IN NORTHERN INDIA
Unfortunately the Swami’s health was causing him trouble. He was counselled by his physicians and urged by his Guru-bliais to start as soon as possible for the dry and cool climate of Alinora whither Miss Muller, who had joined him in Calcutta from England, and Mr. Goodwin had already preceded him. He had received repeated invitations from the residents of that hill-station to visit them. Accordingly he left Calcutta on May 11, in the company of some of his Gurubhais and disciples.
The Swami met with a most cordial welcome at Lucknow where he remained one night on his way to Alinora. At Rath-godam he was met by several of his Almora admirers and Mr. Goodwin who had come down to receive him. At Lodea, close to Almora, there was a huge crowed of citizens waiting, in the afternoon, to convey him along the final part of his journey, and at their request the Swami mounted a horse dressed in handsome trappings and headed a procession into the town. It seemed that, as the Bazar was reached, every citizen of the place had joined the company. Thousands of Hindu ladies from the tops of houses and from windows, showered flowers and rice on the Swami, as he passed along. In the centre of the towm, a section of the Bazar street had been turned into a pandal capable of holding three thousand people. Pandit Jwala Dutt Joshi read first a Hindi address of welcome on behalf of the Reception Committee. Pandit Hari Ram Pande followed with a second address from the Swami’s host, Lala Badri Shah Thulgharia, and a Pandit read an equally appreciative address in Sanskrit.
The Swami made a brief reply, in which he touched feelingly upon the spiritualising influence that the blessed Himalayas had exerted on Indian thought, and how he himself had longed from his very youth to pass his days in their midst.
Though he knew that he would never be able to do so in the way he had planned, still he prayed that “that silence and unknownness of the ancient Rishis”, would be given to him, so that he might pass the last part of his life in peace and meditation there. He said that at the very sight of those mountains, all the propensities to work, that ferment that had been going on in his brain for years, seemed to quiet down, and his mind reverted to that one eternal theme which the Himalayas stand for – Renunciation!
Again the Swami was busy. Whole days passed in holding religious discourse with numerous visitors. In spite of his not getting rest, his health improved gradually.
Amongst those who accompanied the Swami to Almora or met him there or who accompanied him later in his journeys through Northern India, were Swam is Yogananda, Niran-janananda, Adbliutananda, Achyutananda, Vijnanananda, Sada-nanda, old Saclichidananda, Shuddhananda, Brahmachari Krishnalal, and Mr. J. J. Goodwin. With these the Swami passed many an hour of fun as well as of religious instruction.
But the Swami was not to be left in peace. Since his landing on Indian soil with unprecedented ovations and homage from the nation as a whole, a persistent campaign of misrepresentation of his work and influence and baseless attacks on his character were being made, chiefly by certain interested American Missions in India and in the United States, in their endeavour to thwart his work during his absence, and to check the ever-increasing tide of religious revival which his triumphal progress through Southern India had aroused. False and base reports communicated to American papers about the Swami’s success and his propaganda, calculated to discredit him, found wide publicity and were made capital of in the United States, giving rise to fierce criticism. Though heaps of these newspaper cuttings reached him, the Swami, not in the least daunted, treated them with utter indifference. It is needless to speak of them in detail, as the Swami’s own words written in private letters and those of his American friends and disciples who stood up in his defence are amply explanatory. It is a pity that a distinguished Christian Divine like Dr. Barrows, who came out to India on a lecture tour shortly before the Swami’s return from the West, made no secret of his feelings of jealousy and distrust while he was in this country and after his return home. As early as January 30, 1897, the Swami had written to a friend in Chicago:
”I had written a letter to my people from London to receive Dr. Barrows kindly. They accorded him a big reception, but it was not my fault that he could not make any impression in Calcutta …. Now Dr. Barrows thinks a world of me, I hear. Such is the world!”
The very evening of his landing in California on May 10, Dr. Barrows was reported to have made remarks in an interview with the representative of the Chronicle, which according to the paper, “would make that Indian personage’s ears tingle if he could hear them”. Here are some excerpts:
”The Swami arrived in Madras one week ahead of me. but he did not call upon me to renew our acquaintanceship. Instead he hurriedly left Madras the day after I arrived. All that the Chronicle credited him with saying about the women of America is true, and knowing that he had been telling lies he avoided me. There is one thing I want to correct however. The Swami has not lost caste through his conduct. It transpires that he never was a Brahmin. He belongs to the Shudra caste, the lowest of the respectable castes in India. All that he has said about American women and American institutions disgusted some of the Hindus I met. They came to me and declared that he did not represent or preach their faith.
“What I particularly object to in Vivekananda is his ridiculous and exaggerated statement about the influence of Hindu speakers in England and America. He is a man of brilliant and pleasant qualities, but he seems to have lost his head. I could never tell whether to take him seriously or not. He struck me as being a Hindu Mark Twain.
“He is a man of genius and has some following, though only temporary.”
The Swami says that in no speech, in no interview, and in no conversation had a single word fallen from him derogatory to American women. On the contrary he lost no opportunity of speaking of their generosity and kindness and of their sincerity in the search for truth. The other charge is equally untrue. When asked about his mission, the Swami repeatedly avoided answering at all, and when pressed to talk on the subject, spoke with a modesty which would well become some of those who appear to be seeking notoriety at his expense.
Mrs. Sara C. Bull writing in defence of the Swami to Dr. Lewis G. Janes on June 7, says:
“Thank you for the California clipping. Since Dr. Barrows so unqualifiedly denounces Vivekananda as a liar and for that reason charges him with intent to avoid him at Madras, I regret, for his own good, that Dr. Barrows should have omitted all mention of the Swami Vivekananda’s widely circulated letters of welcome urging upon the Hindus, whatever their views of Dr. Barrows* Message concerning their and his own religion might be, to offer a hospitality of thought and greeting worthy of the kindness extended to the Eastern delegates at Chicago by Dr. Barrows and Mr. Bonney. Those letters circulated at the time when the Indian nation was preparing a welcome unprecedented for warmth and enthusiasm to the monk, contrast markedly with Dr. Barrows* recent utterances in California, on his own home-coming, concerning Vivekananda, and bring the two men before the Indian public for their judgment. . . .
