Swami Vivekananda’s life and teachings for the Youth

On the 12th of January every year, National Youth Day is observed in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

The young spiritual leader who is credited with spreading the essence of Indian spirituality to the Western world had immense faith in the power of the youth of India. By upholding the teachings of Vedanta and its universal values of tolerance, acceptance and co-existence of different faiths, cultures and beliefs, he re-instilled a sense of pride amongst all Indians in their cultural heritage.

What makes Swami Vivekananda the ideal role model for the youth is the fact that he motivated the youth to be strong in body, mind and spirit, and he strongly advocated their role in nation-building. He envisioned India as a country with energetic young people, who will shape up a modern nation based on the foundation of Vedic spiritual ideals.

This is what Swami Vivekananda said in context of the youth

  • Youth is the best time. The way in which you utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you.

  • What we want is vigour in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not softening namby-pamby ideas.

  • You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.

You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you. You will understand the Upanishads better and the glory of the Atman when your body stands firm upon your feet.

  • The supreme value of youth period is incalculable and indescribable. Youth life is the most precious life.

  • This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigour of youth.

  • Talk to yourself once in a day….Otherwise, you may miss meeting an excellent person in this world.

  • My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.

  • The sign of life is strength and growth. The sign of death is weakness. Whatever is weak, avoid!

Find here Inspirational Quotes on Nation Building

Life of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekanand, born as Narendranath Datta on 12 January 1863, in Kolkata, was one of the nine children of Vishwanath Datta, an attorney at the Calcutta High Court and his wife Bhubaneswari Devi. Though mischievous and restless, Naren was a gifted child who excelled in music, studies and athletics. He was interested in spirituality from a young age and was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks.

As he grew up, Narendranath acquired mastery over Sanskrit, Bengali and English languages. On one hand, he learnt about the philosophical and spiritual legacy of India, on the other, he became conversant with the scientific, artistic, social and political thoughts of modern West. He attended General Assembly’s Institution (now Scottish Church College) Calcutta. From his Principal William Hastie, he heard about the spiritual guru Sri Ramakrishna.

Narendranath’s Association with Sri Ramakrishna

Narendranath first met Sri Ramakrishna at the home of a devotee in Calcutta. Although he did not initially accept Ramakrishna as his teacher and sometimes even rebelled against his ideas, he was attracted by his personality and began to frequently visit him at Dakshineswar.

After Narendra’s father’s sudden death in 1884, the family had to go through a lot of financial struggle. Narendra tried to find work but he was unsuccessful. The way his mother shouldered all the responsibilities of the family made an abiding influence on him.

Narendra began to question the existence of God. It was then he found solace in the words of Ramakrishna. Gradually he accepted Ramakrishna as his spiritual guru.

Sri Ramakrishna taught that service to humanity was the most effective form of worship of God. During his last days, Sri Ramakrishna selected Narendra to be the leader of his young disciples. He foretold that Narendra would accomplish the great mission for the regeneration of the people of the world.

Ramakrishna Paranhansa
Swami Vivekananda

After Sri Ramakrishna passed away in 1886, Narendra and his brother disciples took monastic vows. Narendra now became Swami Vivekananda.

Narendranath became Swami Vivekananda

To spread the message of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda travelled over the length and breadth of India as a wandering monk and discovered the soul of India. On the eve of Christmas of 1892, Swami Vivekananda reached Kanyakumari the southernmost point of India. After a worship of the Divine Mother, he swam across to a rock out in the vast ocean and went into deep meditation for a few days. He pondered over the past glory of India and the present degeneration and chalked out a plan for the reconstruction of India through social service, by promoting scientific thinking and industrialisation, addressing widespread poverty and the social issues and ending the colonial rule.

Swami Vivekananda’s first visit to the West

With support and contributions from some of his enthusiastic followers, Swami Vivekananda sailed for the USA in 1893 to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago. However, the date for registration was over and he did not have any credential to join the Parliament.

