15 Little-Known Facts about Swami Vivekananda
The Unknown Life of Swami Vivekananda
Sankar's book The Monk as Man: The Unknown Life of Swami Vivekananda (Penguin) brings to light many hidden facets of one of Hinduism's most celebrated gurus. Here we share 15 things that you may not have known about Swami Vivekananda and his life.
The great figure who toured America and England and was known for his brilliant eloquence scored only a 47% at the university entrance level examination, a 46% in the FA (later this exam became Intermediate Arts or IA), and a 56% in his BA exam.
After his father’s death, the family was reduced to poverty. On many mornings Vivekananda would tell his mother that he had lunch invitations and he would go out so the others would get a larger share. He writes, “On such days, I had very little to eat, sometimes nothing at all. I was too proud to tell anyone…”
Taking advantage of his penury, many well-to-do ladies who were enamored of him tried to woo him. He preferred to starve than fall for such temptations. To one such lady he said, “Shun these worthless desires and call upon God.”
In spite of his BA degree, Narendranath (Vivekananda's real name) had to go from door to door in search of employment. He would loudly proclaim, “I am unemployed” to those who asked him. His faith in god shook and he began to tell people rather aggressively that God does not exist. One neighbor complained, “There is a young fellow living in that house. I have never seen such a conceited fellow! He is too big for his boots – and all because he has a BA degree! When he sings, he even strikes the table arrogantly and struts around smoking cheroot before all the elders…”
After the death of his paternal uncle Taraknath, his wife Gyanadasundari ousted Vivekananda’s family from their ancestral house and filed a suit in the court. Vivekananda fights the various litigation suits for 14 years and on the last Saturday of his life on 28 June 1902 he puts an end to the court case after paying some financial compensation.
When Jogendrabala, his sister committed suicide, Vivekananda told Yogen Maharaj, “Do you know why we Duttas are so talented in our thinking? Ours is a family with a history of suicides. There have been many in our families who have taken their own lives. We are eccentric. We do not think before we act. We simply do what we like and do not worry about the consequences.
The Maharaja of Khetri, Ajit Singh, used to send 100 rupees to Swamiji’s mother on a regular basis to help her tide over her financial problems. This arrangement was a closely guarded secret.
He simply worshiped his mother. After his Chicago fame, when Pratap Mazoomdar viciously condemned him, “He is nothing but a cheat and a fraud. He comes here to tell you that he is a fakir,” Vivekananda responded in a letter to Isabelle McKindley – “Now, I do not care what they even my own people say about me – except for one thing. I have an old mother. She has suffered much in her life and in the midst of all she could bear to give me up for the service of God and man; but to have given up the most beloved of her children – her hope – to live a beastly immoral life in a far-distant country, as Mazoomdar was telling in Calcutta, would have simply killed her.”
No women, not even his mother, were allowed inside the monastery. Once when he was delirious with fever his disciples fetched his mother. Seeing her Vivekananda shouted, “Why did you allow a woman to come in? I was the one who made the rule and it is for me that the rule is being broken!”
Vivekananda was a connoisseur of tea. In those days when the Hindu pandits were opposed to drinking tea, he introduced tea into his monastery. Bally municipality increased taxes on Belur on the grounds that it was a ‘private garden house’ where tea was served. Vivekananda sued the municipality in Chinsurah Zilla District Court. The British magistrate came on horseback to investigate. Now, who can beat the British at tea drinking? The charges were dismissed.
Vivekananda once convinced Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the great freedom fighter, to make tea at Belur Math. Tilak brought nutmeg, mace, cardamom, cloves and saffron with him and prepared Mughlai tea for all.
Vivekananda’s tireless service to man and God took a toll on his physical body. In all his 39 years, he suffered from various ailments – migraines, tonsillitis, diphtheria, asthma, typhoid, malaria, other persistent fevers, body heating up after dinner, liver problem, indigestion, gastroenteritis, accumulation of water in the stomach, dysentery and diarrhea, dyspepsia and abdominal pain, gallstone, lumbago, neck pain, Bright’s disease (acute nephritis), kidney problem, dropsy, albuminuria, bloodshot eyes, loss of vision in his right eye, chronic insomnia, inability to bear heat, premature greying of hair, neurasthenia, excessive fatigue, sea sickness, sunstroke, diabetes, heart problems. His motto, “One has to die…it is better to wear out than to rust out.”
