Mission of Our Master – PART IV – Personal

Print !


PART IV – Personal


By Swami Vivekananda.

WHENEVER virtue subsides and vice prevails I come down to help mankind,” declares Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Whenever this world of ours, on accbunt of growth, on account of added circumstances, requires a new adjustment, a wave, of power comes, and as man is acting on two planes, the spiritual and the material, waves of adjustment come on both planes. On the one side of adjustment on the material plane, Europe has mainly been the basis during modern times, and of the adjustment on the other, the spiritual plane, Asia has been the basis throughout the history of the world. To-day, man requires one more adjustment on the spiritual plane ; to-day when material ideas are at the height of their glory and power; to-day, when man is likely to forget his divine nature, through his growing dependence on matter, and is likely to be reduced to a mere moneymaking machine, an adjustment is necessary, and the power is coming, the voice has spoken, to drive away the clouds of gathering materialism. The power has

* Lecture delivered at New York under the auspices of the Vedanta Society.

been set in motion which, at no distant date, will bring unto mankind once more the memory of their real nature, and again the -place from which this power will start will be Asia. This world of ours is on the plan of the division of labour. It is vain to say that one man shall possess everything. Yet how childish we are! The baby in his childishness thinks that his doll is the only possession that is to be coveted in this whole universe. So a nation which is great in the possession of material powers, thinks that that is all that is to be coveted, that that is all that is meant by progress, that that is all that is meant by civilization, and if there are other nations which do not care to possess, and do not possess these powers, they are not fit to live, their whole existence is useless. On the other hand, another nation may think that mere material civilization is utterly useless. From the Orient came the voice which once told the world that if a man possesses everything that is under the sun or above it, and does not possess spirituality, what matters it ? This is the Oriental type, the other is the Occidental type.

Each of these types has its grandeur, each has its glory. The present adjustment will be the harmonizing, the mingling of these two ideals. To the Oriental, the world of spirit is as real as to the Occidental is the world of senses. In the spiritual, the Oriental finds everything he wants or hopes for ; in it he finds all that makes life real to him. To the Occidental, he is a dreamer; to the Oriental, the Occidental is a
dreamer, playing with dolls of five minutes, and he laughs to think that grown-up men and women should make so much of a handful of matter which they will have to leave sooner or later. Each calls the other a dreamer. But the Oriental ideal is as necessary for the progress of the human race as is the Occidental, and I think it is more necessary. Machines never made mankind happy, and never will make. He who is trying to make us believe this, will claim that happiness is in the machine, but it is always in the mind. It is the man who is lord of his mind who alone can become happy, and none else. But what, after all, is this power of machinery ? Why should a man who can send a current of electricity through a wire be called a very great man, and a very intelligent man ? Does not Nature do a million times more than that every moment ? Why not then fall down and worship Nature ? What matters it if you have power over the whole of the world, if you have mastered every atom in the universe? That will not make’you happy unless you have the power of happiness in yourself, until you have conquered yourself. Man is born to conquer Nature, it is true, but the Occidental means by ” Nature” only the physical or external nature. It is true that external nature is majestic, with its mountains, and oceans, and rivers* and with its infinite powers and varieties. Yet there is a more majestic internal nature of man, higher than ‘the sun, moon and stars, higher than this earth of ours, higher than the physical universe, transcending
these little lives of ours; and it affords another field of study. There the Orientals excel, just as the Occidentals excel in the other. Therefore it is fitting that, whenever there is a spiritual adjustment, it should come from the Orient. It is also fitting that, when the Oriental wants to learn about machinemaking, he should sit at the feet of the Occidental and learn from him. When the Occident wants to learn about the spirit, about God, about the soul, about the meaning and.the mystery of this universe, she must sit at the feet of the Orient to learn.

I am going to present before you the life of one man who has been the mover of such a wave in India. But before going into the life of this man, I will try to present before you the secret of India, what India means. If those whose eyes have been blinded by the glamour of material things, whose whole dedication of life is to eating and drinking and enjoying, whose whole ideal of possession is lands and gold, whose whole ideal of pleasure is in the sensations, whose god is money, and whose goal is a life of ease and comfort in this world, and death after that, whose minds never look forward, and who rarely think of anything higher than the sense of objects in the midst of which they live, if such as these go to India, what do they see ? Poverty, squalor, superstition, darkness, hideousness everywhere. Why ? Because in their minds enlightenment means dress, education, social politeness. Whereas Occidental nations have used every effort to improve their material position, India ‘ has done
differently. There lives the only race in the world which, in the whole history of humanity, never Went beyond their frontiers to conquer anyone, who never coveted that which belonged to anyone else, and whose only fault was that their lands were so fertile, and their wits so keen, that they accumulated wealth by the hard labour of their hands, and so tempted other nations to come and despoil them. They are contented to be despoiled, and to be called barbarians, and in return they want to send to this world visions of the Supreme, to lay bare for the world the secrets.of human nature, to rend the veil that conceals the real man, because they know the dream, because they know that behind this materialism lives the rgal divine nature of man which no sin can tarnish, no crime can spoil, no lust can kill, which the fire cannot burn, nor the’water wet, which heat cannot dry, nor death kill, and to tffem this true nature of man is as real as any material object to the senses of an Occidental. Just as you are brave to jump at the mouth of a cannon with a hurrah ; just as you are brave in the name of patriotism to stand up and give up your lives for your country, so are they brave in the name of God. There it is that when a man declares that this is a world of ideas, that it is all a dream, he casts off clothes and property to demonstrate that what he believes and thinks is true. There it is that a man sits on the banks of a river, when he has known that life is eternal, and wants to give up his body just as nothing, just as you can give
up a bit of straw. Therein lies their heroism, ready to face ‘death as a brother, because they are convinced that there is no death for them. Therein lies the strength that has made them invincible through hundreds of years of oppression and foreign invasions, and foreign tyranny. The nation lives to-day, and in that nation, even in the days of the direst disaster, spiritual giants have never failed to arise. Asia produces giants in spirituality ‘just as the Occident produces giants in politics, giants in science. In the beginning of the present century, when Western influence began to pour into India, when Western conquerors, with sword in hand, came to demonstrate to the children of the sages that they were mere barbarians, a race of dreamers, that tjieir religion was but mythology, and God and soul and everything they had been struggling for were mere words without meaning, that the thousands of years of struggle, the thousands of years of endless renunciation, had •all been in vain, the question began to be agitated among young men at the universities whether the whole national existence up to this date had been
& failure, if they must begin anew on the Occidental plan, tear up their old books, burn their philosophies, drive away their preachers and break down their temples.

Did not the Occidental conqueror, the man who demonstrated his religion with sword and gun, say that all the old ways were mere superstition and idolatry ? Children brought up and educated in the new schools started on the Occidental plan, drank in these ideas from itheir childhood and it is not to be wondered at that doubts arose. But instead of throwing any superstition and making a real search after truth, the test of truth became : ” What does the West say ?” The priest must go, the Vedas must be burned, because the West has said so. Out of the feeling of unrest thus produced, there arose a wave of so-called reform in India.

If you wish to be a true reformer, three things are necessary. The first is to feel,: do you really feel for your brothers ? Do you really feel that there is so much misery in the world, so much ignorance and superstition ? Do you really feel that men are your brothers ? Does this idea come into your whole being ? Does it run in your blood ? Does it tingle in your veins ? Does it course through every nerve and filament of your body ? Are you full of that idea of sympathy ? If you are, that is only the first step. You must think next if you have found any remedy. The old ideas may be all superstition, but in and around these masses of superstition are nuggets of gold and truth. Have you discovered means by which to keep that gold alone, without any of the dross ? If you have done that, that * is only the second step, one more thing is necessary. What is your motive ? Are you sure that you are not actuated by greed for gold, by thirst for fame, or power ? Are you really sure that you can stand to your ideals, and work on, even if the whole world wants to crush you down ? Are
you sure you know what you want, and will perform your duty, and that alone, even if your life is at stake ? Are you sure that you will persevere so long as life endures, so long as one pulsation in the heart will last? Then you are a real reformer, you are a teacher, a master, a blessing to mankind ! But man is so impatient, so shortsighted
1 He has not the patience to wait, he has not the power to see. He wants to rule, he wants results immediately. Why ? He wants to reap the fruits himself, and does not really care for others. Duty for duty’s sake is not what he wants. “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof,” says Krishna. Why cling to results ? Ours are the duties. Let the fruits take care of themselves. But man has no patience, he takes up any scheme and the larger number of would-be reformers all over the world can be classed under this heading.

As I have said, the idea of reform came to India when it seemed as if the wave of materialism that had invaded her shores would sweep away the teachings of the sages. But the nation had borne the shocks of a thousand such waves of change. This one was mild in comparison. Wave after wave had flooded the land, breaking and crushing everything for hundreds of years; the sword had flashed, and <e Victory unto Allah “had rent the skies of India, but these floods subsided, leaving the national ideals unchanged.

