Swami Vivekananda was a spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power whose inspiring personality is now well known all over the world. To introduce the life of Swami Vivekananda is to introduce the subject of spiritual life itself. All the intellectual struggle, all the doubts, all the burning faith, all the unfolding process of spiritual illumination were revealed in him. As a man and as a Vedantist he manifested the manliness that is sanctity, and the sanctity that is manliness; he manifested the patriotism that proceeds from the vision of the Dharma and the universality that comes when God is seen in everything; and through the true insight of divine wisdom, he lived a life of both intense activity and Supreme Realization. Indeed, his life revealed throughout, the glory of the supersensuous life.
The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colourful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.
In America Swami Vivekananda’s mission was the interpretation of India’s spiritual culture, especially in its Vedantic setting. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In America he became India’s spiritual ambassador and pleaded eloquently for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.
In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.
The Swami’s mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, he strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soul-stirring language of poetry.