During his travels across India, Swami Vivekanand was deeply touched by the terrible poverty and backwardness of the people. He was the first religious leader in India to understand and openly declare that the real cause of India's ruin was the neglect of the masses. The urgent need was to provide food and other bare requirements of life to the starving millions. For this, they should be trained about improved agricultural techniques, village industries, etc. It was in this context that Vivekanand grasped the core problem of poverty in India, which had never attracted the attention of social reformers of those days. Because of centuries of repression, the exploited masses had lost the confidence in their ability to improve. The priority was to instill into their minds the faith in themselves and for this they needed a revitalizing and inspiring message. Vivekanand could find this message in the principle of the Atman, the doctrine of the potential divinity of the soul, taught in Vedanta, the ancient system of religious philosophy of India. He saw that, in spite of poverty, the masses adhered to religion. But they had never been enlightened by the stimulating principles of Vedanta and how to apply them in practical life. Thus, the people needed two kinds of knowledge, firstly, secular knowledge to improve their economic condition and secondly, spiritual knowledge to infuse self-confidence and reinforce their morality. The challenge was to spread these two kinds of knowledge among the people. Education was the only answer that Vivekanand found.