Swami Vivekananda in Cossipore (Varanasi), 1886
Swami Vivekananda in Cossipore in 1886.
A sannyasin understands no boundaries. No boundaries of land, religion, language or age, for a sannyasin has to live for the humanity and his message is to be heard across all man-made boundaries. Swami Vivekananda was one such sannyasin, who proved to be a prodigy in his childhood. 

In 1890, Narendra started the long journey. He traveled throughout India. He went to Cassipore (later Varanasi), Ayodhya, Agra, Vrindavan and Alwar to name a few places. At Mount Abu, he met Raja Ajit Singh of Khetri who became his supporter and follower. It is believed Raja of Khetri gave him the name Vivekananda. Swami Tathagatananda, a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, wrote of their relationship:
"... Vivekananda's friendship with Maharaja Ajit Singh of Khetri was enacted against the backdrop of Khetri, a sanctified town in Northern Rajasthan, characterized by its long heroic history and independent spirit. Destiny brought Swamiji and Ajit Singh together on 4 June 1891 at Mount Abu, where their friendship gradually developed through their mutual interest in significant spiritual and secular topics. The friendship intensified when they travelled to Khetri and it became clear that theirs was the most sacred friendship, that of a Guru and his disciple."
Swamiji traveled India intensively. Swamiji tasted the riches and poor of India. He saw a great social imbalance and menace of casteism. During these wanderings, he came to know that the weak points of the nation were poverty, casteism, neglect of the masses, oppression of women and a faulty system of education. How was India to be regenerated? He came to the conclusion:
"We have to give back to the nation its lost individuality and raise the masses. [. . .] Again, the force to raise them must come from inside." ('Complete Works', vol. VI, p. 255).
In principle, it can be said that four major factors influenced Swamiji's life:
1. India was being ruled by Britain at that time and was undergoing cultural revival. Swamiji said about that "A few hundred, modernized, half-educated, and denationalized men are all that there is to show of modern English India – nothing else" ('Complete Works', vol. VIII, p. 476). He wanted modern education to be given to Indian children.

2. Ramakrishna had a deep influence on him. In Swami Vivekananda’s estimation, his Master fully harmonized the intellectual, emotional, ethical and spiritual elements of a human being and was the role model for the future.

3. Swami Vivekananda’s family also provided a strong moral and cultural foundation to his life. Due in great part to his upbringing, his tastes were eclectic and his interests wide. 
4. Equally important, if not more so, was the Swami’s knowledge of India based on his first-hand experiences acquired during his wanderings throughout the country. These pilgrimages transformed him. (by 'Swami Prabhananda')

See other posts in this series:
  1. Swami Vivekananda's Childhood : The Stories 
  2. Swami Vivekananda's Childhood : With His Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
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