Vivekananda AutoBiography – 10.THE LAST DAYS

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Vivekananda AutoBiography – 10.THE LAST DAYSBack

CHAPTER X

THE LAST DAYS

Belur Math : 11-12-1900 I arrived night before last. Alas ! my hurrying was of no use. Poor Captain Sevier has passed away, a few days ago; thus two Great Englishmen gave up their lives for us, the Hindus. This is martyrdom if anything is.

He was cremated on the banks of the river that flows by his Ashrama, a la Hindu, covered with garlands, the Brahmins carrying the body and boys chanting the Vedas.

Dear Mrs. Sevier is calm. I am going up tomorrow to pay her a visit.

15-12-1900 Three days ago, I reached here. It was quite unexpected, and everybody was so surprised.

26-12-1900 I am going to Mayavati tomorrow.

Mayavati: 6-1-1901 The first day’s touch of Calcutta brought the asthma back; and every night I used to get a fit during the two weeks I was there. I am however very well in the Himalayas.

It is snowing heavily here, and I was caught in a blizzard on the way; but, it is not very cold; all this exposure to the snows for two days on my way here seems to have done me a world of good.

Today, I walked over the snow uphill about a mile.

The snow is lying all round six inches deep, the sun is bright and glorious, and now in the middle of the day we are sitting outside reading, and the snow all about us ! The winter here is very mild in spite of the snow. The air is dry and balmy, and the water beyond all praise.

Belur Math: 26-1-1901 I went to see Mrs. Sevier in Mayavati. On my way, I learned of the sudden death of the Raja of Khetri. It appears he was restoring some old architectural monument at Agra, at his own expense, and was up some tower on inspection. Part of the tower came down, and he was instantly killed.

Dacca: 29-3-1901 My mother, aunt and cousin came over five days ago to Dacca, as there was a great sacred bath in the Brahmaputra river. Whenever a particular conjunction of planets takes place, which is very rare, a huge concourse of people gather on the river at a particular spot. This year, there has been more than a hundred thousand people; for miles the river was covered with boats.

The river, though nearly a mile broad at the place, was one mass of mud ! But, it was firm enough, so we had our bath and puja and all that.

I am rather enjoying Dacca. I am going to take my mother and other ladies to Chandranath, a holy place at the eastern – most corner of Bengal.

I liked East Bengal on the whole, ^”he fields, I saw were rich in crops, the climate also is good, and the scenery on the hill-side is charming. The Brahmaputra valley is incomparable in beauty. The people of East

Bengal are a little stronger and more active than those of this (West Bengal). It may be due to their taking plenty of fish and meat. Whatever they do, they do with great persistence. They use a good deal of oil and fat in their food, which is not good, because taking too much oily and fatty good produces fat in the body.

About religious ideas, I noticed the people are very conservative, and many have turned into fanatics in trying to be liberal in religion. One day, a young man brought to me in the house of Mohinim Babu at Dacca a photograph and said, “Sir, please tell me who he is. Is he an Avatara ?” I told him gently many times that I knew nothing of it, when even on my telling him three or four times, the boy did not cease from his persistent questioning, I was constrained to say at last, “My boy, henceforth take a little nutritious food and then your brain will develop. Without nourishing food, I see your brain has become dried up.” At these words, the young man may have been very much displeased. But, what could I do ? Unless I spoke like this to the boys, they would turn into madcaps by degrees.

People may call their Guru an Avatara; they may have any idea of him they like. But, Incarnations of God are not born anywhere and at all seasons. At Dacca itself, I heard there were three or four Avataras !

The women are very nearly the same everywhere. I found Vaishnavism strong at Dacca.

Going so far, I could not return without visiting the birthplace of such a great soul as Nag Mahashaya. His wife fed me with many delicacies prepared with her own hand. The house is charming, like a peace retreat. There I took a swimming bath in a village pond. After that, I had such a sound sleep that I woke at half past two in the afternoon. Of the few days, I had sound sleep in my life, that in Nag Mahashaya’s house was one. Rising from sleep, I had a plentiful repast. Nag Maha-shaya’s wife presented me a cloth which I tied round my head as a turban and started for Dacca. I found that the photograph of Nag Mahashaya was being worshipped there. The place where his remains lie interred ought to be well kept. Even now it is not as it should be.

Even while living the life of a householder, Nag Mahashaya was more than a Sannyasin. This is very uncommon; I have rarely seen one like him.