The Indian nation cannot be killed. Deathless it
stands and it will stand so long as that spirit shall remain as the background, so long as her people do not give up their spirituality. Beggars they may remain, poor and poverty-stricken, dirt and squalor may surround them perhaps throughout all time, but let them not give up their God, let them not forget that they are the children of the sages. Just as in the West even the man in the street wants to trace his descent from some robber-baron of the Middle Ages, so in India even an Emperor on the throne wants to trace his descent from some beggar-sage in the forest, from a man who wore the bark of a tree, lived upon the fruits of the forest and communed with God. That is the type of descent we want, and while holiness is thus supremely venerated, India cannot die. *

It was while reforms of various kinds were being inaugurated in India, that a child was born of poor Brahmin parents on the 2oth of February, 1835, in one of the remote villages of Bengal. The father and mother were very orthodox people. The life of a really orthodox Brahmin is one of continuous renunciation. Very few things can he do, and over and beyond them the orthodox Brahmin must not occupy himself with any secular business. At the same time he must not receive gifts from everybody. You may imagine how rigorous that life becomes. You have heard of the Brahmins and their priestcraft many times, but very few of you have ever stopped to ask what makes this wonderful band of men the
rulers of their fellows. They are the poorest of all the classes in the country, and the secret of their power lies in their renunciation. They never covet wealth. Theirs is the poorest priesthood in the world, and, therefore, the most powerful. Even in this poverty, a Brahmin’s wife will never allow a poor man to pass through the village without giving him something to eat. That is considered the highest doty of the mother in India ; and because she is the mother it is her duty to be served last; she must see that everyone is served before her turn comes. That is why the mother is regarded as God in India. This particular woman, the mother of our present subject, was the very type of a Hindu mother. The higher the caste, the greater the restrictions. The lowest caste people can eat and drink anything they like, but as men rise in the social scale more and more restrictions come, and when they reach the highest caste, the Brahmin, the hereditary priesthood of India, their lives, as I have said, are very much circumscribed. Compared to Western manners their lives are of continuous asceticism. But they have great steadiness; when they get hold of an idea they carry it out to its very conclusion, and they keep hold of it generation after generation until they make something out of it. Once give them an idea and it is not easy to take it Backagain, but it is hard to make them grasp a new idea. .

The orthodox Hindus, therefore, are very exclusive, living entirely within their own horizon of
thought and feeling. Their lives are laid down in our old books in every little detail, and the least detail is grasped with almost adamantine firmness by them They would starve rather than eat a meal cooked by the hands of a man not belonging to their own small section of caste. But withal they have intensity and tremendous earnestness. That force of intense faith and religious life occurs often among the orthodox: Hindus because their very orthodoxy comes from the tremendous conviction that it is right. We may not all think that that to which they hold on with such perseverance is right, but to them it is. Now it is written in our books that a man should always be charitable even to the extreme. If a man starves himself to death to help another man, to save that man’s life, it is all right; it is even held that a man ought to do that. And it is expected of a Brahmin to carry this idea out to the very extreme. Those who are acquainted with the literature of India will remember a beautiful old story about this extreme charity, how a whole family, as related in the Maha-bharata, starved themselves to death and gave their last meal to a beggar. This is not an exaggeration, for such things still exist. The characters of the father and mother of my Master were very much like that. Very poor they were and yet many a time the-mother would starve herself a whole day to help a poor man. Of them this child was born and he was a peculiar child from very babyhood. He remembered his past from his birth, and was conscious for what
25 purpose he came into the world, and every power was devoted to the fulfilment of that purpose. While he was quite young his father died and the boy was sent to school. A Brahmin’s boy must go to school; the caste restricts him to a learned profession only. The old system of education in India, still prevalent in many parts of the country, especially in connection with Sannyasins, was very different from the modern system. The students had not to pay. It was thought that knowledge is so sacred that no man ought to sell it. Knowledge must be given freely and without any price. The teachers used to take students without charge, and not only so, but most of them gave the students food and clothes. To support these teachers the wealthy families on certain occasions, such as marriage festival or at the ceremonies for the dead, made gifts to them. They were considered the first and foremost claimants to certain gifts, and they, in their turn, had to maintain their students. This boy about whom I am speaking had an elder brother, a learned professor, and went to study with him. After a short time the boy became convinced that the aim of all secular learning was mere material advancement, and he resolved to give up study and devote Jhimself to the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. The father being dead, the family was very poor, and this boy had to make his own living. He went to a place near Calcutta and became a temple priest. To become a temple priest he thought very degrading
to a Brahmin. Our temples are not churches in your sense of the word, they are not places for public worship; for, properly speaking, there is no such thing as public worship in India. Temples are erected mostly by rich persons as a meritorious religious act.

If a man has much property, he wants to build a temple. In that he puts a symbol or an image of an Incarnation of God, and dedicates it to worship in the name of God. The worship is akin to that which is conducted in Roman Catholic Churches, very much like the Mass, reading certain sentences from the Sacred Books, waving a light before the image and treating the image in every respect as we treat a great man. This is all that is done in the temple. The man who goes to a temple is not considered thereby a better man than he who never goes. More properly the latter is considered the more religious man, for * religion in India is to teach man his own private affair and all his worship is conducted in the privacy of his own home. It has been held from the most ancient times in our country that it is a degenerating occupation to become a temple priest. There is another idea behind it that, just as with education, but in a far more intense sense with religion, the fact that temple priests take, fees for their work is making merchandise of sacred things. So you may imagine the feelings of that boy when he was forced through poverty to take up the only occupation open to him – that of a temple priest.

There have been various poets in Bengal whose songs have passed down to the people; they are sung in the streets of Calcutta and in every village. Most of these are religious songs, and their one central idea, which is perhaps peculiar to the religions of India, is the idea of realization. There is not a book in India on religion which does not breathe this idea. Man must realize God, feel God, see God, talk to God. That is religion. The Indian atmosphere is full of stories of saintly persons having visions of God. Such doctrines form the basis of their religion; and all these ancient books and scriptures are the writings of persons who came into direct con* tact with spiritual facts. These books were not Written for the intellect, nor can any reasoning understand them because they were written by men who have seen things of which they write, and they can be understood only by men who have raised themselves to the same height. They say there is such a thing as’ realization even in this life, and it is open to everyone, and religion begins with the opening of this faculty, if I may call it so. This is the central idea in all religions and this is why we may’ find one man with the most finished oratorical powers, or the most convincing logic, preaching the highest doctrines and yet unable to get people to listen to* him; and another, a poor man, who scarcely can speak the language of his own motherland, yet with half the nation worshipping him in his own life-time as God. The idea somehow or other has got abroad
that he has raised himself to the state of realization, that religion is no more a matter of conjecture to him that he is no more groping in the dark on such momentous questions as religion, the immortality of the soul, and God; and people come from all quarters to see him and gradually they begin to worship him as an Incarnation of God.

In the temple was an image of the “Blissful Mother.” This boy had to conduct the worship morning and evening and this one idea filled his mind – ” Is there anything behind this Image ? Is it true that there is a Mother of Bliss in the universe ? Is it true that she Jives and guides this universe, or is it all a dream? Is there any reality in religion?” This scepticism comes to almost every Hindu child. It is the standing scepticism of our country – is this that we are doing real ? And theories will not satisfy us, although there are ready at hand almost all the theories that have ever been made with regard to God and soul. Neither books nor theories can satisfy us, the one idea that gets hold of thousands of our people is this idea of realization. Is it true that there is a God ? If it be true, can I see Him? Can I realize the truth ? The Western mind may think all this very impracticable, but to us it is intensely practical. For this idea men will give up their lives. For this idea thousands of Hindus every year, give up their homes and many of them die through the hardships they have to undergo. To the Western mind this must .seem most visionary, and I can see the reason for this point of view. But after years of residence in the Vest, I still think this idea the most practical thing in life.

Life is but momentary whether you are a toiler in the streets, or an emperor ruling millions. Life is but momentary, whether you have the best of health or the worst. There is but one solution of life, says the Hindu, and that solution is what they call God and Religion. If these be true, life becomes explained, life becomes bearable, becomes enjoyable. Otherwise, life is but a useless burden. That is your idea, but no amount of reasoning can demonstrate it ; can only make it probable, and there it rests. Facts are only in the senses and we have to sense Religion to demonstrate it to ourselves. We have to sense God to be convinced that there is a God. Nothing but our own perceptions can make these things real to us.

This idea took possession of the boy and his whole life became concentrated upon that. Day after day he would weep and say : ” Mother, is it true that Thou existest, or is it all poetry ? Is the Blissful Mother an imagination of poets and misguided people, or is there such a reality?” We have seen that of books, of education in our sense of the word, he had none and so much the more natural, so much the more healthy was his mind, so much the purer his thoughts, undiluted by drinking in the thoughts of others. This thought which was uppermost in his mind gained in strength every day until he could think of nothing else. He could no
more conduct the worship properly, could no more attend to the various details in all their minuteness. Often he would forget to place the food offering before the image, sometimes he would forget to wave the light, at other times he would wave the light a whole day, and forget everything else. At last it became impossible for him to serve in the temple. He left it and entered into a little wood that was near and lived there. About this part of his life he has told me many times that he could not tell when the sun rose or set, nor, how he lived. He lost all thoughts of himself and forgot to eat* During this period he was lovingly watched over by a relative who put into his mouth food which he mechanically swallowed. <

Days and nights thus passed with the boy. When a whole day would pass towards evening, when the peals in the temples would reach the forest, the chimes, and the voices of the persons singing, it would make the boy very sad, and he would cry: ” One day is gone in vain, Mother, and Thou does not come. One day of this short life has gone and I have not known the Truth.” In the agony of his soul, sometimes he would rub his face against the ground and weep.

