Swami Vivekananda was one of those liberal visionaries who was born much ahead of his times and yet was born to serve his motherland.
He was acclaimed for his liberal thoughts and wealth of knowledge. It was felt by the Govt of India, that the values and philosophies of Swami Vivekananda would make a great source of inspiration for the young community and thus his birthday was declared as the National youth Day.
Swami Vivekananda’s birthday is on the Paush Krishna Saptami or the seventh day after the full moon in the month of Paush. However according to the Gregorian calendar Vivekananda was born on January 12th, 1863.
- Life of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda was earlier known as Narendranth Dutta and was born to an educated family in Kolkata. His father Vishwanath Dutta was an attorney at Calcutta High Court; and education in their family was of prime concern. His mother on the other hand was a devout lady being devoted to her gods. Narendranath was religious from childhood and used to meditate for hours from childhood. Narendranath was the only student to get to receive first division marks in the prestigious Presidency College entrance exam and went on to study western logic, philosophy and history in the Scottish Church College. He was considered to be a genius by his professors and principal, such was his grip on knowledge. He studied John Stuart Mill, the works of Hume, Bhagwad Gita, The Upanishad, Spinoza, Darwin etc and was thought to be one with a prodigious memory.
In 1880 Narendranath joined the reformation religious movement of Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Vidhan. He also became a member of the Freemasons. Being introduced to esotericism, Unitarianism etc, Narendranath started his true and intellectual quest of God.
In 1881, Narendranath for the first time met Ramakrishna. He was referred to Narendra by Prof. William Hastie in talking about Trance. The first meeting was not much important but Narendra kept visiting Dakshineswar . As a member of the Brahma samaj, Narendra despised Ramakrishna’s Kali worship or the theory of Advaita Vedanta. In 1884 Narendra’s father passed away leaving them mired in debts. He tried to find jobs, but the situation became so grim that just to seek mental solace he started visiting Dakshineswar more often. One day Narendra asked Ramakrishna to pray to Goddess kali for his prosperity to which Ramakrishna asked him to go and pray himself. However he couldn’t bring himself to ask for financial security for himself and just asked for true knowledge. He finally took Ramakrishna as his Guru.
Ramakrishna developed throat cancer but gave diksha or the legacy to be passed on to Narendranath. Ramakrishna asked him to found a monastic discipline and passed away in 1886. Amidst severe financial constraints, Narendranath founded the first head quarter of the Ramakrishna Mission in a dilapidated house in Baranagar. In 1888, he chose a life of a Paribrajak and went out to explore India and seats of learning carrying only a water pot and two books. He developed a tremendous sympathy for the downtrodden and the poverty stricken and resolved to work towards their uplifting and the betterment of the nation. He left for Chicago in 1893 and changed his name to Vivekananda as suggested to him by Ajit Singh of Khetri.
Before visiting Chicago, Vivekananda visisted Nagasaki, Yokohama, Kyoto, Tokyo etc and finally reached his destination. After many difficulties, he got the opportunity to speak in the Parliament of Religion and opened his speech with – “Sisters and brothers of America!”. He received a standing and thunderous ovation and received lot of attention. He was called the Cyclonic monk and many other names. He toured US and UK and kept spreading the message of Vedanta. From the west he revived his work in India, which was suffering in his absence. He started for India on 1896 and was followed by his disciple Sister Nivedita.
He reached Colombo in Sri Lanka amidst huge popularity. From Colombo he travelled extensively in the southern parts of India and on May 1897, he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. He was offered by Tata to head his Research Institute of Science, which Vivekananda gracefully declined.
Amidst numerous work and teachings, his health started failing and finally in 1902, 4th of July Viveananda passed away in his sleep. He also fulfilled of his earlier prophecy of not being alive more than 40 years. He was only 39 when he passed away. He was cremated in Belur, beside the river Ganga.
- Celebration of Vivekananda Jayanti
Swami Vivekananda Jayanti is celebrated with a lot of humility and respect in various institutes of India. This day is also celebrated as the National youth Day commemorated by the Government of India.
In Ramakrishna Math, this day is observed as an auspicious day in the traditional Hindu manner. A Mangalarati is done in the morning then special meditation, worship and religious discourses and devotional songs are sung on this occasion. The day ends with the evening worship of the Sandhya Arati.
In different parts of India, this day is celebrated as the National Youth Day. Mission Bharatiyam organizes a two-day extravaganza for this occasion in Uttar Pradesh. Lot of activities is held on this occasion. Various other Government and non- government organizations also celebrate and commemorate the day in this manner. Various dissertations are held on this religious works or his ideology and life which remains an inspiration for generations to come,
Numerous programs are held in the genre of art. Literature, culture, education and more; which are expected to guide the youth of India to be more thoughtful and seek the inner goodness amongst themselves and at the same time look forward to embrace the national and international culture and religion together.