SECOND VISIT TO AMERICA AND THE PARIS CONGRESS
June, 1899 – It took us two days to get out of the Hooghly.
Our ship reached the sea.
There fell upon my ears the deep and sonorous music of commingled male and female voices, singing in chorus the British national anthem, “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves !” Startled, I looked around and found that the ship was rolling heavily, and brother T – holding his head with his hands, was struggling against an attack of sea-sickness.
In the second class two Bengali youths were going to the West for study. Their condition was worse. One of them looked so frightened that he would have been only too glad to scuttle straight home if he were allowed to land. These two lads and we two were the only Indians on the ship – the representatives of modern India !
In the night of the 24th June, our ship reached Madras. Getting up from bed in the morning, I found that we were within the enclosed space of the Madras harbour. Within the harbour the water was still, but without, towering waves were roaring, which occasionally dashing the harbour-wall, were shooting up fifteen or twenty feet high into the air and breaking in a mass of foam. In front lay the well-known Strand Road of Madras. Two European police inspectors, a Madrasi Jamadar and a dozen constables boarded our ship and told me with great courtesy that “natives” were not allowed to land on the shore, but the Europeans were…; but the Madrasis had asked for a special permission for me. By degrees the Madrasi friends began to come near our vessel on boats in small groups. As all contact was strictly forbidden, we could only speak from the ship, keeping some space between.. I found all my friends – Alasinga, Biligiri, Narasimhachary, Dr. Nanjunda Row, Kidi, and others on the boats. Basketfuls of mangoes, plantains, cocoanuts, cooked rice-and-curd, and heaps of sweet and salt delicacies, etc. began to come in. Gradually the crowd thickened – men, women and children, and boats everywhere. I found also Mr. Chamier, my English friend who had come out to Madras as a barrister-at-law. Ramakrishnananda and Nirbhayananda made some trips near to the ship. They insisted on staying on the boat the whole day in the hot sun, and I had to remonstrate with them, when they gave up the idea.
As the news of my not being permitted to land got abroad, the crowd of boats began to increase still more. I, too, began to feel exhaustion from leaning against the railings too long. Then I bade farewell to my Madrasi friends and entered my cabin. Alasinga got no opportunity to consult with me about the Brahmavadin and the Madras work; so he was going to accompany me to Colombo. The ship left the harbour in the evening, when I heard a great shout, and peeping through the cabin window, I found that about a thousand Madrasi men, women and children who had been sitting on the harbour walls, gave this farewell shout when the ship started.
It took us four days to go from Madras to Ceylon. That rising and heaving of waves which had commenced from the mouth of the Ganges began to increase as we advanced, and after we had left Madras, it increased still more. The ship began to roll heavily, and the passengers were terribly sea-sick, and so were the two Bengali boys. One of them was certain he was going to die, and we had to console him with great difficulty, assuring him that there was nothing to be afraid of, as it was quite a common experience and nobody ever died of it. The second class, again, was right over the screw of the ship. The two Bengali lads, being “natives,” were put into a cabin almost like a blackhole, where neither air nor light had any access. So the boys could not remain in the room and on the deck the rolling was terrible. Again, when the prow of the ship settled into the hollow of a wave and the stern was pitched up, the screw rose clear out of the water and continued to wheel in the air, giving tremendous jolting to the whole vessel. And the second class then shook as when a rat is seized by a cat and shaken!
This was monsoon season. The more the ship proceeded, the more gale and wind she had to encounter. The Madrasis had given plenty of fruits, the greater part of which and the sweets and rice-and-curd, etc. I gave to the boys. Alasinga had hurriedly bought a ticket and boarded the ship barefooted…Editor of the Brahmavadin, Alasinga, a Mysore Brahmin of the Ramanuja sect, had brought with him with great care, as his provision for the voyage, two small bundles, in one of which there was fried flattened rice and in another popped rice and fried peas ! His idea was to live upon these during the voyage to Ceylon, so that his caste might remain intact. However, one rarely finds men like our Alasinga in this world-one so unselfish, so hard-working, and devoted to his Guru, and such an obedient disciple is indeed very rare on earth. A Madrasi by birth, with his head shaven so as to leave a tuft in the centre, barefooted, and wearing the dhoti, he got into the first class. When hungry, he chewed some of the popped rice and peas!
Alasinga did not feel sea sick. Brother T. felt a little trouble at the beginning but was then all right. So the four days passed in various pleasant talks and gossip.
Once I was preaching at Anuradhapuram (Ceylon) among the Hindus-not Buddhists-and that in an open maidan, not on anybody’s property, when a whole host of Buddhist monks and laymen, men and women, came out beating drums and cymbals and set up an awful uproar. The lecture had to stop, of course, and there was the imminent risk of bloodshed. With great difficulty I had to persuade the Hindus that we at any rate might practise a bit of non-injury (Ahimsa) if they did not. Then the matter ended peacefully.
