THE DIVINE CALL AND THE CHICAGO PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS
I do not take into any consideration whether people accept Sri Ramakrishna’s name or not, but I am ready to lay down my life to help his teachings, his life and his message spread all over the world.
I am called by the Lord for this. I have been dragged through a whole life full of crosses and tortures; I have seen the nearest and dearest die, almost of starvation: I have been ridiculed, distrusted, and have suffered for my sympathy for the very men who scoff and scorn me.
I do not care for liberation, or for devotion; I would rather go to a hundred thousand hells, “doing good to others (silently) like the spring” – this is my religion.
Yes, my own life is guided by the enthusiasm of a certain great personality, but what of that? Inspiration was never filtered out to the world through one man
It is true I believe Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to have been inspired. But then I myself am inspired also.
I belong as much to India as to the world…What country has any special claim on me? Am I any nation’s slave?
I see a greater Power than man, or God, or devil, at my back.
I do not believe in any politics. God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything else is trash.
Truth is my God, the universe my country.
Before proceeding to America, I wrote to Mother (Sri Sarada Devi) to bless me. Her blessings came and at one bound, I cleared the ocean.
1893: The Parliament of Religions is being organised ‘ for this (pointing to himself) – My mind tells me so. You will see it verified at no distant date.
Bombay: 24-5-93 – Arrangements are all ready for my starting for America on the 31st next. The Private Secretary to the Maharajah of Khetri has come here to see me off.
I want to give them dry, hard reason, softened in the sweetest syrup of love and made spicy with intense work, and cooked in the kitchen of Yoga, so that even a baby can easily digest it.
To put the Hindu ideas into English and then make out of dry philosophy and intricate Mythology and queer startling psychology, a religion which shall be easy, simple, popular, and at the same time, meet the requirements of the highest minds – is a task only those can understand who have attempted it. The abstract Advaita must become living – poetic in everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate Mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering Yogi-ism must come the most scientific and practical psychology – and all this must be put in a form that a child may grasp it; that is my life’s work.
From Bombay we reached Colombo. Our steamer remained in port nearly the whole day, and we took the opportunity of getting off to have a look at the town. We vdrove through the streets and the only thing I remember was a temple in which there was a gigantic Murti (image) of the Lord Budha in a reclining posture, entering Nirvana.
The next station was Penang, which is only a strip of land along the sea in the body of the Malay Peninsula. On our way from Penang to Singapore, we had glimpses of Sumatra with its high mountains, and the captain pointed out to me several places as the favourite haunts of pirates in days gone by.
Singapore has a fine botanical garden with the most splendid collection of palms. The beautiful fan-like palm called the traveller’s palm, grows here in abundance, and the breadfruit tree is everywhere. The celebrated mangosteen is as plentiful here as mangoes in Madras, but mango is nonpareil. Singapore possesses a fine museum, too.
Hong Kong next. Yon feel you have reached China, the Chinese element predominates so much. All labour, all trade seems to be in their hands. And Hong Kong is real China. As soon as the steamer casts anchor, you are besieged by hundreds of Chinese boats to carry you to the land. These boats with two helms are rather peculiar. The boatman lives in the boat with his family. Almost always the wife is at the helms managing one with her hands and the other with one of her feet. And in ninety per cent cases, you find a baby tied to her back, with the hands and feet of the little Chin left free. It is a quaint sight to see the little John Chinaman dangling very quietly from his mother’s back, while she is now setting with might and main, now pushing heavy loads, or jumping with wonderful ability from boat to boat. And there is such a rush of boats and steam launches coming in and going out, Baby John is every moment put into the risk of having his little head pulverised, pigtail and all; but he does not care a fig. This busy life seems to have no charm for him, and he is quite content to learn the anatomy of a bit of rice cake given to him from time to time by the madly busy mother. The Chinese child is quite a philosopher, and calmly goes to work at an age when your Indian boy can hardly crawl on all fours.
Hong Kong is a very beautiful town. It is built on the slopes of hills and on the tops too, which are much cooler than the city. There is an almost perpendicular tramway going to the top of the hill, dragged by wire-rope and steam-power.
