Swami Vivekananda was born in Shimla Pally, Calcutta and was given the name Narendranath Datta. His father Vishwanath Datta was an attorney of Calcutta high court. He was considered generous, and had a 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.
His thinking and personality were influenced by his parents—the father by his rational mind and the mother by her religious temperament. During his early years he became familiar with Western philosophy and science, and refused to accept anything without rational proof and pragmatic test. Another part of his mind was drawn to the spiritual ideals of meditation and non-attachment.