Our Colombo friends had procured a permit for our landing. So we landed and met our friends. Sir Coomara Swami is the foremost man among the Hindus. Mr. Aru-nachalam and other friends came to meet me. After a long time, I partook of millagutawny, and the king cocoanut. They put some green cocoanuts into my cabin. I also visited the monastery and school of our old acquaintance, the Countess of Canovara.
Alasinga returned to Madras from Colombo, and we also got on board our ship, with presents of some lemons from the orchard of Kumaraswamy, some cocoanuts, two bottles of syrup, etc.
The ship left Colombo in the morning of 25th June (1899). Owing to the rolling of the ship, most of the passengers were suffering from headache. A little girl named Tootle was accompanying her father. She had lost her mother. Our Nivedita became mother to Tootle. Tootle was brought up in Mysore with her father who is a planter. I asked her, “Tootle, how are you?” She replied, “This bungalow is not good and rolls very much, which makes me sick.” To her every house was a bungalow !
After six days’ journey had been prolonged into fourteen days, and our buffeting by terrible wind and rain night and day, we at last did reach Aden. Near the Island of Socotra, the monsoon was its worst. The captain remarked that that was the centre of the monsoon, and that if we could pass that, we should gradually reach calmer waters. And so we did. And the nightmare also ended.
In the evening of the 8th July, we reached Aden. I had visited the town last time. Aden is a very ancient place… Our ship is now passing through the Red Sea.
The very name of the Red Sea strikes terror – it is so dreadfully hot, specially in summer. But fortunately we did not experience so much heat. The breeze instead of being a southwind, continued to blow from the north, and it was the cool breeze of the Mediterranean.
On the 14th of July, the steamer cleared the Red Sea and reached Suez. The Suez Canal is now the link between Europe and Asia.
This is a very beautiful natural harbour, surrounded almost on three sides by sandy mounds and hillocks, the water also is very deep. There are innumerable fish and sharks in it.
As soon as we heard of the sharks moving about behind the ship – I had never an opportunity to see live sharks – we hastened to the spot. But our friends, the sharks, had moved off a little. We were watching – half an hour, three quarters, we were almost tired of it when somebody announced – there he was. Casting my eyes, I found that at some distance, a huge black thing was moving towards us, six or seven inches below the surface of the water. The huge flat head was visible. A gigantic fish.
One of the second class passengers, a military man, found out a terrible hook. To this, they tightly fastened two pounds of meat with a strong cord, and a stout cable tied to it. About six feet from it, a big piece of wood was attached to act as a float. Then the hook with the float was dropped in the water. We in eagerness stood on tiptoe, leaning over the railing and anxiously waited for the shark. Suddenly, about a hundred yards from the ship, something of the shape of a water carrier’s leather bag, but much larger, appeared above the surface of the water. The shark rushed close by and put the bait into his jaws and tilted on his side – pull, pull, forty or fifty pulled together. What tremendous strength the fish has, what struggles he made ! He turned and turned in the water. Alas, he extricated himself from the bait! The shark fled, getting rid of the hook. And he was tiger – like, having black stripes over his body like a tiger.
There, another huge flat – headed creature! Moving near the hook and examining the bait, lie put it in his jaws. He turned on his side and swallowed it whole leisurely. When about to depart, immediately there was the pull from behind ! “Flat-head” astonished, jerked his head and wanted to throw the bait off, but it made matters worse ! The hook pierced him, and from above, men young and old began to pull violently at the cable. There, about half the shark’s body was above water. Oh, what jaws ! The whole of it was clear of water. Now he was set on the deck. What a big shark ! And with what a thud he fell on board the ship ! The military man with body and clothes splashed with blood raised the beam and began to land heavy blows on the shark’s head. I had my meal almost spoilt that day – everything smelt of that shark.
The Suez Canal is a triumph of Canal engineering; it is also a thing of remote antiquity. By connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, it has greatly facilitated commerce between Europe and India. Now comes the Mediterranean. It marks the end of Asia, Africa and of ancient civilisation. We now enter Europe. The borders of this Mediterranean were the birth place of that European Civilisation which has now conquered the world.
The ship touched Naples, – we reached Italy. The capital of Italy is Rome-Rome, the capital of that ancient and most powerful Roman Empire. After leaving Naples, the ship called at Marseilles, and thence straight at London.
Wimbledon : 3-8-99 – We are in at last. Turiya-nanda and I have beautiful lodgings here… I have recovered quite a bit by the voyage… It is nice and warm here; rather too much, they say. I have become for the present a Sunyavadi, a believer in nothingness or void ! No plans, no after – thought, no attempt, for anything; Laissez faire to the fullest!!!