“It may be added in this connection, that Vivekananda was veearied to the extreme and was threatened with a breakdown in health from the first to the last of his public receptions on Indian soil, and, finally, by command of his physician obliged to forgo more fatigue and take absolute rest for some months’ time. Vivekananda having been my guest, attacks concerning him are sent to me, and I know that for two years previous to his return to India the Swami was quoted both here and there as having denounced American women at different points in India, showing that he has a double or that his opponents pass on, as does Dr. Barrows, sentiments deemed for his utterance, omitting the sum and substance of what he has uttered again and again. The dry humour of American pleasantries not infrequently used by gentlemen, but unsafe for any foreigner, occasionally tempt the monk with his rare facility in the use of English, to a misplaced and out-of-taste quotation, while it is also true that his habitual self-control is under strong provocation sometimes lost; but a fair opponent he is and, I can testify, to even unfair and untruthful detractors. With the power held in common with great preachers and artists to draw to himself emotional men and women, it is to his credit that he may sometimes use harsh characterisation rather than permit a blind following to himself.
“The homes open to the Swami Vivekananda in the United States would honour any man. His friends will agree with Dr. Barrows that he has genius, not for geniality alone, but for intellectual power and the modesty of the true scholar, that will guard him from egotism and vanity. He deals as few can with agnosticism and atheism, and gives earnest students a philosophical analysis that establishes Religion, embracing the sectarian religions, and in spirituality he has the childlikcncss of spirit that will make him the loving servant of his people.
“It is always painful to encounter workers rightly devoted to sectarian interests and service, indulging in the present rule of habitual asperities and quick distrust rather than looking for points of contact. I send you quotations from the Swami’s letters to India and here, giving in reply Vivcka-nanda’s sober opinions to the points of attack as made by Dr. Clerk, Dr. Barrows and others. PTay use them or niv own estimate as you deem fit.
“PS. The allusion to Vivekananda’s exaggerated statement of his Western work and Mission is as mistaken as Dr. Barrows’ suggestion that he has only a temporary influence. Yivckananda returns not Europeanised, and the urgent calls to be filled as soon as bis health permits are evidence of this. I believe him as one to welcome all true religious workers there.
“The German schools, the English Orientalists and our own Emerson testify to the fact that it is litcially true that Yedantic thought pervades the Western thought of today, and it is in this sense only that Yivckananda could mean that thousands in the West are Ycdantists- ~a philosophy able to include sectarians.”
The following quotations from the Swami’s letters written during these times to intimate disciples in America, referring to the above controversy and certain others from rival bodies in India, furnish the key to his position and to his conduct. Writing on February 25, he says:
“I have not a moment to die, as they say. What with processions and tom-tomings and various other methods of reception all over the country I am nearly dead. . . . On the other hand, the country is full of persons jealous and pitiless who would leave? no stone unturned to pull my work to pieces.
“But as you know well, the more the opposition the more is the demon in me roused.”
Remarking on the cause of the failure of Dr. Barrows’ mission in India he writes in his letter of April 28, 1897:
“Dr. Barrows has reached America by this time, I hope. Poor man! He came here to preach the most bigoted Christianity, with the usual result that nol)ody listened to him. Of course they received him very kindly, but it was my letter that did that. I could not put brains into him! Moreover, he seems to be a queer sort of man. I hear that he was angry at the national rejoicings over my home-coming. You ought to have sent a brainier man anyway, for the Parliament of Religions has been made a farce of to the Hindu mind by Dr. Barrows. On metaphysical lines no nation on earth can hold a candle to the Hindu ; and curiously, all those that come over here from Christian lands to preach, have that one antiquated foolishness of an argument that the Christians are powerful and rich and the Hindus are not, ergo Christianity is better than Hinduism, to which the Hindu very aptly retorts, that that is the very reason why Hinduism is a religion and Christianity is not; because, in this beastly world, it is blackguardism and that alone that prospers; virtue always suffers. It seems, however advanced the Western nations are in scientific culture, they are mere babies in metaphysical and spiritual education. Material science can only give worldly prosperity, whilst spiritual science is for eternal life. If there be no eternal life, still the enjoyment of spiritual thoughts as ideals is keener and mikes a man happier, whilst the foolery of materialism leads to competition and undue ambition and ultimate death, individual and national.
“. . . .Do you know Dr. Colston Turnbull of Chicago? He came here a few weeks before I reached India. He seems to have had a great liking for me, with the result that Hindu people all liked him very much.
“‘…. I am going to grow a big beard, now that my hair is turning grey. It gives a venerable appearance and saves one from American scandal* mongers. O thou white hairs, how much thou canst conceal! All glory unto thee, hallelujah!”
Justifying his plain-speaking on certain occasions in India, which gave offence to the parties concerned, he writes to a friend on May 5:
“About the-s and the–s, you must remember first that in India,
they are nonentities. They may publish a few papers and make a lot of splash and try to catch Occidental ears, but I do not know if there are two
dozen’s of Hindu birth and two hundred-s in the whole of India.
I was one man in America and another here. Here the whole nation is looking upon me as their authority ; there I was a much-reviled preacher. Here princes draw my carriage ; there I would not be admitted to a decent hotel! My utterances here, therefore, must be for the good of the race – my people – however unpleasant they might appear to a friend’s acceptance, love and toleration for everything sincere and honest – but never for hypocrisy! The-s tried to fawn and flatter me, as I was ‘the authority’ in
India. Therefore it was all the more necessary for me to stop my work from lending any sanction to their hypocrisies, by a few bold decisive words, and the thing was done. I am very glad of it. . . . Let me again tell you that India is already Ramakrishna’s and for a purified Hinduism, whether I live a few years more or not.”
On June 8, he writes from Almora in a mood of Vairagya:
“As for myself I am quite content. I have roused a good many of our people and that was all I wanted. Let things have their course and Rarma its sway. I have no bonds here below. I have seen life and it is all self – life is for self, love for self, honour for self, everything for self. I look back and scarcely find any action that I have done for self – even my wicked deeds were not for self. So I am content. Not that I feel I have done anything specially good or great, but the world is so little, life so mean a thing, existence so. so servile, that I wonder and smile that human beings, rational souls, should be running after the self – so mean and detestable a prize!
