Swami Vivekananda was born Narendra Nath Datta to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneshwari Devi, in Kolkata on 12th January, 1863. One of Ramakrishna’s disciples was Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda was the first yogi to go to the United States in 1893 for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, after which he caused a spiritual wave. Ramakrishna had a very different kind of attachment towards Vivekananda because he saw him as a means to take his message to the world.
During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses. He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India’s downfall was the neglect of the masses.
He founded on 1 May 1897 a unique type of organization known as Ramakrishna Mission, in which monks and lay people would jointly undertake propagation of Practical Vedanta, and various forms of social service, such as running hospitals, schools, colleges, hostels, rural development centres etc, and conducting massive relief and rehabilitation work for victims of earthquakes, cyclones and other calamities, in different parts of India and other countries.
In June 1899 he went to the West on a second visit. This time he spent most of his time in the West coast of USA. After delivering many lectures there, he returned to Belur Math in December 1900. The rest of his life was spent in India, inspiring and guiding people, both monastic and lay.
Vivekananda passed away at the young age of 39 but he achieved a remarkable amount in this short time on earth. He combined the ancient spiritual traditions of India with the dynamism of the West.