Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

Narendranath Dutta ‘Swami Vivekanand’ was born on 12 January 1863 at Calcutta. From the very beginning Narendranath’s energy was diverted towards the search for God and the absolute truth. This quest brought him in contact with Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, Keshab Chandra Sen, and Shivnath Shastri of the Bramho Samaj. In 1882, he discovered Sri Ramakrishna as the man who had ‘seen’ God. He realised under his guidance the Absolute Truth in 1886. Before passing away on 16 August 1886, Sri Ramakrishna entrusted him with the responsibility of carrying on his work.

Narendranath undertook an all- India tour to get a first hand information of the degraded social, economic and spiritual condition of the motherland. While sitting on the Rock of India (now known as Vivekananda Rock at Kanyakumari) the idea dawned on him to enlighten not only the Indians but also the people overseas about the greatness of India, its age-old religion and civilisation. Swamiji's famous speech on universal ideas of Vedanta in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago was widely appreciated and made the people aware of India's greatness, which other movement could not do so far. He returned to India on 26 January 1897 and reached Calcutta on 20 February 1897 where he established the Ramakrishna Mission on 1 May 1897 and Belur math on 9 December 1898. He wrote a number of books, travelled far and wide, preached and set up a powerful and efficiently run organisation to carry forward the message of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekanand passed away on 4 July 1902 at Belur math.

His birth anniversary is also celebrated as ‘National Youth Day’. The attainment of political Independence in 1947 marks a definite stage in the progress of the Indian youth. Before Independence, under the inspiration of Gandhiji, Nehru and Subhash Bose, large numbers of Indian youth had emerged on the political horizon of India. After Independence, expectations for better living were raised. People's participation and self-discipline could not be promoted through government agencies alone. Therefore, voluntarism was strengthened and actively promoted. In order to enable welfare of youth in the country, the government has framed several schemes.