Today is the 12th of January, and every year, National Youth Day is celebrated on this day as a tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary for his immense contribution to India’s freedom movement.
In 1984, the Indian government declared Swamiji’s birth anniversary as National Youth Day, and since 1985,. It has been celebrated to honor and recognize Vivekananda’s teachings as well.
Swami Vivekananda was one of India’s greatest youth leaders and followers. A passionate student of Sri Rama Krishna Paramahansa, he was an important force in the resurrection of Hinduism.
There is a regional holiday here in west Bengal to commemorate the birthday of an Indian Hindu monk on this day.
- Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Datta in a Bengali family in his ancestral home at 3, Gourmohan Mukherjee Street in Calcutta, on 12 January 1863 during the Makar Sankranti festival. He belonged to a traditional family and was one of nine siblings.
- Showing an interest in spirituality from an early age, Narendranath would become the chief disciple of the 19th-century saint Ramakrishna.
- After Ramakrishna’s death in 1886, Narendranath renounced the world and became a monk, adopting the name “Swami Vivekananda.” He traveled across India and saw the conditions of the people at first-hand.
- His compassion drove him to seek material help from the West. He later traveled to the United States, representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.
- Vivekananda became a celebrity in America and for three years he spread the Vedanta philosophy and religion in America and England. He returned to India to find the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. His lectures and writings have been gathered into nine volumes of his Complete Works.
He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and contributed to the concept of Indian nationalism as a tool to fight against the British empire in colonial India.
Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began with the words “Sisters and brothers of America …,” in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
He believed that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self. It is, therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to humankind. He conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes.
He summarized the Vedanta as follows, giving it a modern and Universalistic interpretation:
‘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 philosophy—by one, 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.’
In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint, and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.
Vivekananda died unexpectedly on July 4th, 1902 at the age of 39, fulfilling his prophecy that he would not live to reach 40.
The philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for Indian Youth Day.’
Swami Vivekananda’s Vision:
I have read somewhere that Swami Vivekananda said, “Give me hundred truly dedicated people and I will change the face of this country.” At that time it seems there were two hundred and thirty million people in this country, but he could not find a hundred truly dedicated people.
Really, “What a tragedy. A man like Vivekananda is a phenomenon. It does not happen every day. When he desires, we could not even give him a hundred people in this vast country.”
Truly, it seemed like a great tragedy for this culture and our country.
One person had tremendous vision and because of one person’s vision, so many things have happened. Even today, in his name, so much is happening for human well-being. A lot has happened because of his vision. All the others who lived at that time, where are they? But his vision is still working in some way. Much well-being has come because of it.
We salute this great man of India.
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