Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) – Important Personalities of Modern India

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Why this topic is important for prelims?

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Mahatma Gandhi said that some of his deepest convictions were reflected in a book titled, “Unto this Last” and the book transformed his life. What was the message from the book that transformed Mahatma Gandhi?(2011)

(a.) Uplifting the oppressed and poor is the moral responsibility of an educated man

(b.) The good of individual is contained in the good of all

(c.) The life of celibacy and spiritual pursuit are essential for a noble life

(d.) All the statements (a), (b) and (c) are correct in this context

Solution (b)

With reference to Indian freedom struggle, Usha Mehta is well-known for: (2011)

(a.) Running the secret Congress Radio in the wake of Quit India Movement

(b.) Participating in the Second Round Table Conference

(c.) Leading a contingent of Indian National Army

(d.) Assisting in the formation of Interim Government under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Solution (a)

What was the reason for Mahatma Gandhi to organize a satyagraha on behalf of the peasants of Kheda?(2011)

  1. The Administration did not suspend the land revenue collection in spite of a drought.
  2. The Administration proposed to introduce Permanent Settlement in Gujarat.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a.) 1 only

(b.) 2 only

(c.) Both 1 and 2

(d.) Neither 1 nor 2

Solution (a)

Consider the following statements :(2012)

The most effective contribution made by DadabhaiNaoroji to the cause of Indian National Movement was that he

  1. exposed the economic exploitation of India by the British
  2. interpreted the ancient Indian texts and restored the self-confidence of Indians
  3. stressed the need for eradication of all the social evils before anything else

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (a)

Which of the following parties were established by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar?(2012)

  1. The Peasants and Workers Party of India
  2. All India Scheduled Castes Federation
  3. The Independent Labour Party

Select the correct answer using the codes given below :

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (b)

Mahatma Gandhi undertook fast unto death in 1932, mainly because: (2012)

(a) Round Table Conference failed to satisfy Indian political aspirations

(b) Congress and Muslim League had differences of opinion

(c) Ramsay Macdonald announced the Communal Award

(d) None of the statements (a), (b) and (c) given above is correct in this context

Solution (c)

Annie Besant was: (2013)

  1. responsible for starting the Home Rule Movement
  2. the founder of the Theo-sophical Society
  3. once the President of the Indian National Congress

Select the correct statement/statements using the codes given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Solution (c)

Consider the following pairs : (2019)
Movement: Organization Leader
1.All India Anti-Untouchability League: Mahatma Gandhi
2. All India Kisan Sabha: Swami Sahajanad Saraswati
3.Self Respect Movement: E.V. Ramaswami Naicker
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1,2 and 3

With reference to the British colonial rule in India, consider the following statements : (2019)
1. Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in the abolition of the system of ‘indentured labour’.
2. In Lord Chelmsford’s War Conference’, Mahatma Gandhi did not support the resolution on recruiting Indians for World War.
3. Consequent upon the breaking of Salt Law by Indian people, the Indian National Congress was declared illegal by the colonial rulers.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

With reference to Indian National Movement, consider the following pairs : (2019)
Persons: Position head
1. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru : President, All India Liberal Federation
2. K.C. Neogy : Member, The Constituent Assembly
3. P.C. Joshi : General Secretary, Communist Party of India
Which of the pairs given above is/ are correctly matched?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

In the context of Indian history, the Rakhmabai case of 1884 revolved around: (2020)

  1. women’s right to gain the education
  2. age of consent
  3. restitution of conjugal rights

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

[a) 1 and 2 only

[b) 2 and 3 only

[c) 1 and 3 only

[d) 1, 2 and 3

Which among the following is associated with ‘’Songs from Prison’’, a translation of ancient Indian religious lyrics in English? (2021)

a) Bal Gangadhar Tilak
b) Jawaharlal Nehru
c) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
d) Sarojini Naidu

Who among the following was associated as Secretary with Hindu Female School which later came to be known as Bethune Female School? (2021)
a) Annie Besant
b) Debendranath Tagore
c) Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar
d) Sarojini Naidu

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Swami Vivekananda was a true luminary, credited with enlightening the western world about Hinduism. He was an ardent disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India. He presented Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. He pushed for national integration in colonial India, and won the hearts of everyone with his incredible speech at Chicago in 1893 (Parliament of the World Religions) by addressing the audience as “Sisters and Brothers of America”. In 1984 the Government of India declared that 12 January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, will be celebrated as National Youth Day.

