150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda

Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the above lines are the first few lines of his opening talk in the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago on Sept 11, 1893, which made him very popular in America.

If you don’t know, then I would also like to mention that the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day of India. In his 40 years of lifetime, he could achieve so much that we can’t even imagine. All of his messages have deep impact on us. If I see myself, I have already completed about 25 years of my life and have done nothing for my country yet. Therefore I thought that at least I should spread some words about him today. Today I would like to write about Swami Vivekananda’ contribution to Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. There is a great bond between Swami Vivekananda, who was a great saint-philosopher and Indian Institute of Science, which is a premier research institute of India.

In 1893, Jamsetji N. Tata and Swami Vivekananda met first time, while travelling on a ship from Japan to Chicago. At that time, Swami Vivekananda was going to represent Hinduism in the World Parliament of Religions, while Jamsetji N. Tata was going with an idea to bring steel manufacturing technology to India. In that casual meeting, Swami Vivekananda discussed Tata’s plan to bring steel manufacturing technology to India and gave him suggestion to develop the steel manufacturing science within India. They never met after that journey. But these words struck a chord in Jamsetji’s heart. Five years later, Jamsetji’s response came in a letter to Swami Vivekananda.

Dear Swami Vivekananda ,
I trust, you remember me as a fellow-traveler on your voyage from Japan to Chicago. I very much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India, and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels.
I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of Research Institute of Science for India, of which you have doubtless heard or read. It seems to me that no better use can be made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency, and devote their lives to the cultivation of sciences – natural and humanistic. I am of opinion that, if such a crusade in favor of an asceticism of this kind were undertaken by a competent leader, it would greatly help asceticism, science, and the good name of our common country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of galvanizing into life our traditions in this respect? Perhaps you had better begin with a fiery pamphlet rousing our people in this matter. I should cheerfully defray all the expenses of publication.

23rd November 1898

Jamsetji N. Tata

At that time, Swami Vivekananda was busy starting the Ramakrishna Mission and did not accept the offer, but Jamsetji N. Tata still continued working on this Institute. Unfortunately these two great souls died many years before this Institute was born. In 1909, five years after the death of Jamsetji N. Tata and 7 years after the death of Swami Vivekananda, the Indian Institute of Science was born and  is today the pride of the nation.

Comments 3

  1. Nice writeup.

    P.S.: The year in which Vivekananda ji gave a talk in World’s Parliament of Religions was 1893 and not 1983. 🙂 And to add to it, it was the first conference to be organized.

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  2. Celebrating Swami Vivekananda’s Birthday, the great philosopher, thinker and youth Icon of India”

    “Swami Vivekananda’s Birthday: National Youth Day on 12th January

    Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian philosopher, great patriotic, philanthropist and social reformer was born at 3 Gour Mohan Mukherjee Street, Kolkata on Monday, 12 January 1863, during the eve of Makara Sankranti festival. He was the eldest son of Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneshwari Devi. His father Vishwanath Dutta was an attorney of Calcutta High Court. His mother Bhuvaneshwari Devi was house wife.

    Narendranath joined the Metropolitan Institution of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar in 1871 and in 1879 he passed the entrance examination for Presidency College, Calcutta. He passed the FA Examination (Higher Secondary, Class XII )from the General Assembly (now Scottish Church College) and graduated from there in 1884. In November 1881, one day Narendra went to meet Shri Ramakrishna in Dakshineshwar. He asked him a question, which he had asked to several others but had received no satisfactory answer, “Sir, have you seen God?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Shri Ramakrishna replied with smile, “Yes, gentleman I have. I can see Him as clearly as I see you.” Narendra’ s spiritual guru Ramakrishna died on 16 August 1886.

    Shri Ajit Singh, Maharaja of Khetri in Rajasthan gave name of Swami Vivekananda, to Narendra. Vivek literally means “intelligence” or knowledge whereas Anand stands for bliss or joy.

    Swami Vivekananda, an inspiration to the youth is best known for his inspiring speech beginning with “sisters and brothers of America”, through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893. No doubt Swami Vivekananda is an eternal source of Inspiration to the Modern Youth in India.

    American newspapers reported Vivekananda as “the greatest figure in the parliament of religions” and “the most popular and influential man in the parliament”.

    The New York Herald noted, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation”. The New York Critique wrote, “He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words, and the rich, rhythmical utterance he gave them”. The Boston Evening Transcript reported that Vivekananda was “a great favourite at the parliament… if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded”.

    Swami Vivekananda delivered an interesting lecture at the Graduate Philosophical Society of Harvard University on 25 March 1896. Subsequently, after his impressive and knowledgeable lecturers, he was offered the Chair of Eastern Philosophy at both Harvard University and Columbia University but swami Vivekananda declined the offer by saying he is a Sannyasi.

