- He was an Indian Hindu monk, philosopher, author, religious teacher, and the chief disciple of the Indian mystic Ramakrishna.
- Born into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family in Calcutta, Vivekananda was inclined from a young age towards religion and spirituality.
- He was a key figure in the introduction of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, and bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion.
Founding of Ramakrishna Math:
- After Ramakrishna’s death, his devotees and admirers stopped supporting his disciples.
- Unpaid rent accumulated, and Narendra and the other disciples had to find a new place to live.
- Many returned home, adopting a Grihastha(family-oriented) way of life. Narendra decided to convert a dilapidated house at Baranagarinto a new math (monastery) for the remaining disciples.
- Rent for the Baranagar Math was low, raised by “holy begging”.
- The math became the first building of the Ramakrishna Math : the monastery of the monastic order of Ramakrishna.
- Narendra and other disciples used to spend many hours in practicing meditation and religious austerities every day.
Teachings and Philosophy:
- While synthesizing and popularizing various strands of Hindu-thought, most notably classical yoga and (Advaita) Vedanta, Vivekananda was influenced by western ideas such as Universalism, via Unitarian missionaries who collaborated with the Brahmo Samaj.
- His initial beliefs were shaped by Brahmo concepts, which included belief in a formless God and the deprecation of idolatry.
- Vivekananda propagated that the essence of Hinduism was best expressed in Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta