12th January is celebrated all across India as the national youth day, on the occasion of the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna and a monk, is known for his superb speech at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and for establishing the Ramakrishna Mission. However, his journey to success has always been an inspiration to the Indian youth. In this article, let us go through the events that happened in Vivekananda’s life which made him so special.
Vivekananda, in his childhood days, was known by the name Narendra. He was born in Kolkata, on 12th January 1963. Today, his ancestral house has been taken by Ramakrishna Mission and has been converted to a museum and a cultural centre. In his youth days, he joined Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Bidhan and Sadharon Brahmo Samaj. In his youth days, Narendra was influenced by the ideas and principles of Brahmo Samaj. Nevertheless, after he met Sri Ramakrishna in 1881, Sri Ramakrishna became his spiritual focus.
Dakshineswar is one of the first place where Narendra went outside the city, to meet Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna was then the first priest of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, which draws thousands of devotees even today. Narendra used to regularly visit Dakshineshwar to discuss spiritual thoughts with Sri Ramakrishna. After the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendra decided to convert a dilapidated building at Baranagar to Ramakrishna Math, today known as Baranagar Math. Today, the house no longer exists, as it was demolished in 1897. The land was given to Belur Math authority and is now undergoing restoration under Belur Math. On the Christmas Eve of 1886, Narendra took monastic vows at Antpur village and left his home and everything else to lead a nomadic life afterwards, taking the title of Swami Vivekananda and becoming a monk.
Swami Vivekananda made two journeys to the west, the first to Chicago via Japan and Canada, where he attended the world Parliament of Religions. He toured across several cities of US, UK and other countries of Europe. On his return to India, he established the Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered at Belur Math, at Belur near Kolkata formed by the trustees of Ramakrishna Math. Even today it is the headquarter of Ramakrishna Mission and a major tourist and pilgrimage place near Kolkata. He went to the west a second time in 1899, to attend the Parliament of Religions in Paris, accompanied by Sister Nivedita and Swami Turiyananda. Detoriating health forced him to settle at Belur Math until his death in 1902.
Vivekananda left a lasting impact in our mind. One of the pioneers of Renaissance in Bengal, his teachings include eliminating the casteism, addressing social issues, promoting science and industrialization. The social service work done by Ramakrishna Mission include relief works in famine, poverty. Vivekananda brought a sense of nationalism and national unity among the Indians against the colonial rule. His quotes are famous throughout the world and are inspiration to the youth. One of his famous quotes “Arise, awake and stop not, until the goal is reached”, still rings in the minds of every Indians.
Written by – Himadri Paul