“This is the truth: We are caught in a trap and the sooner one gets
out, the better for one. I have seen the truth, let the body float lip or down – who cares!
“I was born for the life of the scholar – retired, quiet, poring over my books. But the Mother dispenses otherwise. Vet the tendency is there.”
And on July 9, he is seen writing the following letter to an intimate friend in America who grew nervous and uneasy at the repeated attacks made against him in the newspapers, being afraid that these might injure his cause there. The letter shows the Swami in his combative spirit, his righteous indignation roused under extreme provocation to express himself in a masterpiece of self-defence and passionate nionasticism:
“. . . . I had also a lot of cuttings from different. American papers fearfully criticising my utterances about American women and furnishing me with the strange news that I had been outcastcd! As if I had any caste to lose, being a Sannyasin! !
“Not only no caste has been lost, but it has considerably shattered the opposition to sca-voyagc. my going to the West. If I should have to be outcasted, I would have to be done so with half the ruling princes of India and almost all of educated India. On the other hand, the leading Raja of the caste, to which I belonged before my entering the Order, publicly got up a banquet in my honour, at which were most of the big bugs of that caste. The Sannyasins, on the other hand, may not dine with any one in India as beneath the dignity of Gods to dine with mere mortals, as they are Narayanas, while the others are mere men. And dear Mary, these feet have been washed and wiped and worshipped by the descendants of a hundred kings, and there lias been a progress through the country which none ever commanded in India.
“It will suffice to say that the police were necessary to keep order if I ventured out into the streets! That is outcasting indeed! ! Of course, that took the starch out of the Missoos,1 and who are they here? – Nobodies. We are in blissful ignorance of their existence all the time. I had in a lecture said something about the Missoos and the origin of that species, except the English Churchmen, and in that connection I had to refer to the very churchy women of America and their power of inventing scandals. This the Missoos are parading as an attack on American women en masse to undo my work
1 Missoos Swamiji uses in the sense of missionaries.
there, as they well know that anything said against themselves will rather please the U. S. public. My dear Mary, supposing I had said all sorts of fearful things against the ‘Yanks’, would that be paying off a millionth part of what they say of our mothers and sisters ? ‘Neptune’s waters’ would be perfectly useless to wash off the hatred the Christian Yanks* of both sexes bear to us, heathens of India’ ; and what harm have we done them? Let the ‘Yanks’ learn to be patient under criticism and then criticise others. It is a well-known psychological fact that those who are ever ready to abuse others cannot bear the slightest touch of criticism themselves. Then again, what do I owe them? Except your family, Mrs. Bagley, the Leggetts and a few other kind persons, who else has been kind to me? Who came forward to help me work out my ideas? I had to work till I am at death’s door and had to spend nearly the whole of my best energies in America, so that they might learn to be broader and more spiritual! In England I worked only six months. There was not a breath of scandal save one, and that was the working of an American woman, which greatly relieved my English friends ; not only no attacks, but many of the best English Church clergymen became my firm friends, and without asking, I got much help for my work and I am sure to get much more. There is a society watching my work and getting help for it, and four highly respected persons followed me to India to help my work, braving everything, and dozens were ready, and the next time I go, hundreds will be!
Dear, dear Mary’, do not be afraid for me. . . . The world is big, very big, and there must be some place for me, even if the ‘Yankees rage’. Anyhow, I am quite satisfied with my work. I never planned anything. I have taken tilings as they came. Only one idea was burning in ray brain – to start the machine for elevating the Indian masses, and that I have succeeded in doing to a certain extent. It would have made your heart glad to see how my boys are working in the midst of famine and disease and misery, nursing by the mat-bed of the cholera-stricken Pariah and feeding the starving Chandala, and the Lord sends help to me, and to them all. ‘What are men?’ He is with me, the Beloved, as He was when I was in America, in England, when I was roaming about unknown from place to place in India. What do I care about what they talk – the babies – they do not know any better. What! I, who have realised the Spirit and the vanity of all earthly nonsense, to be swerved from my path by babies’ prattle! Do I look like that?
“I had to talk a lot about myself because I owed that to you. I feel my task is done – at best, three or four years more of life is left. I have lost all wish for my salvation. I never wanted earthly enjoyments. I must see my machine in strong working order, and then knowing for certain that I have put in a lever for the good of humanity, in India at least, which no power can drive back, I will sleep without caring what will be next. And may I be born again and again and suffer thousands of miseries, so that
I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls – and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species, is the especial object of my worship.
” ‘He Who is the high and the low, the saint and the sinner, the God and the worm, Him worship, the visible, the knowable, the real, the omnipresent; break all other idols!’ ‘In Whom there is neither past life nor future birth, nor death, nor going, nor coming, in Whom we always have been and always will be one. Him worship; break all other idols!’
“My time is short. I have got to unbreast whatever I have to say, without caring if it smarts some or initates others. Therefore, my dear Mary, do not be frightened at whatever drops from my lips, for the Power behind me is not Vivekananda but He. the Lord, and He knows best. If I have to please the world. that will be injuring the world ; the voice of the majority is wrong, seeing that they govern and make the sad state of the world. Every new thought must create opposition, in the civilised a polite sneer, in the savage vulgar howls and filthy scandals.
“Even these earth-worms must stand up erect. Even children must see light …. A hundred waves of prosperity have come and gone over my country. Wc have learnt the lesson which no child can yet understand. It is vanity, this hideous world of Mava. ‘Renounce’ and be happy. Give up the ideas of sex and possessions. There is no other bond. Marriage and sex and money are the only living devils. All earthly love proceeds from the body, body, body. No sex, no possessions ; as these fall off, the eyes open to spiritual vision. The soul regains its own infinite power. . . .”
In connection with this matter and as a further explanation of the Swami’s attitude towards American women en masse, no better evidence of his esteem for them can be, adduced than an excerpt from a private letter he wrote in 1894 to the Raja of Khetri:
” ‘It is not the building that makes the Home, but it is the wife that makes it,’ says a Sanskrit poet, and how true it is! The roof that affords you shelter from heat and cold and rain is not to be judged by the pillars that support it, the finest Corinthian columns though they be, but by the real spirit-pillar who is the centre – the real support of the home – the woman. Judged by that standard, the American home will not suffer in comparison with any home in the world.
