His original name was Narendra Nath Datta. He was a Bengali from Calcutta belonging to Kayastha caste. He was born on 9th January 1862/1863’
He had good English education. Obtained degree in philosophy from Mission College in Calcutta. During his student days, influenced by Brahma Samaj.
He had fine voice and sang Bengali Hymns. He was adept in boxing, swimming, wrestling and riding.
After his degree, he studied law.
In 1852 his uncle for the first time took him to meet Ramakrishna
That was the turning point of life.
He got answer to his question whether God can be seen.
Ramakeishna singled him as one destined to do great things for God.
Vivekananda became sannyasi on his master’s death.
And spent six years in retirement on the Himalayas.
It is also said that he visited Tibet to study Buddhism.
In 1892 he travelled to Trivandrum and Madras
This was the time the preparations for the World Parliament of Religions, to be held in Chicago was underway.
Friends in Madras suggested that Vivekananda represent Hinduism in the world parliament.
The parliament was held in September 1893. Vivekananda attracted attention because of his eloquence, striking figure and picturesque dress.
Above all his new presentation of Hinduism as Mother of all religions and living religion.
Afterwards, he stayed sometime in America lecturing and founding Vedanta Societies in several places.
During this time he got two important American disciples.
1 Madame Louise later called Swami Abhayananda
2 Sandersberg later called Swami Kripananda.
Later he toured England and got the most dedicated disciple Miss Margaret Noble later called Sister Nivedita.
When he returned to India Vivekananda was acclaimed as “Savior of the Ancient Faith”.
In India he started Ramakrishna Mission.
He established two monasteries. One in Belur and another in Mayavati in Himalayas, near Almora.
Belur in West Bengal is the headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission.
The purpose of these monasteries is to accept young Sannyasis and to train them.
In 1879 philanthropic activity was started by him. The reason was that there was widespread famine in India. Vivekananda gathered large money.
In 1898 his health gave way. He was advised to go to Britain and America for a change.
He and sister Nivedita sailed together
They spent short time in England and went to America.
This time a Vedanta society was founded in San Francisco, and New York
There was arrangements for him to attend the congress of Religions held in Paris in 1900. After attending , returned to India with poor health.
Within the next three years a third monastery was founded in Madras and philanthropic works continued in various parts of India.
Vivekananda died on 4th July 1902 at 40 years of age.
Vivekananda’s main message:
All religions are true and good and therefore every man ought to remain in his own religion.
God is impersonal, unknowable, non-moral and manifested in many forms. All men are saints . it is sin to say a person sinner and idolatry is healthy.
Hindu civilization is good, beautiful and spiritual. Missionaries say wickedly slander. India is a Hindu and Spiritual nation.
Europe is materialistic, sensual and selfish hence not fit for us. Every Hindu should defend Hinduism and avoid Western influence. But western education and method of learning are necessary for us. We can become beef eaters to become strong.
Vivekananda called people for practical Vedanta.
It is practical service and self sacrificing work.
According to Radhakrishnan Ramakrishna’s practical religion was put into action by Vivekananda.
He also said Vivekananda’s teachings can remedy India’s problem.
Vivekananda attempted educational work
Sister Nivedita lived in the Northern part of Calcutta. She did simple services. She conducted school for girls.
She always glorified Hinduism and Hindu life.
Her chief work was “The Web of Indian Life”. In this she shows sympathy with the ideals and activities of Hinduism in exaggerated language she praised Hindu customs.