This is the tremendous thirst that seizes the human heart. Later on, this very man said to me : te My child, suppose there is a bag of gold in one room, and a robber in the room next to it, do you think that robber can sleep ? He cannot. His mind
will be always thinking how to get into that room and get possession of that gold. Do you think then that a man firmly persuaded that there is a reality behind all these sensations, that there is a God, that there is One who never dies, One that is the infinite amount of all bliss, a bliss compared to which these pleasures of the senses are simply playthings, can rest contented without struggling to attain it ? Can he cease his efforts for a moment ? No. He will become mad with longing.” This divine madness seized this boy. At that time he had no teacher; nobody to tell him anything except that everyone thought that he was out of his mind. This is the ordinary condition of things. If a man throws aside the vanities of the world we hear him called mad but such men are the salt of the earth. Out of such madness have come the powers that have moved this world of ours, and out of such madness alone will come the powers of the future, that are going to be in the world. So days, weeks, months passed in continuous struggle of the soul to arrive at Truth. The boy began to see visions, to see wonderful things, the secrets of his nature were beginning to open to him. Veil after veil was, as it were, being taken off. Mother Herself became the teacher, and initiated the boy into the truths he sought. At this time there came to this place a woman, beautiful to look at, learned beyond compare. Later on this Saint used to say about her that she was not learned, but was the embodiment of learning; she was learning itself in
Human form. There, too, you find the peculiarity of the Indian nation. In the midst of the ignorance in which the average Hindu woman lives, in the midst of what is called in Western countries her lack of freedom, there could arise a woman of this supreme spirituality. She was a Sannyasini, for women also give up the world, throw away their property, do not marry, and devote themselves to the worship of the Lord. She came, and when she heard of this boy in the forest she offered to go to see him, and here was the first help he received. At once she recognized what his trouble was, and she said to him: “My son, blessed is the man upon whom such madness comes. The whole of this universe is mad; some for wealth, some for pleasure, some for fame, some for a hundred other things. Blessed is the man who is ma’d after God. Such men are very few. ” This woman remained near the boy for years, taught him the forms of the religions of India, initiated him in the different practices of Yoga, and, as it were, guided and brought into harmony this tremendous river of spirituality.

Later there came to the same forest, a Sannyasin, one of the beggar-friars of India, a learned man, a philosopher. He was a peculiar man, he was an idealist. He did not believe that this world existed in reality, and to demonstrate that he would never go under a roof, he would always live out of doors, in storm and sunshine alike. This man began to teach the boy the philosophy of the Vedas,, and
he found very soon, to his astonishment, that the pupil was in some respects wiser than the master. He spent several months there with the boy, after which he initiated him into the order of Sannyasins and took his departure.

The relatives of this boy thought that his madness could be cured if they could get him married. Sometimes in India young childern are married by their parents and relatives without giving their own consent in the matter. This boy had been married at the age of about eighteen to a little girl of five. Of course, such a marriage is but a betrothal. The real marriage takes place when the wife grows older, when it is customary for the husband to go and bring his bride to his own home. In this case, however, the husband had entirely forgotten he had a wife. In her far-off home the girl had heard that her husband had become a religious enthusiast and that he was even considered insane by many. She resolved to learn the truth for herself, so she set out and walked to the place where her husband was. When at last she stood in her husband’s presence,* he at once admitted her right to his life : althougth in India any person, man or woman, who embraces a religious life is thereby freed from all other obligations. The young man fell at the feet of his wife and said: ” I have learned to took upon every woman as mother, but I am at your service.”

The maiden was a pure and noble soul, and was able to understand her husband’s aspirations and
sympathize with them. She quickly told him that she had no wish to drag him down to a life of worldliness; but that all she desired was to remain near him, to serve him, and to learn of him. She became one of his most devoted disciples, always revereing him as a divine being. Thus through his wife’s consent the last barrier was removed and he was free to lead the life he had chosen.

The next desire that seized upon the soul of this man was to know the truth about the various religions. Up to that time he had not known any regligion but his own. He wanted to understand what other religions were like. So he sought teachers of other religions. By teachers you must always remember what we mean*in India – not a bookworm, but a man of realization, one who knows truth at first-hand and not centuries after. He found a Mohammedan saint and went to live with him; he underwent the disciplines prescribed by him, and, to his astonishment, found that when faithfully carried out, these devotional methods led him to the same goal he had already attained. He gathered similar experience from following the true religion of Jesus Christ. He went to the various sects existing in our country that were available to him, and whatever he took up he went into it with his whole heart. He did exactly as he was told, and in every instance he arrived at the same result. Thus from actual experience he came to know that the goal of every religion is the same, that each is trying to teach the same thing, the
difference being largely in method, and still more in language. At the core, all sects and all religions have the same aim.

Then came to him the conviction ‘ that to be perfect, the sex idea must go, because soul has no sex, soul is neither male nor female. It is only in the body that sex exists, and the man who desires to reach the spirit cannot, at the same time, hold to sex distinctions. Having been born in a masculine body, this man now wanted to bring the feminine idea into everything. He began to think that he was a woman, he dressed like a woman, spoke like a woman, gave up the occupations of men, and lived among the women of his own family, until, after years of this discipline, his mind, became changed and he entirely forgot the idea of sex; all thought of that vanished and the whole view of life became changed to him.

We hear in the West about worshipping woman, but this is usually for her youth and beauty. This man meant by worshipping woman, lthat to him every woman’s face was that of the Blissful Mother, and nothing but that. I myself have seen this man standing before those women whom society would not touch, and falling at their feet bathed in tears, saying: ” Mother, in one form Thou art in the street, and in another form Thou art the Universe. I salute Thee, Mother, I salute Thee.” Think of the blessdness of that life from which all carnality has vanished, when every woman’s face has become transfigured, and only the face of the Divine Mother, the Blissful

One, the Protectress of the human race shines upon the man who can look upon every woman with that love and reverence ! That is what we want. Do you mean to say that the divinity behind every woman can ever be cheated ? It never was and never will be. Unconsciously it asserts itself. Unfailingly it detects fraud, it detects hypocrisy, unerringly it feels the warmth of truth, the light of spirituality, the holiness of purity. Such purity is absolutely necessary if real spirituality is to be attained.

This rigorous, unsullied purity came into the life* of that man ; all the struggles which we have in our lives were past for him. His hard-earned jewels of spirituality, for which he had given three-quarters of his life, were now ready to be given to humanity, and then began his mission. His teaching and preaching were peculiar, he would never take the position of a teacher. In our country a teacher is a most highly venerated person,, he is regarded as God Himself. We have not even the same respect for our father and mother. Father and mother give us our body, but,the teacher shows* us the way to salvation. We are his childern, we are born in the spiritual line of the teacher. All Hindus come to pay respect to an extraordinary teacher, they crowd around him. And here was such a.teacher, but the teacher had no thought whether he was to be respected or not, he had’ not the least idea that he was a great teacher, he thought that it was-

Mother who was doing everything and not he. He always said : ” If any good comes from my lips, it is the Mother who’speaks; what have I to do with it ?” That was his one idea about his work, and to the day of his death he never gave it up. This man sought no one. His principle was, first form character, first earn spirituality, and results will come of themselves. His favourite illustration was : ” When the lotus opens, the bees come of their own accord to seek the honey, so let the lotus of your character be full-blown and the results will follow.” This is a great lesson to learn. My Master taught me this lesson hundreds of times ; yet I often forget it. Few understand the power of thought. If a man goes into a cave, shuts himself in, and thinks one really great thought and dies, that thought will penetrate the adamantine walls of that cave, vibrate through space, and at last penetrate the whole human race. Such is the power of thought; be in no hurry, therefore, to give your thoughts to others. First have something to give. He alone teaches who has something to give, for teaching is not talking, teaching is not imparting doctrines, it is communicating. Spirituality can be communicated just as really as I can give you a flower. This is true in the most literal sense. This idea is very old in India and finds illustration in the West in the belief in the theory of apostolic succession. Therefore, first make character – that is the highest duty you can perform. Know Truth for yourself, and there will be many to whom you can
teach it afterwards ; they will all come. This was the attitude of my Master – he criticised no one.

For years I lived with that man, but never did I hear those lips utter one word of condemnation for any sect. He had the same sympathy for all of them; he had found the harmony between them. A man may be intellectual, or devotional, or mystic, or active, and the various religions represent one or the other of these types. Yet it is possible to combine all the four in one man, and this is what future humanity is going to do. That was his idea. He condemned no one, but saw the good in all.

People came by thousands to see this wonderful man, to hear him speak in a patois, every word of which was forceful and instinct with light. For it is not what is spoken, much less the language in which it is spoken, it is the personality of the speaker which dwells in every thing he says that carries weight. Every one of us feels this at times. We hear most splendid orations, most wonderfully reasoned out discourses, and we go home and forget it all. All other times we hear a few words in the simplest of language, and they accompany us all our lives, become part and parcel of ourselves and produce lasting results. The words of a man who can put his personality into them take effect, but he must have tremendous personality. All teaching is giving and taking, the teacher gives and the taught receives, but the one must have something to give and the other must be open to receive.

