His father, Vishwanath Dutta, was a famous lawyer with progressive, liberal, and scientific outlook. He was widely travelled and knew many languages including Persian and English. Swami Vivekananda's mother, Bhuvaneshawaridevi, was a pious and wise lady devoted to God. She inspired the latent virtues of fearlessness, honesty, justice, and devotion in her son, Narendra (as Swami Vivekananda was called in his childhood). She told him the stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two great Indian Epics, which influenced later life of Swami Vivekananda. From his early childhood Narendra was naughty, brave, and fearless. He did not approve of injustice or sycophancy. But his peculiar tendencies in the childhood were 1) the ease with which he could get absorbed in deep meditation, and 2) the unusual capacity of intense mental concentration, which made him learn and remember the essence of his studies even by reading just once. As an example, let me cite the following incident from his later life: Once Swami Vivekananda was reading 'Encyclopedia Britannica'. His disciple (Sharatchandra Chakravarti), seeing those twenty-odd volumes, remarked, "It is difficult to master the contents of so many volumes in one life." He did not know at the time that the Swami had already finished ten volumes and was reading the eleventh. "What do you mean?" said Swamiji. "Ask me whatever you like from those ten volumes and I can tell you all about it." The disciple, out of curiosity, brought down the books and asked Swamiji many questions on difficult and varied topics, selecting from different volumes. Swami Vivekananda not only replied each correctly, but also in many instances quoted the very language of the books. At other time, Swami Vivekananda happened to turn the pages of a book in quick succession after looking at them just once. The disciple asked as to what Swamiji was doing. Swami Vivekananda replied, "Why, I am reading the book." The disciple was greatly surprised to see such odd method of reading the book. Then the Swami explained: Just as a child reads every letter of a word, and most of adults read a cluster of words or a part of a sentence, one can read paragraph to paragraph. Thus, just three glances and he could read the whole page. Later he greatly emphasized the need to cultivate powers of mind in the form of purity and concentration for spiritual gains. Concentration of mind also led to perfection in many other branches of knowledge including art and science, he maintained.
Pathways to Joy: The Master Vivekananda on the Four Yoga Paths to God
Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda 8 Vol. set
Karma-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga
Swami Vivekananda on Himself