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The world knows him as a spiritual genius of commanding intellect and power who had spread the Vedanta philosophy and religion in America and England and then returned to India to found the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Exhorting his nation to spiritual greatness, he awakened India to a new national consciousness. Swami Vivekananda (January 12, 1863 - July 4, 1902) the principal disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, is one of the most inspiring personalities of India, who devoted his life to make India a better place to live in. To us in NANRITAM he is the guiding light. His famous words - "Awake, arise, and stop not till the goal is reached" – resonate in our hearts as we devote ourselves to the service of the poor and the marginalized.

Swami Vivekananda is worshipped all over the world as a saint who reinvented the concept of religion before the modern world. At WORLD PARLIAMENT OF RELIGION, CHICAGO in the year 1893, Swamiji had unveiled his concept universal religion with these words – “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.” Further elaborating the concept, he had said –“ if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite like the God it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ, on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms, and find a place for, every human being, from the lowest groveling savage not far removed from the brute, to the highest man towering by the virtues of his head and heart almost above humanity, making society stand in awe of him and doubt his human nature. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognise divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be created in aiding humanity to realise its own true, divine nature.”

Yet, it would be wrong if we look at him only as a great spiritual force and a seeker of God; he was totally focused on the overall development of his country and wanted to harness the youth power to this cause. Early in his career After Swamiji set out on a long, extensive pilgrimage throughout India, and came to realise the abject poverty, illiteracy and degradation of human life at large. He wrote to one of his fellow ascetics –“I want some fiery young men as my disciple, both intelligent and brave, who can face death and swim across the ocean, I want both men and women of this kind…” He wanted them to develop brain and muscles together. His favourite remark was – ‘Iron nerves with an intelligent brain and the whole world is at your feet.’

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