We remained three days at Hong Kong and went to see Canton, which is eighty miles up a river. What a scene of bustle and life! What an immense number of boats almost covering the waters! And not only those that are carrying on the trade, but hundreds of others which serve as houses to live in. And quite a lot of them so nice and big. In fact, they are big houses two or three stories high, with verandahs running round, and streets between and all floating.
We landed on a strip of ground given by the Chinese Government to foreigners to live in. Around us on both sides of the river for miles and miles is the big city – a wilderness of human beings, pushing, struggling, surging, roaming. But, with all its population, all its activity, it is the dirtiest town I saw. Yet not a speck of filth is allowed by the Chinese to go waste; every house is a shop, people living only on the top-floor. The streets are very very narrow, so that you almost touch the shops on both sides as you pass.
I went to see several temples. The biggest in Canton is dedicated to the memory of the first Buddhistic Emperor, and the five hundred first disciples of Buddhism. The central figure is of course Buddha, and next beneath Him, is seated the Emperor, and ranging on both sides are the statues of the disciples, all beautifully carved out of wood.
From Canton Backto Hong Kong, and thence to Japan. The first port we touched was Nagasaki. We landed for a few hours and drove through the town, What a contrast! The Japanese are one of the cleanliest peoples on earth. Everything is neat and tidy. Their streets are all broad, straight and regularly paved. Their little houses are cagelike, and their pine-covered ever green little hills form the background of almost every town and village. Japan is the land of the picturesque! Almost every house has a garden at the back, very nicely laid out according to Japanese fashion with small shrubs, grassplots, small artificial waters and small stone bridges.
From Nagasaki to Kobe. Here I gave up the steamer and took the land route to Yokohama, with a view to see the interior of Japan.
I have seen three big cities in the interior – Osaka, a great manufacturing town; Kioto, the former capital, and Tokyo, the present capital. Tokyo is nearly twice the size of Calcutta with nearly double the population.
The match factories are simply a sight to see.
I saw quite a lot of temples. In every temple, there are sopie Sanskrit Mantras written in old Bengali characters. Only a few of the priests know Sanskrit. But they are an intelligent sect.
I have heard in Japan that it was the belief of the girls of that country that their dolls would be animated if they were loved with all their heart. The Japanese girl never breaks her doll.
There in Japan, you find a fine assimilation of knowledge…They have taken everything from the Europeans, but they remain Japanese all the same, and have not turned Europeans…They are great as a nation because of their art.
And one special feature about them (the Japanese) is this: that while in Europe and elsewhere Art generally goes with dirt, Japanese Art is Art plus absolute cleanliness…The Japanese think that everything Hindu is great, and believe that India is a holy land. Japanese Buddhism is entirely different from what you see in Ceylon. It is the same’as Vedanta. It is positive and theistic Buddhism.
I hold the Mahayana to be older of the two schools of Buddhism.
The theory of Maya is as old as the Rik Samhita. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad contains the world “Maya”. I hold Upanishad to be at least older than Buddhism.
I have had much light of late about Buddhism, and I am ready to prove :
1. That Shiva worship in various forms antedated the Buddhists, that the Buddhists tried to take hold of the sacred places of the Shaivas but failing in that, made new places in the precints just as you find now at Bodh-Gayaand Sarnath (Benares).
2. The story in the Agni-Purana about Gayasura does not refer to Budha at all – as Dr. Rajendralal will have it – but simply to a pre-existing story.
3. Gaya was a place of ancestor-worship already, and foot-print worship the Buddhists copied from the Hindus.
4. That Buddha went to live on Gaya-sirsha mountain proves the pre-existence of the place.
5. About Banaras, even the oldest records go to prove it as the great place of Shiva-worship etc. etc.
In China and Japan, on the walls of all temples I have observed various monosyllabic Mantrams written in big gilt letters, which approach the Bengali characters so much that you could easily make out the resemblance.
I thought, I have tried India; it is time tor me to try another country. At that time the Parliament of Religions was to be held, and someone was to be sent from India. I was just a vagabond, but I said, “If you send me, I am going. I have not much to lose, and I don’t care if I lose that.” It was very difficult to find the money, but after a long struggle, they got together just enough to pay for my passage – and I came – came one or two months earlier, so that I found myself drifting about#in the streets here, without knowing anybody.
