His sole possessions were a kamandalu (water pot), staff, and his two favourite books—Bhagavad Gita and The Imitation of Christ. Vivekananda traveled extensively in India for five years, visiting centres of learning, acquainting himself with the diverse religious traditions and different patterns of social life.
He developed a sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the masses and resolved to uplift the nation. Living mainly on bhiksha (alms), Vivekananda traveled on foot and railway tickets bought by his admirers whom he met during the travels.
During these travels he made acquaintance and stayed with Indians from all walks of life and religions—scholars, dewans, rajas, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, pariahs (low caste workers) and government officials