“I have heard many stories about the American home; of liberty running into licence, of unwomanly women, smashing under their feet all the peace and happiness of the home life in their mad liberty-dance, and much nonsense of that type. And now after a year’s experience of the American homes, of American women, how utterly false and erroneous that
not be sufficient to pay my deep debt of gratitude to you! I have not words enough to express my gratitude to you. The Oriental hyperbole alone expresses the depth of Oriental gratitude: ‘If the Indian Ocean were
an inkstand, the highest mountain of the Himalayas the pen, the earth the scroll, and time itself the writer, still it will not express any gratitude to you! ‘
“Last year I came to this country in summer, a wandering preacher of a far distant country, without name, fame, wealth or learning to recommend me – friendless, helpless, almost in a state of destitution – and American women befriended me, gave me shelter and food, took me to their homes and treated me as their own son, their own brother. They remained my friends even when their own priests were trying to persuade them to give up the ‘dangerous Heathen’, even when day after day their best friends had told them not to stand by this ‘unknown foreigner who may be of dangerous character’. But they are better judges of character and soul, they, the noble-minded, the unselfish, the pure ; for it is the pure mirror which catches the reflection.
“And how many beautiful homes I have seen, how many mothers whose purity of character, whose unselfish love for their children are beyond expression, how many daughters and maidens ‘pure as the icicle on Diana’s temple’ and withal with much culture, education and spirituality in the highest sense! Is America then full of only wingless angels in the shape of women? There is good and bad everywhere, true ; but a nation is not to be judged by its weaklings called the wicked, as they are only the weeds which lag behind, but by the good, the noble and the pure, who indicate the national life current flowing clear and vigorous.
“Do you judge of an apple tree and the taste of its fruits by the unripe, undeveloped, worm-eaten ones that strew the grounds, large even though their number be sometimes? If there is one ripe, developed apple, that one would indicate the powers, the possibility and the purpose of the apple tree, and not the hundreds that could not grow.
“And then the modem American women – I admire their broad and liberal minds. I have seen many liberal and broadminded men too in this country, some even in the narrowest churches ; but here is the difference – there is danger with the men to become broad at the cost of religion, at the cost of spirituality – women broaden out in sympathy with everything that is good everywhere without losing a bit of their own religion. They intuitively know that it is a question of positivity and not negativity, a question of addition and not subtraction. They are every day becoming aware of the fact that it is the affirmative and positive side of everything that shall be stored up, and that this very act of accumulating the affirmative and positive, and therefore soul-building forces of nature, is what destroys the negative and destructive dements in the world, . .
One could continue quoting many passages, descriptive of the Swami’s high appreciation of and even esteem for American womanhood. The one quoted, however, gives the spirit which is the keynote to all of them. Though the biographers of the Swami might have overlooked the mention of all these unpleasant controversies and criticism which were of trifling concern to the Swami himself, these had to be considered, in justice to him, as they created a stir at the time amongst his admirers and sympathisers.
Turning now from these distracting thoughts, one finds the Swami supremely happy at the sight of one of his Gurubhais relieving hundreds of the starving and the diseased in the famine-stricken district of Murshidabad in Bengal. Out on his wanderings, Swami Akliandananda was deeply moved at seeing the wide-spread distress in the villages and. though penniless, he at once decided to do what little he could to ameliorate it. On hearing of this, Swami Vivekananda sent two of his disciples, Swami Nityananda and Brahmachari Sureshwarananda, to help in the work, and started a fund at once, to which contributions poured in chiefly from Calcutta, Varanasi and Madras, and from the Mahabodhi Society. Swami Akhandananda managed the matter so well that the District Magistrate of Murshidabad who controlled the Government Relief Fund remarked, “I have been able to relieve myself of all responsibilities with regard to the villages covered by the Swami/’
Swami Vivekananda was also delighted to learn, at this time, of the success of the meetings of the Ramakrishna Mission at Calcutta, and of the Vedanta work that Swami Ramakrishna-nanda was carrying on with his characteristic zeal in Madras and its neighbourhood. Arrived there at the end of March, he had made himself popular by his exemplary character and his activities, and had delivered a series of lectures on the lives of the Prophets, besides other lectures on the Vedanta philosophy and classes on the Gita and the Upanishads.
When Swami Vivekananda’s visit was drawing to a close, his friends in Almora began talking about a lecture. The English residents in the station expressed a wish to hear him, and invited him to give an address at the English Club. Arrangements were therefore made for two lectures in the Zilla School, and one in the Club. There had been a wish expressed by many persons that one of the lectures should be in Hindi. Though unacquainted with the Hindi language the Swami acquitted himself well in the lecture and drew admiration from his hearers for the masterly way in which he treated the subject-matter. The lecture at the English Club was attended by all the English residents in the station. Col. Pulley of the Goorkhas was in the Chair. A short historical sketch of the rise of the worship of the tribal God, its spread through the conquest of other tribes, was followed by an account of the Vedas. Their nature, character and teaching were briefly touched upon. Then the Swami spoke about the soul, comparing the Western method, which seeks for the solution of vital and religious mysteries in the outside world, with the Eastern method, which finding no answer in nature outside, turns its enquiry within. Passing from this theme, naturally so dear to the heart of a Hindu, the Swami reached the climax of his power as a spiritual teacher when he described the relation of the soul to God, its aspiration and real unity with God. “For some time/’ writes an eyewitness, “it seemed as though the Teacher, his words, his audience, and the spirit pervading them all, were one. No longer was there any consciousness of T and ‘Thou*, of ‘This’ or ‘That*. The different units collected there, were for the time being lost and merged in the spiritual radiance which emanated so powerfully from the great Teacher, and held them all, more than spellbound.”
The Swami now regained to some extent his lost health, for a complete recovery it was not. But health or no health, his mission in India and the delivery of his message to her people necessitated constant work, and we next see him whirling to and fro from one province to another, teaching privately, preaching publicly, completing his work, for he felt it was nearing completion, in so far as his physical personality was concerned.
