Swami Vivekananda, the monk who took Vedanta philosophy to the West and transform Hinduism drastically, was a man of great charisma. He attended the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. This great man is the founder of Ramakrishna Mission and Belur Math in Calcutta, which are still working towards helping the needy and popularising Hinduism. Swamiji was arguably the most inspiring person for the younger generation and hence his birthday, January 12, is celebrated as National Youth Day. The man is well-known not only in India but also around the world, today over a hundred years after his death he still remains the same inspiring young monk!
Let’s dive into the lesser known facts of Swami Vivekananda’s life:
- Scored 56% in BA exam
The great figure who toured America and England and was known for his brilliant eloquence scored 47% at the university entrance level examination and 56% in his BA exam.
- Connoisseur of tea
Swami Vivekananda was a connoisseur of tea. He introduced the beverage in his monastery in Belur. Hindu Brahmins opposed drinking of tea and hence used to charge heavy tax on tea. Vivekananda fought against the municipality and tax levied was reduced. He even convinced his close friend Lokamnya Bal Gangadhar Tilak to prepare and drink tea with him. The freedom fighter brought mace, cardamom, cloves and saffron and prepared Mughlai tea.
- No entry for women inside the monastery
Though Vivekananda used to respect and worship women, entry for them was strictly prohibited in his monastery. Once when Swamiji was ill his disciples fetched his mother. Seeing his mother he 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.”
- Unemployed forever
Regardless of holding a BA degree, Vivekananda never secured a job. He even went door to door for work.
- Lived in extreme poverty
After his father’s death, his family had to struggle to get a meal a day. Swamiji often used to move out of the house so that other members had enough. 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 fought the litigation suits for 14 years and on the last Saturday of his life on 28 June 1902 he decided to put an end to the court case after paying some financial compensation.
- Elephant’s memory
Swamiji used to borrow books from the library and return it the next day. The librarian doubted whether he really read the books or not. So the librarian tested him by asking questions from a random page of the books. Swamiji answered them correctly and also quoted lines from the same page.
- Guarded secret
Ajit Singh, the Maharaja of Khetri, used to send Rs 100 to Swamiji’s mother on a regular basis to tide over financial issues.
- Suffered 31 ailments
‘The Monk as Man’ by well-known Bengali author Shankar states that Swamiji suffered from 31 ailments. Insomnia, migraine, malaria, diabetes, indigestion, bloodshot eyes, asthma, liver and kidney disease are some of the ailments.
- Health advise
Vivekananda’s tireless service took a toll to his physical body. His words of wisdom to his disciples were “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.”
- Predicted his own death
Swami Vivekananda predicted that he would not live beyond 40 years. He died on July 4, 1902, at the age of 39 years.
We are sure that these facts surely made you feel that this young man’s life was not less than a stormy ocean.