Narendra was born to Bhuvaneshwari Devi and Vishwanath Datta. This was the January of year 1863, in Calcutta. He was a very sharp child and a natural leader. One of his plays as a child was to meditate! He would do that with such concentration that, not even a snake crawling around could disturb him. He would give anything he had if asked for. Beggars would line up by his window for alms. Narendra excelled in sports and studies. He knew not what fear was.
Narendra started studying in college after he passed the matriculation exam. He read books on philosophy, religion, history, creation, science and western philosophy. He asked more and more questions about Religion and God. No body was able to satisfy him.
In early 1882, Narendra went his friends to Dakhsineshwar, to meet Sri Ramkrishna Paramahans. The Paramahans was the priest at the Kali temple. More than Narendra, the Pramahans was glad to meet Narendra! The Guru tested Narendra time and again, and the disciple tested his master. By the time Narendra completed his BA, he had also become the best disciple of Shri Pramhans.
Narendra's father died as soon as Narendra completed his BA. Narendra's family was overcome by grief and soon by poverty. Narendra started in search for job. So bad was the state of this family, that they went without meals for days. On many incedents Narendra, without food, fainted on the streets. But even in such condition, his faith in God did not decrease. Later, He took up teaching in Vidyasagar School and also started studying law.
In 1886, Sri Ramkrishna left this world. Narendra became a monk and was named "Vivekanand". Vivekanand then started travelling to spread the knowledge and teachings of his Guru. He travelled to Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Hyderabad, Madras, Mysore and Kanyakumari.
In Mysore it was suggested that he attend the Conference of World Religions and represent Hiduism. Vivekanand reached Chicago in July of 1893. The Conference was still 2 months away. With resources not enough to last for 2 months, Vivekanand moved to Boston, a cheaper city. Vivekanand's stay in the America was very hard. He was out of money, with no friends, hungry and without shelter.
His famous lecture at the conference that started with "Brothers and Sisters of America" received a three minute applause! Newspapers carried his photographs and speech. People flocked to hear him speak. He spoke about the culture of India and Hindu philosophy. He cleared the impression of India that had been created by the Christian missionaries. On his way back to India, he went to England. There too the people had nothing but praise for him. He found many followers in England and America.
While on this tour abroad, Vivekanand, could not help but remember the poverty of India. He would be much troubled by it and spend sleepless nights sheding tears.
Swami Vivekanand returned to India after four years. He recieved a kings welcome in Madras. He eastablished the Ramkrishna Mission in 1897. The goals of this mission included eradicating castisim, poverty. He visited the norther parts of India and established the work of Ramkrishna mission there. He then again travelled to America, and then to Paris to attend the next Religious Conference there.
At the age of 39, he attained samadhi.