THE LIFE OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
Swami Vivekananda was a great social reformer and a very inspiring personality of India. Vivekananda was called by the name Narendranath Datta. He was born in Kolkata on 12 January 1863 to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneshwari Devi. His father was a successful attorney. He used to practice meditation even from his boyhood and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.
At the threshold of youth Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. In November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. Narendra became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar and under the guidance of the Sri Ramakrishna, he made rapid strides on the spiritual path.
After a few years, two events took place which caused Narendra considerable distress, the sudden death of his father in 1884 and Sri Ramakrishna in 1886. In the middle of 1890, Vivekananda left Baranagar Math and embarked on a long journey to explore and discover India. He went on a pilgrimage all over the country, studying the conditions of the people. Wherever he went, his magnetic personality created a great impression.
He decided to attend the World Parliament of Religions in order to spread his message in the West which was scheduled to be held in Chicago in 1893. On the eve of his departure, he adopted the name "Swami Vivekananda" . His speeches at the World's Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as an 'orator by divine right' and as a 'Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world'. For three years he spread the Vedanta philosophy and religion in America and England and then returned to India. He found the Ramakrishna Math and Mission on 1 May 1897. In 1898, he established Belur Math.
In June 1899 he leaves India for a second visit to the West. He returned to Belur Math in December 1900. The rest of his life was spent in India, inspiring and guiding people. He has dedicated his life to guiding others for the pure and true spiritual path. His health deteriorated and Swami Vivekananda breathed his last on 4 July 1902 at the Belur Math, leaving behind an immortal legacy not just in the hearts of his contemporaries, but for all generations to come.
LESSONS FROM THE LIFE STORIES OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
Lesson 1: Humility is a precious virtue
When Swami Vivekananda was in England, while conversing, Swami Vivekananda corrected his friend’s English. The friend countered that English was his mother tongue and hence, could not be corrected.
Swami Vivekananda smiled and humbly responded, “I know the use of language because I have learnt the language while you have picked the language.” Listening to this witty reply, the friend was left overwhelmed.
This is one of the innumerable incidents where Swamiji impacted society with his brilliance, knowledge, logic and a sense of compassion.
There are times when people retort and ask us questions, especially when we correct them. In such times, humility in our answer can help lighten the situation and save the bond from breaking. Remembering Swami Vivekananda’s this story can help us be aware of our replies, without losing the balance or getting offended.
Lesson 2: Curiosity is essential in life
Swami Vivekananda always had a quest to know whether God really exists? The query made him restless. But Ramakrishna answered his question. He said, “Yes, I have seen God.”
Though his physical appearance and simplicity did not appeal to Swami Vivekananda initially, later it was Ramakrishna who gave him answers. He told Swami Vivekananda, “I have seen God just as I am seeing you right now. God is in every human, you just need is an eye to find him,” and Swami Vivekananda was convinced.
We must strive to get the best and holistic answers to ease out our curiosity about life. Curiosity about higher truths of life has transformed many lives. Remember, appearance can be deceiving!
Through his reforms, Swami Vivekananda brought a remarkable change in the society. His work, thoughts, ideas gave a new direction to the masses. Reading and knowing about the life of Swami Vivekananda is very inspiring for the youth of today and will remain the same for the upcoming generations.
QUOTES BY SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
"Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached" - Vivekananda taught us the importance of striving every day to reach our goals, to convert our dreams to reality. And the first step starts at wanting it bad enough to keep going.
“In a conflict between the heart and the brain, follow your heart” - Vivekananda believed in the power of the soul. He preached that our soul always knows what it wants and hence, it is important to follow the decisions of the heart.
“Comfort is no test of truth. Truth is often far from being comfortable” - Truth is uncomfortable but also necessary and inevitable. Vivekananda taught us to strive to reach the truth, for that will give us the ultimate freedom.
“Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come back to you, but do not think of that now” - Vivekananda believed that when we put our heart to something and do our actions selflessly, it often comes back to us in a different time and different form.
“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems" - you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path” - Problems, troubles, hurdles are synonymous with a path that leads to success. Vivekananda taught us to keep striving and struggling to reach success.
“The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful” - Vivekananda preached that the most successful way of living a life is to live a one helping others and being unselfish.
“The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves” - Swami Vivekananda taught us that the greatest religion and way of life of everything is humanity. He believed that serving humans is the nearest to serving god.
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced” - Swami Vivekananda taught us the importance of focus, dedication and the persistence of reaching the goal that our heart desires.