Life History

  • Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Dutta in Calcutta on January 12, 1863. 
  • He was a child of unquestioned expertise and intellectual capability who used to take grasp of all his school teachings at first sight. This excellence was recognized by his Gurus and thus was named “Shrutidhar” by them. He possessed manifold talents and skills comprising swimming, and wrestling which were a part of his schedule. 
  • Influenced by the teachings of Ramayana and Mahabharata, he had bottomless respect for religion. Narendra was a lover of heroism and mystical by nature. Despite his upbringing in a spiritual family, he owned an argumentative personality in his infancy. His entire beliefs were assisted by an apt rationale and judgment behind them. Such a quality made him even put a question the existence of the Almighty. He thus visited several saints and asked each one “have you seen God?” His spiritual quest was left unanswered until he met “Ramkrishna Paramhansa” and he became his guru. 
  • In 1887, he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. Ramakrishna Mission is an organization that works in the area of value-based education, culture, health, women’s empowerment, youth, and tribal welfare and relief and rehabilitation. 
  • In 1893, upon the request of Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State, he took the name ‘Vivekananda.’ 
  • In 1899, he established the Belur Math, located in West Bengal, which is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math & Ramakrishna Mission, and became his permanent abode.

His Views & Contributions


  • His writings and teachings did a lot to spread Hindu philosophy in the West especially Advaita Vedanta and Yoga philosophies.
  • His teachings opened up interfaith debates and awareness.
  • He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.
  • He believed that every religion directed us to the eternal supreme –freedom, knowledge, happiness. This can be done by realizing one’s Atma as part of Paramatma.
  • He spelled out the four pathways of attaining moksha from the worldly pleasure and attachment in his books – Raja-yoga, Karma-yoga, Jnana-yoga and Bhakti-yoga.
  • He worked towards a better understanding of Hinduism. According to him, the best form of worship was the service of the people.
  • He laid stress on physical and moral strength. One of his many quotes says, “You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita”.


  • He urged Indians to eliminate the caste system and promote science and industrialisation.
  • He worked against superstitions.
  • He advocated for the upliftment of women’s position in society.
  • He wanted the people to embrace the spirit of equality and free-thinking.


  • He worked towards nationalism and inspired many people to join the independence movement.
  • He urged the youth of the country to fight colonial oppression, do social service and work for the people in unity.
  • His four pillars of nationalism are:
    • Consciousness and pride in the ancient glory of India.
    • Development of moral and physical strength.
    • Awakening of the masses.
    • Unity is based on common spiritual ideas.


  • He gave great importance to education for India’s recovery.
  • According to Vivekananda: “A country is advanced in proportion as knowledge is distributed among the masses”.
  • He said our educational method should be such that it enables students to reveal their natural knowledge and power.
  • He said that education would make students self-dependent and help them to meet life’s obstacles.
  • He encouraged a character-building education for man-making.


  • He thought that if our youth is strong-minded, there can be nothing impossible for us to achieve in the world
  • He inspired so many youths of the country with his teaching, lessons, and books.
  • His birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day on January 12, and the week starting on that day is known as National Youth Week.
  • One of his many quotes says, “A man is not poor without a rupee but a man is really poor without a dream and ambition.”


  • He composed many songs and poems including Kali the mother.
  • His Bengali writings testify to his belief that words (spoken or written) should clarify ideas rather than demonstrate the speaker’s (or writer’s) knowledge.
  • Bartaman Bharat: Meaning “Present Day India”. It is a knowledgeable Bengali language essay written by Vivekananda. It was first published in the March 1899 issue of Ubdodhan, the only Bengali language magazine of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. It was reprinted as a book in 1905. It teaches the readers to honour and treat every Indian as a brother irrespective of whether he was born poor or in a lower caste.

Literary Works

Sangeet Kalpataru (1887), Karma Yoga (1896), Raja Yoga (1896), Vedanta Philosophy: An address before the Graduate Philosophical Society (first published 1896), Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897), Bartaman Bharat (in Bengali) (March 1899), Udbodhan My Master (1901), Jnana yoga (1899), Vedanta philosophy: lectures on Jnana Yoga (1902).

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