This man came to live near Calcutta, the capital of India, the most important University town in our country which was sending out sceptics and materialists by the hundreds every year, yet the great men from the different Universities used to come and listen to him. I heard of this man, and I went to hear him. He looked just like an ordinary man with nothing remarkable about him. He used the-most simple language, and I thought: ct Can this man be a great teacher ?” I crept near to him and asked him the question which I had been asking others all my life: ” Do you believe in God, Sir ?” ” Yes,” he replied. ” Can you prove it, Sir? ” Yes.” How ?” ” Because I see Him just as I see you here, only in a* much intenser sense.1‘ That impressed me at once. For the first time I had found a man who dared to-Say that he saw God, that religion was a reality, to be felt, to be sensed in an infinitely more intense way than we can sense the world. I began to come near that man, day after day, and I actually saw that* religion could be given. One touch, one glance, can make a whole life change. I had read about Buddha and Christ and Mahommed, about all those different luminaries of ancient times, how they would stand up and say : ” Be thou whole,” and the man became whole. I now found it to be true, and when I myself saw this man, all scepticism was brushed aside.* It would be done, and my Master used to say : “Religion can be given and taken more tangibly, more really-than anything else in the world.” Be, therefore,
spiritual first; have something to love, and then stand before the world and give it. Religion is not talk, nor doctrines nor theories, nor is it sectarianism. Religion cannot live in sects and societies. It is the relation between the soul and God: how can it be made into a society ? It would then degenerate into a business, and wherever there is business, or business principles in religion, spirituality dies. Religion does not consist in erecting temples, or building churches, or attending public worship. It is not to be found in books, nor in words, nor in lectures, nor in organizations. Religion consists in realization. As a fact, we all know that nothing will satisfy us until we know the truth for ourselves. However we may argue, however much we may hear, but one thing will satisfy us, and that is our own realization, and such an experience is possible for every one of us, if we will only try. The first ideal of this attempt to realize religion is that of renunciation. As far as we can, we must give up. Light and darkness, enjoyment of the world and enjoyment of God will never go together. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.’* The second idea that I learned from my Master, and which is perhaps the most vital, is the wonderful truth that the* religions of the world are not contradictory nor antagonistic ; they are but various phases of One Eternal Religion. One Infinite* Religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist, and this Religion is expressing itself in various countries, ia various ways. Therefore, we must respect all

religions and we must try to accept them all as far as We can. Religions manifest themselves not only according to race and geographical position, but according to individual powers. In one man religion is manifesting itself as intense activity, as work. In another it is manifesting itself as intense devotion ; in ‘ yet another as mysticism, in others as philosophy, and so forth. It is wrong when we say to others : ” Your methods are not right.” To learn this central secret that the Truth may be one and yet many at the same time, that we may have different visions of the same Truth from different standpoints, is exactly what must be done. Then, instead of antagonism to anyone, we shall have infinite sympathy with all. Knowing that as long as there are different natures bom into this world* they will require different applica -tions of the same religious truths, we shall understand that we are bound to have forbearance with each other. Just as Nature is unity in variety, an infinite variation in the phenomenal, and behind all these variations, the Infinite, the Unchangeable, the Absolute, so it is with every man ,* the microcosm is but a miniature repetition of the macrocosm, in spite of all these variations, in and through them all runs this eternal harmony, and we have to recognise this. This idea, above all other ideas, I find to be the crying necessity of the day. Coming from a country which is a hotbed of religious sects – through good fortune or ill fortune, everyone’Who has a religious idea wants to send an a’dvance guard there – from my chilhood I
have been acquainted with the various sects of the world; even the Mormons came to preach in India. Welcome them all ! That is the soil on which to preach religion. There it takes root more than in any other country. If you come and teach politics to the Hindus they do not understand, but if you come to preach religion however curious it may be, you will have hundreds and thousands of followers in no time, and you have every chance of becoming a living god in your lifetime. I am glad it is so, it is the one thing we want in India. The sects among the Hindus are various, almost infinite in number, and some of them apparently hopelessly contradictory. Yet they all tell you they are but different manifestations of Religion. ” As different rivers, taking their start from different mountains, running crooked or straight, all come arid mingle their waters in the ocean, so the different sects, with their different points of view, at last all come unto Thee.” This is not a theory, it has to be recognized, but not in that patronizing way which we see with some. ” Oh, yes, there are some very good things.” (Some even have the most wonderfully liberal idea that other religions are all little bits of a prehistoric evolution, but ” ours is the fulfilment of things.”) One man says because his is the oldest religion it is the best; another makes the same claim because his is the latest. We have to recognize that each one of them has the same saving power as every other. It is a mass of superstition that you have heard everywhere, either in the temple
or the church, that there is any difference. The same God answers all, and it is not you, nor I, nor any body of men, that is responsible for the safety and salvation of the least little bit of the soul; the same Almighty God is responsible for all of them. I do not understand how people declare themselves to be believers in God, and, at the same time, think that God has handed over to a little body of men all truth, and that they are the guardians of the rest of humanity. Do not try to disturb the faith of any man. If you can give him something better, if you can get hold of a man where he stands and give him a push upwards, do so, but do not destroy what he has. The only true teacher is he who can convert himself, as it were, into a thousand persons at a moment’s notice. The only true teacher is he who can immediately come down to the *level of the student, and transfer his soul to the student’s soul and see through the student’s eyes and hear through his ears and understand through his mind. Such a teacher can really teach and none else. All these negative, breaking down, destructive teachers that are in the world can never do any good.

In the presence of my Master I found out that man could be perfect, even in this body. Those lips never cursed anyone, never even criticised anyone. Those eyes were beyond the possibility of seeing evil, that mind had lost the power of thinking evil. He saw nothing but good. That tremendous purity, that
tremendous renunciation is the one secret of spirituality. ” Neither through wealth, nor through progeny, but through renunciation alone, is immortality to be reached,” say the Vedas. ” Sell all thou hast and give to the poor, and follow me,” says Christ. •

So all great saints and prophets have expressed it, and have carried it out in their lives. How can great spirituality come without that renunciation ? Renunciation is the background of all religious thought wherever it be, and you will always find that as this idea of renunciation lessens, the more will the senses creep into the field of religion, and spirituality will decrease in the same ratio. That man was the embodiment of renunciation. In our country it is necessary for a man who becomes a Sannyasin to give up all worldly wealth and position, and this my Master carried out literally. There were many who would have felt themselves blest, if he would only have accepted a present from their hands, who would gladly have given him thousands if he would have taken them, but these were the only men from whom he would turn away. He was a triumphant example, a living realization of the complete conquest of lust and desire for money. He was beyond all ideas of either, and such men are necessary for this century. Such renunciation is necessary in these days when men have begun to think that -they cannot live a month without what they call their ” necessities,” and which they are increasing in geometrical ratio.

It is necessary in a time like this that a man shall
arise to demonstrate to the sceptics of the world that there yet breathes a man who does not care a straw for all the gold or all the fame that is in the universe. Yet there are such men.

The first part of my Master’s life was spent in acquiring spirituality, and the remaining years in distributing it. Men came in crowds to hear him and he would talk twenty hours in the twenty-four, and that not for one day but for months and months, until at last the body broke down under the pressure of this tremendous strain. His intense love for mankind would not let him refuse to help even the humblest of the thousands who sought his aid. Gradually there developed a vital throat disorder and yet he could not be persuaded to refrain from these exertions. As soon as he heard that people were asking to see him he would insist upon having them admitted and would answer all their questions. There was no rest for him. Once a man asked him : ”Sir, you are a great. Yogi, why do you not put your mind a little on your body and cure your disease ?” At first he did not answer, but when the question had been repeated he gently said: ” My friend, I have thought you were a sage, but you talk like other men of the world. This mind has been given to the Lord, do< you mean to say that I should take it Backand put it upon the body which is but a mere cage of the soul ? “

So he went on preaching to the people, and the-news spread that his body was about to pass away, and

the people began to nock to him m greater crowds than ever. You cannot imagine the way they come to these great religious teachers in India, crowd around them and make gods of them while they are yet living. Thousands are ready to touch simply the hem of their garments. It is through this appreciation of spirituality in others that spirituality is produced.. Whatever any man wants and appreciates, that he will get, and it is the same with nations. If you go to India and deliver a political lecture, however grand it may be, you will scarcely find people to listen to you, but just go and teach religion, live it, not merely talk it, and hundred will crowd just to look at you, to touch your feet. When the people heard that this holy man was likely to go from them soon, they began to come around him more than ever before, and my Master Went on teaching them without the least regard for his health. We could not prevent this. Many of the people came from long distances, and he would not rest until he had answerd their questions. ” While I can speak I must teach them,” he would say, and he was as good as his word. One day he told us that he would lay down the body that day, and repeating the most sacred word of the Vedas he entered into Samadhi and so passed away.

His thoughts and his message were known to very few who were capable of teaching them. Among others, he left a few young boys who had renounced the world, and were ready to carry on his work.

Attempts were made to crush them. But they stood firm, having the inspiration of that great life before them. Having had the contact of that blessed life for years, they stood their ground. These young men were living as Sannyasins, begging through the streets of the city where they were born, although some of them came from first-class families. At first they met with great antagonism, but .they persevered and went on from day to day spreading all over India the message of that great man, until the whole country was filled with the ideas he had preached. This man from a remote village of Bengal, without education, simply by the sheer force of his own determination, realized the truth and gave it to others, leaving only a few young boys to keep it alive.

