The Prime Minister has said in the past that the speeches and life of Swami Vivekananda had a profound influence on his mind. The famous philosopher’s awe-inspiring utterance inspired young Narendra Modi to dedicate his life to service. It was the beginning of a journey of inner discovery. It started at the Ramakrishna mission, where Modi lived with monks as a teenager and was able to spend time in Swami Vivekananda’s room. Moved by the works of Swami Vivekananda, Modi began to study the philosopher’s life and works. Young Narendra Modi was a voracious reader and by nature a curious young man. He began to collect Swami Vivekananda’s quotes in his diary – an exercise he would dutifully adhere to for years to come.
In fact, when he was only 16 years old, Narendra Modi decided in 1966 to undertake sanyasa at the Ramakrishna mission ashram in Rajkot of Gujarat, much like the young Narendranath – the name of Swami Vivekananda before he became a monk. Perhaps the uncanny resemblance of their names was also an attraction for the young Narendra Modi who was more drawn to being a philosopher at that age, rather than the leadership role he would assume in the years to come. .
While sanyasa was not for him, Swami Vivekananda continued to be a philosophical influence on Modi, who has now channeled his efforts into arousing national pride. A motivated Narendra Modi was attracted by the spread of Swami Vivekananda’s message. He regularly discussed the philosophy and contributions of the monk with young people and regularly incorporated the ideals of Swami Vivekananda into his political and public life. He carried the monk’s messages during his travels abroad, and people from the Indian diaspora in countries around the world were often drawn to Modi to discuss the ideas and teachings of the saint.
As a leader, Modi organized the 45-day Ekta Yatra from Kanyakumari in 1991, to spread the message of national unity and integrity as proclaimed by the revered monk. Two years later, in 1993, he was invited to attend the Global Vision 2000 convention in Washington DC, with 10,000 delegates from 60 countries. It was for the centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda’s famous speech to the World Parliament of Religions which the monk gave in 1893. The speech, as Modi has repeatedly said, inspired him more than most things . It is this awe-inspiring enunciation of India’s ancient values and cultural ethos by Swami Vivekananda that underscored India’s philosophical acceptance of truth guiding every religion.
Besides, Modi had also organized a youth conclave during the centenary of Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago. During the conclave, youths, accompanied by a marching band, marched with Indian flags waving high.
The passion for spreading the life of Swami Vivekananda and his message was to continue in Modi’s life even as he became the Chief Minister of Gujarat. On the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago, the then Gujarat CM Modi performed a huge Swami Vivekananda Yuva Vikas Yatra across the state, starting on September 11, 2012.
To date, Prime Minister Modi has spread Swami Vivekananda’s message even as he strives to emulate the monk’s ideals in his life.