Although Sri Ramakrishna’s stayed in this world was rather brief – only thirty-nine years (1863-1902) – Swami Vivekananda had a life full of spiritual intensity that made him the protagonist of innumerable events, some of the fundamental for the spiritual history of India, and even the world. As said, the life of Vivekananda, both in the public and in the private sphere, and his spiritual influence, is so vast that I am unable to summarize it in a delivery of this blog. Not only because of its prolific existence but because we cannot presume to know every detail of it
However, there is a cardinal event in the life of the Swami that is important to highlight and it is the encounter with who would become his Guru, his spiritual master: the great Bengali saint Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, considered by many as an incarnation of God in the Earth, of the same dimension as Jesus Christ. In this way, it was under the loving tutelage of Sri Ramakrishna that Narendranath Dutta (later known worldwide as Swami Vivekananda ), channeled his innate leadership tendency, his high philosophical knowledge, and his deep spiritual longing, towards the search for God and service to The humanity.
Filled with questions and doubts, Vivekananda came to who would be his teacher at the age of eighteen, and asked him directly, “Lord, have you seen God?” Sri Ramakrishna’s response was a revelation, “Yes, I have seen God. I saw it more tangibly than I am seeing you. ” From then on, and going through several vicissitudes, the young Narendra did not separate more from his teacher until the day of his mahasamadhi, that is to say, the conscious abandonment of the physical body, in 1886.
Among the words spoken by Sri Ramakrishna in his last hours, repeated indications for Narendra are recorded, urging him to “take care of the other young disciples” and “not let them go home”. This is because, in his few years of public teaching, Sri Ramakrishna had received thousands of people, but only a few young disciples had been trained for monastic life under the precepts of “renunciation and discernment.” Now, Narendra was in charge of keeping his master’s work alive and standing.
The young people that Sri Ramakrishna had prepared for the monastic life were seventeen disciples who became a living example of the spiritual teachings of their master. However, after the death of the teacher, it was not easy for these young people to remain united since they lived in a dilapidated house near Calcutta and had problems to solve the basic needs of food and clothing.
Actually, it was not the material shortage, which was always solved in some way, but the physical absence of Sri Ramakrishna which led many of these young people to go on a pilgrimage to sacred places in the country, as a way to seek consolation, and also following the monastic tradition of India known as parivrajaka, consisting in erring from one sacred site to another, in search of the Truth.