Decidedly, without a shadow of doubt, Nag Mahashaya was the living personification of humility in the play of Sri Ramakrishna’s divine drama on earth…Sri Ramakrishna used to speak of Nag Mahashaya as a “flaming fire.”

All the characteristics of the highest type of Bhakti spoken of in the scriptures have manifested themselves in Nag Mahashaya. It is only in him that we actually see fulfilled the widely quoted text.

Blessed indeed is East Bengal to have been hallowed by the touch of Nag Mahashaya’s feet!

How can ordinary people appreciate a great man like him ? Those who had his company are blessed indeed.

The land that has produced a great soul like Nag Mahashaya is blessed and has a hopeful future. By the light of his personality, Eastern Bengal is radiant.

There in East Bengal, they used to make such fuss about my food and say, “Why should you eat that food or eat from the hands of such and such?” – and so on. To which I had to reply – “I am a Sannyasin and a mendicant friar and what need have I to observe so much outward formality with regard to food etc. Do not your scriptures say – “One should beg one’s food from door to door, aye even from the house of an outcaste.”

The Shillong hills are very beautiful. There I met Sir Henry Cotton, the Chief Commissioner of Assam. He asked me, “Swamiji, after travelling through Europe and America, what have you come to see here in these distant hills?” Such a good and kind-hearted man as Sir Henry Cotton is rarely found. Hearing of my illness, he sent the Civil Surgeon and inquired after my health morning and evening. I could not do much lecturing there, because my health was very bad. On the way Nitai served and looked after me nicely.

Kamakhya is the land of the Tantras. I heard of one “Hankar” Deva who is worshipped there as an Avatara.

I heard his sect is very widespread. I could not ascertain if “Hankar” Deva was but another form of the name of Sankaracharya. They are monks – perhaps, Tantrika Sannyasins. Or perhaps, one of the Sankara sects.

Math: 15-5-1901 – I have just returned from my tour through East Bengal and Assam. As usual, I am quite tired and broken down.

Belur Math,: 14-6-1901 – At Shillong, the hill sanatorium of Assam, I had fever, Asthma, increase of albumen, and my body swelled to almost twice its normal size. These symptoms subsided, however, as soon as I reached the Math. It is dreadfully hot this year, but a bit of rain has commenced, and I hope we will soon have the monsoon in full force. I have no plans just now except that the Bombay Presidency wants me so urgently that I think of going there soon.

Belur Math: 5-7-1901 – My health has been and is very bad. I recover for a few days only; then comes the inevitable relapse. Well, this is the nature of the disease anyway.

Assam is, next to Kashmir, the most beautiful country in India, but very unhealthy. The huge Brahmaputra winding in and out of mountains and hills, studded with Islands, is, of course, worth one’s while to see.

Belur Math,: 27-8-1901 -My health is getting worse, in fact everyday…

I am in a sense a retired man; I don’t keep much note of what is going on about the Movement.

Belur Math, ; 7-9-01 It has been raining here day and night last three days. Two of our cows have calved.

Well, about the rains – they have come down now in right earnest and it is a deluge, pouring, pouring night and day. The river is rising, flooding the banks ; the ponds and tanks have overflown. I have just now returned from lending a hand in cutting a deep drain to take off the water from the Math grounds. The rain water stands at places some feet high. My huge stork is full of glee and so are the the ducks and geese. My tame antelope fled from the Math and gave us some days of anxiety in finding him out. One of my ducks unfortunately died yesterday. She had been gasping for breath more than a week. One of my waggish monks says, “Sir, it is no use living in this Kaliyuga when ducks catch cold from damp and rain, and frogs sneeze!”

One of the geese was losing her feathers. Knowing no other method, I left her some minutes in a tub of water mixed with mild carbolic, so that it might either kill or heal – and she is all right now.

Belur Math: 8-11-1901 -I have been ever since my trip to East Bengal almost bed-ridden. Now I am worse than ever with the additional disadvantage of impaired eyesight.

Banaras Cantonment: 10-2-1902 Mi, Okakura (of Japan) has started on his short tour. A very well educated rich young man of Banaras, with whose father we had a long standing friendship, came Backto this city yesterday. He is especially interested in art, and spending purposely a lot of money in his attempts to revive dying Indian arts. He came to see me only a few hours after Mr Okakura left.