That I went to America was not my doing, or your doing, but the God of India, who is guiding her destiny sent me.
In view specially of the poverty and ignorance (in India), I had no sleep. At Cape Comorin, sitting in Mother Kumari’s temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian rock – I hit upon a plan: the first thing we need is men, and the next is funds. Through the grace of the Guru, I was sure to get men. I next travelled in search of funds. I have come to America to earn money myself and then return to my country, and devote the rest of my days to the realisation of this one aim of my life:
Metcalf (Mass. US.A) 20-8-1893 – From Japan I reached Vancouver. The way was by the Northern Pacific. It was very, cold and I suffered much for want of warm clothing. However, I reached Vancouver anyhow, and thence went through Canada to Chicago. I remained about 12 days in Chicago. And almost everyday I used to go to the Fair. It was a tremendous affair. The lady to whom Varada Rao introduced me. and her husband, belong to the highest Chicago society, and they were so very kind to me. I took my departure from
Chicago and came to Boston. Mr. Lulloobhoy was with me up to Boston. He was very kind to me.
The expense I am bound to run into here is awful… On an average it costs me £1 everyday; a cigar costs eight annas of our money. The Americans are so rich that they spend money like water, and by forced legislation keep up the price of everything so high that no other nation on earth can approach it. Every common coolie earns nine or ten rupees a day, and spends it. All those rosy ideas we had before starting have melted, and I have now to fight against impossibilities. A hundred times I had a mind to go out of the country and go Backto India. But, I am determined and I have a call from above; I see no way, but His eyes see. And I must stick to my guns, life or death…
Just now I am living as the guest of an old lady in a village near Boston. I accidently made her acquaintance in the railway train, and she invited me to come over and live with her. I have an advantage in living with her, saving for some time my expenditure of £1 per day; and she has the advantage of inviting her friends over here, and showing them a curio from India! And all this must be borne. Starvation, cold, hooting in the streets on account of my quaint dress, these are what I have tonight against. But, my dear boy, no great things were ever done without great labour.
This is the land of Christians, and any other influence than that is almost zero. Nor do I care a bit for the enmity of any “ists” of the world. I am here amongst the children of the Son of Mary, and the Lord Jesus will help me. They like much the broad views of Hinduism and my love for the Prophet of Nazareth. I tell them I preach nothing against the Great One of Galilee. I only ask the Christians to take in the Great Ones of India along with the Lord Jesus, and they appreciate it.
Yesterday, Mrs.Johnson, the lady superintendent of the women’s prison, was here.
They don’t call it prison but reformatory.It is the grandest thing I have seen in America.
How the inmates are benevolently treated,how beautiful,you must see to believe! And, oh,how
my heart ached to think of what we think of the poor, the low in India. They have no chance, no escape, no way to climb up. The poor, the low, the sinner in India have no friends, no help – they cannot rise, try however they may. They sink lower and lower everyday, they feel the blows showered upon them by a cruel society, and they do not know whence the blow comes. They have forgotten that they too are men. Thoughtful people within the last few years have seen it, but unfortunately laid it at the door of the Hindu religion, and to them the only way of bettering is by crushing this grandest Religion of the world. Hear me, my friend, I have discovered the secret through the grace of the Lord. Religion is not at fault. On the other hand, your religion teaches you that every being is only your own self multiplied. But it was the want of practical application, the want of sympathy -the want of heart. The Lord once more came to you as Buddha and taught you how to feel, how to sympathise with the poor, the miserable, the sinner, but you heard him not…
I have travelled twelve years with this load in my heart and this idea in my head. I have gone from door to door of the so-called rich and great…
With a bleeding heart I have crossed half the world to this strange land, seeking for help. The Lord is great. I know He will help me.
From the village Breezy Meadows, I am going to Boston tomorrow. I am going to speak at a big Ladies’ Club there, which is helping Ramabai…People gather by hundreds in the streets to see me. So what I want is to dress myself in a long black coat, and keep a red robe and turban to wear when I lecture. This is what they advise me to do.
