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.
Swami Vivekanand :
Swami Vivekananda was a Hindu monk and a patriotic saint of India (1863-1902 C.E.) He was born to an aristocratic Bengali family in Calcutta on January 12, 1863, according to the English calendar. Vivekananda was born on Krishna Paksha Saptami, seven days after Paush Purnim, according to the Hindu calendar. Based on the Hindu calendar, his birthday is also celebrated and this day is known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. As Jayanti day is decided on the basis of the Hindu calendar, like Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti and Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti, which are celebrated on a fixed day on the Gregorian calendar, it is not fixed on the Gregorian calendar. The Indian government, however, has agreed to observe the Gregorian birth date of Swami Vivekananda as National Youth Day. Therefore, since 1985, the National Youth Day of India has been celebrated every year on 12 January.
Swami Vivekananda was a modern Hindu saint and a proponent of Hinduism’s Vedanta philosophy. He was Ramakrishna’s disciple. He founded Math Belur, Math Ramakrishna, and Mission Ramakrishna.
He has always emphasized the universal and humanistic side of the Vedas, Hinduism's oldest sacred texts, as well as faith in service rather than dogma.Vivekananda tried to infuse Hindu thought with vigour, placing less emphasis on the prevailing pacifism and presenting the West with Hindu spirituality. In the United States and England, he was an initiating force in the movement to encourage Vedanta philosophy (one of the six schools of Indian philosophy).He appeared at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893 in Chicago as a spokesperson for Hinduism and so captivated the assembly that a newspaper account described him as "an orator by divine right and undoubtedly the greatest figure in Parliament." He then lectured throughout the United States and England, making converts to the Vedanta movement.
Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission at the monastery of Belur Math on the Ganges (Ganga) River near Calcutta upon his return to India with a small group of Western disciples in 1897. His values were self-perfection and service, and the order continued to emphasize them. He adapted and made the very highest principles of the Vedantic religion applicable to the 20th century, and while he only lived two years into that century, he left the mark of his personality on East and West alike.
Brahmo Samaj :
In 1880 Swami Vivekanand joined Keshab Chandra Sen’s Nava Vidhan, which was established by Sen after meeting Ramakrishna and reconverting from Christianity to Hinduism. He became a member of a Freemasonry lodge “at some point before 1884” and of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in his twenties, a breakaway faction of the Brahmo Samaj led by Keshab Chandra Sen and Debendranath Tagore. From 1881 to 1884, he was also active in Sen’s Band of Hope, which tried to discourage youths from smoking and drinking.
Raja Rammohan Roy, the founder of the Brahmo Samaj who was strongly influenced by unitarianism, strove towards a universalistic interpretation of Hinduism. Vivekananda was more influenced by the Brahmo Samaj’s and its new ideas, than by Ramakrishna. It was Sen’s influence who brought Vivekananda fully into contact with western esotericism, and it was also via Sen that he met Ramakrishna.
At the threshold of youth Narendra had to pass through a period of spiritual crisis when he was assailed by doubts about the existence of God. It was at that time he first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from one of his English professors at college. One day in November 1881, Narendra went to meet Sri Ramakrishna who was staying at the Kali Temple in Dakshineshwar. He straightaway asked the Master a question which he had put to several others but had received no satisfactory answer: “Sir, have you seen God?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Sri Ramakrishna replied: “Yes, I have. I see him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intense sense.”
Apart from removing doubts from the mind of Narendra, Sri Ramakrishna won him over through his pure, unselfish love. Thus began a guru-disciple relationship which is quite unique in the history of spiritual masters. Narendra now became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar and, under the guidance of the Master, made rapid strides on the spiritual path. At Dakshineshwar, Narendra also met several young men who were devoted to Sri Ramakrishna, and they all became close friends.
He founded on 1 May 1897 a unique type of organization known as Ramakrishna Mission, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of Practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, rural development centres etc, and conducting massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.
Reason of celebrating the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti
Swami Vivekananda is an inspiration for millions of youths throughout the world with his teachings. His prominence was felt at a convention in Chicago in the year 1893 where he was a participant and speaker. His famous speech on India’s spirituality-driven culture and robust history drew praises from the Americans, especially from the intellectual circle. His strong personality, vast knowledge in science and Vedanta, and empathy towards human and animal life made him the torchbearer of peace and humanity.
How is Swami Vivekananda’s Birthday Celebrated ?
The National Youth Day is observed in many schools and colleges across West Bengal. Other than government-organised events and cultural programmes, Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated at Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. Mangal aarti, devotional songs, meditation, recital of Vivekananda’s teachings, and sandhya aarti are performed at the Ramakrishna Math to mark the occasion.
Other than in India, Vivekananda’s birthday is also celebrated at the Vedanta Society of Toronto, Canada. The society strives to spread Vivekananda’s Vedanta-inspired teachings to the world.
Change of date due to calendar :
Swami Vivekananda Jayanti is based on Hindu panchang and calendar. According to the English calendar or the generally used Indian Calendar, Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863. In 2021, the date of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda as per Hindu Lunar Calendar Tithi is on February 4. In 2021, it is the 158th birth anniversary. Swami Vivekananda Jayanti celebrates the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda’s birthday falls on the Paush Krishna Saptami, the 7th day after the full moon day in the Hindu month of Paush. Therefore the date varies from year to year.
Indian Government and certain organizations observe the birth anniversary on January 12. Ramakrishna mission and many other organizations associated with Swami Vivekananda observe it annually on Paush Krishna Paksha Saptami Tithi on February 4th .
National Youth Day
Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th January 1863 in Kolkata. After his death, the government of Indian in 1984 declared his birth date as National Youth Day. Unlike other monks, Vivekananda was vocal about the importance of youth in the process of nation-building.
He is known for his famous speech in Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago, 1893. He focused on channelling the potential of the youths and inspired them so that they could counter the British and seek Independence. He wanted the youths to get out of their comfort zone and achieve anything they desire. He believed that the best weapons of winning the world are with peace and education. He wanted to inspire youths to an extent that, they start voicing their opinions or desires.
Swami Vivekananda who portrayed himself as Nationalist Saint was well versed in religion, philosophy, Vedas, literature, Puranas, Upnishads and what not. He used to do intensive research before presenting a speech or taking any class overseas. He made sure that he has a thorough knowledge regarding that certain subject. So, to honour his vision, we celebrate this day as National Youth Day to motivate and remind the youths across the country.
Swami Vivekananda had predicted that he will not live till the age of forty. On July 4, 1902, he went about his days’ work at the Belur Math, teaching Sanskrit grammar to the pupils. He retired to his room in the evening and died during meditation at around 9. He is said to have attained ‘Mahasamadhi’ and the great saint was cremated on the Banks of river Ganga.
In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902), of which only ten were devoted to public activities-and those, too, in the midst of acute physical suffering-he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, all of which are outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his many friends and disciples, composed numerous poems, and acted as spiritual guide to the many seekers, who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is the most outstanding religious organization of modern India. It is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in the Swami’s native land, but also in America and in other parts of the world.