Swami Vivekananda (12 January 1863–4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datt was an Indian Hindu monk. He was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world and was credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion in the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India. He was the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Mission. He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "Sisters and Brothers of America,” through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893. Birth and childhood
Swami Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Dutta in Calcutta, the capital of British India, on 12 January 1863 during the Makar Sankranti festival. He belonged to a traditional Bengali Kayastha (a caste of Hindus) family. There was precedence of ascetics in his family—Narendra's grandfather Durga Charan Datta renounced the world and became a monk at the age of twenty five. Narendra's father Vishwanath Datta was an attorney of Calcutta High Court. Vishwanath Datta had a liberal, progressive outlook on social and religious matters. Narendra's mother, Bhuvaneswari Devi, was a pious woman. Before the birth of Narendra, she yearned for a son and asked a relative at Varanasi to make religious offerings to the god Shiva. According to traditional accounts, Bhuvaneswari Devi had a dream in which Shiva said that he would be born as her son. Bhuvaneswari Devi accepted the child as a boon from Shiva and named him Vireswara, meaning "powerful god" in Bengali. The rational approach of his father and the religious temperament of his mother helped shape young Narendra's thinking and personality. He learnt the power of self-control from his mother. In later life, Narendra often quoted a saying of his mother, "Remain pure all your life; guard your own honour and never transgress the honour of others. Be very tranquil, but when necessary, harden your heart.” He was adept in meditation and could enter the state of samadhi (a higher level of concentrated meditation). He would often visualise a light while falling asleep and had a vision of Gautama Buddha during his meditation. During his childhood, he was fascinated by the wandering ascetics and monks. College and Brahmo Samaj
In 1879 after his family moved back to Calcutta, Narendra passed the entrance examination from the Presidency College, Calcutta. He subsequently studied western logic, western philosophy and history of European nations in the General Assembly's Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College). In 1881 he passed the Fine Arts examination and in 1884 he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree. Narendra studied the works of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Baruch Spinoza, Georg W. F. Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer,Auguste Comte, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, and Charles Darwin. Narendra became fascinated with the evolutionism of Herbert Spencer and had correspondence with him; he translated Spencer's book Education (1861) into Bengali. Alongside his study of Western philosophers, he was thoroughly acquainted with Indian Sanskrit scriptures and many Bengali works.According to his professors, Narendra was a student prodigy. Dr. William Hastie, principal of General Assembly's Institution, wrote, "Narendra is really a genius. I have travelled far and wide but I have never come across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German universities, among philosophical students." He was regarded as a srutidhara—a man with prodigious memory. Visit to Japan (1893)
On his way to Chicago, Vivekananda visited Japan in 1893. He first reached the port city of Nagasaki, and then boarded a steamer to Kobe. From here he took the...