Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Sketches
1863-1902 AD = 39 yrs
Websites Vivekanand.net for his very detailed information
Vivekaanand's original name was Narendranaath Dattaa - an outstanding Hindu from Bangaal. He spent 6 years in contemplation in the Himaalaya. In 1882, he met Raamkrishn Paramhans and became his disciple. In due course of time he was given the name of Swaamee Vivekaanand. He was intensely devoted to his motherland and traveled extensively all over India to learn about India.
He studied the philosophy of Shankaraachaarya and was so impressed with it that he declared himself a believer in A-Dwaitvaad (non-Dualism). He later named one of his institutions "A-Dwait Aashram"; but it is hard to believe, after reading his writings, that his concept of A-Dwaitism was the same as that of Shankar. He preached young people to go in the world, get married, raise children, earn wealth etc. According to him it was not possible to understand A-Dwait without conquering material success. In fact his writings are closer to the teachings of Geetaa than to those of Shankar.
Vivekaanand in Foreign Lands
In 1893, at the age of 30, he addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, USA. His contents and delivery were so charming that he was undoubtedly considered the greatest figure among all the participants. At that time India was suffering from inferiority complex, so whoever was given respect in foreign countries, only he was given respect in India too. Raveendra Naath Thaakur and Swaamee Vivekaanand are the classic examples of this phenomenon.
He was the founder of Raamkrishn Mission too.
Some Events of Vivekaanand's Life
(2) When Swaamee Vivekaanand went to USA, a lady asked him to marry her. When
Swaamee Jee asked the lady about what made her ask him such question, the lady
replied that she was fascinated by his intellect and she wanted a child of such
an intellect. So she asked Swaamee Jee whether he could marry her and give a
child to her like him. Vivekaanand Jee told that lady that since she was attracted
only by his intellect, there is no problem. he said - "My dear lady, I understand
your desire. Marrying and bringing a child into this world and then understanding
whether that child is intelligent or not takes a very long time, moreover it is not
guaranteed too. Instead, to fulfill your desire immediately, I can suggest a guaranteed
way. Take me as your child. You are my mother from now and from now on your desire
of having a child of my intellect is fulfilled."
His father's name was Vishwanaath Dattaa. He was a lawyer in Calcattaa High Court. His mother Bhuvaneshwari Devi was a pious lady and had practiced austerities and prayed to Veereshwar Shiv of Vaaraanasee to give her a son. She reportedly had a dream in which Shiv rose from his meditation and said that he would be born as her son.
In 1884 he passed the BA. He is said to have studied the writings of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Baruch Spinoza, Georg WF Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Darwin. He became fascinated with the Evolutionism of Herbert Spencer, and translated Spencer's book on Education into Bangaalee language. He lived only for 39 years, but he had read so much. Not satisfied with his knowledge of Philosophy, he wondered if God and religion could be made a part of one's growing experiences and deeply internalized.
Introduction to Raamkrishn - His first introduction to Raamkrishn occurred in a literature class in General Assembly's Institution, when he heard Principal Reverend W Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth's poem "The Excursion" and the poet's nature-mysticism. In the course of explaining the word "trance" in the poem, Hastie told his students that if they wanted to know the real meaning of it, they should go to Raamkrishn of Dakshineshwar. This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath to visit Raamkrishn.
Although first he was not impressed with Raamkrishn, but he could not stay far from him either. He visited him on regular basis. It was in his nature to test everything before he could accept it. So he tested Raamkrishn too, who never asked him to abandon his reason, and faced all of his arguments and examinations with patience - "Try to see the truth from all angles" was his reply." During the course of five years of his training under Raamkrishn, Narendra was transformed from a restless, puzzled, impatient youth to a mature man who was ready to renounce everything for the sake of God-realization. In time, Narendra accepted Raamkrishn as his Guru, and when he accepted, his acceptance was whole-hearted and with complete surrendering as disciple.
During his last days, Raamkrishn had throat cancer and Narendra and other disciples took care of him. He was in Cossipore then. Vivekaanand reportedly experienced Nirvikalp Samaadhi there. Vivekaanand was taught that service to men was the most effective worship of God. In 1888, at the age of 25, he chose the life of a wandering monk, with no fixed abode. His sole possessions were one Kamandal, one staff and two books - Bhagvad Geetaa and Imitation of Christ. He roamed the whole India for five years. Living mainly on Bhikshaa or alms, Narendranaath traveled mostly on foot and railway tickets bought by his admirers whom he met during the travels. Sharatchand Gupta was his first disciple. In Jayapur he studied Paanini's Ashtaadhyaayee from a Sanskrit scholar.
His Lecture in Chicago
He quoted in this speech two illustrative passages, from the Bhagvad Geetaa - "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take, through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee!" and "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me." After this he lectured in other places of America, England, Germany. Many westerners were impressed with his ideas and became his followers.
Once Swaamee Vivekaanand went to Oxford to pay homage to Professor Max Muller, whom he looked upon as a sage and a “Vedantist of Vedaantists and kindness itself.” On Vivekaanand’s departure, the Professor, who had seen seventy winters, accompanied the Swaamee to the railway station, justifying his coming by saying, “It is not every day that one meets a disciple of Ramakrishn Paramahans.”
Once again he visited England and America, but this time with Sister Niveditaa because of his ill health. He founded A-Dwait societies at several places. On the day of his death, he taught Shukla-Yajur-Ved to some of his pupils in the morning at Beloor Math. He had a walk with Swaamee Premaanand, a brother-disciple, and gave him instructions concerning the future of the Raamkrishn Math. Vivekanand expired at 9.10 PM on July 4, 1902 while he was meditating.
Works of Vivekaanand
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 01/19/13