Today is the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. In 2013, on the occasion of his 150th Birth Anniversary, 4 pairs of Vivek Express were started. Train was an integral and important part of Swami Vivekananda’s life. He gained a lot from these journeys.
- First Disciple: According to sources, Swami Sadananda (also known as Gupta Maharaj) was the first disciple of Swamiji. Sharat Chandra Gupta (Swami Sadananda’s earthly name) was in his early life a station master at Hathras railway station. In September 1888, while Swami Vivekananda was travelling from Vrindavan to Haridwar, he met Sharat Chandra Gupta. As the account goes, Swamiji was waiting at the station for a train, when Sharat Chandra Gupta approached him. Sharat was enchanted by the fascinating appearance of this unknown monk. So, he invited Swamiji to be a guest. Swamiji accepted the request, when he was about to leave Sharat wanted to accompany Swamiji on his journey. And thus he became the first disciple.
- Nights at Chicago Station: Having arrived in Chicago, Swamiji learned that he had mistakenly arrived a month and half early for Parliament of World Religions. He ran out of money very soon and had to spend many nights sleeping in packing boxes stacked at the sides of Chicago railway station.
- Help Arrives: Upon his arrival at Chicago, Swamiji found the going tough. He learned that the registration for Parliament of World Religions was over and no one was willing to offer him a chance to speak at the event. In the meanwhile, someone suggested him to travel to Boston as the costs in Chicago were exorbitant. The monk boarded a train to Boston, and during the journey he met Miss Kate Sanborn, who invited him to be a guest at her home. Learning of the obstacles Swamiji was facng, she introduced him to Professor J. H. Wright of Harvard University. After an in-depth discussion, the professor opined “To ask you for your credential is like asking sun about its right to shine!” He also wrote to chairman of the committee that selected the delegates mentioning “Here is a man who is more learned than all our learned professors put together.” Based on this recommendation, Swamiji was accepted as a delegate for Parliament of World Religions.
- Return back to India: After enthralling audiences at the Parliament of World Religions, Swami Vivekananda returned back to India. He arrived at Budge Budge ferry ghat and rested at the waiting room waiting for the train to Calcutta. His return on February 19 is celebrated at the station with great zeal. The waiting room where he rested is still preserved.