Kolkata: In mid-19th century, India was at the cusp of a new awakening that took it on the path of modernisation. It was a new dawn for millions of Indians who had been deprived under the Mughal rule for almost 1,000 years. This was the time of many social and cultural revolutions, and our country along with the entire world witnessed a spark of light in a modern monk, who not only redefined India’s spiritual heritage to the West but also converted religious spirit into an inspiration of nation-building. This light — Swami Vivekananda — was soon drawn to the backbone of India’s cultural and spiritual heritage, and the Himalayas turned into his abode many times, giving his life a new meaning.
Inspirational Facts Of Swami Vivekananda’s Life
1. Once Vivekananda was walking with Swami Premananda on the streets of Varanasi, when a group of monkeys chased them. The two sanyasins ran for their lives. Suddenly, an old sanyasin shouted: Stop, stand up against the animals. Both the sanyasins stopped in their tracks, and the pack of monkeys also stopped eyeing both of them. Vivekananda later narrated this in New York. His advice was : “Always stand up to adversities. Face obstacles with courage. If we want to attain salvation, we have to face up to nature, we can’t run away from nature. If we want to remove fear, obstacles and ignorance, we have to declare war against them.”
2. While walking the remaining 30 miles between Agra and Vrindavan, the swami saw a man sitting on the roadside, smoking chillum (ganja: cannabis). Suddenly, Vivekananda said, I’ll also smoke. When he sought the chillum from the man, he shied away saying “Maharaj, you are a sadhu, and I am a bhangi (low caste)”. The swami stood up to leave, but suddenly, he thought “I am a sanyasin, I have left all castes and family ties aside. Why shouldn’t I smoke a bhangi’s chillum”. Vivekananda began to smoke chillum. Later, while mentioning the incident, Vivekananda said: “Never hate your fellow beings. All of them are children of God.”
3. While circumambulating the Govardhan hill, Vivekananda suddenly decided, I shall stop begging food from people. Let people give me food on their own. On day one, till afternoon, nobody offered food. As the swami began walking with pangs of hunger, it began to drizzle. Suddenly somebody called him from behind, but to test the man’s patience, Vivekananda began to run. The man also began to run after him. Finally, he caught hold of the swami and said, Maharaj, please accept this food. Tears flowed down Vivekananda’s eyes. He knew that God was with him all the time.
4. The great figure who toured America and England and was known for his brilliant eloquence scored only a 47% at the university entrance level examination, a 46% in the FA (later this exam became Intermediate Arts or IA), and a 56% in his BA exam.
Swami Vivekananda started his journey to the western world in May 1893. His famous speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago took place on September 27, 1893. There, Swamiji promoted the ancient religion of Hinduism and called for global brotherhood beyond any discrimination
Many people don’t know that Swamiji was rejected as a delegate to this convention as he was not a member of any bona fide religious organisation such as the Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society that were present there. Swamiji spoke to professor John Henry Wright of the Harvard University, who arranged for his place at the delegation. His proposal was supported by Brahmo Samaj representative Protapchandra Mozoomdar.
At the parliament, he addressed the gathering as “sisters and brothers of America”. This phrase instantly closed the cultural and religious gap between India and America as Swamiji went on to promote Hinduism as “the mother of religions… that has taught the world tolerance.”