At the holy hour of dawn, six minutes before sunrise on the 12th of January, 1663 somewhere in the obscure street of Calcutta a child was born. He was called Narendra Nath then but was destined to be loved and remembered by the world and through the ages as great Swami Vivekanand.
As a child
A restless child, he was a rebel at first, than a warring youth and finally a devoted disciple. His already keen and sharp intellect was further whetted and spurred on into a most momentous life of achievement, till he finally rose to become a symbol of India, of Hinduism and of humanity itself and also the guide for the rebirth of Hinduism, the Vedanic Philosophy of oneness in all and the concept of Sanatan Dharma.
He got his first lesson on his mother’s knees. It seems to have been an advantage in his life to sit where he got an opportunity to survey life, to think and finally launch himself on a tireless striving to better this world, to mend the ills of mankind, and to elevate himself and his countrymen to a pedestal of respectability. The stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharat with all their force fired his imagination.
It seems that the very seed of spiritualism was sown which took deep root in him at a tender age. Just then, of course, it was all child’s play for him, but in the long run, it meant deep ponder ing and meditation and awakened in him spiritual emotions.
There years later he studied under the guidance of a private tutor and by virtue of his superior intelligence and prodgious memory, he seen blossomed into a learned young man. He began to realise that he had a spirit of greatness in him. This he nursed carefully, for we find that everything he did, he shone forth in a lustre of exceptional brilliance. Amongst his friends, he was the undisputed leader, and even then he was universally admired in that small world of his life.
As a versatile man, his interest varied from the politics of the day to the deepest religious thought. He was averse to superstition, howsoever, followed by tradition. He took nothing for granted but sought to find the truth himself. Fear was unknown to him.
At the feet of Ramakrishna
During his stay at the college, an inner struggle raged and which ultimately led him to visit the holy saint Ramakrishna. He was fascinated by the mystic of the Kali temple. In him he saw greater spirit then himself-an example worth emulating. He saw in him the fire of truth and purity. Consequently he renounced his home and accepted consecration. Then followed the period of self-preparation, the study of philosophy and the meditative way. It was here that he learnt the lesson of Vedant and the concept of Sanatan Dharma, which now stands as symbol of Vivekanand. It was a message to humanity to care which was his main
As a wanderer
Wanderlust seized him and he tirelessly travelled all over India. These travels helped him to realise the reality and misery of human life. Unable to resist the torrent of emotion, he broke out roughly at one place. “I shall burst on society like a bomb and make it follow me like a dog.” And indeed, he did. An unknown mendicant became the great national hero, the idol of the, universe, loved and admired by millions.
Messenger to the West
It was India’s gift to the West, when he was lured across the oceans by the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. An unknown, turbaned man with shining dark eyes stood up to give his first address and to utter the fateful words. ‘Sister and brothers of America’. which opened all ears for him and brought all hearts nearer to him.
What Hinduism needed, was a shock where she could find an anchor, and authoritative utterance in which she might recognize herself. Vivekananda’s discourses, lectures and writings provided these. Through these, he gave the world the much needed faith that had no fear of truth.
Facts had reality for him. He criticized vehemently the out-word glitter of America which hid numberless evils. For them religion was a slogan rather than a philosophy. He did not hesitate to reprimand Christians, to whom he said, “You are not Christians, Return to Christ.” He did not spare India and the evils caused by religion in society. It was his most faithful endeavor to root out these evils which tarnished the religious chastity. His fight continued in a measure, against age-old traditions. He made service his keystone of religious quest. He wanted to inspire in Indians the spirit of karamyoga.
The Swami’s health suffered a severe set-back due to his constant travelling around the globe. But this fearless man energetic, personified and an embodiment of greatness the darling of India was given a rousing welcome. On his return, in him was seen the image of a new India. But he had reached his zenith and his end was near. He had lived intensely and his task was accomplished. “What does it matter ?” he cried as the end was near, “I have done enough for fifteen hundred years.”