What is this osteopathy ? Will they cut off a rib or two to cure me ? Not I, no manufacturing from my ribs, sure ! Whatever it be, it will be hard work for him to find my bones. My bones are destined to make corals in the Ganges.
I am going to study French…but no grammar business.
I expect to be in New York in a few weeks, and don’t know what next.
No one ever landed on English soil with more hatred in his heart for a race than I did for the English; but the more I lived among them and saw how the machine was working – the English national life, – and ipixed with them, I found where the heartbeat of the nation was, and the more I loved them.
The Americans’ kindness to me is past all narration; it would take me years yet to tell how I have been treated by them, most kindly and most wonderfully.
Ridgely Manor (N.Y.) 14-9-99 – I have simply been taking rest at the Leggett’s and doing nothing. Abhedananda is here. He has been working hard.
N.Y. : 22-12-99 – I had a slight relapse of late, for which the healer has rubbed several inches of my skin off. Just now I am feeling it, the smart.
I had a very hopeful note from Margo (Margaret E. Noble)… I am grinding on in Pasadena ! hope some result will come out of my work here. Some people here are very enthusiastic; The Raja-Yoga book did indeed great service on this coast. I am mentally very well, indeed; I never really was so well as of late. The lectures for one thing do not disturb my sleep, that is some gain. I am doing some writing, too. The lectures here were taken down by a stenographer, the people here want to print them.
Slowly as usual plans are working, but Mother knows as I say. May She give me release and find other workers for her plans ! I have made a discovery as to the mental method of really practising what the Gita teaches, of working without an eye to results. I have seen much light on concentration and attention, and control of concentration which if practised will take us out of all anxiety and worry. It is really the science of bottling up our minds whenever we like. Mrs. Legget is doing well; so is Joe; I, they say, I too, am. Maybe they are right. I work anyway and want to die in harness; if that be what Mother wants, I am quite content.
Los Angeles: Dec. 6, 99 – If I did not break my heart over my people I was born amongst, I would do it for somebody else. I am sure of that. This is the way of some, I am coming to see it. We are all after happiness, true; but that some are only happy in being unhappy – queer, is it not ?
There is no harm in it either, except that happiness and unhappiness are both infections. Ingersol said once that if he were God, he would make health catching, instead of disease, little dreaming that health is quite as catching as disease, if not more !
12-12-99 – My mistakes have been great, but everyone of them was from too much love. Would I never had any Bhakti!
I went years ago to the Himalayas, never to come back; but my sister committed suicide, the news reached me there, and that weak heart flung me off from that prospect of peace ! It is the weak heart that has driven me out of India to seek some help for those I love, and here I am ! Peace have I sought, but the heart, that seat of Bhakti, would not allow me to find it. Struggle and torture; torture and struggle !
Yet, let the world come, the hell come, the God come, let Mother come, I fight and do not give in.
Ravana got his release in three births by fighting the Lord himself! It is glorious to fight Mother.
Los Angeles: 23-12-99 – I am all right. The wheel is turning up. Mother is working it up, She cannot let me go before Her work is done.
Los Angeles : 27-12-99-I am much better in health – able enough to work once more. I have started work already, and have sent to Saradananda (Belur Math) Rs. 1,300/- already………I shall send more, if they need it…Poor boys! How hard I am on them at times!
Well, they know in spite of all that I am their best friend.
I am at my best when I am alone. Mother seems to arrange so. Joe (Miss Josephine Macleod) believes great things are brewing in Mother’s cup; hope it is so……I can only say, every blow I had in this life, every pang, will only become joyful sacrifice if Mother becomes propitious to India once more.
The Raja-Yoga book seems to be very well – known here……
Joe has unearthed a magnetic healing woman. We both are under her treatment. Joe thinks she is pulling me up splendidly. On her has been worked a miracle, she claims. Whether it is magnetic healing, California ozone, or the end of the present spell of bad karma, I am improving. It is a great thing to be able to walk three miles, even after a heavy dinner.
It is exactly like Northern Indian winter here, only some days a little warmer. The roses are here and the beautiful palms. Barley is in the fields, roses and many other flowers round about the cottage where I live. Mrs. Blodgett, my host, is a Chicago lady. Fat, old and extremely witty. She heard me in Chicago and is very motherly……I shall be very happy if I can make a lot of money. I am making some.
Los Angeles: 17-1-1900- I have been able to remit Rs. 2,000/- to Saradananda with the help of Miss MacLeod and Mrs. Leggett. Of course, they contributed the best part. The rest was got by lectures……
I am decidedly better in health. The healer thinks I am not at liberty to go anywhere I choose; the process will go on and I shall completely recover in a few months……
I am here principally for health……
Now it occurs to me that my mission from the platform is finished.
