Swami Vivekananda: .(12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna.
He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century.
He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began, “Sisters and brothers of America …,” in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Here are some astonishing facts about Swami Vivekananda:
Naren was naughty and restless as a child, and his parents often had difficulty controlling him. His mother said, “I prayed to Shiva for a son and he has sent me one of his ghosts”. In 1871, at the age of eight, Narendranath enrolled at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s Metropolitan Institution, where he went to school until his family moved to Raipur in 1877.
Narendra’s father’s sudden death in 1884 left the family bankrupt; creditors began demanding the repayment of loans, and relatives threatened to evict the family from their ancestral home. Narendra, once a son of a well-to-do family, became one of the poorest students in his college. He unsuccessfully tried to find work and questioned God’s existence, but found solace in Ramakrishna and his visits to Dakshineswar increased.
Narendra left Bombay for Chicago on 31 May 1893 with the name “Vivekananda”, as suggested by Ajit Singh of Khetri,which means “the bliss of discerning wisdom,” from Sanskrit viveka and ānanda.
He founded the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894.
In November 1895 he met Margaret Elizabeth Noble an Irish woman who would become Sister Nivedita. During his second visit to the UK in May 1896 Vivekananda met Max Müller, a noted Indologist from Oxford University who wrote Ramakrishna’s first biography in the West.
Vivekananda was offered academic positions in two American universities (one the chair in Eastern Philosophy at Harvard University and a similar position at Columbia University); he declined both, since his duties would conflict with his commitment as a monk.
During his train travels(in India), people often sat on the rails to force the train to stop so they could hear him.
Vivekananda founded two other monasteries: one in Mayavati in the Himalayas (near Almora), the Advaita Ashrama and another in Madras. Two journals were founded: Prabuddha Bharata in English and Udbhodan in Bengali.
Upon reaching Kannyakumari, Swamiji sat on meditation on a rock in Vavathurai for two days and attained spiritual enlightenment. He became a powerful spiritual leader and philosopher. later the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built in the year 1970 in his honour.
Vivekananda earlier inspired Jamshedji Tata to set up a research and educational institution when they travelled together from Yokohama to Chicago on Vivekananda’s first visit to the West in 1893. Tata now asked him to head his Research Institute of Science; Vivekananda declined the offer, citing a conflict with his “spiritual interests”.
On 4 July 1902 (the day of his death) Vivekananda awoke early, went to the monastery at Belur Math and meditated for three hours. At 7:00 p.m. Vivekananda went to his room, asking not to be disturbed;he died at 9:20 p.m. while meditating. According to his disciples, Vivekananda attained mahasamādhi; the rupture of a blood vessel in his brain was reported as a possible cause of death.