You may have celebrated National Youth Day on the 12th of January with vigour but do you at all know to whose memory is it dedicated to? It is none other than Swami Vivekananda- the patriotic saint of Bharat. Born as Narendra Nath Dutta on the same day, the great man had little love for materialistic things. Deeply moved by poverty in India, his bid to enlighten the masses moved in tandem with his quest to find divinity in the service of mankind.
All of his 39 years in this mortal world were filled with constant deliberations to preach Vedantic discourses. Interestingly, he ridiculed idol worship but had Ramakrishna as his ‘Guru’ who was a devout devotee of Maa Kali.
About Swami Vivekananda- Early Influences
A radical atmosphere at home ensured the liberty of thought in the well to do household of the Duttas. With a degree of B.A. in English, since very early in life, he had rubbed shoulders with some of the famous names of the Brahmo Samaj- Debendranath Tagore and Keshub Chandra Sen. The young Narendra had only one question to ask every intelligent soul he met, “Have you seen God?” This path of spiritualism made the ‘yogi’ denounce worldly pleasures and set him in the path to realise the divine.
First Monastery at Baranagar- the Ramakrishna Math
Do all religions need to be different in their core values? Not in this great man’s dictionary; he practised detachment like a Buddhist, lived like Christ, sought inspiration from Bhagvad Gita and dreamed of a united India. A true nationalist in the guise of a monk, he established the Ramakrishna Math where he meditated for hours. When he did venture out, his lone worldly possession was a Kamandalu. He sought alms for sustenance!
Swami Vivekananda, living life as a wanderer
Five whole years, he embraced the life of a wandering monk travelling various parts of India and leaving in his wake ardent admirers. He travelled far and wide and people irrespective of their social statuses, opened their hearts for him. Some were deeply influenced, some bedazzled by his magnetic personality and some became disciples. This wave of charisma flew to the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago too where he won hearts wherever he set foot. The world saw a glimpse of the versatile quality of this ‘orange monk’ as an orator who was being referred as a ‘handsome oriental’ too.
Vivekananda’s interpretation of the Vedanta
The spiritual soul separated religion from dogmas and his teachings were summarised in the form of the lectures that he gave around the world. He preached that each soul had the potential of being divine and the goal should be to manifest this quality through discipline. He urged people to take up one idea, think it, dream it, live it, be full of it and shut your soul to the rest; this for him, was the avenue for great spiritual awakening. As Rabindranath
Tagore aptly puts it-‘if you want to know India, study Vivekananda, in him everything is positive, nothing negative’