“Vivekananda was the first Hindu whose personality won demonstrative recognition abroad for India’s ancient civilization and for her new born claim to nationhood”-this is what Sir Valentile Chirol said for Vivekananda.
The most notable thing about him was his flaming zeal for reviving the greatness of Hinduism and the Hindustan and his idea for this was “we must go out and conquer the world through our spirituality and philosophy”.
Swami Vivekananda was born as Narendranath to Biswanath Dutta, a well known lawyer in Calcutta and Bhubaneswari Devi, a pious lady on 12th January, 1863. Naren learnt the Epics and Puranas from his mother. he also inherited her memory among other qualities.
passed Entrance Examination from the Metropolitan Institutes and F.A. and B.A. Examination from the General Assembly’s Institution. As a student of Philosophy the queries about God disturbed him very much and he discussed about those with many persons but could not get satisfactory answers. He looked to a person who could say, yes he had seen God, but found nobody. Meanwhile he joined Brahma Samaj also, in anticipation and for sometime he was satisfied but soon he was fed up. Then he happened to meet Ramakrishna at a neighbor’s house, who invited him to visit Dakshineswar some day. He went to Ramakrishna one day and asked straightaway, if he had seen God. Ramakrishna said he had and if Naren so wished, he could even show God to him. This made Naren surprised. Although Ramakrishna’s simplicity and love for God impressed Naren, his idiosyncrasies made him suspect if Ramakrishna was not a monomaniac. So Naren began watching him from close quarters and after a long time he was left in no doubt that Ramakrishna was an extraordinary man. Then Naren loved and admired Ramakrishna but never surrendered his independence of judgment, but gradually accepted him as his guru.
After the death of his master in 1886 he organized the Ramakrishna Mission and assumed the name of Swami Vivekananda and traveled extensively throughout India. The decadent state of Hindu society left indelible impact on his heart and gave him excruciating pain and anguish. The callousness of the so called educated upper class shocked him and he called the nation – “O” India ! Forget not that the lower classes, the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper are they flesh and blood”. In the course of his travel he met many princes and intelligentsia to appeal to do something for the masses. But a few like Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja of Khetri and some youngmen of Madras took to his appeal to educate masses. He tried his level best and left no stone unturned to rekindle the flame of India spiritual Renaissance. He felt that salvation of India did depend of the strength of the individual and the realization by each man of the divinity within. Swamiji made Indians and the world at large aware of their glorious past- “This is the land from where spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world.”
Vivekananda’s mission was to inculcate strength and manhood. So, he infused unbending will into the natives to stand against and fight against the oppressors and suppressors and preached that national union must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. He asked the countrymen to denounce and reject. ‘Tamas’ as it is the mother of evils like imbecility, pettiness of mind, superstitions, quarrels and bickering over trifles.
Vivekananda never denounced other religions. He simply exhorted Indians to know their true religion. He was aware of the presence of many religions in India and their influence on the masses but the same principles underlying them made him confident of a religious unity. So he stood for nationalism based on spiritualism. He wanted fundamentals and principles common to all religions be cherished in each and every nook and corner of India.
When Swamiji gave his bright and inspiring speech in Madras, people begged him to go to the USA to attend the forthcoming Parliament of Religions in Chicago to represent Hinduism. Swamiji was reluctant first but later agreed and visited the West. He made a tremendous impression, first in the USA and then also in England. The Press paid him the highest tribute as an exponent of India’s age old values and overnight the became a great national hero in India. Suddenly Indian people were convinced that there must be something in India thought that Western intelligentsia feel compelled to admire. So they were not as backward as they once thought. In areas like religion and philosophy, art and literature, they were even more advanced than the Western people. Indian had always felt sorry about themselves, but now for the first time, they awoke to the richness of their heritage. This was the real starting point of the Indian spiritual renaissance, which Swamiji wished.
What strikes us the most in the personality of Swamiji was his infinite dynamism. He hated passively and worshiped manliness, energy, vitality, sometimes to extent of approving some of the traits of Napoleon and Genghis Khan.
Regarding his message the first thing to be noted is that it was he who acted as the messenger of the ideas of Ramakrishna just as St. Paul did as of Jesus and Anand of the Buddha. The message that he preached was remarkably modern. He denounced in vigorous terms the ‘touch-e-notism’ of religions. The very fact that the Ramakrishna Mission celebrates the birthdays of the prophets of different faiths bears out this truth. Secondly, Vivekananda made it more than clear that there is a potential divinity in each one as a true Vedantin. Thirdly, he believed in the enlistment of the masses, although he rather stood for a cultural and spiritual fraternity in which there would be not only economic, social and political freedom. but also moral and intellectual kinship.
Although Vivekananda once remarked that he had nothing to do with the nonsense of politics, his contribution to the resurgence of India was indisputable. Too often he sand the glories of Mother India in his writings. True to his sprit he was a great champion of women too.