Swami Vivekananda, the indian  monk
"Many times I have been in the jaws of death, starving, footsore, and weary; for days and days I had no food, and often could walk no further; I would sink down under a tree, and life would seem to be ebbing away. I could not speak, I could scarcely think, but, at last, the mind reverted to the idea: "I have no fear nor death; never was I born, never did I die; I never hunger or thirst. I am It! I am It! The whole of nature cannot crush me; it is my servant. Assert thy strength, thou Lord of lords and God of gods! Regain thy lost empire! Arise and walk and stop not!" And I would rise up, reinvigorated; and here I am today, living! Thus, whenever darkness comes, assert the reality and everything adverse must vanish. For, after all, it is but a dream. Mountain-high though the difficulties appear, terrible and gloomy though all things seem, they are but Maya. Fear not, and it is banished. Crush it, and it vanishes. Stamp upon it, and it dies." (Delivered at Los Angeles, Calif., 5th January 1900)

Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the missionary who spread the Indian philosophy beyond India. 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. The natural tendency of Vivekananda's mind, like that of his master, Ramakrishna, was to soar above the world and forget itself in contemplation of the Absolute. But another part of his personality bled at the sight of human suffering in East and West alike. It might appear that his mind seldom found a point of rest in its oscillation between contemplation of God and service to man. Be that as it may, he chose, in obedience to a higher call, service to man as his mission on earth; and this choice has endeared him to people in the West.

In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902), of which only ten were devoted to public activities and those too in the midst of acute physical suffering, he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, all of which are outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his many friends and disciples, composed numerous poems, and acted as spiritual guide to the many seekers, who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is one of the most outstanding religious organization of modern India. It is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in the Swami's native land but also in America and in other parts of the world.

Swami Vivekananda once spoke of himself as a "condensed India." His life and teachings are of inestimable value to the West for an understanding of the mind of Asia. William James, the Harvard philosopher, called the Swami the "paragon of Vedantists." Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. "His words," writes Romain Rolland, "are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!'' (Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center)

I remember a nice poem by Swamiji, titled 'To The Awakened India'.

Once more awake!
For sleep it was, not death, to bring thee life
Anew, and rest to lotus-eyes for visions
Daring yet. The world in need awaits, O Truth!
No death for thee!

Resume thy march,
With gentle feet that would not break the
Peaceful rest even of the roadside dust
That lies so low. Yet strong and steady,
Blissful, bold, and free. Awakener, ever
Forward! Speak thy stirring words.
And tell the world—
Awake, arise, and dream no more!
This is the land of dreams, where Karma
Weaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughts
Of flowers sweet or noxious, and none
Has root or stem, being born in naught, which
The softest breath of Truth drives back to
Primal nothingness. Be bold, and face
The Truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease,
Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams,
Which are Eternal Love and Service Free.

Read more about Swami Vivekananda's childhood:

Swami Vivekananda, the indian  monk
"We can never lose what is really ours. Who can lose his being? Who can lose his very existence? If I am good, it is the existence first, and then that becomes colored with the quality of goodness. If I am evil, it is the existence first, and that becomes colored with the quality of badness. That existence is first, last, and always; it is never lost but ever present." (Swami Vivekananda)

A spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power, Vivekananda crammed immense labor and achievement into his short life - 1863-1902. Born as Narendranath Datta on 12 January 1863 in Calcutta to Viswanath Datta, an attorney and Bhubaneshwari Devi, a religious and kind-hearted lady. From very childhood, he started showing signs of a great individual. His father was little conspicuous of the activities of his child but provided him an environment where he could grow to his full abilities. During childhood, when other children spent their time playing games, he used to play at meditation. In a famous story, it is said that, once, while he was deep in meditation, a cobra came. All the other children of that room went away, but he continued to be in mediation as if nothing happened. Such was his power of concentration and focus that he shot in succession twelve eggs swinging up and down in a river while having no experience of firing a gun before.

His childhood tales describe the life of a monk who would conquer the world by his intellect and humbleness. The child Narendra (Swamiji's childhood name) was very naughty and it was very difficult to calm him down. When all other methods to pacify him failed, his mother Bhuvaneswari Devi would pour cold water over his head, chanting the name of "Shiva", and he would instantly calm down; or if someone said to him that if you do not calm down, Lord Shiva will not let you enter Kailasa, Narendra would be pacified. When he grew up, his mother used to tell him about this method to calm him down, saying, "I asked Lord Shiva for a son and He sent me a demon!"

His mother played a crucial role in shaping his future. When he told her, one day, of having been unjustly treated in school, she said to him, in consolation: 'My child, what does it matter, if you are right? Always follow the truth without caring about the result. Very often you may have to suffer injustice or unpleasant consequences for holding to the truth; but you must not, under any circumstances, abandon it.' Many years later Narendranath proudly said to an audience, 'I am indebted to my mother for whatever knowledge I have acquired.'

In his childhood, he used to climb a Champaka tree in his friend's house. It was his favorite pastime to hang upside down from that tree. He loved the fragrance of Champaka flowers. One day when he climbed the tree, the old owner of the house came and said to him that the tree was inhabited by ghosts and one of them is Brahmadaitya. If Narendra would not climb down from the tree, the Brahmadaitya will kill him. Listening to this he immediately climbed down from the tree. As soon as the old person went away, celebrating that he persuaded Narendra to climb down, Narendra climbed up the tree again. Seeing him doing this, his friend asked what is he doing - "The ghost Brahmadaitya will eat you up". Narendra smiled and said, "Do not believe in everything that elders tell you, but also use your conscience. If this tree was a living place of a ghost, then I would have been dead long ago." Such was his fearlessness and belief in his convictions.

There is one more story about his courage. One day he was setting a big trapeze in the gymnasium with the help of some people, including an English sailor. During the effort, the trapeze fell and the sailor was knocked unconscious. All other children fled from the fear of police, assuming the sailor to be dead. Narendra stayed there and tore a piece of his cloth to wrap around the sailor's wounds, washed his face and helped him in fighting the injury. Later he moved the sailor to the nearby school where Narendra took care of him for a week. Later he sent the sailor away with a small amount of money collected from his friends.

Curiosity was an integral part of his life. In his father's office different varieties of tobacco pipes were provided for clients belonging to different Hindu castes, as were the prevailing conditions during those times. Similarly, different tobacco pipes were kept for Muslim clients. Narendra smoked tobacco from all the pipes and when rebuked for doing the same, he replied, "I could not figure out the difference."

He was very eager to know about the God. He went to meet Devendranath Tagore, a leader identified with Brahmo Samaj and asked him, "Sir, have you seen God?" Tagore was surprised by this question and said to him, "My child, You have to have the eyes of Yogi. You should practice meditation." This was the case with almost all leaders of various sects whom he approached with the same question, which never satisfied him.

Few Quotes by Swami Vivekananda:
"Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles. Where would be the poetry of life? Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow—never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more."
"To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean", says the persevering soul; "at my will mountains will crumble up". Have that sort of energy, that sort of will; work hard, and you will reach the goal."
-Vedanta philosophy : Lectures by the Swami Vivekananda on Raja Yoga (1899), Ch. VI : Pratyahara and Dharana.

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