    The 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated throughout the year all over India on January 12, 2013 as he played an effective role in spreading Hinduism in world and helped restore a sense of pride amongst Bharatiya and especially Hindus.. The main objective behind these celebrations was to propagating philosophy, ideas and teachings of great national youth icon Swami Vivekananda among the youth.

    After speech in World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893, many men and woman of west were influenced by Swami Vivekananda and became his disciples. Among them the name of Margaret Elizabeth Noble (later known as Sister Nivedita) is above all. Margaret Elizabeth Noble was a Scots-Irish social worker. In November 1895 Margaret Elizabeth Noble met Swami Vivekananda who had come from America to visit London. Margaret Elizabeth Noble travelled to Calcutta in 1898 and on 25 March 1898, Swami Vivekananda formally initiated Margaret in the vow of Brahmcharya and gave her the name of “Nivedita”, the dedicated one.

    During his Washington visit in 2014, President Barack Obama gifted Prime Minister Narendra Modi a rare book, The World’s Congress: Religions at the World’s Columbian Exposition- on the 1893 summit of world religions where Swami Vivekananda made a mark.

    Revealing this on twitter, Modi said it was a gift he would cherish forever. The book is a 1200 page collection of the best papers and speeches at the gathering – including the Swami’s speech, ‘the Indian man who introduced Hinduism and yoga to the United States and spread a message of religious tolerance around the world’, said a note accompanying the book. “This gift celebrates Swami Vivekananda’s valuable contribution as a bridge between India and US and honors our two nations’ shared traditions of pluralism and diversity’.

    Nobel Laureate in Literature for Gitajali in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore told Romain Rolland, “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative.” Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, popularly known as “Rajaji, the first Indian Governor General of India said “Swami Vivekanand saved Hinduism, saved India. Subhash Chandra Bose, generally known as Netaji has wrote “Swami Vivekanand is the maker of modern India” The Indian nationalist extremist leader, poet, and philosopher Shri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) regarded Vivekanand as his spiritual mentor.

    It is well known that the Government of India had declared to observe the National Youth Day every year on the birthday of Swami Vivekananda on 12th of January. It was decided by the Government of India in order to inspire all the youths of country towards the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and his ideals. The birthday day of the great Philosopher Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day in India from 1984.

    Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports of India decided to observe 2013 as the year of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Govt. of India has also issued of 5 coins to commemorate the occasion of “150th Birth Anniversary of great thinker Swami Vivekananda”

    Sh.Tutu (Utpal) Sinha made a film The Light: Swami Vivekananda is a bilingual (Bengali and Hindi) as a tribute to Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary. The movie was produced by produced by Tri Colour productions private limited and released on August 23, 2013. The film was dubbed in 18 languages. Sh. Deep Bhattacharya played the role of Swami Vivekananda

    Four postage stamps released on Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary. The Department of Posts (DoP) India Post released four special postage stamps and the First Day Cover on Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary. These stamps have been brought out by India Post to commemorate the 150th Birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda whom the world acknowledges as great visionary, philosopher and thinker.The department has already released two stamps on Vivekananda in 1963 and 1993. Further special stamp has also been released on Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Tamilnadu in 1996.Sri Lanka post has also issued a special stamp on Vivekananda in 1997.

    Many famous books written by Swami Vivekananda and published during his lifetime such are
    Karma Yoga (1896), Raja Yoga (1896 [1899 edition]), Vedanta Philosophy: An address before the graduate philosophical society (First published 1896), Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897), Vedanta philosophy: lectures on Jnana Yoga (1902).

    It is also a matter of immense pleasure that On November 11, 1995, the stretch of Michigan Avenue that passes in front of the Art Institute was formally conferred the honorary name “Swami Vivekananda Way”.

    He died at a very tender age of just 39 years on the 4th of July 1902. He lived young and died young — he lived for 39 years, five months and 24 days. Uttisthata Jagrata Prapya Barannibodhata a Sanskrit Sloka taken from Katha Upanishad meaning in English Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached. Swami Vivekananda used the Sanskrit sloka so widely in his speeches and lectures.

    Teachings of great philosopher Swami Vivekananda were more relevant today than when he had addressed the conference in 1893 in Chicago where he gave the call for universal brotherhood. The philosophy and teaching of Swami Vivekananda are remaining an inspiration for modern youth. Really Swami Vivekananda inspired many young people and his speech is an ideal inspiration for the youth.

    Author Yudhvir Singh Lamba Bharatiya working as an Administrative Officer at Haryana Institute of Technology, Bahadurgarh, Distt. Jhajjar 124507 (Haryana).The views expressed by the author are personal.

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