Towards the end of his brief life he advised his disciples, “Learn from my experiences. Don’t be so hard on your body and ruin your health. I have harmed mine. I have tortured it severely, and what has been the result? My body has become ruined during the best years of my life! And I am still paying for it.” When one of his disciples asked him why he ignored his health, he replied he had no sense he has a body when he was in America
Vivekananda hated cowards. He writes to John P. Fox, “I like boldness and adventure and my race stands in need of that spirit very much…my health is failing and I do not expect to live long.”
In 1900 two years before his death when he arrived in India from the West for the last time, he hurried to Belur to be with his disciples or gurubhais. He heard the dinner gong but found the gate locked. He climbed over it and quickly made his way to the dining area to eat his favorite dish khichuri. No one suspected his rapidly failing health.
CONCLUDING ADDRESS - Chicago, Sept 27, 1893
The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor.
My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform.
My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.
Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: "Help and not fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."
WELCOME ADDRESS - Chicago, Sept 11, 1893
Sisters and Brothers of America,....................................................................
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
Top ten famous quotes of Swami Vivekananda
1. 3 GOLDEN RULES
Who is Helping You, Don’t Forget them.
Who is Loving you, Don’t Hate them .
Who is Believing you, Don’t Cheat them.
2. Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison.
3. Talk to yourself at least once in a Day.. Otherwise you may miss a meeting with an EXCELLENT person in this World…
4. Relationships are more important than life , but it is important for those relationships to have life in them….
5. You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.
6. Like me or Hate me,
both are in my favor,
If you like me I am in your Heart,
If you hate me I am in your mind.
7. BY the study of different religions we find that in essence they are one.
8. Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.
9..Fill the brain with high thoughts, highest ideals place them day and night before you and out of that will come great work.
10. Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.
Swami Vivekananda (Narendra Nath Datta) was an Indian Hindu monk and chief disciple of the 19th-century saint.
Born: January 12, 1863, Kolkata India
Died: July 4, 1902, Belur Howrah, West Bengal, India
Full name: Narendra Nath Datta
Education: Scottish Church College (1884)
A Chronology of Important Events in Vivekananda's Life:
Jan 12, 1863 Born Narendranath Dutta in Kolkata, India
1880 Passed the Calcutta University Entrance Examination in first division
Aug 16, 1886 Death of Shri Ramkrishna Paramhamsa
May 31, 1893 Swami Vivekananda sails for America
1893 Attends Parliament of Religions
Feb 20, 1897 Returns to Kolkata
1897 Founds the Ramkrishna Mission
Dec 9, 1898 Inaugurates the first monastery at Belur
June 1899 Sails for the second time to the West
1901 Ramkrishna Mission receives legal status
July 4, 1902 Vivekananda passes away in meditation at Belur monastery at the age of 39
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50 Inspiring and Motivational Quotes
1) All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.
2) "Arise, awake, sleep no more; within each of you there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries. Believe this, and that power will be manifested.
3) Be free; hope for nothing from anyone. I am sure if you look back upon your lives you will find that you were always vainly trying to get help from others which never came.
4) Be not afraid, for all great power throughout the history of humanity has been with the people. From out of their ranks have come all the greatest geniuses of the world and history can only repeat itself. Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvelous work.
5) Be not in despair, the way is very difficult, like walking on the edge of a razor; yet despair not, arise, awake, and find the ideal, the goal.
6) Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are bold words; but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches.
7) Calm and silent and steady work and no newspaper humbug, no name-making, you must always remember.
8) Come out into the broad open light of day, come out from the little narrow paths, for how can the infinite soul rest content to live and die in small ruts? Come out into the universe of Light. Everything in the universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love. If you ever felt you wanted to do that, you have felt God.
9) Cowards only sin, brave men never, no, not even in mind.
