Swami Vivekananda was a Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna, he was lauded for his visionary and lyrical embrace of the validity and unity of all religions. He went on to introduce Hinduism and the practices and principles of yoga to the West.
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.
With Sri Ramakrishna
Narendra’s first introduction to Ramakrishna occurred in a literature class at General Assembly’s Institution when he heard Professor William Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth’s poem, The Excursion. Sri Ramakrishna saw in the rebel Narendranath a true man, a spiritual hero who was not content to believe in the beliefs of others, but was determined to experience Truth for himself, who could convince others of the Truth revealed to him, and who was prepared to single-handedly challenge all old beliefs and superstitions.
Narendra started accepting Ramakrishna as his spiritual teacher. He remained with Ramakrishna till Ramakrishna’s death in 1886. In the five years since 1882, he closely observed Ramakrishna and took spiritual teachings from him.
Vivekananda considered Ramakrishna as an incarnation of God. In a letter in 1895, he wrote that in Ramakrishna there was “knowledge, devotion and love — infinite knowledge, infinite love, infinite work, infinite compassion for all being”.
National Youth Day is celebrated in India on 12 January on the birthday of Swami Vivekananda. The National Youth Day is observed all over India at schools and colleges, with processions, speeches, recitations, music, youth conventions, seminars, Yogasanas, presentations, competitions in essay-writing, recitations and sports on 12 January every year. Swami Vivekananda’s lectures and writings, deriving their inspiration from Indian spiritual tradition and the broad outlook of his Master Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, are the source of inspiration and have motivated numerous youth organizations, study circles and service projects involving the youth.
National Youth Festival (India) is an annual gathering of young people associated with National Youth Day. It includes cultural activities of both a competitive and non-competitive nature.