Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father,Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.
Narendra became the member of a Freemason's lodge and of a breakaway faction of the Brahmo Samaj led by Keshub Chandra Sen. His initial beliefs were shaped by Brahmo concepts, which included belief in a formless God and deprecation of the worship of idols. 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 internalised. Narendra went about asking prominent residents of contemporary Calcutta whether they had come "face to face with God" but could not get answers which satisfied him. His first introduction to the saint Ramakrishna occurred in a literature class in General Assembly's Institution, when he heard Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth's poem The Excursion. While explaining the word "trance" in the poem, Hastie suggested his students to visit Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar to know the real meaning of trance. This prompted some of his students, including Narendra, to visit Ramakrishna.
Founding of the Ramakrishna math
After the death of Ramakrishna, his devotees and admirers stopped funding the Cossipore math. The unpaid rents soon piled up and Narendra and other disciples of Ramakrishna had to find a new place to...
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