To-day the name of Sri Ramakrishna Parama-hamsa is known all over India with its millions of people. Nay, the power of that man has spread beyond India, and if there has ever been a word of truth, a word of spirituality that I have spoken anywhere in the world, I owe it to my Master; only the mistakes are mine.

This is the message of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world: ” Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas, or sects, or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man which is spirituality, and the more that this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that, first acquire
that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, nor names, nor sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those that have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of mankind. They alone are the powers of light.”

The more such men are produced in a country, the more that country will be raised; and that country where such men absolutely do not exist is simply doomed, nothing can save it. Therefore, my Master’s message to mankind is: ” Be spiritual and realize truth for yourself.” He would have you give up for the sake of your fellow-beings. He would have you cease talking about love for your brother, and set to work to prove your words. The time has come for renunciation, for realization, and then you will see the harmony in all the religions of the world. You will know that there is no need of any quarrel, and then only will you be’ ready to help humanity. To proclaim and make clear the fundamental unity underlying all religions was the mission of my Master. Other teachers have taught special religions which bear their names, but this great Teacher of the nineteenth century made no claim for himself, he left every religion undis-r turbed because he had realized that, in reality, they are all part and parcel of one Eternal Religion.

made himself famous in this country as a great spiritual hero before he was hardly known to the public in India, the land of his birth. From Canada to Texas, from California to New York, there is no state in this vast American Commonwealth where the name of our illustrious hero is not remembered with profound respect, and where the charm and spiritual strength of hte forceful utterances are not felt by the educated and thoughtful minds of its citizens. During the last decade there have been few pulpits in the United States which have not held preachers who have had something to say either for or against the teachings of the world-renowned Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu Sannyasin monk, who belonged to the order of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. For the first time in the annals of the history of modern India as also in the religious history of America, it has been recorded that a ^vise man of the East, unaided by government, uninvited and unsupported by religious organization, crossing the unfathomable waters of the deep that separate India from her antipodes, could carry the message of peace and harmony into the heart of religious strife and rivalry of sectarian doctrines


HE subject of the present lecture is one who

* From a lecture in New York.

and creeds that were exhibited in the Parliament of Religions, held at the World’s Fair Congress in Chicago in 1893.

The message of truth requires neither the protection of the sword nor the support of gunpowder for its. propagation. The preachers of truth are very few, but their powers are felt by those who happen to come within the atmosphere of their divine personality. Such a preacher of truth occasionally appears like a gigantic comet above the horizon, dazzling • the eyes and filling the hearts of ordinary mortals with wonder and admiration, and silently passess away into the invisible and unknown realms of the universe. The late Swami Vivekananda was one of those great comets who appeared in the spiritual firmanent once perhaps after several centuries. A well-known writer of this city wrote the other day: ” The passing of

Swami Vivekananda was like the flashing of a mighty star upon our wondering eyes. For in truth no greater, wiser, truer, holier soul has ever dwelt among, us than this marvellous man who has recently gone into Spirit life.”

Those who have met him and heard him speak, will remember his fascinating personality, his fine intelligent face beaming with celestial radiance mingled with the (innocent smile of a child, his deep musical voice, his uncommon eloquence, and, above all, his Wonderful oratorical powers which drew from the hearts of his appreciative listeners the exclamation that he was an orator by Divine right.

That memorable address which placed the philosophy and religion of Vedanta on a level with the highest philosophical, spiritual and religious ideals of the world’s celebrities who assembled in the Parliament of Religions, was the first attempt of our great Swami to deliver before the world the message of his blessed master which he had been carrying in his soul for nearly twelve years before he appeared in public. During that period he had travelled over India from place to place on foot, like a Hindu Sannyasin monk, living up to the vows which he had taken in his youth, of poverty, purity, chastity and unselfishness, and setting a living example of a Jivan-mukta – one who is emancipated from the fetters of the world.

We must not forget that before his appearance in the Parliament of Religions as a speaker, he did not know himself that he could speak in public; yet those who have read his World’s Fair Addresses, I am sure, have realized the logical force, the intellectual strength and the spiritual depth of which every sentence bears testimony. That openingi address made Swami Vivekananda the most popular of all the delegates and representatives of different religions who gathered at that gigantic Fair ; and he
was invited to speak before the meetings of the scientific and other sections of the Congress. Here allow me to read’ what the President of the Scientific Section, Mr. Merwin Marie Snell, wrote about the glorious success achieved by this humble young Sannyasin who represented the religion and philosophy of India.

” But by far the most important and typical representative of Hinduism was Swami Vivekananda, who, in fact, was beyond question the most popular and influential man in the Parliament. He frequently spoke: both on the floor of the Parliament itself and in the meeting of the Scientific *Section over which I had the honor to preside and on all occasions he was received with greater enthusiasm than any other p speaker Christian or ” Pagan.” The people thronged about him wherever he went ‘and hung with eagerness on his every word. Since the Parliament he has been lecturing before large audiences in the principal cities of the United States and has received an-ovation wherever he has gone. He has often been invited to preach in Christian pulpits and has, by all those who have heard him on any occasion and still more by those who have made his personal acquaintance, been always spoken of in terms of the highest admiration. The most rigid orthodox Christians say of him, ‘ He is, indeed, a prince among men.’ America thanks India for sending him and begs her to send many more like him, if such there are, to teach by their example those of her own children who have not yet learned the lesson of universal fraternity and openness of mind and heart; and by their precepts those who have not come to see Divinity in all things and a Oneness transcending all.”

After the Congress was over, the popular Swami was invited in almost all of the large cities of the Eastern and middle Western States to give adresses before public clubs, societies and universities. Before he came to New York he visited Boston and Cambridge and delivered public addresses and class lectures, expounding the philosophy and religion of Vedanta, which were highly appreciated by the educated men and intelligent women of the New England States.

When he lectured before the Philosophical Society of the Harvard University, his address produced such a profound impression upon the minds of the professors that they offered him a chair of Eastern philosophy in that University ; but being a Sannyasin, he could not accept this offer. A Sannyasin never sells his wisdom for name, position or material return. This address was afterwards published and the late Rev. C. C. Everett, D. D., LLD., of Harvard University, wrote the preface, in which he introduced to America the Vedanta philosophy and its most worthy representative, Swami Vivekananda. The words of Mr. Everett will give you an idea of the impression which Swami Vivekananda made upon his mind:

” The Swami Vivekananda was sent by his friends and co-religionists to present their belief at the Congress of Religions that was held in connection with the World’s Fair in Chicago. This he did in a way to win general interest and admiration. Since
then he has lectured on the same theme in different parts of our country. He has been in fact a missionary from India to America. Everywhere he has made warm personal friends; and his expositions of Hindu philosophy have been listened to with delight. It is very pleasant to observe the eager interest with which his own people in India follow his course, and the joy that they take in his success. I have seen a pamhlet filled with % speeches made at a large and influential meeting in Calcutta, which was called together to express enthusiastic approval of the manner in which he has fulfilled his mission; and satisfaction at this invasion of the West by Oriental thought. This satisfaction is well grounded. We may not be so near to actual conversion as some of these speakers seem to believe; but Viveka-nanda has created a high degree of interest in himself and his work. There are, indeed, few departments of study more attractive than the Hindu thought. It is a rare pleasure to see a form of belief that to most seems so far away and unreal as the Vedanta system, represented by an actually living and extremely intelligent believer. This system is not to be regarded merely as a curiosity, as a speculative vagary. Hegel said that Spinozism is the necessary beginning of all philosophizing. This can be said even more emphatically ‘ of the Vedanta system. We occidentals busy ourselves with the manifold. We can, however, have no understanding of the manifold, if we have no sense of the One in which the manifold
exists. The reality of the One is the truth which the East may well teach us; and we owe a debt of gratitude to Vivekananda that he has taught this lesson so effectively.”

In 1894 the Swami Vivekananda came to New York to deliver his message before the public. He spoke in public halls in the city on different subjects, held classes, instructing earnest and sincere students in the various branches of the Science of Yoga and the philosophy of Vedanta, and eventually succeeded in laying the foundation of the Vedanta Society, which is now in a most flourishing condition. Most of his public addresses and class lectures have been published in pamphlet or book form by the Vedanta Society. The ” Raja Yoga,” ” Karma Yoga,” Bhakti#Yoga”, ” The Ideal of a Universal Religion,. ” My Master,” are the principal works of the SwamL

I have met many people in this country during my six years stay who regard the “Raja Yoga” in the same light as the most devout Christian regards his own Scriptures. It has been a revelation to many agnostic and sceptical minds; it has transformed the characters of many. Every passage of this wonderful book is charged, as it were, with the soul stirring spiritual power generated by the gigantic battery of the pure soul of our great Yogi. This wonderful book, which has been translated into several languages and published in three different countries, has commanded
respect among the intelligent, educated classes and the sincere seekers of truth of the three continents of America, Europe and Asia.

During his three years stay in America Swami Vivekananda was most hospitably received and kindly entertained by his admirers, students and disciples. Invitations came from various quarters, and he accepted them all. Sometimes he would be invited by people living in different cities hundreds of miles apart to give public addresses on the same day and he would accept in every case, travelling ifor hours by train or by any available conveyance.