Los Angles: 15-2-1900 – Going to San Francisco next week.
Pasadena : 20-2-1900 – I have lost many relatives, suffered much, and the most curious cause of suffering when somebody goes off is the feeling that I was not good enough to that person. When my father died, it was a pang for months, and I had been so disobedient…..I was in the glare, burning and panting all the time……My life is made up of continuous blows, because of poverty, treachery and my own foolishness !
California : 21-2-1900 -Wordy warfares, texts and scriptures, doctrines and dogmas – all these I am coming to loathe as poison, in this my advanced age.
San Francisco: 2-3-1900 -I am busy making money only I do not make much……I have to make enough to
pay my passage home at any rate. Here is a new field, where I find ready listeners by hundreds prepared beforehand by my books.
San Francisco : 4-3-1900 – My health is about the same; don’t find much difference; it is improving perhaps but very imperceptibly. I can use my voice, however, to make 3,000 people hear me as I did twice in Oakland, and get good sleep too after two hours of speaking.
San Francisco : 7-3-1900 – I am so so in health. No money. Hard work. No result. Worse than Los Angeles. They come in crowds when the lecture is free-when there is payment, they don’t.
Almeda Calif : 20-4-1900 – A kind lady has given me a pass up to New York to be used within three months. The Mother will take care of me. She is not going to strand me now after guarding me all my life.
Almeda Calif: 30-4-1900 – Sudden indisposition and fever prevent my starting for Chicago yet.
I will start as soon as I am strong for the journey……
Almeda Calif : 2-5-1900 – I have been very ill, one more relapse brought about by months of hard work.
New York: 11-5-1900 –I have been much censured by everyone for cutting off my long hair………
I had been to Detroit and came Backyesterday. Trying as soon as possible to goto France, then to India……
Los Angeles: 17-6-1900– Kali worship is not a necessary step in any religion. The Upanishads teach us all that there is of religion. Kali worship is my special fad. I only preach what is good for universal humanity. If there is any curious method which applies entirely to me, I keep it a secret and there it ends. I never taught Kali worship to any body……
Religion is that which does not depend upon books or teachers or prophets or Saviours, and that which does not make us dependent in this or in any other lives upon others. In this sense, Advaitism of the Upanishads is the only religion. But, Saviours, books, prophets, ceremonials, etc. have their places. They may help many, as Kali worship helps me in my secular work. They are welcome.
I have worked for this world all my life, and it does not give me a piece of bread without taking a pound of flesh.
New York: 18-7-1900- I stayed in Detroit for three days only. It is frightfully hot here in New York. Kali (Abhedananda) went away about a week ago to the mountains. He cannot come Backtill September. I am all alone, and washing; I like it.
New York : 24-7-1900 – I am to start on Thursday next, by the French steamer ha Champagne.
New York: 25-7-1900- Iam starting for Paris tomorrow.
Paris : 25-8-1900 – Now I am free, as I have kept no power or authority or position for me in the work. I also have resigned the Presidentship of the Ramakrishna Mission.
I am so glad a whole load is off me, now I am happy.
Paris: 28-8-1900 -I am trying to learn French. Some are veity appreciative already.
I have not had much time to think of the body. So it must be well.
We have an adage among us that one that has a disc-like pattern on the soles of his feet becomes a vagabond. I fear I have my soles inscribed all over with them !……It was my cherished desire to remain in Paris
for some time and study the French language and civilisation. I left my old friends and acquaintances and put up with a new friend, a Frenchman of ordinary means, who knew no English, and my French, well, it was something quite extraordinary!
I had this in mind that the inability to live like a dumb man would naturally force me to talk French, and I would attain fluency in that language in no time. But on the contrary, I took to a tour through Vienna, Turkey, Greece, Egypt and Jerusalem !
I had three travelling companions – two of them French and the third, an American. The French male companion was Monsieur Jules Bois, a famous Philosopher, and literatuer of France; and the French lady friend was the world-renowned singer Madamoiselle Calve. I had previously been acquainted with her.
Madame Sarah Bernhardt, the foremost actress in the West, has a special regard for India. She told me again and again that our country is “very ancient and very civilised.” One year she performed a drama touching on India, in which she set up a whole Indian street scene on the stage – men, women and children, sadhus and Nagas and everything – an exact picture of India! After the performance she told me that for about a month she had visited every museum and made herself acquainted with the men and women, and their dress, the streets and bathing ghats and everything relating to India. Madame Bernhardt has a desire to visit India.