In America, there are no classes in the railway except in Canada. So. I have to travel first class, as that is the only class; but I do not venture in the ‘Pullmans’. They are very comfortable – you sleep, eat, drink, even bathe in them, just as if you were in a hotel, – but they are too expensive.
It is very hard work getting into society and making yourself heard…After such a struggle, I am not going to give up easily. Rome was not built in a day…I hope everything will come right…I am trying my best to find any plank I can float upon.
Even now it is so cold in New England that everyday we have fire night and morning. Canada is still colder. I never saw snow on such low hills as there.
Metcalf, Mass: Aug. 20,93 – I am going to speak before a large society of ladies in Salem on Monday. And that will introduce me to many more.
I do not know whether I shall go Backto Chicago or not. My friends there wanted me to represent India and the gentleman whom V introduced me to is one of the Directors of the Fair. But, I refused as I would have to spend all my little stock of money in remaining more than a month in Chicago.
Salem (USA) : 30-8-93 – I am going off from here today. I have received an invitation with full directions from Mr. Sanborn. So I am going to Saratoga on Monday.
Salem : Sept. 4, 93 – I have received a letter from Mr. Theles of Chicago giving the names of some of the delegates and other things about the Congress.
Mr. Sanborn has written to me to come over to Saratoga on Monday (6th) and I am going accordingly.
I would stop then at a boarding house called Sanatorium.
I am the first monk to come over to these western countries. It is the first time in the history of the world that a Hindu monk crossed the ocean.
When I, a poor, unknown, friendless Sannyasin was, going to America, going beyond the waters to America without any introductions or friends there, I called on the leader of the Theosophical Society. Naturally I thought, he being an American and a lover of India, perhaps, would give me a letter of introduction to somebody there. He asked me,, “Will you join my society ?” “No”, I replied, “How can I ? For I do not believe in most of your doctrines.” “Then, lam sorry I cannot do anything for you,” he answered. That was not paving the way for me. I reached America through the help of a few friends in Madras. I arrived in America several months before the Parliament of Religions began. The money I had with me was little, and it was soon spent. Winter approached and I had only thin summer clothes. I did not know what to do in that cold, dreary climate, for if I went to beg in the streets, the result would be that I would be sent to jail. There I was with the last few dollars in my pocket.
I sent a wire to my friends in Madras. This came to be known to the Theosophists, and one of them wrote, “Now the devil is going to die; God bless us all.” Was that paving the way for me ? I would not have mentioned this, but as my countrymen wanted to know, it must come out. For three years, I have not opened my lips about these things. Silence has been my motto; but, today the thing has come out. That was not all. I saw some Theosophists in the Parliament of Religions, and I wanted to talk and mix with them. I remember the looks of scorn which were on their faces as much as to say, “What business has this worm to be here in the midst of the Gods ?”
Chicago : 20-9-93 – I came here to seek aid for my improverished people, and I fully realised how difficult it was to get help for the heathen from Christians in a Christian land.
I must try to the end. First I will try in America, and if I fail, I will try in England; if I fail there, too, I can go Backto India, and wait for further commands from On High.
It must be particularly remembered that the same ideals and activities do not prevail in all societies and countries. Our ignorance of this is the main cause of much of the hatred of one nation towards another. It is very harmful; it is the cause of half the uncharitableness found in the world. When I came to this country (America) and was going through the Chicago Fair, a man from behind pulled at my turban. I looked back and saw that he was a very gentlemanly looking man, neatly dressed. I spoke to him, and when he found that I knew English he became very much abashed. On another occasion, in the same Fair, another man gave me a push. When I asked him the reason, he also was ashamed and stammered out an apology saying, “Why do you dress that way !” The sympathies of these men were limited within the range of their own language and their own fashion of dress. Much of the oppression of powerful nations on weaker ones is caused by this prejudice. It dries up their fellow feeling for fellow-men. That very man who asked me why I did not dress as he did and wanted to ill-treat me because of my dress, may have been a very good man, a good father and a goad citizen; but the kindliness of his nature died out as soon as he saw a man in a different dress
Before I knew the customs of this country (America)I received such a shock when the son, in a very refined family, got up and called the mother by name ! However, I got used to that. But with us (in India) we never pronounce the name of our parents,
I belong to an Order very much like what you have in the Mendicant Friars of the Catholic Church; that is to say, we have to go about without very much in the way of dress and beg from door to door, live thereby, preach to people when they want it, sleep where we can get a place • that way we have to follow. And the rule is that the members of this Order have to call every woman “mother”. Coming to the West, that old habit remained and I would say to ladies, “Yes mother,” and they were horrified. I couldn’t understand why they should be horrified. Later on, I discovered the reason; because that would mean that they were old!
