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Swami Vivekananda and food

In the course of his wanderings, Vivekananda had got accustomed to eat chillies, which were often the only condiment he had with his food. I have seen him eating a handful of pungent, green chillies with evident relish.

(Source: Reminiscences of Nagendra Nath Gupta)

Green chillies - Frank Parlato Jr.


He liked chillies, pepper, and such other pungent things. When I asked for the reason one day (October 1892), he said. “During his wanderings a monk has to take all kinds of food, and drink water from all sorts of places; that tells upon the health. To counteract their bad effect, many monks become addicted to hemp and other intoxicants. For the same reason I have taken to chilli.”

(Source: Reminiscences of Haripada Mitra)


Hookah - Frank Parlato Jr. “The best way to enjoy tobacco is to smoke it from a hookah full of water at the bottom and having at its top a lump of flavoured tobacco prepared with spices and molasses.” Swami Vivekananda- said as a wandering monk

(Source: Reminiscences of Haripada Mitra)


Tabasco Sauce with his meat

‘My grandmother (Mrs John [Emily] Lyon) used to make a little ceremony of making salad dressing at the table, and one of the condiments she used was Tabasco Sauce, put up by some friends of hers, the Mrs. Ilhennys, inLouisiana . She handed him the bottle and said, “You might like a drop or two of this on your meat, Swami”. He sprinkled it on with such a lavish hand that we all gasped and said, “But you can’t do that! It’s terribly hot!” He laughed and ate it with such enjoyment that a special bottle of the sauce was always put at his place after that.’

(Source: Reminiscences of Cornelia Conger
Time Period: September 1893)


Having ascertained from him that, since leaving Ernakulam he had taken almost nothing, I asked him what food he was accustomed to. He replied, “Anything you like; we Sannyasins have no tastes.”

(Source: Reminiscences of K. Sundarama Iyer
Time Period: December 1892)


“As regards food, when he was asked whether he was a vegetarian or a meat-eater, he said that as a man belonging not the ordinary order of Sannyasins but to the order of the Paramahamsas, he had no option in the matter. The Paramahamsa, by the rules of that order, was bound to eat whatever was offered, and in cases where nothing could be offered he had to go without food. And a Paramahamsa was not precluded from accepting food from any human being irrespective of his religious beliefs. When he was asked whether he would accept food from non-Hindus, he told us that he had several times been under the necessity of accepting food from Mohammedans.”

(- G.S. Bhate describing the Swami’s comments in Belguam – late 1892)


When he stayed with me at Trivandrum , he used to take but one light meal in the daytime, and only a little milk at night.

(Source: Reminiscences of K. Sundarama Iyer
Time Period: December 1892)