Madamoiselle Calve will not sing this winter, and is going to temperate climates like Egypt, etc. I am going as her guest. Calve has not devoted herself to music alone; she is sufficiently learned, and has a great love for philosophical and religious literature.
She was born amidst very poor circumstances. There is no better teacher than pain and poverty ! That extreme penury and pain and hardship of childhood, a constant struggle against which has won for Calve her victory, have engendered a remarkable sympathy, and a profound seriousness in her life.
Western music is very good; there is in it a perfection of harmony, which we (Indians) have not attained. Only, to our untrained ears it does not sound well, hence, we do not like it and we think that the singers howl like jackals. I also had the same sort of impression, but when I began to listen to the music with attention and study it minutely, I came more and more to understand it, and I was lost in admiration.
What is meant by bath in the West ? Why, the washing of face, head and hands, i. e. only those parts which are exposed. A millionaire friend of mine once invited me to come over to Paris – Paris, which is the capital of modern civilisation – Paris, the heaven of luxury, fashion and merriment on earth – the centre of arts and sciences. My friend accommodated me in a huge palatial hotel, where arrangements for meals were in a right royal style, but for bath-well, no name of it. Two days I suffered silently – till at last I could bear it no longer, and had to address my friend thus: “Dear brother, let this royal luxury be with you and yours ! I am panting to get out of this situation, such hot weather, and no facility of bathing; if it continues like this, I shall be in imminent danger of turning mad like a rabid dog.” Hearing this, my friend became very sorry for me and annoyed with the hotel authorities, and said, “I won’t let you stay here any more, let us go and find out a better place.”
Twelve of the chief hotels were seen, but no place for bathing was there in any of them ! There are independent bathing-houses, where one can go and have a bath for four or five rupees. Good heavens ! That afternoon I read in a paper that an old lady entered into the bath-tub and died then and there ! Whatever the doctors may say, I am inclined fo think that perhaps, that was the first occasion in her life to come into contact with so much water, and the frame collapsed by the sudden shock!! This is no exaggeration.
No nation in the world is as cleanly in the body as the Hindu who uses water very freely.
France – a picturesque country, neither very cold nor very warm, very fertile; weather neither excessively wet nor extremely dry. Sky clear, sun sweet, elms and oaks in abundance, grasslands charming, hills and rivers small, springs delightful. Excepting some parts of China, no other country in the world have I seen that is so beautiful as France……The rich and the poor, the young and the old, the fields, the gardens, the walks, so artistically neat and clean – the whole country looks like a picture. Such love of nature and art have I seen nowhere except in Japan. “
We had two other companions on the journey as far as Constantinople – Pera Hyacinthe alias Mons. Loyson and his wife.
One special benefit I got from the company of those ladies and gentlemen was that except the one American lady, no one knew English and consequently somehow or other I had to talk as well as hear French.
From Paris our friend Maxim had supplied me with letters of introduction to various places, so that the countries might be properly seen. Maxim is the inventor of the famous Maxim gun-the gun that sends off a continuous round of balls, and is loaded and discharged automatically, without intermission. An admirer of India and China, Maxim is a good writer on religion, philosophy etc. Having read my works long since, he holds me in great – I should say, excessive admiration.
The tour programme was as follows: from Paris to Vienna and thence to Constantinople, by rail; then by steamer to Athens and Greece, then across the Mediterranean to Egypt, then Asia Minor, Jerusalem, and so on.
Paris, in the year 1900 was the centre of the civilised world, for it was the year of the Paris Exhibition and there was an assemblage of eminent men and women from all quarters of the globe. The master minds of all countries had met in Paris to spread the glory of their respective countries by means of their genius. From among that white galaxy of geniuses, there stepped forth one distinguished youthful hero to proclaim the name of our Motherland – it was the world-renowned scientist Dr. J. C. Bose. Alone, the youthful Bengali physicist, with his galvanic quickness charmed the Western audience with his splendid genius. Well done, hero!
I took a round over the Paris Exhibition – that accumulated mass of dazzling ideas, like lightning held steady as it were, that unique assemblage of celestial panorama on earth!
In this Paris Exhibition, the Congress of the History of Religions sat for several days together. At the Congress, there was no room for the discussions on the doctrines and spiritual views of any religion; its purpose was only to enquire into the historic evolution of the different forms of established faiths, and along with it other accompanying facts that are incidental to it. Accordingly, the representation of the various missionary sects of different religions and their beliefs was entirely left out of account in this Congress. The Chicago Parliament of Religions was a grand affair and the representatives of many religious sects from all parts of the world were present in it. This Congress, on the other hand, was attended only by such scholars as devoted themselves to the study of the origin andliistory o^ifferent religions. At the Chicago Parliament of the Roman Catholics expected to establish their superiority over the Protestants without much opposition, by proclaiming their glory and strength and laying the bright side of their faith before the assembled Christians, Hindus, Bauddhas, Mussalmans and other representatives of the world religions and publicly exposing their weakness, they hoped to make firm their own position. But the result proving otherwise, the Christian world has been deplorably hopeless of the reconciliation of the different religious systems: so the Roman catholics are now particularly opposed to the repetition of any such gathering. France is a Roman catholic country; hence, in spite of the earnest wish of the authorities, no religious congress was convened on account of the vehement opposition on the part of the Roman Catholic world.