Power comes to him who observes unbroken Brahma-charya for a period of twelve years, with the sole object of realising God. I have practised that kind of Brahma-charya myself, and so a screen has been removed, as it were, from my brain. For that reason, I need not any more think over or prepare myself for any lectures on a subtle subject as philosophy. Suppose I have to lecture tomorrow, all that I shall speak about will pass tonight before my eyes like so many pictures; and the next day I put into words during my lecture all those things that I saw.
I can know them (all about my previous births) -I do know them – but I prefer not to say anything in detail.
Chicago: 2-10-93 – I dropped on the Congress in the eleventh hour, and quite unprepared, and that kept me very busy for some time. I was speaking almost everyday in the Congress. The Congress is now over.
I was so afraid to stand before that great assembly of fine speakers and thinkers from all over the world and speak, but the Lord gave me strength and I almost everyday heroically faced the audience. If I have done well, He gave me the strength for it.
Prof. Bradley was very kind to me and he always cheered me on. And oh ! everybody is so kind here to me who am nothing. Glory unto Him in the highest in whose sight the poor ignorant monk from India is the same as the learned divines of this mighty land. And how the Lord is helping me-every day of my life . I sometimes wish for a life of million ages to serve Him through the work dressed in rags and fed by charity.
Here were some of sweet ones from India-the tenderhearted Buddhist Dhammapal and the orator Mazoomdar.
Col. Higginson, a very broad man, was very sympathetic to me. I am going to Evanston tomorrow and hope to see Prof.Bradley there.
At first in America I was almost out of water. I was afraid I would have to give up the accustomed way of being guided by the Lord and cater for myself – and what a horrid piece of mischief and ingratitude was that. I now clearly see that He who was guiding me on the snow tops of the Himalayas and the burning plains of India is here to help me and guide me. Glory unto Him in the highest. So I have calmly fallen in my old ways. Somebody or other gives me a shelter and food and somebody or other comes to ask me to speak about Him and I know He sends them and mine is to obey. And then He is supplying my necessities, and His will be done.
So it is in Asia, so in Europe, so in America, so in the deserts of India, so in the rush of business in America, for is He not here also ?
Oh, He is so full of fun. He is always playing -Sometimes with great big balls which we call the sun and earth, sometimes with little children, and laughing. How funny to see Him and play with Him !
When I come to Chicago, I always go to see Mr. and Mrs. Lyons, one of the noblest couples I have seen here.
Chicago : 10-10-93- Just now I am lecturing about Chicago, and I am doing, as I think, very well – it is ranging from 30 to 80 dollars a lecture and just now I have been so well advertised in Chicago gratis by the Parliament of Religions. Yesterday I returned from Streater where I got 87 dollers for a lecture. I have engagements every day this week.
26-10-93 – I am doing very well here. Almost everybody has been very kind to me, except of course the very orthodox. Many of the men brought together here from far off lands have got projects and ideas and missions to carry out. But I thought better and have given up speaking about my project entirely ~ because I am sure now – the heathen draws more than his project.
So I want to go to work earnestly for my own project only keeping the project in the backround and working like any other lecturer.
He who has brought me hither and has not left me yet will not leave me ever. Of course, I am too green in the business (of getting money), but would soon learn the trade. I am very popular in Chicago. So I want to stay here a little more and get money.
Tomorrow, I am going to lecture on Buddhism at the ladies’ fortnightly club-which is the most influential in this City. I think the success of my project probable.
