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Swami Vivekananda स्वामी िववेकानन्द (Narendranath Dutta नरेन्र्दनाथ दत्त) (January 12, 1863 – July 4, 1902) is considered one of the most famous and influential spiritual leaders of the Hindu religion. He is considered by many as an icon for his fearless courage, his positive exhortations to the youth, and his broad outlook to social problems.
Born Narendranath Dutta, in Kolkata, India, he became famous as Swami Vivekananda, when he became the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He studied philosophy at the Scottish Church College, Calcutta.
But Vivekananda is also renowned as a thinker in his own right. One of his most important contributions was to demonstrate how Advaitin thinking is not merely philosophically far-reaching, but how it also has social, even political, consequences. One important lesson he claimed to receive from Ramakrishna was that "Jiva is Shiva " (each individual is divinity itself). This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra narayana seva - the service of God in and through (poor)human beings. If there truly is the unity of Brahman underlying all phenomena, then on what basis do we regard ourselves as better or worse, or even as better-off or worse-off, than others? - This was the question he posed to himself. Ultimately, he concluded that these distinctions fade into nothingness in the light of the oneness that the devotee experiences in Moksha. What arises then is compassion for those "individuals" who remain unaware of this oneness and a determination to help them.
His books (compiled from lectures given around the world) on the four Yogas are very influential and still seen as fundamental texts for anyone interested in the Hindu practice of Yoga.
Swami Vivekananda belonged to that branch of Vedanta that held that no-one can be truly free until all of us are. Even the desire for personal salvation has to be given up, and only tireless work for the salvation of others is the true mark of the enlightened person.
However, Vivekananda also pleaded for a strict separation between religion and government ("church and state"). Although social customs had been formed in the past with religious sanction, it was not now the business of religion to interfere with matters such as marriage, inheritance and so on. The ideal society would be a mixture of Brahmin knowledge, Kshatriya culture, Vaisya efficiency and the egalitarian Shudra ethos. Domination by any one led to different sorts of lopsided societies. Vivekananda was a Libertarian at heart, so he did not feel that religion should be used forcefully to bring about an ideal socialist society, since this was something that would evolve naturally by individualistic change when the conditions were right.
Vivekananda is best remembered as the man who "stole the show" at the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, where he earned wild applause for beginning his address with the famous words, "Sisters and brothers of America." This event marks the beginning of western interest in Hinduism not as merely an exotic eastern oddity, but as a vital religious and philosophical tradition that might actually have something important to teach the west. Within a few years of the Parliament, he had started Vedantic centres in New York and London, lectured at major universities and generally kindled western interest in Hinduism. After this, he returned to India. He started Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission founded on the principle of Atmano Mokshartham Jagad-hitaya cha (आत्मनो मोक्शाथम् जगत्-हिताया)(for one's own salvation and for the welfare of the World). This institution is now one of the greatest monastic orders of Hindu society in India. He was only 39 years old when he passed away.
- Each soul is potentially divine.
- The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal.
- Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy - by one, or more, or all of these - and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
- Make your nerves strong. What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have waited long enough. Now stand on your feet and be men.
- Swami Vivekananda was the first Asian to be invited to accept the chair of Oriental Philosophy at the Harvard University.
- Jamshedji Tata set up the Tata Institute or the Indian Institute of Science on the Swami's advice.
- National Youth Day is celebrated on his birthday
- Bhakti Yoga
- Jnana Yoga
- Raja Yoga
- Karma Yoga
- Complete Works ISBN 02301
- The complete works of Swami Vivekananda online
- http://www.vivekananda.org/biography.asp (Vivekananda's biography)
- Swami Vivekananda Poetry and Pictures
- Poetry of Swami Vivekananda
- Highly reverential biography of Swami Vivekananda
- Photographs of Swami Vivekananda
- Links on Swami Vivekananda
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