After a stay of two months and a half in Almora, the
Swami, desiring to accept pressing invitations to visit various places in the Punjab and Kashmir, came down to the plains. He reached Bareilly on August 9. The Reception Committee composed of the distinguished residents of the city cordially welcomed him and took him and his party to their club-house, where arrangements had been made for their stay. He had hardly arrived when he was attacked with fever. He remained in Bareilly four days, and though ill all the time, gave much time to religious discourse. On the morning of the tenth he visited the Arya Samaj Orphanage, and on the next day as the result of an impressive conversation with a gathering of students on the need of Students’ Society which might conjointly carry out his ideas of practical Vedanta and work for others, one was established then and there. The same day after the midday meal he told Swami Achyutananda that he would live only about five or six years more. It was a significant prophetic utterance, though not treated seriously at the time, in as much as he left his body five years later on July 4, 1902.
On the night of the twelfth he left for Ambala, where he stayed for a week. He was met at the station by a large number of people, amongst whom were Mr. and Mrs. Sevier who had been at Simla. During his sojourn he daily held religious talks at all hours of the day with many people of different creeds, including Mohammedan, Brahmo, Arya SamSjist and Hindu, on Shastric and other topics. On the evening of the sixteenth at the earnest request of a professor of the Lahore College, who wanted to have a record of the Swami’s voice, he delivered a short lecture into a phonograph. Though unwell, the next day, he delivered an impressive lecture lasting for an hour and a half before a select gathering of citizens, who applauded him enthusiastically. All through he injected into the minds of his hearers his plans for the improvement of the Motherland. He did not leave Ambala without visiting the Hindu-Mohammedan School, an institution which interested him, because it was a symbol of the spirit of unity between the two great communities in India. The Swami received many invitations from various places, but he was so weakened by the fever which he had contracted on his way down from Almora that lie was unable to accept any of them.
On the twentieth the Swarrii with his party including Mr. and Mrs. Sevier arrived at Amritsar where also he was received at the station with great honours ; but he stayed there for only four or five hours at the residence of Mr. Todor Mall, Barrister-at-Law, for his increasing ill-health made it imperative for him to retire to Dharamshala, a delightful hill-station near by, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Sevier. There, with the exception of a few casual visitors, he stayed until the thirty-first, in comparative retirement. About that date he decided once more to return to the plains in order to spread his ideas. Coming back to Amritsar he stayed for two days, during which he had frequent discussions on various religious subjects with Rai Mulraj and other leading Arya Samajists. From there he went to Rawalpindi and though arrangement had been made for his sojourn there, he left, immediately for Murree, again in search of health and in company with Mr. and Mrs. Sevier and his party. While at this place, he was the guest of Mr. Hansraj, a well-known pleader. He was frequently invited to lecture publicly, but his persistent; ill-health prevented this. Several conversations were held, however, in which he gave out his now-celebrated ideas and plans of work in India.
His stay in Murree was short, for on September 6, he deemed it necessary for many reasons to go on a short visit to Kashmir. Mr. and Mrs. Sevier who had come to Murree with the intention of accompanying the Swami to Kashmir were compelled to remain behind, owing to Mr. Sevier having suddenly fallen ill. The day before the Swami’s departure, a letter reached him from Mr. Sevier with this news, and with eight hundred rupees in currency notes enclosed as the sum forwarded to him to meet the expenses of his journey. It was seven o’clock in the evening. He turned to a friend and said with an anxious look, “What shall I do with so much money, Jogesh? We are Fakirs; we are sure to spend it all if it be with us. Let me take only half the sum ; I think that ought to be sufficient for me and my Gurubhais and disciples travelling with me.” Saying this he went to see Mr. Sevier, though he was not well at the time, and persuaded him to take Backhalf the money offered.
Leaving Murree, he and his party reached Baramulla by Tonga, on the eighth, whence he started at once for Srinagar by boat. At this place he arrived on the tenth as the guest of Mr. Justice Rishibar Mukhopadhyaya. Here the Swami was literally besieged by visitors. On the third day after his arrival he paid an informal visit to the Palace of the Maharaja, where he was received with marked distinction by two of the higher officials, one of whom, Dr. Mitra, informed him that on the next day Raja Rama Singh, the brother of the ruling Prince, would be pleased to see him. The Swami did not meet the Maharaja as he was then at Jammu.
The Raja received the Swami with great cordiality and honour making him take his seat on a chair, while he himself sat with the officials on the floor. The interview lasted for two hours, many subjects concerning religion and the rehabilitation of the masses being touched upon. The Raja was deeply impressed, and expressed an earnest desire to help the Swami in earning out his plans of work.
Until his return to Murree, early in the first week of October, the Swami was busy filling many engagements, of both private and public character, and visiting the places of historic interest with which Kashmir abounds. Sddhus, Pandits, Vidyarthis, officials of high rank and scores of citizens visited him at the house of his host. Whenever he could be free, he retired to the house-boat which the Wazir of Raja Amar Singh had placed at his disposal. The Wazir himself became an ardent admirer of the Swami. He was often invited by the nobility of the town to dine at their houses, and on one of these occasions he discoursed with many Brahmins and Pandits assembled there. The Swami also made frequent excursions by boat to near-by places, or visited the Bazars, or listened to singing and instrumental music. On September 20, he went by house-boat to Pampur, and Anantnag, where he saw the historic temple of Vijbera, and then made his way afoot to Martanda, at which place he stayed at the rest-house for pilgrims, and discoursed learnedly to a large gathering of priests. Thence he set out for Acchabal. On the way he was shown a temple, which legend relates to the Pandava times. He was most enthusiastic in his admiration of the exquisite workmanship on this edifice, and stated that it was more than two thousand years old.
Slowly the Swami wended his way Backfrom this interesting place, by boat from the Uhlar Lake, to Baramulla. The delightful climate and the free outdoor life had restored him, and he felt some of his old vigour and power.
Returning to Murrce he was hailed with rejoicings by the Bengali and the Punjabi residents and by Mr. and Mrs. Sevier. Here the Swami was alternately the guest of the latter, and of Nibaran Babu, at whose house he received numerous visitors and held many conversations. On the evening of October 14, an address of welcome was presented to him in a meeting on behalf of the Bengali and the Punjabi residents of Murree. The Swami in reply gave a talk which delighted the audience immensely. The following day he went to Rawalpindi and was cordially welcomed by his host, Mr. Hansraj.