He is just the man to show him artistic India (i. e. what little is left) and I am sure he will be much benefited by Okakura’s suggestions. Okakura just found a com terracotta water-vessel here used by the servants. The shape and the embossed work on it simply charmed him, but as it is common earthenware and would not bear the journey, he left a request with me to have it reproduced in brass. I was at my wit’s end as to what to do. My young friend comes a few hours after and not only undertakes to have it done, but offers to show a few hundreds of embossed designs in terracotta infinitely superior to the one Okakura fancied. He also offers to show old paintings in that wonderful style. Only one family is left in Banaras who can paint after the old style yet. One of them has painted a whole hunting scene on a pea, perfect in detail and action!

I may shift from this place very soon.

Banaras Cantonment: 18-2-1902 -If in this hell of a world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all else is mere moonshine.

Belur Math: 21-4-1902 – The plan of going to Japan seems to have come to nought.

Belur Math: 21-4-1902 – I am getting on splendidly, they say, but yet very weak and no water to drink. Anyhow the chemical analysis shows a great improvement. The swelling about the feet, and other complaints have all disappeared.

Belur Math : 15-5-1902 -I am somewhat better, but, of course, far from what I expected. A great idea of quiet has come upon me- I am going to retire for good-no more work for me.

If ever a man found the vanity of things, I have it now……This is the world, hideous beastly corpse. Who thinks of helping it is a fool! But we have to work out our slavery by doing good or evil. I have worked it out, I hope. May the Lord take me to the other shore !

To set the work going, I had to touch money and property, for a time. Now I am sure my part of the work is done, and I have no more interest in Vedanta or any philosophy in the world or the work itself. I am getting ready to depart to return no mdre to this hell, this world,

Even its religious utility is beginning to pall me. May Mother gather me soon to Herself never to come back any more !

I have given up the bondage of iron, the family tie. I am not to take up the golden chain of religious brotherhood! I am free, must always be free, I am as good as retired. I have played my part in the world.

I had a message from India to the West, and boldly I gave it to the American and English peoples.

I have worked my best. If there is any seed of truth in it, it will come to life. I am satisfied in my conscience that I did not remain an idle Swaroi. I have a notebook which has travelled with me all over the world. I find these words written seven years ago – “Now to seek a corner and lay myself there to die !” Yet, all this Karma remained.

Through Maya all this doing good etc, came into my brain-now they are leaving me, I long, Oh, I long for my rags, my shaven head, my sleep under the trees and my food from begging ! Never before in my life I realised more forcibly the vanity of the world.

I have roused a good many of our people; that was all I wanted. Let things have their course and Karma its way. I have no bonds here. I have seen life and it is all self – life is for self, love for self, honour for self, everything for self. I look Backand scarcely find any action I have done for self; even my wicked deeds were not for self. So I am content…………I have seen the truth. – let the body float up or down, who cares ?

Oh, the grief! If I could get two or three like me, I could have left the world convulsed.

It may be that I shall find it good to get outside of my body-to cast it off like a disused garment. But, I shall not cease to work! I shall inspire men everywhere.

It seems there is no more strength left to bear the burden of work and responsibility. Rest and peace for the few days that I shall yet live. Victory to the Guru ! Victory to the Guru! No more lectures or anything of that sort. Peace!

Let me die a true Sannyasin, as my Master did, heedless of money, of women, and of fame!

Do you think that there will be no more Vivekanandas after I die !…………There will be no lack of Vivekanandas, if the world needs them………Know for certain that the work done by me is not the work of Vivekadanda, it is His work- Lord’s own work! If one Governor-Gene ral retires, another is sure to be sent in his place by the Emperor.

“As the birds which have slept in the branches of a tree wake up, singing when the dawn comes, and soar up into the deep blue sky, so is the end of my life.”

I have had many difficulties, and also some very great successes. But all my difficulties and sufferings count for nothing, as I have succeeded. I have attained my aim. I have found the pearl for which I dived into the ocean of life, I have been rewarded. I am pleased……

I see the cloud lifting, vanishing, the cloud of my bad Karma, and the sun of my good karma rises, shining, beautiful and powerful.

I think I am beginning to see the Divine, I think I am slowly approaching that state when I shall be able to love the very ”Devil” himself, if there were any.

At twenty years of age, I was the most unsympathetic, uncompromising fanatic; I would not walk on the footpath, on the theatre side of the streets in Calcutta. At thirty three, I could live in the same house with prostitutes and never would think of saying a word of reproach to them……My power of work is immensely increasing

and becoming immensely effective. Some days I get into a sort of ecstasy. I feel that I must bless everyone, everything and embrace everything, and I do see that evil is a delusion. I bless the day I was born. That Love Infinite that brought me into being has guarded every one of my actions good or bad; for what am I, what was I ever, but a tool in His hands? for whose service I have given up everything, my beloved ones, my joys. He is my playful darling, I am His playfellow.

