*Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
-Swami Vivekananda *
Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th January 1863 in Calcutta, India. Born to a Bengali Kayastha family he was originally named Narendranath Dutta, and he was one of the nine siblings of the Dutta family. His father, Vishwanath Dutta, was an attorney at the Calcutta High Court, and his mother Bhubanerwari Devi was a devoted housewife. Narendranath’s grandfather, Durgacharan Dutta was a Sanskrit and Persian scholar, and left the house at the age of 25 to become a monk.During his childhood Narendranath was brought up in a house where he learnt progressive and rational thinking from his father, and religious thoughts from his mother. Naughty and restless as a child his parents had a tough time controlling him. However, Narendranath was also interested in [spirituality](http://www.flipclass.com/) from a young age and used to practice mediation. In 1871, at the age of eight, Narendranath enrolled at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar’s Metropolitan Institution until his family moved to Raipur in 1877. In 1879 his family returned to Calcutta, where he was the only student to receive first-division in the Presidency College entrance exam. He was an [avid******avid** ➤ (s) (often followed by `for') ardently or excessively desirous ➤ (s) marked by active interest and enthusiasm …by **BeeDictionary.com**](http://www.beedictionary.com/definition/avid) reader in a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, religion, history, social science, art and literature. In 1881 he passed the Fine Arts examination, and completed Bachelors of Arts in 1884. He was fascinated in the works of western philosophers, Hindu scriptures, and specifically the evolutionism of Herbert Spencer. In 1880 Narendra joined Keshab Chandra Sen’s *Nava Vidhan, *which was established by Sen. He become a member of Freemasonry lodge and Sadharan Brahmo Samaj led by Keshub Chandra Sen and Debendranath Tagore. He was also an active member of Sen’s *Band of Hope *an initiative that discouraged the youth from smoking and drinking. In 1881 Narendra first met his spiritual idol Ramakrishna. However the first meeting wasn’t the turning point. It was during a later meeting that he was attracted to the personality of Ramakrishna that he started visiting Dakshineswar frequently, even though he rebelled against Ramakrishna’s ideas and teachings. However, after the death of Narendra’s father he finally renounced everything for the sake of realizing God, and accepted Ramakrishna as his Guru. Unfortunately in 1886 Ramakrishna too passed away after suffering from throat cancer. After Ramakrishna’s death, Narendra along with other devotee’s founded a *math *in order to practice Ramakrishna’s teachings. In December 1886 the mother of Baburam invited Narendra and other monks to Antpur where they took formal [monastic******monastic** ➤ (n) a male religious living in a cloister and devoting himself to contemplation and prayer and work ➤ (s) of communal life sequestered from the world under religious vows …by **BeeDictionary.com**](http://www.beedictionary.com/definition/monastic) vows and decided to live their lives as their masters had lived. On that day Narendranath took the name ‘Swami Vivekananda’. From 1888 Swami Vivekananda started his travels across India, and took his first visit to the West in 1893. He toured the Indian subcontinent extensive and acquired first hand knowledge of the prevailing conditions in British India. He was a key figure in introducing the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world. In his speech in Chicago in 1893 he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He also conducted hundreds of lectures and classes spreading tenets of Hindu philosophy across the world. On 4th July 1902 Swami Vivekananda passed away during meditation. His prophecy about himself came true, as he had claimed that he would not live over forty. His disciples believe that he attained mahasamadhi, however the cause of death was reported as rupture of blood vessel in the brain. Swami Vivekananda has been a major force behind the revival of Hinduism in India, and has been credited with raising interfaith awareness, and brining Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He is regarded as a patriotic saint in India, and his birthday is celebrated as the National Youth Day.