Swami Vivekananda Jayanthi – Few Interesting Facts about the Monk

 In Hinduism

Swami Vivekananda, born as Narendranath Datta, was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda was one of the greatest spiritual leaders from India. He is seen as a key figure to have introduced Indian philosophies of Vedanta and yoga to the western world. It was his 1893 speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago that made him popular as “Messenger of Indian wisdom to the western world”. On January 12, the people of India celebrates his 156th birth anniversary, on this day let us indulge into some interesting facts about his life:-

  • Vikenadanada was Born as NArendranath Datta in a financially well-off family on January 12, 1863 in Kolkatta. His father, Vishwanath Datta was an attorney who excelled in his career. His mother’s name was Bhuvaneshwari Devi.
  • Narendra (to be called Swami Vivekananda later) was a very cheerful and restless boy during his childhood. When he used to get out of control, his mother Bhuveneshwari Devi often used to put his head under the cold water tap and chant “Om namah shivaya” and immediately he used to cool down.
  • He was a great lover of animals and birds. Among his boyhood pets were a family cow, a monkey, a goat, a peacock, and several pigeons and guinea-pigs.
  • In his childhood he had developed a special fancy for wandering monks; the very sight of them would greatly excite him.
  • During his childhood Narendra developed a fondness for the Hindu deities. Particularly attracted by the heroic story of Rama, he procured his images, adorned them with flowers, and worshiped them in his boyish style. But later, he got disillusioned when he learned that marriage is an entrapment into the materialistic world. When he had thought this over, he discarded the deities of Rama and Sita as unworthy of worship. He replaced their deities with that of Lord Shiva, the god of renunciation, who was the ideal of the yogis. Nevertheless, he retained a fondness for the Ramayana.
  • When it came to academics, Narendra Nath Datta wasn’t great at scoring marks. He scored a mere 47% in the entrance level examination of university, followed by just 46% in FA, which was later named as IA or Intermediate Arts. In B.A. however, he performed slightly better by scoring 56%. Despite being a good student, he failed to get a job for a very long time. That’s when he went through a period of spiritual crisis.
  • Swami Vivekananda’s father died suddenly when he was young. This broke the financial backbone of his family and the whole family was pushed into poverty.
  • Because of financial instability and scarcity of food, Narendra Nath Datta would often lie to his mother about lunch invitation from his friends. In reality there were no such invitations and he would simple get out of house so that the other members of his family could eat his share of food. He used to literally starve himself.
  • Swami Vivekananda used to ask for job from door to door. When he failed to get a job, he gradually turned into an atheist and would openly say that there was no such thing as god.
  • Many people considered him to be a very proud person because he held a BA degree. Not only that, because he had a BA degree and because he was a proud person, he would literally smoke cheroot in front of elders. He was also arrogant.
  • Swamiji was a very handsome man and many wealthy women tried to woo him knowing that he was spending his days in poverty and even literally starve. However, he always turned them down stating that such worthless temptations and desires are meaningless and that he preferred to starve rather than to fall for such things.
  • There was an arrangement between Narendra Nath’s mother and Ajit Singh – the Maharaja of Khetri. This arrangement was a closely guarded secret. Ajit Singh used to send rupees 100 every month to Narendra Nath’s mother as a financial aid.
  • Swami Vivekananda went through a phase of spiritual crisis when he was unemployed. That’s when he was introduced to the name ‘Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa’ by one of his English professors. In 1881, Narendra Nath met with Shri Ramkrishna at Dakshineshwar’s Kali temple.
  • It was Shri Ramkrisha who managed to remove all the doubts young Narendra Nath had and showed him the path of spiritual clarity and he became Ramkrishna’s disciple.
  • Swami Vivekananda and his family were thrown out of the ancestral house by Gyandasundari – wife of Vivekananda’s parental uncle – Taraknath. A lawsuit followed that Vivekananda fought for 14 years and on June 28, 1902 – on the last Saturday of his life, Vivekananda decided to end the court case by paying financial compensation.
  • Jogendrabala – sister of Swami Vivekananda committed suicide. That’s when Vivekananda commented to Yogen Maharaj that the Datta’s (he was speaking about his own family) are really good at thinking because they are whimsical and that his family has this history of suicidal deaths. He said that Datta’s don’t think before acting and they are least worried about the consequences that will follow after their actions.
  • After meeting with Shri Ramkrishna, Swami Vivekananda literally worshiped women but weirdly enough, no woman was ever allowed inside his monastery. He even became furious on his own disciples once when they allowed his mother to enter after he fell ill.
  • Swami Vivekananda was the man who took the Vedanta philosophy to the West and reformed Hinduism drastically.
  • Swami Vivekananda has amazing concentration power. He was a voracious reader and would borrow many books from library and return them on the very next day. This continued for some time when the librarian eventually decided find out whether he actually read those books or not. So, the librarian asked him a question from one of the pages of a random book. Vivekananda did not only answer the question but also managed to even quote several lines from the book.
  • Swamiji had amazing concentration power was also displayed in America. In America, he was sitting near a water body when he saw two young American guys attempting to shoot egg shells floating on water. The boys failed in every attempt when they noticed Vivekananda smirking. They were annoyed and asked Vivekananda to try. Amazingly enough, Vivekananda shot 12 times and every time he managed to hit his target. The amazed guys asked him the secret to which Vivekananda said that all they have to do is concentrate only and only on the targets and forget everything else in vicinity.
  • Swami Vivekananda had as many as 31 aliments. Liver and kidney damage, insomnia, migraine, asthma, diabetes are to name a few. He observed and inflicted immense pain to his human body and neglected it throughout his life. During his last few days, he said his disciples to learn from his experience. Always pay attention to human body and to stay fit.
  • In 1887, Narendra took the formal monastic vows and took the name Swami Vividishananda. He later changed his name to Swami Vivekananda prior to his journey to Chicago.
  • Swami Vivekananda traveled all across India, mostly on foot, visiting places of historical and spiritual significance. During this journey he met Sharat Chandra on his way to Haridwar and made him his disciple.
  • Upon reaching Kannyakumari, Swamiji sat on meditation on a rock in Vavathurai for two days and attained spiritual enlightenment. He became a powerful spiritual leader and philosopher. later the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built in the year 1970 in his honour.
  •  He received his first call to attend the Parliament of World’s Religion (that was to held in July 1893) in December 1892. One of his disciple in Madras and Maharaja of Khetri had financed his travel expenses.
  • When he reached Chicago in July 1893, he was shocked to learn that the Parliament would not open before mid September. He ran out of money within a week. He moved to Boston where the cost of living was lower. The first session of the PWR was held on 11th Sept, 1893.
  • He found the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894.
  • Swamiji traveled to England thrice between 1895 and 1896. He met Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita) during this period and made her his disciple.
  • He found the Sri Ramkrishna and Sri Sarada Devi Math & Mission in the year 1897. He had formally consecrated the math by installing the master’s relics in its shrine. Hence, Belur Math became the headquarter of Sri Ramkrishna Mission.
  • Swamiji loved Khichdi and it was regularly served in his monastery.
  • Swamiji had always said that he will not live till 40 years of age and died at 39.
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