He had been there scarcely two days when he lectured to a considerable audience in the beautiful garden of Mr. Sujan Singh, who was the President of the meeting. For two hours the Swami discoursed lucidly on Hinduism, supporting his arguments with quotations from the Vedas. An English disciple who was present says, “Swamiji, with a wreath of flowers on his head and a garland round his neck sometimes strolling in the course of his lecture, as was his wont, and sometimes leaning against a pillar also decorated with foliage wreaths and flowers, looked in his flowing saffron-coloured robe and sash like a Greek god. Moreover, as a background to this, the audience mostly sitting on the lawn, turbaned and cross-legged, with the sun setting in the distance, made altogether a wondrously picturesque scene.”
One catches a glimpse of the intense activity of the Swami at this time, or indeed during most of the time that he was before the public, through an entry in the diary of a devoted companion, which reads:
“17th October. In the morning, Swamiji talked on religious subjects with the visitors at Mr. Hansraj’s house. Then he went to the Cantonment to keep an invitation to dinner at Nirnai Baba’s house, where he talked on religious subjects with the Bengali gentlemen assembled there. He returned from there at about 10 p.m. After a short rest, he went to Mr. Sujan Singh’s garden to deliver a lecture on Hinduism …. Returning from there he instructed a gentleman in the secret of performing Sadhanas. At night he went to supper at Mr. Bhaktaram’s house in the company of Mr. Justice Narayandas, Swami Prakashananda, Mr. Hansraj and others. From there he returned home at 10 p.m., and talked with some of his disciples on matters religious, until three o’clock in the morning.”
On the night of October 20, he was off again, this time to Jammu in the Jammu State of the Maharaja of Kashmir, in response to an invitation from the Maharaja. He was met officially at the station and informed that he was a guest of the State. The Maharaja’s library’ was visited in the evening, and on the day following, the Swami had a long talk with Babu Mahesh Chandra Bhattacharya, an officer of the Kashmir State, with reference to the establishment of a monastery somewhere in Kashmir.
On the twenty third he had a long interview with the Maharaja. There were present the two brothers of the Maharaja and principal officers of the State. In the course of the conversation he stressed the foolishness of adhering to meaningless customs and outward observances, and traced the national servility of the last seven hundred years, to the misconception of true religious ideals and to the blind following of all sorts of superstitions. He said, “By committing that which is real sin, such as adultery etc., one is not outcastcd in these days ; now all sin, all offence to society, relates to food only!” The Swami then defended his sea-voyage with his usual vigour and pointed out that without travelling in foreign countries real education was not gained. Finally he dwelt upon the significance of preaching Vedanta in Europe and America and upon his own mission and plan of work in India. He concluded saying,”I deem it a great good fortune, if by doing good to my country I have to go to hell!” The Maharaja and others were highly pleased with the interview, which lasted for nearly four hours.
Later in the day he paid a visit to the junior Raja who received him with equal reverence. On the next, day, he delivered a public lecture, which pleased the Maharaja so much, that he asked the Swami to deliver another lecture the next day, and further expressed the desire that he might remain at least ten or twelve days longer and address meetings every other day. On the twenty-fifth the Swami inspected the municipal powerhouse, held discussions on religious subjects and talked about the Arya Samaj ; in these talks he pointed out its shortcomings to Swami Achyutananda in a friendly spirit, and deplored the backwardness of the Punjabis in knowledge. In the afternoon, according to the wish of the Maharaja, he lectured to a large audience for two hours dealing with all the Shastras from the Vedas to the Puranas. He then paid a visit to the library and saw the illumination of the city on the occasion of the Dewali festival. The next three days were devoted mostly to the reception of visitors, and in talks with them he gave out many important ideas on the profound truths relating to religion and social ethics. During this tour the Swami spoke and lectured mostly in Hindi. The power and life that he put into the Hindi language was so unique that the Maharaja of Kashmir requested him to write a few papers in that language, which he did and they were greatly appreciated.
On October 29, the Swami paid a final visit to the Maharaja and informed him of his proposed departure for Sialkote as a deputation from that place had come with a pressing invitation. The Prince parted from the Swami with much regret, requesting him, that whensoever he visited Jammu or Kashmir he must be his guest.
Taking up the thread of the Swami’s history from this time until he left Lahore for Dehra-Dun, Mr. J. J. Goodwin, who had accompanied the Swami on his Jammu trip, writes as follows:
”Although by no means restored to health, the Swami Vivekananda is in active work again, this time in the North-West. After a visit of some
weeks to Kashmir, where his views secured the favourable consideration of H. H. the Maharaja, and assurances of his support in the event of practical work being undertaken in the State, the Swami paid a short visit to Jammu, lecturing there in Hindi to a most, appreciative audience. From Jammu he went to Sialkote (Punjab) as the guest of Lala Mool Chand, M.A., LL.B., and two lectures were arranged for him, one in English, and one in Hindi. One theme was common to all these lectures, as to all which have since followed, that religion must be practical to be religion at all. The Swami seems daily to be becoming more emphatic on this point, and is enforcing his views by starting works of various kinds which seem to suit the needs of the places he visits and the characteristics of their people. Thus, at Sialkote, he strongly urged the establishment of an educational institution for girls, and as the result of his two days’ visit a committee was formed consisting of most of the influential men of the town, with Lala Mool Chand as Secretary, to at once give the proposal practical effect.
“Lahore was next visited, and the Swami was received at the station by a large crowd, including many of the members of the Sanatana Dharma Samfij in whose hands the reception was left. He was driven through the picturesque streets of the city to Raja Dhyftn Singh’s palace, and afterwards put up with Babu N. N. Gupta, the editor of the Tribune of Lahore. On Friday evening, lie lectured in the large courtyard of the old palace on ‘The Problem Before Us’. The numbers present were large and the space available was altogether too small to accommodate all who came to hear, and the necessity for disappointing many, at one time threatened to prevent the holding of the meeting at all. After at least two thousand had been refused admission, there still remained fully four thousand, who listened to an excellent discourse. On the following Tuesday, another large crowd gathered iri the Pandal of Prof. Bose’s Bengal Circus, to hear the Swami’s lecture on Bhakti.