In the US, Vivekananda came in contact with Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who highly impressed with the Swami’s knowledge, assumed that he was going to the Parliament. When he came to know that Vivekananda was not officially accredited and had no sponsors, the Professor wrote to the Chairman of the Parliament,

Here is a man more learned than all our professors put together.

The Professor arranged for the registration, funds and other logistics needed by Swami Vivekananda to attend the Parliament.


Vivekananda’s Speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago

On 11th September 1893, the modest young monk from India delivered his speech at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.

Greeting the youngest of the nations on behalf of “the most ancient order of monks in the world, he explained the core of Hinduism through the rational and humanistic teachings of Vedanta and talked about the spiritual culture of India.

At a time when the West considered India as a land of superstitions, he proclaimed the greatness of Hinduism in America. He categorically stated that religion was not the crying need of India. Instead, he sought aid for his impoverished people.

The eloquence of his speech matched the profoundness of his thoughts and earned him recognition amongst the religious officials, scholars, and historians representing the major world faiths. The American newspapers reported Vivekananda as the “Cyclonic Monk from India”, “Hurricane Hindu” or “the most popular and influential man in the parliament of religions.”

The trip to the Parliament resulted in a four-year lecture tour of the Americas and Europe. He spread the spiritual knowledge of India, in the process attracting several followers and admirers. His success led to the establishment of Vedanta centres in the West.

He wanted to combine the scientific and technological achievements of the West with the asceticism and humanism of India. A conversation during a chance meeting between Swami Vivekananda and industrialist Jamshedji Tata on a boat that sailed from Yokohama to Vancouver, culminated in the idea of setting up the Indian Institute of Science.

Founding of Ramakrishna Mission

Swami Vivekananda returned from West to India in 1897 and founded Ramakrishna Mission for spiritual and humanitarian services. On 9 December 1898, with the blessings of his guru Ramakrishna’s wife Sri Sarada Devi, he started Ramakrishna Math at Belur on the bank of Ganga River near Calcutta. Swami Vivekananda also founded two other monasteries: one called the Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati in the Himalayas (near Almora), and Sri Ramakrishna Math in Chennai.

In June 1899, Vivekananda left for West on his second visit. He returned to India in December 1900. The arduous work and extensive travel took a toll on Swami Vivekananda’s health. On the night of 4 July 1902, Swami Vivekananda sat for a deep meditation and left for the heavenly abode at the relatively young age of 39.

Quotes on Swami Vivekananda

  • If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative,” said Rabindranath Tagore.

  • His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses,” wrote French Nobel laureate, Romain Rolland.

  • To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens,” said Professor Wright to Swami Vivekananda.

  • Mahatma Gandhi said that the writings of Swami Vivekananda taught him to love India even more.

  • “Swami Vivekananda harmonized the East and the West, Religion and Science, Past and Present. And that is why he is great. Our countrymen have gained unprecedented Self-respect, Self-reliance and Self-assertion from his teachings.”~ Subhash Chandra Bose

  • I think that our younger generation will take advantage of this fountain of wisdom, of spirit and fire that flows through Swami Vivekananda,” ~Jawaharlal Nehru

Swami Vivekananda was all for innovation, for new discoveries. He would never refrain from deconstructing something to make way for new ideas. He wanted our youth to be job-givers and not just job-seekers.” ~Narendra Modi

12 January the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day. The philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and the ideals for which he worked are a great source of inspiration for the youth of India. Swami Vivekananda gave the clarion call to the youth:

           Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached.

On the 155th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, we pay our homage to the dynamic spiritual leader and thinker of India.





Suggested Reading

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (9 Volumes) Advaita Ashrama Mayavati, Uttarakhand

This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF, and edited by Somali K Chakrabarti



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  • author's avatar

    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle – from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • author's avatar

Somali K Chakrabarti

Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle - from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • I remember reading about his inspiring story in school. Swami Vivekananda’s teachings are timeless particular today when we live in an intolerant world. Very well written Somali.