2-22-93 – At a village near Boston, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Wright, Professor of Greek in the Harvard University. He sympathised with me very much and urged upon me the necessity of going to the Parliament of Religions, which he thought would give me an introduction to the nation. As I was not acquainted with anybody, the Professor undertook to arrange everything for me, and eventually I came Backto Chicago. Here the oriental and occidental delegates to the Parliament of Religions and I were all lodged in the house of a gentleman.
On the morning of the opening of the Parliament we were all assembled in a building called the Art Palace, where one huge and other smaller temporary halls were rented for the sittings of the Parliament. Men from all nations were there. From India were Mazoonr dar of the Brahmo Samaj, and Nagarkar of Bombay, Mr. Gandhi representing the Jains, and Mr. Chakravarti representing Theosophy with Mrs. Annie Besant. Of these, Mazoomdar and I were, ot course, old friends, and Chakravarti knew me by name. There was a grand procession, and we were all marshalled on to the platform.
Imagine a hall below and a huge gallery above, packed with six or seven thousand men and women representing the best culture of the country* and on the platform learned men of all the nations of the earth. And I, who never spoke in public in my life, to address this august assemblage! It was opened in great form with music and ceremony and speeches; then the delegates were introduced one by one, and they stepped up and spoke. Of course, my heart was fluttering and my tongue nearly dried up; I was so nervous, and could not venture to speak in the morning. Mazoomdar made a nice speech, Chakravarti a nicer one, and they were much applauded. They were all prepared and came with ready-made speeches. I was a fool and had none, but bowed down to Devi Saraswati, and stepped up, and Dr. Barrows introduced me. I made a short speech. I addressed the assembly as “Sisters and Brothers of America,” – a deafening applause of two minutes followed and then I proceeded and when it was finished I sat down, almost exhausted with emotion. The next day all the papers announced that my speech was the hit of the day, and I became known to the whole of America, Truly has it been said by the great commentator Sridhara
“Who maketh the dumb a fluent speaker.” His name be praised ! From that day I became a celebrity and the day I read my paper on Hinduism the hall was packed as it had never been before. I quote from one of the papers : “Ladies, ladies, ladies packing every place-filling every corner, they patiently waited and waited while the papers that separated them from Vivekananda were read,’ etc. Suffice it to say that whenever I went on the platform a defeaning applause would be raised for me. Nearly all the papers paid high tributes to me, and even the most bigoted had to admit that “This man with his handsome face and magnetic presence and wonderful oratory is the most prominent figure in the Parliament’ etc……I have no more wants now. I am well off, and all the money that I require to visit Europe I shall get from here…
Many of the handsomest houses in this city are open to me. All the time I am living as a guest of somebody or other.
The Lord will provide evrything for -me…Day by day I am feeling that the Lord is with me, and I am trying to follow His direction. His will be done… We will do great things for the world, and that for the sake of doing good and not for name and fame.
It is a great art to press the largest amount of thought into the smallest number of words. Even, – ‘s paper had to be cut very short. More than a thousand papers were read, and there was no time to give to wild perorations. I had a good long time given to me over the ordinary half hour, because the most popular speakers were always put down last, to hold the audience. And
Lord bless them, what sympathy they have, and what patience! They would sit from ten o’ clock in the morning to ten o’ clock at night-only a recess of half an hour for a meal, and paper after paper read, most of them very trivial, but they would wait and wait to hear their favourite.
Dharmapapala of Ceylon vas one of the favourites… He is a very sweet man, and we became very intimate during the Parliament.
Lecturing is a very profitable occupation in this country and sometimes pays well. Mr. Ingersoll gets five to six hundred dollars a lecture. He is the most celebrated lecturer in this country.