The Congress of the History of Religions at Paris was like the Congress of Orientalists.
From Asia only three Japanese Pandits were present at the Congress. From India, there was the present writer.
The conviction of many of the Sanskrit scholars of the West is that the Vedic religion is the outcome of the worship of the fire, the sun and other awe – inspiring objects of natural phenomena.
I was invited by the Paris Congress to contradict this conviction, and I promised to read a paper on the subject. But I could not keep my promise on account of ill health and with difficulty was only able to be personally present at the Congress where I was most warmly received by all the western Sanskrit scholars whose admiration for this scribe was all the greater, as they had already gone through many of my lectures on the Vedanta.
At the Congress, Mr. Gustav Oppert, a German Pandit, read a paper on the origin of Salagrama-Sila.
He traced the origin of the Salagrama worship to the emblem of the female generative principle. According to him, the Siva Lingam is the phallic emblem of the male, and the Salagrama of the female generative principle. And thus he wanted to establish that the worship of the Siva Linga and that of the Salagrama – both are but the component parts of the worship of Lingam and Yoni!
I repudiated the above two views and said that though I had heard of such ridiculous explanations about the Siva Lingam, the other theory of the Salagramasila was quite new and strange, and seemed groundless to me.
I also said that the worship of the Siva Lingam originated from the famous hymn in the Atharva Veda Samhita sung in praise of the Yupastambha, the sacrificial post. In that hymn a description is found of the begin-ingless and endless Stambha or Skambha, and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. As, afterwards, the Yajna (Sacrificial) fire, its smoke, ashes and flames, the Soma plant and the ox that used to carry on its Backthe wood for the Vedic sacrifice, gave place to the conceptions of the brightness of Siva’s body, his tawny matted hair, his blue throat, and the riding on the bull of the Siva, and so on. Just so, the Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Siva-Lingam, and was deified to the high Devahood of Sri Sankara. In the Atharva Veda Samhita, the sacrificial cakes are also extolled along with the attributes of Brahman.
In the Linga Purana, the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories, meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the superiority of Mahadeva.
Again, there is another fact to be considered. The Bauddhas used to erect memorial topes consecrated to the memory of Buddha; and the very poor, who were unable to build big monuments, used to express their devotion to him by dedicating miniature substitutes for them. Similar instances are still seen in the case of Hindu temples in Banaras and other sacred places of India, where those who cannot afford to build temples, dedicate very small temple like constructions instead. So, it might be quite probable that during the period of Buddhistic ascendency, the rich Hindus, in imitation of the Bauddhas, used to erect something as a memorial resembling their Skambha, and the poor in a similar manner copied them on a reduced scale, and, afterwards, the miniature memorials of the poor Hindus became a new addition to the Skambha.
One of the names of the Buddha Stupas (memorial topes) is Dhatugarbha, that is “metal-wombed.” Within the Dhatu-garbha i» small cases made of stone, shaped like the present Salagrama, used to preserve the ashes, tones and other remains of the distinguished Bauddha Bhikshus, along with gold, silver and other metals. The Salagrama-silas are natural stones resembling in form these artificially cut stone-cases of the Bauddha Dhatu-garbha, and thus, being first worshipped by the Bauddhas, gradually got into Vaishnavism, like many other forms of Buddhistic worship that found their way into Hinduism. On the banks of the Narmada and in Nepal, the Buddhistic influence lasted longer than in other parts of India, and the remarkable coincidence that the Narmadeswara Siva-lingam found on the banks of the Narmada and hence so called, and the Salagrama-silas of Nepal, are given preference by the Hindus to those found elsewhere in India, is a fact that ought to be considered with respect to this point of contention.
The explanation of the Salagrama-sila as a phallic emblem was an imaginary invention and, from the very beginning, beside the mark. The explanation of the Siva-lingam as a phallic emblem was brought forward by the most thoughtless and was forthcoming in India in her most degraded times, those of the downfall of Buddhism. The filthiest Tantrika literature of Buddhism of those times is yet largely found and its rites practised in Nepal and Tibet.
