In order to spread his word and message in the West, he decided to attend the World Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. On the eve of his departure, he adopted the name of Swami Vivekananda. The moment he addressed the gathering there as “Sisters and Brothers of America”, he received a thunderous standing ovation that lasted for minutes,and his worldwide fame was assured.
Swami Vivekananda lectured in several cities across the United States on the essence of Hinduism: the Vedanta philosophy. In 1895, after receiving pressing invitations to England, he left for London where he continued his series of lectures and classes. After this, he returned to USA, and then back to England, and also other European countries, spreading the seeds of Vedanta farther and deeper.
In early 1897, Swami Vivekananda returned to India where a rousing reception awaited him wherever he went. The hard work in USA and England and the nonstop lecturing took a toll on his health. After recuperating for a few months, he set to work in earnest again at the Ramakrishna Math in Belur. Under Swamiji’s guidance, the Math set up more centres in different parts of India and served the people in times of calamities like the plague.
Two years later, Swami Vivekananda set upon his second phaseof travels in the West. Again, he alternated between USA and England, though this time he was not starting afresh, but building on the foundation set up in his last visit, and carried on by his numerous Western disciples.
In late 1900, he returned to India, again worn out by his ceaseless work. Contrary to doctors’ advice, he continued working and travelling to the extreme boundaries of the country. Ultimately, the physical body could not keep up to the demands of the great soul. Swami Vivekananda breathed his last on 4 July 1902 at the Belur Math, leaving behind an immortal legacy not just in the hearts of his contemporaries, but for all generations to come.