(Bengali pronunciation: Shāmi Bibekānando (help·info)
):Bengali pronunciation: [ʃami bibekanɒnɖo]
) (12 January 1863–4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta
(Bengali pronunciation: [nɔrend̪ro nat̪ʰ d̪ɔt̪t̪o]
), was an Indian
Hindu monk. He was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta
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 Ramakrishna 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
Born into an aristocratic Bengali family of Calcutta, Swami Vivekananda showed an inclination towards spirituality and God realisation. His guru, Ramakrishna, taught him Advaita Vedanta (non-dualism); that all religions are true and that service to man was the most effective worship of God. After the death of his guru, Vivekananda became a wandering monk, extensively touring the Indian subcontinent and acquiring first-hand knowledge of conditions in India. He later travelled to the United States and represented India as a delegate in the 1893 Parliament of World Religions. He conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in America, England and Europe. He established the Vedanta societies in America and England.
In America Vivekananda became India's spiritual ambassador. His mission there was the interpretation of India's spiritual culture and heritage. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of Americans through the teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In India Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint of modern India and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.
In Swami Vivekananda's own words, he was "condensed India". William James, the Harvard philosopher, called Vivekananda the "paragon of Vedantists". Rabindranath Tagore's suggestion (to Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland) was– "If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative."