Narendra Modi : Facts from His Childhood

Narendra Modi has won many fans and admirers throughout the world. He has achieved instant celebrity status among the people where ever he has paid a state visit. Today we know him as the Leader of the World’s largest democracy- a Leader who is bent on initializing reforms and boosting economic growth, but did you ever wonder how the 15th Prime Minister of India as a child was?

Image Courtesy: Narendra Modi via Flickr

Here are the interesting facts from his childhood.

Childhood and Family

Narendra Damodardas Modi was born into a poor ‘Ghanchi’ family in the small town of Vadnagar on 17th September 1950. His family belonged to the Ghanchi community who are known traditionally to be oil pressers. His forefathers came from a family named Ranchoddas and had settled in Vadnagar in the late nineteenth century. His father, Damodardas Mulchand, owned a small grocery cum tea stall near the Vadnagar railway station. This was the main source of income for the family of eight, which resided in a small three-room house made of mud and bricks. The family bathed and washed clothes in a nearby lake. It was in this ignoble surroundings that Modi spent his childhood.

As a Schoolboy

Modi as a schoolboy was an average student but excelled in co-curricular activities in his school, especially debate and plays. He is known to have adamantly resisted the perusal of his homework by a class monitor because he believed that the teacher alone has the competence and authority to do such work. Modi as a student was always inquisitive and is known to have troubled the teachers which his many questions, some of which were directed towards the very methodology of teaching! His young mind was filled with innovative and unconventional ideas on many topics ranging from teaching to washing clothes, and in the process he used to receive scolding from both teachers and his mother, Hiraben.

An Expert Swimmer and the Crocodile Story

The lanky and athletic boy that Modi was during his childhood, was an expert swimmer and is known to have swum in crocodile infested Sharmishtha lake. There is story from Modi’s childhood where in order to change the flag on top of a temple situated on a small outcrop in the middle of the crocodile-filled lake, Modi along his two friends swum all the way to the temple , changed the flag and swum back to the shore, to the applause and relief of the villagers.

The Beginning of the Now Famous ‘Chaiwala’

Life was not all play for Little Modi, after school he used to help his father by selling tea on the railway station and compartments. Modi later recounted how he was excited to serve tea to the wounded veteran soldiers of the Indian Army, who were returning from the war front during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. An inspired Modi was interested in joining a Sainik school but his parents refused to entertain him on that matter.

 The Roots of his Oratory Skills

As a young energetic child, Modi used to visit an RSS sakha every day after selling tea at the railway station. He didn’t visit it for any political beliefs as he was too young to develop one, but for taking part in debate and other interesting activities that were held in those sakhas. Modi excelled in those activities, especially in debates and that brought him to the notice of Laxmanrao Inamdar, who would later become Modi’s principle guide and mentor. It was under Inamdar that a young Modi as a ‘balswamsevak’ learned the importance of renunciation, dedication and hard work.

His Best Friends

Given the allegations against Modi of being anti-Muslim, it is interesting to note that Modi lived very close to the Muslim inhabited area of Vadnagar and mixed freely with Muslim boys. Many of his friends were Muslims and one Jasood Khan Pathan was his best friend. There was cordial and friendly relations between them and Modi observed Muslim holy festivals as well as Hindu ones.

Spiritual Inclinations of a Young Mind

As a young teen, Modi was deeply influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. It inculcated a spirit of asceticism in a young Modi. It inclined him towards a spiritual way of life. Even as a young teen he gave up eating food with oil and salt as a measure to renounce material desire and greed. His propensity for a spiritual life would guide his life till his early adulthood and it was his thirst for spiritual knowledge that made him travel as a poor wanderer to ‘see the Himalayas’.

This was the childhood that our current Prime Minister had. In the coming days we will have a new piece on his days as a wanderer when he traveled the length and breadth of India in search of truth.

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About Avinandan Choudhury 20 Articles
Avinandan Choudhury is a Geopolitical Analyst based in Bangalore. He writes regularly on International Relations as well as Indian Politics on online journals & current affairs websites. Follow @choudhury_avi