I gave another lecture in which I dwelt on the historic evolution of the religious ideas in India, and said that the Vedas are the common source of Hinduism in all its varied stages, as also Buddhism and every other religious belief in India.
I said a few words on the priority of Sri Krishna to Buddha – that the worship of Sri Krishna is much older than that of Buddha, and if the Gita be not of the same date as the Mahabharata, it is surely much earlier, and by no means later. When the Gita notices the doctrines of all the religious sects of the time, why does it not, I asked, ever mention the name of Buddhism?
After the lecture, many present expressed their opinions for or against the subject, and declared that they agreed with most of what I had said, and assured me that the old days of Sanskrit Antiquarianism were past and gone and the views of modern Sanskrit scholars were largely the same as those of mine.
And what your European Pandits say about the Aryans sweeping down from some foreign land, snatching away the lands of the aborigines and settling in India by exterminating them, is all pure nonsense, foolish talk! Strange that our Indian scholars, too, say amen to them; and all these monstrous lies are being taught to our boys ! This is very bad indeed.
I am an ignoramus myself. I do not pretend to any scholarship; but with the little that I understand I strongly protested against these ideas at the Paris Congress.
I have been talking with the Indian and European savants on the subject, and hope to raise many objections to this theory in detail when the time permits.
Paris – Now I am staying on the sea coast of France. The session of the Congress of History of Religion is over. It was not a big affair; some twenty scholars chattered a lot on the origin of the Salagramaand the origin of Jehovah, and similar topics. I also said something on the occasion.
Paris 9-1900 – The body is somehow rolling on. Work makes it ill, and rest makes it well – that is all. Mother knows…Nivedita has gone to England. She and Mrs. Bull are collecting funds.
Paris 14-10-1900 – I am staying with a famous French writer. M. Jules Bois. I am his guest. As he is a man making his living with his pen, he is not rich, but we have many great ideas in common and feel happy together.
He discovered me a few years ago and has already translated some of my pamphlets into French.
I shall travel with Madame Calve, Miss MacLeod and M. Jules Bois, I shall be the guest of Madame Calve, the famous singer.
We shall go to Constantinople, the Near East, Greece and Egypt. On our way back, we shall visit Venice.
It may be that I shall give a few lectures in Paris after my return, but they will be in English with an interpreter…
I am sending all the money I earned in America to India; now I am free, the begging – monk as before. I have also resigned from the Presidentship of the monastery.
M. Jules Bois is very modest and gentle, and though a man of ordinary means, he very cordially received me as a guest into his house in Paris. Then, he was accompanying us for travel.
In the evening of October 24,1900 the train left Paris. The night was dark and nothing could be seen. Monsieur Bois and myself occupied one compartment, and early went to bed. On awakening from sleep we found we had crossed the French frontier and entered German territory. I had already seen Germany thoroughly.
The whole day the train rushed through Germany, till in the afternoon it reached the frontiers of Austria, the ancient sphere of German supremacy, but now an alien territory.
In the evening of October 25, the train reached Vienna, the capital of Austria. There were few passen-gersf and it did not take us much time to show our luggage and have it passed. A hotel had already been arranged for, and a man from the hotel was waiting for us with a carriage: we reached the hotel duly. It was out of question to go out for sight-seeing during the night; so the next morning we started to see the town.
Vienna is a small city after the model of Paris. The thing most worth seeing in Vienna is the Museum, specially the scientific Museum, an institution of great benefit to the students. Three days in Vienna were sufficient to tire me.
On the 28th Oct., at 9 P. M., we again took that Orient Express train, which reached Constantinople on the 30th. These two nights and one day, the train ran through Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria.
Formerly, I had the notion that people of cold climates did not take hot chillies, which was merely a bad habit of warm climate people. But the habit of taking chillies, which we observed to begin with Hungary and which reached its climax in Rumania, Bulgeria, etc. appeared to me to beat even the Madrasis!
The first view of Constantinople we had from the train. At the station we had great trouble over our books. Madamoiselle Calve and Jules Bois tried much, in French, to reason with the octroi officers, which gradually led to a quarrel between the parties. The head of the officers was a Turk and his dinner was ready, so the quarrel ended without further complications. They returned all the books with the exception of two which they held back. They promised to send them to the hotel immediately, which they never did. We went round the town and bazar of Stamboul, or Constantinople.
Beyond the Pont, or creek, is the Pera or foreigner’s quarters, hotels etc. whence we got into a carriage, saw the town and then took some rest. In the evening, we went to visit Woods Pasha, and the next day, started on an excursion along the Bosphorus in a boat. It was extremely cold and there was a strong wind. So I and Miss M-got down at the first station. It was decided that we would cross over the Scutari and see Pere Hyacinthe-Not knowing the language we engaged a boat by signs merely, crossed over and hired a carriage. On the way, we saw the seat of a Sufi Fakir.
