(Bengali: [ʃami bibekanɒnɖo] ( listen)
, Shāmi Bibekānando
; 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta
(Bengali: [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
in Chicago in 1893.
Born into an aristocratic Bengali family of Calcutta, Vivekananda showed an inclination towards spirituality. He was influenced by his guru Ramakrishna from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self and hence, service to God could be rendered by service to mankind. After the death of his guru, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired a first-hand knowledge of the conditions that prevailed in British India. He later travelled to the United States to represent 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 the United States, England and Europe. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as the National Youth Day.