Swami Vivekananda, or Narendranath Datta, was born on the 12th of January, 1863, and is a Hindu monk and philosopher. He is credited with influencing Indian darsanas (teachings or practices) of Vedanta and Yoga to Western civilization and bringing upon the major recognition of Hinduism as a major world religion.
Swami Vivekananda was instantly inclined towards the idea of spirituality after he was born. He was heavily influenced by his guru (teacher), Ramakrishna, from whom he learned many important spiritual lessons. After his guru passed away, he toured the subcontinent India He then traveled to the United States of America to represent India and Hinduism at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Illinois. He conducted many classes and private lessons about spirituality while distributing important pieces of Indian culture to many parts of the world. He is regarded as a patriotic saint and pioneer.
Vivekananda was a great student when he was growing up. In 1881, Narendra first met Ramakrishna, who became his main source of spiritual knowledge after his father passed away in 1884.
His first meeting with Ramakrishna proved to completely change and influence his life. Even though he did not really think of Ramakrishna as a teacher at first and did not agree with his ideals, he did like his personality and essence. Ramakrishna never questioned Narendra’s beliefs and answered Narendra’s arguments patiently, considering it. He encouraged Narendra to “try to see the truth from all angles”.
Narendra only prayed for knowledge and devotion. He then grew to realize that he should do everything for the sake of realizing God and became a true disciple of Ramakrishna by accepting him as his guru. He spent more time with his guru while Ramakrishna became ill with throat cancer and gained immense spiritual wisdom during Ramakrishna’s final days. This is when Narendra achieved nirvikalpa samadhi (a state of spiritual consciousness).
After the death of Ramakrishna, Narendra created a monastery and became a leader serving the monastery. This is also when Narendra took the name “Swami Vivekananda”. The name “Vivekananda” means “the bliss of discerning wisdom” from the Sanskrit words viveka and ānanda.
Vivekananda started his first journey to the US on May 31, 1893. Vivekananda was accepted to represent Hinduism in the Parliament. The Parliament of the World’s Religions opened on September 11, 1893, at the Art Institute of Chicago. That day, Vivekananda gave a small speech representing India and the religion of Hinduism. He began his speech with a quote he is very famous for: “Sisters and brothers of America!”. At these words, Vivekananda received a standing ovation from seven thousand audience members. At the Parliament of Religions, he quickly became a fan-favorite. He was soon honored as an impressive orator and a worthy representative of India.
After the Parliament of Religions, he toured many parts of the US and spread Hinduism. He founded the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894. He helped spark the Western civilization’s knowledge of religion and marked the beginning of modern yoga. On July 4, 1902, Vivekananda died at 9:20 while meditating. His disciples believed that the rupture was caused by brahmarandhra (an opening in the crown of the head) being pierced when he attained mahasamādhi. In conclusion, Swami Vivekananda was a pioneer for modern yoga and is truly an amazing representative of India and Hinduism. Even though he faced many difficulties and obstacles becoming who he is today, he still is a spectacular person to look up to, both religiously. He is a perfect example of why you don’t need a lot of money to have an almost-perfect life.
Source: Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, December 10). Swami Vivekananda. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 27, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Vivekananda