We had a long talk with Pere Hyacinthe about the American colleges, after which we went to an Arab shop where we met a Turkish student. Then we returned from Scutari – we had found out a boat but it failed to reach its exact destination. However, we took a tram from the place where we were landed, and returned to our quarters at the hotel at Stamboul. The Museum at Stamboul is situated where the ancient harem of the Greek Emperors once stood. We saw some remarkable sarcophagi and other things, and had a charming view of the city from above Tophaneh. I enjoyed taking fried chick peas here after such a long time, and had spiced rice and some other dishes, prepared in the Turkish fashion. After visiting the cemetery, we went to see the ancient walls. Within the walls was the prison-a dreadful place. Next we met Woods Pasha and started for the Bosphorus. We had our dinner with the French Charged Affairs and met a Greek
Pasha and an Albanian gentleman. The police have prohibited Pere Hyacinthe’s lectures. Sof I too could not lecture. We saw Mr. Devanmall and Chobeji-a Gujarati Brahmin. There are a good many Indians here, Hindustanis, Mussalmans, etc. We had a talk on Turkish Philology and heard of Noor Bey, whose grandfather was a Frenchman. The women here have got no Purdah system and are very free. We heard of Kurd Pasha, and the massacre of Armenians.
At 10 in the morning, we left Constantinople, passing a night and a day on the sea, which was perfectly placid; by degrees, we reached the Golden Horn and the sea of Marmora. In one of the islands of the Marmora, we saw a monastery of the Greek religion.
While out in the morning on a visit to the Mediterranean Archipelago, we came across Professor Liper, whose acquaintance I had already made in the Pachiappa College at Madras. In one of the islands, we came upon the ruins of a temple, which had probably been dedicated to Neptune, judging from its position on the sea-shore. In the evening, we reached Athens, and after passing a whole night, under quarantine, we obtained permission for landing in the morning. Port Peiraeus is a small town, but very beautiful. From there we drove five miles to have a look at the ancient walls of Athens which used to connect the city with the port. Then we went through the town; the Acropolis, the hotels, houses and streets, and all were very neat and clean. The place is a small one. The same day, again, we climbed the hillock and had a view of the Acropolis, the temple of the Wingless Victory, and the Parthenon, etc. The temple is made of white marble. Some standing remains of columns also we saw. The next day, we again went to see these with Madamoi-sselle Melcarvi, who explained to us various historical facts relating thereto. On the second day, we visited the temple of Olympian Zeus. Theatre Dionysius etc., as far as the seashore. The third day, we set out for Eleusis, which was the chief religious seat of the Greeks. Here it was that the famous Eleusinian Mysteries used to be played. The ancient theatre of this place has been built anew by a rich Greek. The Olympian games too have been revived in the present times. At 10 A. M. on the fourth day, we got on board the Russian Steamer, Czar, bound for Egypt. After reaching the deck, we came to learn that the steamer was to start at 4 P.M. – perhaps, we were too early or there would be some extra delay in loading the cargo. So having no other alternative, we went round and made a cursory acquaintance with the sculpture of Ageladas and his three pupils, Phidias, Myron and Polycletus, who flourished between 576 B. C. and 486 B. C. Even here, we began to feel the great heat. No ice was available in this steamer. From a visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris, I came to understand the three stages of Greek art.
Paris: 14-10-1900 – We shall leave Paris for Vienna on the 29th.
Port Tewfick: 26-11-1900 – The steamer was late, so I am waiting. Thank goodness, it entered the canal this morning at Port Said. That means it will arrive some time in the evening if everything goes right.
Of course, it is like solitary imprisonment these two days and I am holding my soul in patience.
But they say the change is thrice dear. Mr. Gaze’s agent gave me all wrong directions; in the first place, there was nobody here to tell me a thing, not to speak of receiving me. Secondly, I was not told that I had to change my Gaze’s ticket for a steamer one at the agent’s office, and that was at Suez, not here.
It was good one way, therefore, that the steamer was late. So, I went to see the agent of the steamer and he told me to exchange Gaze’s pass for a regular ticket.
I hope to board the steamer some time tonight. I am enjoying the fun immensely.
One must love all. No one is stranger. It is Hari alone that exists in all beings. Nothing exists without Him. Never think that you alone have true understanding and that others are fools.
– Sri RAMAKRISHNA.
Say, brother, “The soil of India is my highest heaven, the good of India is my good,” and repeat and pray day night “Oh, Thou Lord of Gouri, O, Thou Mother of the Universe, vouchsafe manliness unto me O, Thou Mother of Strength, take away my unmanliness, and make me a man”,