“The third lecture, on the following Friday evening, was a triumphant success. The arrangements, this time entirely made by students of the four Lahore Colleges, were exceedingly good, and the audience, without being inconveniently large, was in every sense representative. The subject for the evening was VedSnta, and the Swami for over two hours gave, even for him. a masterly exposition of the monistic philosophy and religion of India. The manner in which, at the outset, he traced the psychological and cosmological ideas on which religion in India is founded, was marvellously clear, and his insistence that Advaita is alone able to meet the attacks not only of science but also of Buddhism and agnosticism against religious and transcendental ideas, was conveyed in definite language and was full of convincing power. From beginning to end the lecture preached strength – belief in man in order that belief in God might follow – and every word of perhaps the finest lecture the Swami has given in India was itself full of strength …. The lecture created great enthusiasm and the
Swami found it in no way difficult to induce a number of students, who were his constant attendants while in Lahore, to take steps to put it into practice. In fact, he held a meeting for students, at which, after hearing his suggestions, an association was formed, purely non sectarian in character, the work of which, as it gradually unfolded, should be to help the poor- and where possible by searching them out in every district of the town – to nurse the sick poor, and to give night education to the ignorant poor.
“Two days later, the Swami left for Delira-Dun, on business . . .
His non-sectarianism was especially evident in Lahore, for though he was pressed by a certain community of the orthodox Hindus to preach openly against the Arya Samajists, he would not lend himself to their wishes. He did consent, however, at their request, to deliver a lecture on the Shraddha ceremony, in which the Arya Samajists disbelieve, but in doing so he in nowise attacked them. The lecture was not a public one, but took the form of a conversazione at which were present some of the leading members of both the rival parties. He eloquently discussed on the necessity and uses of the Hindu rite of Shraddha, and defended it in a dignified manner against the attacks made by some Arya Samajists who came forward to argue with him. In tracing the origin of that time-honoured institution, the Swami said that spirit-worship was the beginning of Hindu religion. At first the Hindus used to invoke the spirits of their departed ancestors in some man, and then worship and offer him food. By and by it was found that the men who acted as mediums for these disembodied spirits suffered very much physically afterwards. So they gave up the practice and substituted instead an effigy of grass (Kushaputtali), and invoking the departed spirits of their ancestors in it offered to it worship and Pindas (balls of rice). The Vedic invocation of the Devas for worship and sacrifice, he pointed out, was a development of this spirit-worship.
Be that as it may, the Swami’s mission in the Punjab was, pre-eminently, to establish harmony and peace in place of discord and rivalry among the parties holding divergent views: the Arya Samajists who stood for reinterpreted Hinduism, and the Sanatanists who represented the orthodox Hindu community. That he succeeded in bringing this about for the time being at least is evidenced by the fact that the former vied with the latter in showing their regard for him and flocked in numbers to listen to his words. Indeed, so generous was his own attitude towards the Arya Samajists and so respectful their feeling for him, that for some days there was a persistent rumour to the effect that several of the leading Arya Samajists desired that the Swami should be requested to become the head of the Samaj itself. He even propounded a method for rooting out the antagonism between the Arya Samajists and the Mohammedans.
In one of the conversations the Swami deplored the lack of emotion in the Punjabis, remarking that the land of the five rivers was rather a dry place spiritually, and that the minds of the people should be made responsive to the softer elements of religion by the culture of Bhakti. He thought that the introduction of the system of Shri Chaitanya’s Sankirlana, as it is in vogue among the Vaishnavas of Bengal, would be a desirable thing. A proposal was made by some of the Punjabi gentlemen, that there should be a public Sankirtana procession, but the idea had to be given up ultimately on account of some unavoidable events.
It was in Lahore that the Swami met Mr. Tirtha Ram Goswami, then a professor in mathematics at one of the Lahore Colleges. Some time later, this gentleman took Sannyasa and became widely known as Swami Ram Tirtha. He also preached Vedanta both in India and America and gained a considerable following. It was under his guidance that the college students of Lahore did much in helping to arrange for the public lectures which the Swami gave there. Personally he admired the Swami immensely and invited him and his disciples including Mr. Goodwin, to dine at his residence. After dinner the Swami sang a song which begins with: “Jahan Ram wuhan kam nahin, jahan kam, nahin Ram,” which translated reads: “Where God-consciousness is, there is no desire ; where desire is, there is no God-consciousness.” Tirtha Ram himself writes: “His melodious voice made the meaning of the song thrill through the hearts of those present.” His host placed his private library at the disposal of the Swami, but of the numerous volumes, the latter chose only Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, whom he was accustomed to call “The Sannyasin of America”.
One evening Tirtha Ram, accompanied by the Swami, his Gurubhais and a number of young men was walking along a public highway. The party broke into several groups. “In the last group,” according to Swami Ram Tirtha’s own words, in a letter written later from Darjeeling, “in answer to a question I was explaining: ‘An ideal Mahatma is one who has lost all sense of separate personality and lives as the Self of all. When the air in any region absorbs enough of the solar heat, it becomes rarefied and rises higher. The air from different regions then rushes in to occupy this vacuum, thus setting the whole atmosphere in motion. So does a Mahatma marvellously infuse life and spirit into a nation through self-reform/ The Swami’s group happening to be silent at the time, he overheard this part of our conversation and stopped suddenly and emphatically remarked, ‘Such was my Guru, Paramahamsa Rama* krishna Deva.’ “
The relationship between the Swami and Tirtha Ram was most cordial, and before the Swami left, the latter presented him with a gold watch. The Swami took it very kindly, but put it Backin Tirtha Ram’s pocket saying, “Very well, friend, I shall wear it here in this pocket.”
A touching incident occurred at Lahore, when Motilal Bose, an old neighbour and playmate of the Swami, the owner of Professor Bose’s Circus, came to meet him. He was awe-struck at the reverence which hundreds were paying to him. Feeling a little embarrassed, he approached the Swami with the question, “How shall I address you now, as Naren or as Swamiji?” The Swami replied, “Have you gone mad, Moti? Don’t you know I am the same Naren, and you are the same Moti?” Indeed, everyone of his old comrades and class-mates, who met him in the days of his glory, after his return from the West, noticed not the slightest change in his ways and behaviour. To quote one instance among many, when Upendra Babu, another classmate of his, to whom he had prophesied his own future greatness when studying in the Presidency College of Calcutta, came to meet him at Balaram Babu’s house, the Swami seeing him enter the room stood up and with outstretched arms embraced him warmly.
