I can still recall some of the stories about Vivekananda from that book which enthralled me long back. I’ll share them with you.
Vivekananda’s original name was Narendra as his parents named him. Narendra as a child was very sharp, intelligent and mischievous too. His father was a criminal lawyer with lot of good-will among people. Many eminent literates used to come to their house and hold discussions on many topics- mostly religion, literature and politics. Narendra also used to sit with them and listen attentively to everything, posing questions once in a while to which he only used to get a smile or a pat in answer. One day after the usual discussion session, he sneaks into the room meant for his father’s clients and takes a puff from the hookahs meant for the Muslim clients, unaware of the fact that his father was watching him from behind the door. Later, he goes to the mirror at one corner of the room, and looks suspiciously at his thin figure in the mirror. Not able to resist his curiosity, his father comes out and asks Narendra what he was doing. To which Narendra replies that he was trying to see whether there was any change in him after he smoked the hookah meant for the Muslims who were considered as untouchables in his high-rank family. Then and there itself his father realizes that his son is no ordinary child.
The second story happens when Narendra turns into Vivekananda after his sanyas. Once, when he goes on a walk, he sees a dalit (untouchable then) man on the road, smoking hookah happily. At that sight, Vivekananda also feels an urge to take a puff from it. He approaches him to make a request to fulfill his urge. But, suddenly he remembers all those traditional values he was always asked to inherit as a child. For a moment, he hesitates and starts to make a move out of that place. The very next moment he feels ashamed of his thought and approaches the man again and asks him to let him have a puff too. The man hesitates too at first but later obliges Vivekananda after the latter’s assurance to him.
Another story was about the unselfishness of Vivekananda, which goes something like this. Once, after his father’s death and buried deep in debts, Narendra approaches Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to help him find some solutions to his unending household problems. Paramahamsa obliges him to visit goddess Kali’s temple and make a wish. Narendra immediately goes to the temple and sits in front of the goddess’ statue. After sitting there for about two hours he returns to Paramahamsa and starts crying. Paramahamsa, knowing everything beforehand just greets him with a smile and asks him the reason for his sadness. To which Narendra replies that though he went there to ask maa Kali a boon, he could not ask her anything for himself even after being with her for two hours and that he felt ashamed of his selfishness. He says that he could not ask maa Kali anything for his selfish needs and was spell-bound by the serenity she provided him with. Paramahamsa embraces him and then he gives him the name Vivekananda and bestows the honour of being his core disciple.
And, there are many other beautiful stories, which are sure to make an indelible impact on the readers, if only they read them with interest.