January 12 is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the famous Hindu spiritual leader and intellectual from the late 19th century. In his honor, the government of India in 1984 declared his birthday as National Youth Day.

About Swami Vivekanand 

  • Vivekananda was born in Kolkata on January 12, 1863, as Narendra Nath Datta. 
  • From an early age, he nurtured an interest in Western philosophy, history, and theology, and went on to meet the religious leader Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who later became his Guru.
  •  He remained devoted to Ramakrishna until the latter’s death in 1886.

Role of Swami Vivekananda

  • An important religious reformer in India, Swami Vivekananda is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West. 
  • Through his speeches and lectures, Vivekananda worked to disseminate his religious thought. 
  • He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
  • Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”
  • After Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda toured across India and set after educating the masses about ways to improve their economic condition as well as imparting spiritual knowledge.
  • Chicago address
  • Vivekananda is especially remembered around the world for his speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893
  • The speech covered topics including universal acceptance, tolerance, and religion.

“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions as true.”; “I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all the nations of the earth.”; and “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth…Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.”



  • Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
  • In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.
  •  He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.            
  • Vedanta initially was connotation for the Upanishads comprising the Brahman Sutras and the Bhagavadgita
  • There are many schools of Vedanta including the well-propagated schools of Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtadvaita, and Dvaita.
  •  It is a Sanskrit word meaning “end of knowledge”, a compound of two words “Veda” meaning “Knowledge” and “ Anta” meaning “End”. 
  • Its essence is the philosophy of eternal living which leads to “Self- Realization”.             

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