Some Lesser Known Facets Of Swami Vivekananda
Bhubaneswar: Swami Vivekananda was one of the most influential monks of all times. Swamiji is always remembered as an inspiration to mankind. His contribution in catapulting the Indian culture on world panorama is priceless. He spread the words of humanity and brotherhood among all men and women and called for global integrity through spiritual upliftment. The National Youth Day is celebrated on January 12 every year to commemorate the birthday of Swamiji. On his birth anniversary, let’s explore some of the unknown and interesting facets of Swami Vivekananda.
Vivekananda, who is best known as a monk to modernise Hinduism and took Vedanta to the West, was a gifted singer and proficient musician. He could flawlessly play flute, sitar, esraj and sarangi. Almost all the bhajans and songs on his master (Guru) Ramakrishna Paramahamsa are written and sung by him.
His father Vishwanath Datta, who was a trained classical musician, taught him the rudiments of Dhrupad. Mother Bhuvaneshwari Devi familiarised him with traditional devotional music. He was fortunate enough to be tutored by two well-known musicians of his time-Ahmad Khan and Beni Gupta.
He was agile enough to grasp the intricacies of Indian classical music and instruments under their tutelage though it normally takes a life time to master those. Vivekananda learnt to play the Pakhawaj from Murari Gupta. He was an accomplished singer in Dhrupad before he turned twenty. He participated in several concerts in Kolkata. He also authored a book on Indian and Bengali music titled Sangeeta Kalpataru. He had a beautiful voice which he used to enrapture the audience.
Many people don’t know Vivekananda’s love for food, cooking and his passion for tea. Interestingly, Vivekananda was not a vegetarian and consumed fish and mutton. This is not very shocking as he was a Bengali and came from the Kayastha community, which consumes non-vegetarian food. He also bought many books on French cooking and developed new dishes, one of them being a Khichdi cooked with eggs, peas and potatoes. As a child, he loved eating Kachori Sabzi which used to be sold near his house. He was very fond of ice cream. He loved to relish on fried potatoes which he used to cook with butter and curry powder. When Vivekananda travelled abroad, he developed a particular liking for different teas.
Marks are not soul of one’s talent
When it came to academics, Narendra Nath Datta (Swamiji’s pre-monastic name) reminded the adage that marks are not the soul of one’s talent. He wasn’t great at scoring marks. He took three university examinations – the entrance examination, the First Arts Standard (FA), which later became Intermediate Arts or IA and the Bachelor of Arts (BA). His scores in the English language were 47 % at the entrance level, 46 % in FA and 56 % in BA.
In a life-span of only 39 years, Swami Vivekananda battled several health problems including no less than 31 ailments. Insomnia, liver and kidney diseases, malaria, migraine, diabetes and heart ailments were among some of the 31 health problems that Swamiji suffered in the course of his life. One of the perennial problems that Vivekananda lived with was chronic insomnia. It is also known that Vivekananda used to suffer from diabetes like his father. However, at that time suitable drugs were unavailable. His abdominal pains were also a source of great anxiety for Swamiji.
After the death of Swami Vivekananda’s paternal uncle Taraknath, his wife Gyanadasundari ousted Vivekananda’s family from their ancestral house and filed a suit in the court. Swamiji fought the case for fourteen years. Then he decided to put an end to the court case in 1902 after paying some financial compensation.