Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a priest in the temple of Kali at Dakshineshwar near Calcutta.
He aimed at the universal synthesis of all religions. “In a potter’s shop there are vessels of different shapes & forms- pots, jars, dishes, plates, but all are made of one clay. So god is one but is worshipped in different ages & countries under different names & aspects”.
Narendra Nath Dutta popularly known as Swami Vivekananda emerged as the real Spiritual successor of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
He was educated in an English school & had read the philosophies of John Stuart Mill, Rousseau, Hegel, Duma, Dante etc.
In 1893, he went to America & attended the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago.
The New York Herald reported- ‘after hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation’ .
He set up Vedanta Society in different cities of USA & made many Americans & English his disciples like –
Saintsberg (Swami Kripanand) &
Milmagret Nobel (Sister Nivedita- Irish disciple of Vivekananda, has a unique position in the history of India’s struggle for freedom).
Set up Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 at Belur near Calcutta & a Mutt at Mayawati near Almora.
The monks of the Mission were engaged in active service of society, alleviating suffering, providing medical aid to the sick & looking after the orphans.
Under the auspices of the Mission, schools were opened & philanthropic centres were established.
Once he remarked – ‘Our religion is confined to our kitchens, & we have become do not touchist. Our God is in our vessels & our religion is that I am pious, do not touch me’.
One of the most remarkable contribution of Vivekananda was to bring spirituality to the mind & heart of the common people.
Attended the Congress of History of Religions in Paris in 1900. He died in 1902 at the age of 39.
Bipin Chander Pal called him prophet of Nationalism.
Valentine Chirol, author of Indian Unrest , described Vivekananda’s teachings as one of the major causes of the nationalist movement.