Thus working day after day for three long years, Swami Vivekananda had to fight against many obstacles; sometimes he would have summer clothes in winter, and he would go through unimaginable hardships regarding food and clothes, facing the sudden changes and severities of the American climate; sometimes he would deny himself to help others caring nothing for his personal comforts ; while at other times he would depend entirely upon the spontaneous sympathy and voluntary help of his hosts and hostesses* In the midst of all these disadvantages our indefatigable hero did not fail to sow the seed of the sublime truths of the Vedanta philosophy in the hearts of hundreds and thousands of American citizens. No one except those who have heard the Swami describe his own experiences in this Christian country can realize what tremendous struggles he had to make to push his way against the volleys of unfair and unjust
remarks and spiteful criticisms which were fired at him by the orthodox Christians, foreign missionaries
f the Theosophists and their worthy adherents.

These storms of opposition instead of quenching the fire of the spiritual truth of Vedanta that was burning upon the altar of the God-inspired soul of this Hindu preacher, fanned it into a blaze of light, the glory of which was visible from shore to shore, nay from across the waters of the Atlantic. Ocean. By his marvellous presence of mind, indomitable courage, and stainless purity of character, he succeeded in overcoming the obstacles that stood in the path of his success and fought his battle well, like a brave soldier, being guided and directed by the command of his Divine Master, through whose power and grace he conquered-and subdued his opponents.

Swami Vivekananda’s success was due to his unbounded faith in the words of his spiritual Master, who is now regarded, honored, revered, respected and worshipped in India and other countries as the Incarnation-of Divinity. The great Master, seeing the future grandeur and greatness of soul of Swami Vivekananda, inspired him several times in the presence of his other disciples by saying, ” Thou hast a great work to perform ; thy mission in life is to spread the truth of the universal religion.” •

Thus having established in America the glory of his master, Bhagavan Ramakrishna, through his own success and reputation, and having shown to the world by his unselfish work his disinterested love for humanity, and having opened the spiritual eyes of hundreds of admirers, followers, students, friends, and disciples, Swami Vivekananda obeyed his Master’s call and carried ‘his message to England in 1896. There he first made the acquaintance of the Venerable Prof. Max Muller, accepted his invitation and visited him at his home in Oxford. By his magnetic personality he inspired in him the desire to publish the life and sayings of his Blessed Master. He then delivered his message to the public, and created a profound impression upon the minds of the spiritually inclined men and women and of the advanced thinkers of England. These lectures were printed at first in England and were afterwards published by the Vedanta Society of New York under the title of ” Jnana Yoga.” The present speaker was an eye witness to the effect which were produced upon the majority of his vast audience. For the first time their eyes were opened to the grandeur of the philosophy as also to the universality of the religion of Vedanta. I shall never forget the grand farewell reception that was given to him by his enthusiastic English friends on the thirteenth of December 1896 in a public meeting at Prince’s Hall, Piccadilly, London.

Having finished his work in England and having given the charge of his classes to the present speaker, Swami Vivekananda sailed for India on the sixteenth of December with a handful of English disciples who were so devoted to him that they would not leave his company.

The news of his return to India was announced in all parts of the country. The Hindus of all castes and creeds who had heard of his success in the West as ‘the greatest exponent of the philosophy and religion of the Motherland, were eagerly waiting to show their appreciation of his great work, and to pay homage to the victorious soldier of God in the form of Swami Vivekananda.

On the fifteenth of January 1897 the North German Loyd Steamer, Prince Regent Leopold, which carried on board our illustrious hero, reached the harbour of Colombo in Ceylon. A large crowd of people and admirers gathered near the landing-place to receive the great Swami Vivekananda. At the entrance to the city of Colombo triumphal arches had been erected and the streets were decorated with continuous festoons of greens and garlands of flowers. The Swami drove in a earriage along the decorated streets through cheering crowds to a bungalow where the official reception was held and the following sympathetic address of welcome was read:

” In pursuance of a resolution passed at a public meeting, of the Hindus of the City of Colombo, we beg to offer you a hearty welcome to this Island. We deem it a privilege to be the first to welcome you on your return home from your great mission in the West..

We have watched with joy and thankfulness the success with which the mission has, under God’s
blessing, been crowned. You have proclaimed to the nations of Europe and America the Hindu ideal of a universal religion, harmonizing all creeds, providing ‘ spiritual food for each soul according to its needs, and lovingly drawing it unto God. You have preached the Truth and the Way taught from remote ages by a succession of Masters whose blessed feet have walked and sanctified the soil of India, and whose gracious presence and inspiration have made her through all her vicissitudes the Light of the World.

To the inspiration of such a master, Sri Rama-krishna Paramahamsa Deva, and to your self-sacrificing zeal, Western nations owe the priceless boon of being placed in living contact with the spiritual genius of India, while to many of our own countrymen, delivered from the glamour of Western civilization, the > value of our glorious heritage has been brought home.

By your noble work and example you have laid humanity under an obligation difficult to repay, and you have shed fresh lustre upon our Motherland. We pray that the grace of God may continue to prosper you and your work, and

We remain Revered Sir,

Yours faithfully,

for and on behalf of the Hindus of Colombo.’

In reply the Swami’delivered the most eloquent -address, showing his appreciation and expressing his gratitude for the kindness and sympathy shown him for
the humble service that he had done in the Western countries for the cause of India.

Invitations from different quarters began to pour in and he accepted as many of them as his short stay in the Island of Ceylon allowed. Having received the respect, honor and loving sympathy of the inhabitants of that great island, the Swami sailed for India. Near the southernmost point there is a small town called Pamban where he landed. His Highness the Raja of Ramnad went in person to meet the great Swami and greet him with a most cordial welcome. A formal address of welcome was read and Swami Vivekananda’s reply was heard with great interest by hundreds of people who crowded round him. After this reception he was invited by His Highness to be his guest of honor in his palace. He accepted the invitation and was seated in the carriage when, at the instance of His Highness, the horses were removed and the carriage was drawn by the Raja himself aided by his devoted attendants. It will be interesting to you to know that this Raja, desiring to commemorate the first spot where the Swami landed, erected there a monument, the inscription on which reads thus :

Satyameva Jayati. This monument erected by Bhaskara Sethupathy, the Raja of Ramnad, marks the sacred spot where His Holiness Swami Vivekananda’s feet first trod on Indian soil together with the English disciple of His Holiness, returned from
the Western Hemisphere where glorious and unprecedented success attended His Holiness’es philanthropic labours to spread the religion of the Vedanta.*’ All the Hindus of all castes came to see the Swami and treated him with the greatest respect, kindness and hospitality. After staying there for three days as the guest of honor of His Highness, the Swami proceeded North towards Calcutta, the place of his birth, a distance of about four thousand miles – as far as San Francisco is from New York – stopping on his way in the principal cities of the different states and presidencies. Everywhere he was most cordially received and entertained. In fact, the receptions and ovations given to Swami Vivekananda were unique in the annals of the history of India. No prince, no Maharaja, nor even the Viceroy of India, has ever received such a hearty welcome and such spontaneous expressions of love ; reverence, gratitude and respect as were showered upon the blessed head of this great patriot-saint of modern India. Time will not permit me to describe the great ovations and receptions which were bestowed upon him in Madras and Calcutta, the capital of the vast British Empire in Asia. Those who have read the book named – ” From Colombo to Almora ” will remember what national pathos, enthusiasm and spiritual zeal were aroused in the hearts of the people by the return of the most worthy disciple of the Blessed Lord Sri-Ramakrishna, our Master and Spiritual Guide.

India, indeed, knows how to honor a spiritual hero. As Europe and America know how to honor their political or their military heroes when they return from the battle-field with their faces smeared with the life-blood of their innocent victims, so India on the contrary is the only country in the world where a spiritual hero receives similar honor when he returns from the spiritual battlefield after gaining victories of peace and love over inharmony and sectarian fight. The interest of the Hindu lies in religion ; the Hindus do not care so much for politics or commercialism as for religion. Even the most illiterate peasant knew what Swami Vivekananda was doing here; and he was eagerly waiting to hear the reports of the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and to greet the hero who had achieved glorious success in expounding the religion of Vedanta.

Now let us see in what way the Swami’s mind was affected by these grand ovations. We all know how few people can digest the honors bestowed upon them by a whole nation. We have witnessed how the minds of Hobson and Dewey were turned when eulogies were poured upon their heads by the American nation. But with Swami Vivekananda the effect was different. After receiving the highest honors from three great nations, Swami Vivekananda’s mind was neither elated with pride or self-conceit, nor was his head turned for half a second from the blessed feet of his beloved Master. With the same childlike simpliciiy, with the same humility of character
which he had possessed before he came to America, and keeping the same fire of renunciation alive in his soul, he realized the transitoriness of all the triumphal honors which were showered upon him. –

He dressed himself once more in rags, took up his begging bowl and staff and began to wander like an ordinary Sannyasin from place to place. But this sudden change produced a great shock in his whole system and completely broke down his health. He would not take care of his body and would not listen to the advice and good counsels of his friends. Even in this state of health Swami Vivekananda showed that his spirit was infinitely greater than his physical form, and that his body was no longer capable of holding the soul which was constantly expanding and Teaching out to the Infinite by transcending all limitations.

