Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Datta (12th January 1863 – 4th July 1902). He was a disciple of 19th century Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna. His lectures, writings, letters, and poems are published in ‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda’. He took the responsibility of introducing Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world.
He lived at his ancestral home at 3 Gourmohan Mukherjee Street in Calcutta. Swami Vivekananda was interested in spirituality from a very young age and used to meditate before images of deities.
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest its Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion.
When Narendra Datta spoke everyone would pay attention. He was a great story-teller, even as a child. One day while in school, he kept his friends engaged in a story. Meanwhile, the teacher entered the classroom and began to teach. Since Narendra’s friends were too engrossed in his story, they didn’t take notice of what the teacher was teaching.
The story-telling session did not continue very long, as the teacher heard the whispering of the students. Furiously he asked each student to explain what he had been teaching. No one but Narendra could answer what the teacher was teaching. When it was Narendra’s turn, pat came the answers to the teacher’s question. Other students were astonished of how he could tell a story and simultaneously listen to the class.
Swami Vivekananda’s specialty lied in his presence of mind. Practicing meditation, yoga, and concentration in his everyday life helped him to multi-task his mind.
The teacher wanted to know who had been talking for so long. All students pointed at Narendra, but the teacher refused to believe, as he gave correct answers to all his question on today’s class teachings.
The teacher punished the students by asking them to stand up on the bench. He excluded Narendra and asked him to be seated. Though permitted to relax by the teacher, Swami Vivekananda stood up on the bench along with his friends.
The teacher asked him to sit down, but he said, “No, for it was I who was talking.”
This story of Swami Vivekananda’s honesty is taught to children to this day.