6 unknown facts about Vivekananda to celebrate his 159th birthday

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We celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s 159th birthday today with some lesser-known facts.

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During the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda gave an inspiring speech about unity and universalism.

“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….”  

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These famous sentences from Swami Vivekananda’s 1893 speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago swept the globe. The son of Vishwanath Dutta and Bhubaneswari Devi, he was born on January 12, 1863 in Calcutta, the then-capital of British-ruled India. This religious leader was an ardent follower of Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa. He is renowned with increasing global interfaith consciousness. To honour his legacy, India celebrates National Youth Day on Vivekananda’s birthday. Today marks the 159th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s birth; the following are some lesser-known facts about him.

Vivekanamda had a different name before he became a monk

Swami Vivekananda was born under a different name before he became a monk. The Bengali aristocrat Narendranath Dutta was born into a progressive Bengali family. 

As a child, he faced many challenges

Swami Vivekananda was one of his family’s nine children. Unfortunately, his father, a lawyer at the Calcutta High Court, passed away when Swamiji was still a child. This resulted in the family’s impoverishment. In order to alleviate his family’s financial hardship, young Narendranath frequently lied about being invited to lunch or dinner.

The speed-reading ability of Swamiji was impressive

Even as a toddler, Swami had mastered his rapid reading abilities. He was notorious for borrowing many books at once from the library and returning them the following day. To test him, the librarian selected one of the books he had read the previous day and posed a question at random. He left the librarian speechless with his correct response.

It was by chance that Vivekananda met Ramkrishna

In a literature lecture at General Assembly’s Institution, a professor recommended that all students visit Ramkrishna to delve into the ‘trance’ subculture. This motivated Vivekananda, then commonly known as Naren, to pay him a visit in Dakshineswar.

A music enthusiast, he loved to listen to music

Young Naren displayed an affinity from an early age. In reality, he was a trained classical musician who had studied Dhrupad with two of India’s greatest composers, Beni Gupta and Ahmad Khan. Vivekananda was proficient with multiple musical instruments, including the sitar and dholak.

It had been predicted by Vivekananda that he wouldn’t live past 40 years old

Swami Vivekananda spent his entire life assisting the poor and disadvantaged. Unfortunately, his actions had a negative impact on his own health. He had numerous health issues during his 39 years, including diabetes, asthma, renal and liver failure, etc. As a matter of fact, he had projected that he wouldn’t survive to be 40.

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