On account of his poor health, he was obliged to give up the platform work for the time being. He wanted to take rest, but the indefatigable energy which was poured into his soul by some unseen hand would not allow him to take rest. It pushed him irom inside to do more work. From this time, however, he succeeded in directing that tremendous force in another channel. With the help of his American and English friends, he established two great monasteries for training the students of Vedanta of all castes, creeds and nationalities, one about six miles north of Calcutta and the other in the Himalayas, over six thousand feet above the sea level. These
two monasteries are for the training of the Brahmacharins. In the second there are at present some English and American students who have gone there to study the religion and philosophy of Vedanta.

During the time of the terrible plague and famine in 1897, Swami Vivekananda also started the Rama-krishna Mission work with the help of his fellow disciples and co-workers, and established relief stations in different parts of the country to help the poor and suffering people and to distribute food, clothes, medicines. They have been doing splendid work in the way of relieving the distress of the sufferers. At the same time he opened three orphan asylums with educational schools in Bengal, Rajputana and in the Punjab. These have since been growing rapidly with great success. The two great magazines in English, – the ” Brahmavadin ” and the ” Awakened India”, which have their subscribers in all parts of the world, as also a monthly journal in Bengali (Udbodhana) were started through the help of this great worker.

But the mental strain was too much for his poor health; he needed rest. At the request of his American and English friends, he revisited America in 1899 to have a complete change and to be away for a season from the field of his work. The doctors and physicians of New York advised him to spend the winter in California, so he went to California and within a few months recovered his strength and again took up the platform work. He gave addresses and courses of lectures in San Francisco and Los Angeles,
established the Vedanta Society of San Francisco, which is now in a very flourishing condition under the leadership of SwamiTrigunatita who has recently come from India.

At that time his worthy disciple, an English lady known as Sister Nivedita, who has .renounced her family and voluntarily taken up the life of poverty, chastity and unselfishness, visited New York and gave courses of lectures describing the educational needs of Hindu women and the Swami’s plans for establishing something like University Settlement work in Calcutta. • •

Swami Vivekananda came to New York and stayed in the Vedanta Society House for nearly three months, where he delivered lectures and conducted classes, then he went to see the Paris Exposition where he was invited a to speak. Thus paying his last visit to his American and English friends, students and disciples, the Swami returned to India.

At this time he began to feel that he had finished his public work and had delivered before the world the message which had been entrusted to him by his Blessed Master. His health became poorer every day, but the inexhaustible energy and power that were working through the form would not let him remain quiet. He returned that force now in another direction, – in training the disciples and moulding the character of those gathered around him, by his living example as well as by his soul-stirring spiritual instructions. Silently ignoring the world-wide fame
that had shone upon his name, he lived unostentatiously in the quiet house of the monastery on the bank of the Ganges, sometimes playing the part of a Guru or spiritual teacher, sometimes that of a father, •sometimes even of a school-master. Man-making was now the ideal of our revered Swami. With a heart weeping at the sight of the suffering and degradation •of the illiterate masses of India, with a soul glowing with the fire of disinterested love for humanity and true patriotism, Swami Vivekananda solved the problem concerning the future of his
Motherland by holding before the nation’s
eyes the ideal of character-building through the light and spirit of Vedanta.

He told his disciples to live up to the mark of the teaching of Vedanta, as that was what the world needed. He gave his lessons and instructions and day after day he set himself to build the characters of his disciples and followers for the regeneration of India, until the fourth of July igo2, when he liberated his soul from the bondage of the mortal form, and like a great Yogi he threw away*the garment of his physical body by entering into Samadhi or the state of super-consciousness, from which he never returned. Thus he fulfilled to the very letter the prediction of •his Blessed Master : ” That when his mission would
be finished he would realize his divine nature and would give up his body.”

Swami Vivekananda did not die of any disease like an ordinary mortal; for during two months
before his departure he was in perfect health and even on the last day he walked two miles and gave’ lessons to his disciples for nearly two hours in the afternoon, and in the evening before dinner he told the disciple who attended on him to wait outside until he was called for. In the meantime he went into super-consciousness through the path of meditation. He foretold several times that his work was finished’ and that he was passing away. The great soul thus passed away when his fame as a great Yogi, as a spiritual teacher, a religious leader, a patriot-saint, as a writer and an orator, and, above all, as the most disinterested worker for humanity had reached its climax and when new calls for greater work were ringing in his ears. As a lover of freedom, he could not have* chosen a more auspicious day than the fourth of July, when the atmosphere around our planet was reverberating with the thoughts of freedom that were arising from the free souls of the American-nation.

The loss of Swami Vivekananda has been a national calamity for India and has been felt with profound sorrow by his admirers, followers and friends all over the world. Memorial services were held in all parts of India and Ceylon, in .New York and California and in other States of America. No country has ever produced such a many-sided character harmoniously combined in one form as we have seen in-the late Swami Vivekananda.

Was he the same graduate of the Calcutta University, the son of a lawyer and attorney of the High Court of Calcutta ? No, he was different. Swami Vivekananda was different from him who was known as Narendra Nath Dutt before he came to his Blessed Master.

Did he belong to any caste ? No, Swami Vivekananda had no caste ; he had no earthly parents, but was the child of Ramakrishna. He renounced everything, severed his family relations and was born again of his spiritual father. He never claimed for himself any caste distinction. It was his Blessed Master who by the magic of his Divine touch brought into play the latent greatness of his soul. Being the most worthy disciple of his Master, he followed the footsteps of Sri Ramakrishna, holding in his heart that he was the lowest of the low, lower even than a Pariah, so far as caste distinction and social position were concerned. He lived an unmarried life as simple and pure as that of a child : always regarding women as the representatives of the Divine Mother. Poverty, self-abnegation, self-renunciation and disinterested love for humanity were the ornaments of this exemplary character. ‘

To-day Swami Vivekananda has become the great ideal of the Hindu .nation. Narrow-minded sectarians may not acknowledge it, but the fault is not to be found with the sun because the owls do not see his glorious rising. In the name of Swami Vivekananda, the whole of India is weeping with

profound sympathy and sorrow ; he is regarded as the patriot-saint of modern India. Hundreds of societies, clubs, schools and colleges have been started in the name of Swami Vivekananda by the respectable Hindus of all castes and creeds to show their appreciation of his greatness and to carry on his work for the cause of India. The other day I received a letter from a friend from Colombo in Ceylon who said: ” In Ceylon I see there is an English Magazine published under the name of * Vivekananda.’ A public hall has been erected here and named * Vivekananda Hall.’ A society has been started under the name of ‘ Vivekananda Society.’ At Conjeevaram, in Southern India, there is a medal in a college named ‘Vivekananda Medal.’ In Trichinopoly there is a ‘ Vivekananda College.’ In Calcutta the University graduates have started a Vivekananda Society. In almost every city in India there is a Vivekananda society or club; the object of these Societies is to continue the work left by this glorious patriot-saint and to fulfil his desires and ideas.”

I have just received a letter from India saying that on the twenty-fifth of last January the fortieth birthday anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated in the monastery near Calcutta where his body was cremated, and three’thousand people were sumptuously entertained and over five hundred from among the educated and respectable communities came to honor and show reverence to the f holy spirit of the departed Swami.

Before I close, I must tell you that I had the honor of living with this great Swami in India, in England, and in this country. I lived and travelled with this great spiritual brother of mine, saw him day after day and night after night and watched his character for nearly twenty years, and I stand here to assure you that I have not found another like him in these three continents, and that no one can take the place of this wonderful personage. As a man, his character was pure and spotless; as a philosopher, he was the greatest of all Eastern and Western philosophers. In him I found the ideal of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga ; he was like the living example of Vedanta in all its different branches.

In conclusion, allow me to read an open letter sent to me by the late President of the Vedanta Society of San Francisco, M. H. Logan, M.D., A.M., Ph.G. He was a personal friend of Swami Viveka-nanda, as you will see from his letter ; he says :

” Many are the moments of sadness since the Swamijee has gone away. It seems that all the gods had left us, for his Divine presence spread peace and tranquillity wherever ,he went; the tumult of uncertainty departed from my soul at the sound of his magic voice, His very form and every mood were those of tender compassion and sympathy. None knew him but to love him; those of us who have had the royal good fortune to have met him in the flesh will some day realize that we have met the true Incarnation of the Divine One.

To me he is ” The Christ,” than whom a greater one has never come; his great and liberal soul i outshines all other things; his mighty spirit was as free and liberal as the great sun, or the air of heaven.

No being lived so mean or low, be it man or beast, that he would not salute. His was not only an appeal to the poor and lowly but to kings and princes and mighty rulers of the [earth ; to grand masters of learning, of finances, of art and of the sciences, to leaders of thought and of creeds, to mighty intellects, philosophers and poets. Viveka-nanda shook the world of thought on all its higher lines. Great teachers bowed reverently at his feet, the humble followed reverently to kiss the hem of his garments; no other single human being was reverenced more during his life than was Vivekananda.

In the few short weeks that I was with him few could know him better than I. At first I attended him through a severe spell of sickness, then he sat with me partly through a paralytic stroke ; he would charm me to sleep and enchant me awake. So passed the sublimest part of my life, and now that sweet memory lingers and sustains me ever and always. .

