Vivekananda - A Biography

How much do I want to read more? 7/10

Nice early years so far.


He tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy.
In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902) he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga.
In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures.

William James, the Harvard philosopher, called the Swami the 'paragon of Vedantists.' Max Müller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. 'His words,' writes Romain Rolland, 'are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!'


Before Vivekananda was born, his mother, like many other pious Hindu mothers, had observed religious vows, fasted, and prayed so that she might be blessed with a son who would do honour to the family.

At the age of six he was sent to a primary school. One day, however, he repeated at home some of the vulgar words that he had learnt from his classmates, whereupon his disgusted parents took him out of the school and appointed a private tutor, who conducted classes for him and some other children of the neighbourhood.
Naren soon showed a precocious mind and developed a keen memory. Very easily he learnt by heart the whole of a Sanskrit grammar and long passages from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Viswanath did not directly scold his son, but wrote with charcoal on the door of his room: 'Narendra today said to his mother — ' and added the words that had been used. He wanted Narendra's friends to know how rudely he had treated his mother.

In 1871, at the age of eight, Narendra entered high school. His exceptional intelligence was soon recognized by his teachers and classmates.
Though at first reluctant to study English because of its foreign origin, he soon took it up with avidity.

'What asses you all are! See, my neck is still there. The old man's story is simply not true. Don't believe what others say unless you your-selves know it to be true.'
'Do not believe in a thing because you have read about it in a book. Do not believe in a thing because another man has said it was true. Do not believe in words because they are hallowed by tradition. Find out the truth for yourself. Reason it out. That is realization.'

As Narendra grew into adolescence, his temperament showed a marked change. He became keen about intellectual matters, read serious books on history and literature, devoured newspapers, and attended public meetings. Music was his favourite pastime.