Swami Vivekananda was born in Shimla Pally, Calcutta on 12 January 1863, during the Makara Sankranti festival in a traditional Kayastha family, and was given the name Narendranath Dutta. His father Vishwanath Dutta was an attorney of Calcutta High Court. He was considered generous, and had a liberal and progressive outlook in social and religious matters. His mother Bhuvaneshwari Devi was pious and had practiced austerities and prayed to Vireshwar Shiva of Varanasi to give her a son. She reportedly had a dream in which Shiva rose from his meditation and said that he would be born as her son. Narendranath's thinking and personality were influenced by his parents—the father by his rational mind and the mother by her religious temperament. From his mother he learnt the power of self-control. One of the sayings of his mother Narendra quoted often in his later years was, "Remain pure all your life; guard your own honor and never transgress the honor of others. Be very tranquil, but when necessary, harden your heart." He was reportedly adept in meditation and could reportedly enter the state of samadhi. He reportedly would see a light while falling asleep and he reportedly had a vision of Buddha during his meditation. During his childhood, he had a great fascination for wandering ascetics and monks.
Narendranath had varied interests and a wide range of scholarship in philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, arts, literature, and other subjects. He evinced much interest in scriptural texts, Vedas, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. He was also well versed in classical music, both vocal and instrumental and is said to have undergone training under two Ustads, Beni Gupta and Ahamad Khan. Since boyhood, he took an active interest in physical exercise, sports, and other organizational activities. Even when he was young, he questioned the validity of superstitious customs and discrimination based on caste and refused to accept anything without rational proof and pragmatic test. When his father moved to Raipur in 1877 for 2 years then Narendranath along with the whole family shifted there. At that time there were no good schools in Raipur so he spent his time with his father and had discussions on spiritual topics. Narendranath learned Hindi in Raipur and for the first time the Question of existence of God came to his mind. It is believed that once he experienced an ecstasy during this period of life. The family returned to Calcutta in 1879 but it is believed that these 2 years were the turning point in his life. Raipur is sometimes termed as the "Spiritual Birthplace" of Swami Vivekananda.