Many have asked me why so great and good a man must die ? I have said, Why should he not die? His task was finished: One ordinary human body

was not enough, nor twenty, nor a hundred for such tremendous energy. Such an intense intellect and spirituality would soon dissolve the granite foundation stones.

Vivekananda is not dead, he is with us, now and forever. He is my comfort and solace. He is the Senior Brother to the whole world.


By Sister Nivedita.

IN the West, the Swami had revealed himself to us
as a religious teacher only……It is true that in a
flash or two one had seen a great patriot…It was as the apostle of Hinduism, not as a worker for India, that we saw the Swami in the West…

“From the moment of my landing in India, however, I found something quite unexpected underlying all this…It was the personality of the Master himself, in all the fruitless torture and struggle of a lion caught in a net…But wherein lay the struggle? Whence came the frequent sense of being baffled and thwarted ? Was it a growing consciousness of bodily weakness, conflicting with the growing clearness of a ,great purpose?…Banished to the Himalayas with shattered health, at the very moment when his power had reached its height, he had written a letter to an English friend which was a cry of despair.

” To what was the struggle actually due ? Was it the terribly effort of translating what he had called the ‘super-conscious’ into the common life? Undoubtedly he had been born to a task which was in this respect of heroic difficulty. Nothing in this world is so terrible as to abandon the safe paths of accepted ideals, in order to work out some new realisation, by methods apparently in conflict with the old…

Certainly in years to come, in the last five and-a-half years, particularly, which were his crowning gift to his own people, he stood for work without attachment, or work for. impersonal ends, as one of the highest expressions of the religious life. And for the first time in the history of India an order of monks found themselves banded together, with their faces set primarily towards the evolution of new forms of civil duty. In Europe…such labour ranks as devotional in the common acceptance. But in India, the head and front of the demand made on a monastic order is that it produce saints…

” In the Swami’s scheme of things, however, it would almost seem as if such tasks were to take that place in the spiritual education which had previously
been occupied by systems of devotion……Worship is
thus regarded as the school, or preparation, for higher ‘ stages of spiritual development. * But the self-same sequence would seem to have held good in the eyes of the Swami, with regard to work, or the service to man……Thus he hallowed the act of aid, and hallowed, too, the name of man……The nursing of the
sick and the feeding of the poor, had indeed from the first been natural activities of the Children of Rama-krishna. But when the Swami returned from the West, these things took on a larger aspect. They were considered from a national point of view. Men would be sent out from the monastery to give relief in .famine-stricken areas, to direct the sanitation of a .town, or to nurse the sick and the dying at a pilgrim
centre……These (workers) were, said the Swami, the
sappers and miners’ of the army of religion. His schemes, however, went much further. He was consumed with a desire for the education of Indian women, and for the scientific and technical education of the country. How the impersonal motive multiples the power to suffer, only those who have seen can ¦judge……

” His view was penetrative as well as comprehensive. He had analysed the elements of the development to be brought about. India must learn a new ideal of obedience. The Math was placed, therefore, on a basis of organisation which was contrary to all the current ideas of religious freedom……

The energy which had hitherto gone into the mortification of the body, might rightly, in his opinion, under modern conditions, be directed to the training of the muscles:

“……Long ago, he had defined the mission of the
Order of Ramakrishna as that of realising and ex. changingthe highest jdeals of the East and of the West. And assuredly he here proved his own power to engage in such an undertaking as much by his gift of learning as by that of teaching. But it was inevitable that he himself should from time to time go through the anguish of revolt. The Hindu ideal of the religious life, as a reflection on earth of that of the Great God in the Divine Empyrean, – the Unmoving, the Untouched, ‘pure, free, ever the Witness’ – is so clear and so deeply established that only at great cost to himself could
a man carry it into a fresh “channel……Occasionally
to one who was much with him, a word, let fall unconsciously, would betray the inner conflict….. – I have become entangled,’ he said simply, to one who protested that to his mind the wandering Sadhu of earlier years who had scattered his knowledge and changed his name as *he went, had been greater than the Abbot of Belur, burdened with much wort and many cares. ‘ I have become entangled.* And I remember the story told by an American woman, who said she could not bear to remember his face, at that moment when her husband explained to this strange guest that he must make his way from their home to Chicago with money which would be paid gladly to hear him speak of religion. * It was, she said, ‘ as if something had just broken within him, that could
never again be made whole’……

” And so, side by side with that sun-lit serenity and child-like peace which enwrapped the Swami as a religious teacher, I found in his own country another point of view, from which he was very, very human. And here, though the results of his efforts may have been choicer, or more enduring, than those of most of us, yet they were wrought at the self-same cost of having to toil on in darkness and uncertainty, and only now and then emerging into light. Often dogged by the sense of failure, often overtaken by a loathing of the limitations imposed alike by the instrument and the material, he dared less and less, as years went on, to make determinate plans, or to-dogmatise about the unknown. After all, what do we know ?’ he said once, * Mother uses it all. But we are only fumbling about.’

” This has not perhaps been an element in the lives of the great teachers on which their narrators have cared to dwell much. Yet one catches a hint of it in the case of Sri Ramakrishna, when we are told how he turned on God. with the reproach, * Oh, Mother ! What is this You have brought me to ? All my heart is centred in these lads!’ And in the eleventh chapter of the Dhammapada one can see still, though twenty-four centuries have passed since then, the wave-marks of similar storms on the shores of the consciousness of another Teacher.

” There was one thing, however, deep in the Master’s nature, that he himself never . knew how. to adjust. This was the love of his country and his resentment of her suffering. Throughout those years in which I saw him almost daily, the thought of India was, to him like the air he breathed. True, he was a worker at foundations. He neither used the word 4 nationality’, nor proclaimed an era of * nationmaking. 5 ‘ Man-making,’ he said, was his own task. But he was born a lover, and the queen of his adoration was his Motherland. Like some delicately-poised bell, thrilled and vibrated by every sound that falls upon it, was his heart to all that concerned her. Not a sob was heard within her shores that did not find in him a responsive echo. There was no cry of fear,
no tremor of weakness, no shrinking from mortification, that he had not known or understood. He was hard on her sins, unsparing of her want of worldly wisdom, but only because he felt these faults to be his own. And none, on the contrary, was ever so possessed by the vision of her greatness. To him, she appeared as the giver of English civilisation. For what, he would ask, had been the England of Elizabeth in comparison with the India of Akbar ? Nay, what would the England of Victoria have been, without the wealth of India behind her ? Where would have been her refinement ? Where would have been her experience ? His country’s religion, history, geography, ethnology, poured from his lips in an unbroken stream……One might note the unwearied stream of analysis of the laws regarding female inheritance, or the details of caste customs in different provinces, or some abstruse systems of metaphysics or theology, proceeding on and on for a couple of hours longer.

In these talks of his, the heroism of the Rajput, the faith of the Sikh, the courage of the Mahratta, the devotion of the saints, and the purity and the . steadfastness of noble women, all lived again. Nor would he permit that the Mohammedan should be passed over. Humayoon, Sher Shah, Akbar, Shah Jehan, each of these, and a hundred more, found a day and a place in his bead-roll of glistening names……

” Like some great spiral of emotion, its lowest
circles held fast in love of soil and love of nature ; its next’embracing every possible association of race, experience, history, and thought; and the whole converging and centring upon a single definite point, was thus the Swami’s worship of his own land. And the point in which it was focussed was the conviction that India was not old and effete, as her critics had supposed, but young, ripe with potentiality, and standing, at the beginning of the twentieth century, on the threshold of even greater developments than she had known in the past. Only once, however, do I remember him to have given utterance to this thought. * I feel myself,* he said in a moment of great quiet, * to be the man born after many centuries.
I see that India is young.’ But in truth this vision was implied in every word he ever spoke. It throbbed in every story he told. And when he would lose himself, in splendid scorn of apology for anything Indian, in fiery repudiation of false change or contemptuous criticism, or in laying down for others the elements of a faith and love that could never be more than a pale reflection of his own, how often did the habit of the monk seem to slip away from, him, and the armour of the warrior stand revealed !

But it is not to be supposed that he was unaware of the temptation which all this implied…As one who has forsworn them will struggle against thoughts of home and family, he would endeavour, time and again, to restrain and suppress these thoughts

of country and history, and to make of himself only that poor, religious wonderer, to whom all courftries and all races should be alike…

” He was always striving to be faithful to the banner of Ramakrishna, and the utterance of a message of his own seemetj often to strike him as a lapse-Besides, he believed that force spent in mere emotion was dissipated, only force restrained being conserved for expression in work. Yet again the impulse to give all he had would overtake him, and before he knew it, he would once more be scattering those thoughts of hope and love for his race and for his country, which, apparently without his knowledge, fell in so many cases like seed upon soil prepared for it and have sprung up already, in widely distant parts of India, into hearts and lives of * devotion to the Motherland. Just as Sri Ramakrishna, in fact, without knowing any books, had been a living epitome of the Vedanta, so was Vivekananda of the national life. But of the theory of this he was unconscious. In his own words, applied to his Master, * He was contented simply to live that great life, and to leave it to others to find the explanation.’ “

Spread the message
Night Mode