Among all young generation monks in the world, the name of Swami Vivekananda flashes bright and clear. He was one of the most influential monks of all times.
Hailing from India, Swami Vivekananda’s life was not a smooth ride at all. As a matter of fact, he had to sail through tremendous difficulties in life.
In this article on Swami Vivekananda facts, we are going to explore some of the most interesting facts about this inspiring monk who inspired millions of men and women across the world.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 1-5
1. Swami Vivekananda’s pre-monastic name was Narendra Nath Datta. He was born with a temperament of yogis and used to meditate at a very early age.
2. He was born in a financially well-off family. His father, Vishwanath Datta was an attorney who excelled in his career. His mother’s name was Bhuvaneshwari Devi.
3. Swami Vivekananda’s birth place was Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta) and he was born on January 12, 1863. He died on July 4, 1902 in Kolkata.
4. 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%.
5. 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.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 6-10
6. Because of financial instability and scarcity of food, Narendra Nath Datta would often lie to his mother about lunch invitations from his friends. In reality there were no such invitations and he would simply get out of the house so that the other members of his family could eat his share of food. He used to literally starve himself.
7. Coming back to academics, we need to mention that though Narendra Nath Datta failed to score high marks, he was no less than a brilliant student. Back in those days, it was really difficult to score marks and what he scored was considered as brilliant.
8. 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.
9. Swami Vivekananda used to ask for a 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.
10. 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.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 11-15
11. He 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 starving. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. The financial crisis for Swami Vivekananda’s family started in 1884 after the death of his father. That’s when the wealthy women tried to woo him but he would say to them, ‘shun these worthless desires and call upon God’.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 16-20
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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 with his own disciples once when they allowed his mother to enter after he fell ill.
19. Swami Vivekananda has amazing concentration power. He was a voracious reader and would borrow many books from the library and return them on the very next day. This continued for some time when the librarian eventually decided to 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.
20. His 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 Facts: 21-25
21. Swami Vivekananda absolutely loved tea and he was an expert in taste. During the time when he lived, tea was a strict NO for Hindu pandits. Despite this fact, Vivekananda actually introduced this beverage in his own monastery.
22. Swami Vivekananda’s monastery was in Belur that fell under Bally municipality. Because he introduced tea there, the municipality levied heavy taxes on Belur stating that the place was no more than a private garden house where the prohibited beverage was served.
23. Swami Vivekananda wasn’t happy about the increased taxes and ended up with a lawsuit against the municipality in Chinsurah Zilla District Court. The magistrate came for investigation where Vivekananda served his tea. The British magistrate appreciated the tea so much that all charges on Belur were removed and taxes lowered.
24. He loved tea to such an extent that once he managed to convince India’s one of the greatest freedom fighters – Bal Gangadhar Tilak to come and make tea at Belur Math. Tilak turned up with cardamom, mace, saffron, cloves and nutmeg and prepared tea for everyone. The tea prepared by Tilak was Mughlai tea.
25. One of Swami Vivekananda’s mottos in life was that since everyone has to die someday, it is always better to wear out rather than rusting out. It is this motto that led him to totally disregard his health.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 26-30
26. Serving God and mankind, this great monk of India eventually suffered from a host of diseases. Actually, 31 diseases in all. He suffered from tonsillitis, asthma, malaria, typhoid, diphtheria, migraines, indigestion, liver problems, unusual heating up of the body after dinner, dyspepsia, diarrhea, dysentery, water accumulation in stomach, gastroenteritis, lumbago, gallstones, abdominal pain and dropsy, kidney problems, chronic insomnia, acute nephritis or Bright’s disease, premature hair graying, vision loss in right eye, bloodshot eyes, albuminuria, excessive fatigue, neurasthenia, inability to tolerate heat, diabetes, heart problems, sunstroke, sea sickness and neck pain.
27. Though Swami Vivekananda had a very unusual motto, in the last few days before he died at the age of 39, he actually told his disciples that it is very important to stay fit and healthy and that they should learn a lesson from his own experiences.
28. One of the most amazing Swami Vivekananda facts is that he predicted his very own death. He said that he will not survive beyond the age of 40 and it turned out that he actually died at the age of 39.
29. He also predicted one more thing. He said that in the coming 50 years, India will gain her freedom. That happened too as India earned her independence 45 years after his death.
30. His death remains a mystery till date. It was found that he died because the blood vessels in his brain ruptured. However, his disciples claim that he went into Mahasamadhi, which can be attained only if Brahmarandhra – aperture in the head’s crown is pierced. So, whether it was a Mahasamadhi or just a natural death caused by ruptured blood vessels still remains a mystery.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 31-35
31. Swami Vivekananda strongly believed that a sanyasi should not stay in a single place. He believed that by doing so, a sanyasi will be affected by societal ills and the only way to avoid this is to roam around from one place to another. It is because of this, he walked across the length and breadth of the whole country.
32. Vivekananda was in Varanasi in 1887 and was taking a walk along the streets of Varanasi with Swami Premananda. That’s when the two were chased by some monkeys. When the two sanyasis ran, another old sanyasi saw that and asked them to halt and face the animals. The two men did the same and the monkeys stopped. That’s when Swami Vivekananda learned that it is very important to stand up against adversities and face them with courage. He told this story later to American audience in New York.
33. He attended the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1983. He left India in 1893 on May 31 and delivered his first speech on September 11 the very same year.
34. Ajit Singh Bahadur – the Maharaja of Khetri was the person who proposed the name Vivekananda to Narendra Nath Datta before he left for America.
35. While traveling all over India, Swami Vivekananda used two names as his identification – Satchidananda and Vividishananda. Vividishananda was the name that he chose to take when he took sanyas.
Swami Vivekananda Facts: 36-41
36. In 1894 and 1899, Swami Vivekananda started the Vedanta Society in Chicago and New York respectively.
37. Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose – the famous Indian scientist met Swami Vivekananda at Paris during the World Congress of Religion that was held in 1899. That’s when Bose said that Swami Vivekananda was ‘Pride and Joy of Bengal’.
38. One of the most famous foreign disciples of Swami Vivekananda was Sister Nivedita. Her real name was Margaret Noble. She changed her name after becoming a sanyasan.
39. After Swami Vivekananda delivered his speeches in the World Parliament of Religions, he became famous by the name ‘orator by divine right’. People also started calling him as ‘Messenger of Indian Wisdom to the Western World’.
40. Swami Vivekananda’s most important contribution was to reconcile science and religion and showed that religion is also scientific. He eventually said that religion is the science of consciousness and that science and religion complement each other.
41. Swami Vivekananda founded the famous Ramakrishna Mission.