In my first speech in this country, in Chicago, I addressed that audience as “Sisters and Brothers of America,” and you know that they all rose to their feet. You may wonder what made them do this, you may wonder if I had some strange power. Let me tell you that I did have a power and this is it – never once in my life did I allow myself to have even one sexual thought. I trained my mind, my thinking, and the powers that man usually uses along that line I put into a higher channel, and it developed a force so strong that nothing could resist it
I spoke at the Parliament of Religions; with what effect I may quote to you from a few newspapers and magazines ready at hand. I need not be self-conceited, but I say that no Hindu made such an impression in America, and if my coming has done anything, it has done this that the Americans have come to know that India even today produces men at whose feet even the most civilized nations may learn lessons of religion and morality. Don’t you think that is enough to say for the Hindu nation sending over here their Sannyasin?…
These I quote from the journals: “But eloquent as were many of the brief speeches, no one expressed as well the spirit of the Parliament (of Religions) and its limitations as the Hindu monk. I copy his address in full but I can only suggest its effect upon the audience for he is an orator by Divine Right and his strong intelligent face in its pictureque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than these earnest words and the rich rhythmical utterance he gave them” (here the speech is quoted in extenso) – New York Critique.
“He has preached in clubs and churches until his faith has become familiar to us…His culture, his eloquence and his fascinating personality have given us anew idea of Hindu civilisation… His fine, intelligent face and his deep musical voice, prepossessing one at once in his favour …He speaks without notes, presenting his facts and his conclusions with the greatest art and the most convincing sincerity, and rising often to rich inspiring eloquence” Ibid.
“Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him, we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” Herald (the greatest paper here.)
I cease from quoting more lest you should think me conceited…
I am the same here as in India; only here in this highly cultured land there is an appreciation, a sympathy. There our people grudge us monks a crumb of bread here they are ready to pay one thousand rupees a lecture and remain grateful for the instructions for ever. I am appreciated by these strangers more than I was ever in India. I can, if I will, live here all my life in the greatest luxury, but I am a Sannyasin, and “India, with all thy faults I love thee still.” So, I am coming back (to India) and go on sowing the seeds of religion and progress from city to city, as I was doing so long.
Now after these quotations, do you think it was worthwhile to send a Sannyasin to America? Please do not publish it. I hate notoriety in the same manner as I did in India.
I am doing the Lord’s work, and wherever He leads I follow.
He who makes the dumb eloquent and the lame cross a mountain, He will help me. I do not care for human help. He is ready to help me in India, in America, on the North Pole, if He thinks fit. If He does not, none else can help me. Glory unto the Lord for ever and ever!
The parliament of Religions was organised with the intention of proving the superiority of Christian religion over other forms of faith, but the Philosophic religion of Hinduism was able to maintain its position not-with-standing.
The Parliament of Religions was a failure from the Christian standpoint…But the Chicago Parliament was a tremendous success for India and Indian thought. It helped on the tide of Vedanta, which is flooding the world. The American people, of course, minus the fanatical priests and Church-women, are very glad of the results of the Parliament.
Of the name by which I am now known (Swami Vivekananda), the first is descriptive of a Sannyasin, or one who formally renounces the world, and the second is the title I assumed-as is customary with all Sannyasins-on my renunciation of the world; it signifies literally “the bliss of discrimination.”
What a wonderful achievement was the world’s Fair at Chicago! And that wonderful Parliament of Religions where voices from every corner of the earth expressed their religious ideas! I was also allowed to present my own ideas through the kindness of Dr. Barrows and
Mr. Bonney. Mr. Bonney is such a wonderful man! Think of that mind that planned and carried out with great success that gigantic undertaking, and he, no clergyman, but a lawyer presiding over the dignitaries of all the churches, the sweet, learned, patient Mr. Bonney with all his soul speaking through his eyes.
At the Parliament of Religions (in America) there came among others, a young man, a Negro born, a real African Negro, and he made a beautiful speech. I became interested in the young man, and now and then talked to him, but could learn nothing about him. But one day in England, I met some Americans and this is what they told me, this boy was the son of a Negro chief who lived in the heart of Africa; one day another chief became angry with the father of this boy and murdered him and murdered the mother also, and they were cooked and eaten; he ordered the child also to be killed and cooked and eaten; but the boy fled, and after passing through great hardships and having travelled a distance of several hundreds of miles, he reached the sea-shore, and then he was taken into an American vessel and brought over to America. And this boy made that speech!
Do your work with one hand and touch the feet of the Lord with the other; when you have no work in the world to do, hold His feet fast to your breast with both your hands-
“Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die” . Be of good cheer and believe that we aie selected by the Lord to do great things, and we will do them.-