One fine afternoon in Calcutta, on the 12th of January 1863, a child was born, the son of a lawyer. His name was Narendranath Datta but he became known as Swami Vivekananda. In his childhood he was brilliant in his studies.
As a young adult he became a disciple of Guru Ramkrishna Paramhansa. Later he had a significant role in the spread of Hinduism and Hindu culture worldwide. His speech at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago on Hinduism stunned the entire audience. Vivekanand advocated that men of all religions must assimilate the spirit of others and yet preserve their own individuality and grow according to their own law of growth.
Vivekanand made an in-depth study of both Indian and Western philosophy and had a great command of them. Swami Vivekananda was a social reformer and a spiritual leader. He worked to eliminate child marriage and to spread education amongst women and the lower castes. He was the first person to boldly proclaim the superiority of Hindu culture, civilisation and heritage.
Vivekananda was an international figure. Not only did he represent Hinduism at the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893 - he was an active force behind the Vedanta Movement in the United Kingdom and the United States of America and he established a Vedanta institution in San Francisco, USA. In 1857, the Ramakrishna Mission was also founded by him.
Self-perfection and service for the benefit of mankind were his main ideals. Through his mission the weaknesses of Hindu religion were severely criticised. He even travelled the entire country on foot to work towards his objective.
On the 4th of July 1902 he met with his death whilst meditating. His disciples believed that he obtained Mahasamâdhi (when the soul leaves the body after gaining enlightenment). The anniversary of his birth is celebrated as National Youth Day in India.
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