Swami Vivekananda Ji

Swami

Stories - Swami Vivekananda Ji
Quotes - Swami Vivekananda Ji
Videos - Swami Vivekananda Ji






Swami Vivekananda, Early Days

      Swami Vivekananda, or Narendranath Datta, or simply Narendra or Naren as was known during his pre-monastic days, was born to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneshwari Devi on Monday, 12th January 1863, at Calcutta.

Naughty and restless though Narendranath was by nature, and given to much fun and frolic, he was greatly attracted towards spiritual life even in childhood. The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which his mother told him left on him an indelible impression. Play delighted Narendranath, and one of his pastimes as a child was to worship and meditate on the image of Rama, Sita or Shiva. Every night, before he fell asleep, there appeared to him between his eyes a wonderful spot of light of changing hues. That light would gradually expand until it burst and bathed his whole being in a white radiance. He had full faith in Hindu mythology. Once he went to hear an exposition of the Ramayana in the course of which he heard the pundit describe the great devotion of Hanuman. At the end of the exposition, he approached the pundit and said he would like to know the whereabouts of Hanuman. The pundit said that he might be in some plantain grove. So Narendranath waited at a plantain grove till late at night expecting to meet Hanuman, and his people could find him only after a great search.

Even in his early boyhood, Narendranath demanded intellectually convincing arguments for every proposition. He often used to swing on the branches of a champaka tree in a neighbour's compound. This irritated the owner, an old man, and he warned Narendranath and his companions that the tree was haunted by a bad ghost who would some day break their necks. This frightened the other boys ; but Narendranath argued that if the old man were right, their necks would have been broken long ago. And he continued to swing on the branches of the tree as before.

Narendranath was gifted with a multiplicity of talents and he cultivated them all. His leonine beauty was matched by his courage ; he had the build of an athlete, a delightful voice, and a brilliant intellect. His interests ranged from fencing, wrestling, rowing, games, physical exercise, cooking and organising dramas to instrumental and vocal music, love of philosophic discussion, and criticism. In all these he was an undisputed leader. These and other traits in his character soon attracted the notice of his teachers and fellow students. The principal of his college, Professor Hastie, once remarked: "Narendra is a real genius. I have travelled far and wide, but have not yet come across a lad of his talents and possibilities even among the philosophical students in the German universities. He is bound to make his mark in life."

In College

At college Narendranath began to interest himself more seriously in studies. Apart from the usual college curriculum, he avidly studies western logic, the abstruse philosophy of Herbert Spencer, the systems of Kant and Schopenhauer, the mystical and analytical speculation of the Aristotelian school, the positivist philosophy of Comte, and John Stuart Mill's Three Essays on Religion. He also mastered the ancient and modern history of Europe and the English poets like Shelley and Wordsworth. He even took a course in physiology with a view to understanding the functioning of the nervous system, the brain, and the spinal cord.

But this contact with western thought, which lays particular emphasis on the supremacy of reason, brought about a severe conflict in Narendranath. His inborn tendency towards spirituality and his respect for the ancient traditions and beliefs of his religion which he had imbibed from his mother, on the one side, and his argumentative nature coupled with his sharp intellect which hated superstition and questioned simple faith on the other, were now at war with each other. Under a deep spiritual urge, he was then found observing hard ascetic practices, staying in his grandmother's house, away from his parents and other relatives, following a strict vegetarian diet, sleeping on the bare ground or on an ordinary quilt, in accordance with the strict rules of brahmacharya. From youth, two visions of life had presented themselves before him. In one, he found himself among the great ones of the earth, possessing riches, power, honour, and glory, and he felt himself capable of renouncing all worldly things, dressed in simple loin- cloth, living on alms, sleeping under a tree, and then he felt that he had the capacity to live thus like the Rishis of ancient India. It was, however, the second vision that prevailed in the end, and he used to sleep with the conviction that by renunciation alone could man attain the highest bliss.

In his eagerness for spiritual illumination he went to Devendranath Tagore, the leader of the Brahmo Samaj, and asked him: "Sir, have you seen God?" The old man was embarrassed by the question, and replied, "My boy, you have to eyes of a Yogi. You should practice meditation." The youth was disappointed, but he received no better answer from the leaders of other religious sects whom he approached with the same question.

At this critical juncture he remembered the words of his professor, William Hastie, who, while speaking of trances in the course of his lectures, had said, "Such an experience is the result of purity of mind and concentration on some particular object, and is rare indeed, particularly in these days. I have seen only one person who has experienced that blessed state of mind, and he is Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar. You can understand if you go there and see for yourself." ... now in his trouble, the young seeker decided to have yet one more try to solve his problem.

At the first meeting:

Approaching him (Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar), Narendranath asked him the question which he had asked others often before: "Sir, have you seen God?" "Yes, answered Sri Ramakrishna, "I see Him just as I see you here, only I see Him in a much intenser sense. God can be realised; one can see and talk to Him as I am doing with you. But who cares to do so? People shed torrents of tears for their wife and children for wealth and property, but who does so for the sake of God? If one weeps sincerely for Him. He surely manifests Himself."

This startling reply impressed Narendranath at once. For the first time he had found a man who could say that he had seen God, and recognised that religion was a reality to be felt. As he listened, he could not but believe that Sri Ramakrishna spoke from the depths of his own realisations




TrueColorsofLife.com © 2013. All Rights Reserved

Powered by Blog - Widget
Face Upward - Widget