I happened to read the biography of Swami Vivekananda by Ra.Ganapathi, when I was 14 years old.
Though it was too heavy for a teenager, I was deeply touched by Swamiji's strength and patriotism.
At that time, I was studying in a convent school and was attracted more towards Christianity. I had no answers for many of my questions with respect to my religion. I had no knowledge of my religion, nation and scriptures. I saw my religion as a rigid ritual-based one and started losing faith in that.
Like thunderbolt, Swamiji's words fell on me "Religion is the manifestation of divinity already present in you. Rituals, doctrines and dogmas are but secondary details".
As everyone loves his/her own motherland, so I love India - this was my understanding of patriotism. But after reading Swami Vivekananda's biography and few of his lectures, I understood the greatness of my motherland - the land of Rishis - Gnanabhumi, Dharmabhumi. I thanked God for giving me this human birth in the land of Bharath.
How beautifully Swamiji addressed us in the language of the Vedas, "Hey Children of Immortal Bliss!"
During my college days, Swamiji was my hero. All negative emotions will vanish, the moment I think of Swamiji. I derived strength from him. His words were very powerful. "Out of purity and silence, comes the word of power" said Swamiji. Wherever I go, Swamiji's books were my constant companion.
Being blessed with an opportunity to study in Sri Sarada College, I look upon Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi as my parents. And Swamiji? - as my brother!
I attended the youth camp conducted by Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari in 1997. All the four days, we were thinking only about Swamiji, how he took the message of Sanatana Dharma to the entire world.
In 1998, I went to Belur Math for a youth camp, in connection with the centenary celebrations of the Math. Swamiji's room - in which he had meditated for long hours, had taken so many important decisions, had written a number of important letters inspired everyone of us. His Samadhi with the Omkara filled us with silence.
Swamiji spoke so much on Indian women, the need to educate and uplift them. Swamiji inspired Sister Nivedita, who in turn inspired Sri Subramaniya Bharati and today - most of us are educated. Thank you Swamiji!
Swamiji spoke the message of the Upanishads. I developed an inclination to learn the Upanishads from my Guru.
Whenever I am in crisis, whenever I feel lonely, whenever I travel alone in night times, I think upon Swamiji, my brother. I feel bold and strong.
Swamiji lives with me in the form of his words.
Swamiji Maharaj ki Jai!