There is neither rhyme nor reason in the universe ! What reason binds Him ? He the playful One is playing these tears and laughters over all parts of the play ! Great fun; great fun.

It is a funny world, – and the funniest chap you ever saw is, He – the Beloved Infinite! Fun, is it not? Brotherhood or playmate hood – a school of romping children let out to play in this playground of the world! Isn’t it? Whom to praise, whom to blame, it is all His play. They want explanations, but how can you explain Him? He is brainless, nor has He any reason. He is fooling us with little brains and reason, but this time He won’t find me napping.

Beyond, beyond reason and learning and talking is the feeling, the “Love”, the “Beloved”, Aye, “Saki”1 fill up the cup and we will be mad.”

I am more calm and quiet now than I ever was. My boat is nearing the calm harbour from which it is never more to be driven out. Glory, glory unto Mother! I have no wish, no ambition now. Blessed be Mother ! I am the servant of Ramakrishna. I am merely a machine. I know nothing else. Nor do I want to know. Glory, glory unto Sri Guru!

Mother is becoming propitious once more… Mother is doing Her own work; I do not worry now. Moths like me die by the thousand every instant. Her work goes on all the same. Glory unto Mother ! Alone and drifting about in the will-current of the Mother, has been my whole life…

I am happy, at peace with myself, and more of the Sannyasin than I ever was before. Memories of long nights of vigil with Sri Ramakrishna under the Dakshin-eshwar Banyan tree are waking up once more. And work ? What is work? Whose work? Whom shall I work for?

I am free. I am Mother’s child. She works, she plays, why should I plan? What should I plan ? Things came and went, just as She liked, without my planning. We are Her automata. She is the wirepuller.

I have bundled my things and am waiting for the great deliverer.

I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of Ramakrishna under the Banyan tree at Dakshiineshwar. That is my true nature. Works and activities, doing good and so forth are all superimpositions. Now I again hear his voice; the same old voice thrilling my soul. Bonds are breaking- love dying, work becoming tasteless – the glamour is off life. Now the voice of the Master calling: ‘I come, Lord,

I come.” – “Let the dead bury the dead, follow thou Me.”

– “I come, my beloved, I come.”

Yes, Nirvana is before me. I leave none bound,

I take no bonds.

I come, Mother, I come, In Thy “warm bosom.

I feel freedom is near at hand.

I am the infinite blue sky; the clouds may gather over me, but I am the same infinite blue.

These tinpots of bones and foolish dreams of happiness and misery – what are they?

My dreams are breaking. Om Tat Sat!

Black and thick are the folds of sinister fate. But, I am the master. I raise my hand, and lo, they vanish! All this is nonsense and fear. I am the Fear of fear, the Terror of terror. I am the fearless secondless One. I am the Ruler of Destiny, the Wiper – out of fate. Sri Wah Guru!

All is good ! Nonsense. Some good, some evil. I enjoy the good and I enjoy the evil. I was Jesus and I was Judas Iscariot; both my play, my fun. All is good!… Come good, come evil, both welcome, both of you my play. Fhave no good to attain, no ideal to clench up to, no ambition to fulfil. I, the diamond mine, am playing with pebbles, good and evil, good for you, evil, come; good for you, good, you come too. If the universe tumbles round my ears, what is that to me? I am Peace that passeth understanding. I am beyond, I am Peace !

I am being lifted up above the pestilential miasma of this world’s joys and sorrows; they are losing their meaning. It is a land of dreams; it does not matter whether one enjoys or weeps; they are but dreams, and as such, must break sooner or later…Life is but a dream! I am attaining peace that passeth understanding, which is neither joy nor sorrow, but something above them both… Now I am nearing that Peace, the eternal silence. I preached the theory (of Vedantism) so long, but Oh Joy! I am realising it now. Yes, lam. “I am free.” “Alone, alone. I am the One without a second.”

As the dawn heralds the rising sun, so unselfishness, purity righteousness precede the advent of God.

– Sri RAMAKRISHNA.

The blissful winds are sweet to us,

The seas are showering bliss on us.

May the corn in our fields bring bliss to us, May the plants and herbs bring bliss to us, May the cattle give us bliss,

O, Father in Heaven, be Thou blissful unto us!

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

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A Persian word for a wine-cup bearer.

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