Who doesn’t know Swami Vivekananda and if you don’t then one must assume that you have been living under the rock for many years. Life, personality and contribution of Swami Vivekananda on not just the Indian society but the world in general is enormous and it becomes at most important for a civil service aspirant, whether it’s UPSC or state civil services, to learn the life history of Swami Vivekananda and abide by his values to build a just and a fair society.
In this particular article on notes on Swami Vivekananda in English for UPSC preparation, we have divided the article into three sections which cover the background of Swami Vivekananda, the contributions of Swami Vivekananda and important notes in terms of UPSC exam point of view on Swami Vivekananda.
Before we move ahead into making notes on Swami Vivekananda we advise students to go through at least 15 years of past year question papers from the Union Public Service Commission civil services exam, both prelims and mains paper and also to refer question papers from other competitive exams such as banking PO SSC and state civil service exams, so that one gets an idea on the type of questions asked with respect to Swami Vivekananda.
Who is Swami Vivekananda- The background
1. Swami Vivekananda to be put it in simple terms is an Indian monk coming from the Hindu religious sect.
2. Swami Vivekananda was born in the capital city of West Bengal Kolkata on 12th January in the year 1863.
3. The full name of Swami Vivekananda is Narendra Nath Datta.
4. Swami Vivekanand is popularly known for propagating values that he imbibed from his Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who also was an Indian mystic.
5. The writings and speeches that were propagated by Swami Vivekananda through his Belur Math in Howrah District were widely popular in and outside India that helped spread peace and harmony in the society.
6. While Swami Vivekananda established many mathas in and outside the country, but one of the most important is Belur Math in the small town of Belur in the Howrah district of West Bengal.
7. He founded Ramakrishna Mission in the year 1897, the basis of which was to spread worldwide spiritual moment which was popularly known across the world as Ramakrishna movement or the Vedanta movement.
8. Although Swami Vivekananda was a devotee of his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda was Western-educated and was well versed with philosophies from the west and has ample amount of social and scientific knowledge that he obtained through his education.
9. Swami Vivekananda was an ardent reader of the sacred texts of Hinduism and Vedas. He made his life’s mission and purpose to spread the values that were mentioned in Vedas and believe in service rather than dogma.
10. Ramakrishna ideal that was propagated by Swami Vivekananda has relevance even in the 21st century.
Contributions of Swami Vivekananda- From UPSC point of view
Following are the important contributions made by Swami Vivekananda and most of these contributions were asked in the past year question papers, not just in UPSC but in other competitive exams as well.
1. The Indian values that are mentioned in our Vedas including the philosophies of Vedas and yoga were introduced by Swami Vivekananda for the first time to the Western world.
2. Although Swami Vivekananda was a great writer and he is mainly known for what he did in the field of social service in India and across the world.
3. Swami Vivekananda was a free thinker and he always embraced the critical aspects of the Vedas and Indian philosophy in that sense he so passionately propagated the same to the Western world.
4. Although Swami Vivekanand is known as an Indian Hindu monk, he encouraged debates between different faiths and religions so that the mental horizon of people are expanded as much as possible. We believed in the right to disagree and dissent.
5. According to Swami Vivekanand, the awakening of masses based on ideas of spiritualism and development of moral, mental and physical strength are the most important pillars to develop a strong nationalistic sentiment among the general masses. This idea was extremely important especially during the ride against British rule, which required undivided unity among the Indian masses.
6. Swami Vivekananda founded the Belur Math which is termed as a place of Heritage and national importance by the former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. It is mostly famous for propagating religious unity and values of peace and spirituality in society.
7. Although Swami Vivekanand tried to propagate Hindu religious values across the west, he was not blindly superstitious in his beliefs. He was against certain beliefs that made more damage to society than good, whether it’s in the Hindu or other religions.
8. He believed that youth are the ones who were capable of solving the impending societal problems at that point in time such as colonial oppression, social injustice, inequality and discrimination in the society.
9. Swami Vivekananda played an important role in India’s freedom struggle against the British and he and the math he founded contributed significantly to the rise of the national Independence movement along with the Indian National Congress and various stakeholders at that point in time.
10. He was a strong believer in science and urged the people of India to use science to eliminate the societal and caste system in India and to promote industrialisation thereby proving that his ideals were far ahead of his time.
Important topics to remember about Swami Vivekananda- From the perspective of UPSC CSE Prelims
The following are the important topics, questions and facts that an aspirant needs to remember that could be asked in prelims or Mains examination of UPSC CSE.
1. Life history
2. Contribution to society
3. Contribution to the Indian freedom struggle
4. History of Indian Mystics
5. History of Howrah and Belur Math
6. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
7. What is modern Hinduism?
8. The crux of the 1893 speech by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago
9. Importance of spirituality in the Indian society
10. How is Swami Vivekananda’s ideologies relevant in 21st century India