After the demise of his guru Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda (then Narendranath) was torn between loyalty to the Math and its mission, and his yearning to be a wandering monk. He felt that being tied down to the monastery was impeding his progress in the realisation of God.
In 1890, Swami Vivekananda set upon his peregrinations through the expanse of the country. In almost two years of wandering, he met and stayed with both prince and pauper, coming to realise first-hand the social condition of India. He understood its strengths and weaknesses, and the sorry situation the majority of his countrymen found themselves in.
When he reached Kanyakumari, the southern most end of the country, his mind was in a turmoil, seeking a solution to the miseries of the people of India, and the direction and nature of his own mission in life.
Swami Vivekananda sought the holy rock in midsea to medidate, as it was associated with the Divine Mother. The fishermen at the shore would not ferry him on their catamaran without any payment, and Swamiji was penniless. So he plunged into the sea and swam across to the rock.
Seated on the rock, he meditated in solitary splendour for three days and three nights (25-27 December 1892). The object of his meditation was Mother Indiaher past, present and future. Visions of the past glory contrasting with contemporaneous misfortunes passed through his mind, but one vision stood out brighter than all: the reawakening of India in not so distant a future and his instrumental role in bringing that about.
Here came to him enlightenment, as to Buddha under the Bodhi tree in Gaya, the message: Time is ripe for you to broadcast the message of Vedanta, of ancient wisdom, to the world.
There, sitting on the last stone of India, most vividly did he realise in the silence of his heart: India shall rise only through a renewal and restoration of that highest spiritual consciousness which has made of India, at all times, the cradle of the nations and the cradle of the Faith. He saw her greatness and her weakness as well, the central evil of which was that the nation had lost its individuality.
The meditation on the Rock at Kanyakumari was a prelude to Swami Vivekanandas ascent to world recognition through his soul-stirring lectures at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago and thereafter in different parts of America, England and Europe.
Swami Vivekananda naturally stands as the one who drew India out of her isolation of centuries and put her on the world map again.