    • True Vishal. Swamijis words are relevant even more, today when India has a youthful population, we are making advancements in science and technology and sustainable human development cannot be ignored. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Swami Vivekananda sounded to have been one wise guru. There is nothing better than to motivate and inspire the young to live in respect of others and themselves.

    “My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large.”

    I enjoyed reading about him and his travels and exploits. And his quotes filled with wisdom..

    Thank you for sharing Somali
    Have a Peaceful weekend :-)
    Sue :-)

  • Wow what a good start to day. Reading this first thing in morning. Thanx

  • Happy to see this post, Somali. I think Swamiji was not given importance in independent India even though he had all ingredients to inspire youth. It is our misfortune. I came across a write up today which mentioned about Swamiji’s visit to Jaipur in 1890 and 1891. His expense for US trip was sponsored by Ajit Singh of Khetri, Rajasthan. He was one of very close friend of Swamiji.

  • A nice post on and tribute to Swamiji on his 155th birth anniversary. A great read, too!

  • Hi Somali, just few days back somebody gifted me a Vivekenanda Journal…I was reading about the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The centre of meditation, knowledge, philosophy and work…for realizing the four square pursuits of human life i.e. virtue, wealth, love and salvation.

    The more we read about his profound thoughts and the wise writing we realize how much we need to do and we should all be doing our bit in nation building and how the prime period of youth is so vital to energizing the power for nation building. And in today’s world where the degree of distraction for the young are immense and where the need for building a better nation and nation where inhabitants of the country are well off and contribute towards a better society for the world at large and not just the teaching that they get in the school but the principles and lessons of life have to be blended in the holistic development of the youth of any nation. At such an early age, he passed away, had he been there for longer, he would have brought much more change to the way western world looked at us and the way science was developed in our country and how the blend of the modern science withe spiritual wisdom would have made great difference to the world.

    When we deep dive into the lives of such great people we realize how much more we should be doing towards the society we live and the society we want to leave behind for our future generation.
    Thanks for sharing his beautiful teachings.

    • Very true, Nihar, The blend of the modern science with spiritual wisdom would have made great difference to the world.
      /////great to know that you enjoyed reading the journal. I sometimes go to Ramakrishna Mission in Mumbai. The literature available in their bookstore give us an insight into the lives of these great personalities. Some of the literature is specifically written for the youngsters. Assimilating some of their teachings can make people look beyond their immediate problems and gain from the profound wisdom shared by these masters,

      • Indeed Somali these are sources of profound wisdom and definitely it should be a must read for youngsters and I think schools should have the spiritual dimension aptly included in the teaching in curriculum, along with the intellectual dimension, the emotional dimension is so critical to developing and controlling the minds of children; and spiritual teaching makes a great difference…I agree the wisdom from our vedic and spiritualism needs a proper blend with the contemporary methods of teaching.
        Have a lovely week ahead.

  • You’ve described his life and work nicely within such a short span. SWami Vivekananda’s teachings are extremely relevant even today. I find his words inspiring. Just a couple of months back, I was reading his Chicago speech again and became overwhelmed as much I had when I read it for the first time.

    • Thank you, Maniparna. Swami Vivekananda’s teachings are equally relevant today as those were 150 years back. Each time you read his speech in Chicago, you find it soul stirring and overwhelming, It is not difficult to imagine the impact it would have created on the audience who heard him live.

  • He is one of the few people I admire a lot. My father used to read his works a lot and we still have literature related to him and swami Ramkrishna Pramhansa.His affection for people, the mankind is tangible through his wise words.

    • Thank you Kokila. The mention of literature, reminds me of the children’s literature available at Ramakrishna Mission, through which I came to know the life stories of Ramkrishna Pramhansa and Swami Vivekananda, and yes those surely did leave an impression on the mind. So. if you get to visit the Ramakrishna Mission at any place, do not miss out the chance to visit their book store, :)

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