10) Do not be afraid of a small beginning Great things come afterwards. Be courageous. Do not try to lead your brethren, but serve them. The brutal mania for leading has sunk many a great ships in the waters of life. Take care especially of that, i.e. be unselfish even unto death, and work.
11) Do not figure out big plans at first, but, begin slowly, feel your ground and proceed up and up.
12) Do not wait for anybody or anything. Do whatever you can. Build your hope on none.
13) Go on bravely. Do not expect success in a day or a year. Always hold on to the highest. Be steady. Avoid jealousy and selfishness. Be obedient and eternally faithful to the cause of truth, humanity, and your country, and you will move the world.
14) Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need.
15) Hold on to your own ideal. . . . Above all, never attempt to guide or rule others, or, as the Yankees say, "boss" others. Be the servant of all.
16) I hate cowardice; I will have nothing to do with cowards or political nonsense. I do not believe in any politics. God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything else is trash.
17) I want each one of my children to be a hundred times greater than I could ever be. Every one of you must be a giant— must, that is my word. Obedience, readiness, and love for the cause— if you have these three, nothing can hold you back.
18) If you are really my children, you will fear nothing, stop at nothing. You will be like lions. We must rouse India and the whole world. No cowardice. I will take no nay. Do you understand?
19) If you can think that infinite power, infinite knowledge and indomitable energy lie within you, and if you can bring out that power, you also can become like me.
20) Infinite patience, infinite purity, and infinite perseverance are the secret of success in a good cause.
21) It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.
22) Know that every time you feel weak, you not only hurt yourself but also the cause. Infinite faith and strength are the only conditions of success.
23) Let people say whatever they like, stick to your own convictions, and rest assured, the world will be at your feet. They say, 'Have faith in this fellow or that fellow', but, I say, 'Have faith in yourself first'. that's the way.
24) Man is born to conquer nature and not to follow it.
25) Man never dies, nor is he ever born; bodies die, but he never dies.
26) Neither numbers nor powers nor wealth nor learning nor eloquence nor anything else will prevail, but purity, living the life, in one word, anubhuti, realisation. Let there be a dozen such lion-souls in each country, lions who have broken their own bonds, who have touched the Infinite, whose whole soul is gone to Brahman, who care neither for wealth nor power nor fame, and these will be enough to shake the world
Never think There is anything impossible...It is the greatest heresy To think so
28) Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow— never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.
29) Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin ? to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
No great work can be achieved by humbug. It is through love, a passion for truth, and tremendous energy, that all undertakings are accomplished.
No need for looking behind. FORWARD! We want infinite energy, infinite zeal, infinite courage, and infinite patience, then only will great things achieved.
Oh, if only you knew yourselves! You are souls; you are Gods. If ever I feel like blaspheming, it is when I call you man.
Pay no attention whatsoever to newspaper nonsense or criticism. Be sincere and do your duty. Everything will come all right. Truth must triumph.
Perfect sincerity, holiness, gigantic intellect, and all-conquering will. Let only a handful of men work with these, and the whole world will be revolutionized.
Persevere on, my brave lads, We have only just begun. Never despond! Never say enough!
Purity, perseverance, and energy— these three I want.
Purity, patience and perseverance overcome all obstacles. All great things must of necessity be slow.
Say, "I can do everything." "Even if poison of a snake is powerless if you can firmly deny it”
Say, "This misery that I am suffering is of my own doing, and that very thing proves that it will have to be undone by me alone."
Take courage and work on. Patience and steady work— this is the only way.
Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is way great spiritual giants are produced.
"The earth is enjoyed by heroes"— this is the unfailing truth. Be a hero. Always say, "I have no fear".
The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength.
This is the great fact: strength is life, weakness is death. Strength is felicity, life eternal, immortal; weakness is constant strain and misery: weakness is death.
To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. 'I will drink the ocean', says the persevering soul, 'at my Will Mountains will crumble up.' Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard, and you will reach the goal.
To work with undaunted energy! What fear! Who is powerful enough to thwart you?
Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.
We reap what we sow we are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise.
Whatever you think, that you will be if you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be; if you think yourselves impure, impure you will be; if you think yourselves pure, pure you will be
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