links

[edit]Early [edit]Birth

life (18631888)
and childhood

Bhuvaneswari Devi (18411911). "I am indebted to my mother for the efflorescence of my knowledge."[9]Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Dutta in Calcutta, the capital of British India, on 12 January 1863 during the Makar Sankranti festival. He belonged to a traditional Bengali Kayastha (a caste of Hindus) family. There was precedence of ascetics in his familyNarendra's grandfather Durga Charan Datta renounced the world and became a monk at the age of twenty five. Datta was an attorney of Calcutta High Court. social and religious matters.
[14] [12] [11] [10]

Narendra's father Vishwanath

Vishwanath Datta had a liberal, progressive outlook on

[nb 1]

Narendra's mother, Bhuvaneswari Devi

, was a pious woman. Before

the birth of Narendra, she yearned for a son and asked a relative at Varanasi to make religious offerings to the god Shiva. According to traditional accounts, Bhuvaneswari Devi had a dream in which Shiva

said that he would be born as her son.

Bhuvaneswari Devi accepted the child as a boon from Shiva


and named him Vireswara, meaning "powerful god" in Bengali.


The rational approach of his father and


the religious temperament of his mother helped shape young Narendra's thinking and personality. He learnt the power of self-control from his mother. In later life, Narendra often quoted

a saying of his mother, "Remain pure all your life; guard your own honour and never transgress the honour of others. Be very tranquil, but when necessary, harden your heart." He was adept in meditation

and could enter the state of samadhi (a higher level of concentrated meditation).

He would often

visualise a light while falling asleep and had a vision of Gautama Buddha during his meditation. his childhood, he was fascinated by the wandering ascetics and monks.


The house of 3, Gour Mohan Mukherjee street, Calcutta, where Vivekananda was born, [20] now it is maintained by theRamakrishna Mission.

Narendra had interest and a wide range of scholarship in philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, arts, literature, and other subjects.

He evinced interest in the Hindu scriptures such as the Vedas,


theUpanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. He trained in Indian classical music under two Ustads (maestro), Beni Gupta and Ahamad Khan. participated in physical exercise, sports, and organisational activities.
[14][16] [21]

He regularly

Even when he was young, he

questioned the validity of superstitious customs and discrimination based on caste and refused to accept anything without rational proof and pragmatic test.

Narendra joined the Metropolitan Institution

of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in 1871 and studied there till 1877 when his family moved to Raipur. The family returned to Calcutta two years later.


and Brahmo Samaj

In 1879 after his family moved back to Calcutta, Narendra passed the entrance examination from the Presidency College, Calcutta. He subsequently studied western logic, western philosophy and history of European nations in the General Assembly's Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College). degree.

In 1881 he passed the Fine Arts examination and in 1884 he completed a Bachelor of Arts


Narendra studied the works of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Baruch Spinoza, Georg W. F. Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer,Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Darwin.

Narendra became fascinated with the evolutionism of Herbert Spencer and had

correspondence with him;


he translated Spencer's book Education (1861) into Bengali. Alongside his

study of Western philosophers, he was thoroughly acquainted with Indian Sanskrit scriptures and many Bengali works. According to his professors, Narendra was a student prodigy. Dr. William Hastie,

principal of General Assembly's Institution, wrote, "Narendra is really a genius. I have travelled far and wide but I have never come across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German universities, among philosophical students."

He was regarded as a srutidharaa man with prodigious memory.


Narendra became the member of a Freemason's lodge and of a breakaway faction of the Brahmo Samaj led by Keshub Chandra Sen.

His initial beliefs were shaped by Brahmo concepts, which


included belief in a formless God and deprecation of the worship of idols.

Not satisfied with his

knowledge of philosophy, he wondered if God and religion could be made a part of one's growing experiences and deeply internalised. Narendra went about asking prominent residents of contemporary Calcutta whether they had come "face to face with God" but could not get answers which satisfied him.

His first introduction to the saint Ramakrishna occurred in a literature class in General

Assembly's Institution, when he heard Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth's poemThe Excursion. While explaining the word "trance" in the poem, Hastie suggested his students to visit

Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar to know the real meaning of trance. This prompted some of his students, including Narendra, to visit Ramakrishna. [edit]With


Ramakrishna, guru of Vivekananda.

"The magic touch of the Master that day immediately brought a wonderful change over my mind. I was astounded to find that really there was nothing in the universe but God! ... everything I saw appeared to be Brahman. ... I realized that I must have had a glimpse of the Advaita state. Then it struck me that the words of the scriptures were not false. Thenceforth I could not deny the conclusions of theAdvaita philosophy."[40]

Narendra's meeting with Ramakrishna in November 1881 proved to be a turning point in Narendra's life.

Narendra said about this first meeting that

"Ramakrishna looked just like an ordinary man, with nothing remarkable about him. He used the most simple language and I thought 'Can this man be a great teacher?'. I crept near to him and asked him the question which I had been asking others all my life: 'Do you believe in God, Sir?' 'Yes', he replied. 'Can you prove it, Sir?' 'Yes'. 'How?' 'Because I see Him just as I see you here, only in a much intenser sense.'

That impressed me at once. [...] I began to go to that man, day after day, and I actually saw that religion [41][42] could be given. One touch, one glance, can change a whole life." Though Narendra did not accept Ramakrishna as his guru initially and revolted against his ideas, he was attracted by his personality and visited him frequently. and visions as, "mere figments of imagination",
[16] [43]

He initially looked upon Ramakrishna's ecstasies


"mere hallucinations".

As a member of Brahmo

Samaj, he revolted against idol worship and polytheism, and Ramakrishna's worship of Kali.

He even

rejected the Advaitist Vedantism of identity with absolute as blasphemy and madness and often made fun of the concept. Though at first Narendra could not accept Ramakrishna and his visions, he did not

neglect him. Instead, he tested Ramakrishna, who faced all of Narendra's arguments and examinations with patience"Try to see the truth from all angles" was his reply. During the course of five years of his training under Ramakrishna, Narendra was increasingly ready to renounce everything for the sake of realising God. In time, Narendra accepted Ramakrishna as his guru and completely surrendered as disciple.

In 1885, Ramakrishna developed throat cancer and he was transferred to Calcutta and later to Cossipore. Narendra and Ramakrishna's other disciples took care of him during his final days. Narendra's spiritual education under Ramakrishna continued. At Cossipore, Narendra reportedly experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi.

During Ramakrishna's last days, Narendra and some of the other disciples received the

ochre monastic robes from Ramakrishna, forming the first monastic order of Ramakrishna. was taught that service to men was the most effective worship of God.
[49] [16][48]


When young Narendra Nath

doubted Ramakrishna's claim of avatar, Ramakrishna said, "He who was Rama, He who was Krishna, He himself is now Ramakrishna in this body."

During his final days, Ramakrishna asked Narendra Nath to

take care of other monastic disciples and in turn asked them to look upon Vivekananda as their leader. Ramakrishna died in the early morning hours of 16 August 1886 at his garden house in

Cossipore. According to his disciples, this was Mahasamadhi.