It was the state of the Swami’s health which was largely responsible for his leaving Lahore, after ten days of strenuous work, for Dehra-Dun. The return to the heat of the plains had caused a relapse of the illness which had taken him to the Himalayas, and he was in consequence forced to postpone his lecture-tour. At Dehra-Dun he led a quiet life for some ten days, but he was never idle. Gathering his disciples about him he would hold a class on Rfimanuja’s commentary on the Rrahma-Sutras. This class was continued all the rest of his trip. Even on the way to Khetri, after they had rested from the journey and had had their bath and meal, he would call them and begin the class. He also held classes on the Sankhya philosophy and appointed Swami Achvutananda to teach it in his presence. Sometimes when Swami Achyutananda, who was a very learned Sanskrit scholar, could not make out the meaning of a text, the Swami would in a few words explain it very clearly. He was interested at Dehra-Dun, as he was also in Kashmir and in Dharamshala, in the purchase of a tract of land for an institution for the training of Brahmacliarins.
While he was at Dehra-Dun he received constant invitations from Khetri. The Raja of that State was exceedingly eager to give his subjects an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the wSwami’s ideas. Besides, personally, he wished to see the Swami, his Guru. So the Swami started from Dehra-Dun for Rajputana. On the way he visited Delhi, Alwar, and Jaipur. At Delhi he was the guest of Nata Krishna, a man in humble position, whom he had met in his Parivrajaka days at Hathras. Wealthy residents of Delhi pressed him to become their guest, but he preferred remaining with his old friend. At Delhi he held a long conversazione at which many distinguished persons were present.
Together with Mr. and Mrs. Sevier and his Gurubhiis and disciples, he visited all the memorable ruins and monuments of the past glories of the Mogul Emperors, which are scattered all round Delhi within a radius of a few miles. Says one who accompanied him: “He vivified the past before us. Indeed, we forgot the present in the past and lived with dead Emperors and mighty Kings of old.”
The Swami then went to Alwar where he was accorded a great reception. During his sojourn there, he was lodged with his disciples in one of the residences belonging to the Maharaja, which had been secured by the Swami *s followers in Alwar for the purpose. He had several interviews with the principal officials, the Maharaja being at the time unavoidably absent from the State. But the chief attraction of his visit lay in meeting once again his intimate friends and disciples with whom he had passed many a day of his Parivrajaka life. His present visit was full of touching episodes which revealed the true Sannyasin he was. For instance, at the railway station, when the reception ceremony was going on and he was surrounded by prominent men, he espied one of his poor but devoted disciples, dressed in humble garb standing at a distance. The Swami without caring for the formalities of reception or for etiquette called aloud, “Ramasnehi! Ramasnehi!” – for that was the name of the man – and having had him brought before him through the crowd of the notables enquired about his welfare and that of his other friends, and talked with him freely as of old. This instance brings to mind a similar occurrence in Madras. During the procession, the Swami, while seated in his carriage of honour, saw Swami Sadananda standing amidst the huge mass that crowded the streets. He at once shouted out: “Come Sadananda I Come, my boy! ” And he made this disciple sit with him in the same carriage.
Among the invitations to dinner that he accepted during his short stay in Alwar was one from an old woman, who had entertained the Swami to Bhikshi at her house on his former visit. But in her case, the Swami invited himself sending word to her that he longed for some of the thick Chapatis (unleavened bread) he had had from her hands years ago! Her heart was
filled with joy and when she was serving her guests she said to the Swami, “Poor as I am, where shall I get delicacies to give you, my son, howsoever I may wish! ” The Swami relished this simple meal saying to his disciples more than once, “Look here! How devout, how motherly this old woman is! How Sattvic are these thick Chapatis made by herself! ” The Swami knowing her poverty, unknown to her, thrust into the hand of the guardian of the house a hundred-rupee note.
In reporting the Swami’s visit to Khctri, Swami Sadananda writes as follows to the Brahmavddin on December 12:
“. . . . His Highness the Raja of KheLri ordered all the necessary and convenient arrangements on the way from Khctri to Jaipur, and himself drove a distance of twelve miles to receive the Swami. The whole town of Khetri was filled with joy and enthusiasm. The citizens arranged for a grand dinner and brilliant illumination and fireworks in honour of His Highness’ successful return from his travels in England and on the Continent, as well as for the advent of Swamiji, whose arrival on such an occasion was looked upon as a Godsend, and doubled the enthusiasm in the hearts of the whole public. His Highness and the Swami were presented with addresses to which were given suitable replies. . . .
“On December 11, there was an assemblage in the school premises where both the Raja and the Swami were given numerous addresses from different committees. The Ramakrishna Mission, Calcutta, the Education Department, Khetri, and the local Young Men’s Debating Club, were among those who presented addresses to the Raja. Then many short poems, some of them especially composed in honour of the Raja, were recited by the young boys of the school. Swramiji distributed the Prizes to the meritorious students at the request of the President, the Raja. The Raja made a brief reply to the addresses presented to him, thanking especially the Raina-krishna Mission, for the Chief of the Mission w’as present there …. Afterwards, Swamiji delivered a brief speech with his usual fluency, in which he thanked the Raja and spoke of him highly, saying that what little he had done for the improvement of India was done through the Raja’s instrumentality.”
At the reception, his subjects presented the Maharaja, as is customary on such occasions, with five trays full of gold Mohurs, the greater part of which he donated to educational institutions in his state. Then all the officials and subjects present came before the Swami, one by one, in turn, bowed and presented him with two rupees each. This function lasted for three thousand rupees which was sent to the Math in charge of Swamis Sadananda and Sachchidananda (senior).
On December 20, the Swami delivered a lecture on “Vedantism” in the hall of the Maharaja’s bungalow in which he lodged with his disciples. The audience consisted of the principal gentlemen of the place. Some European ladies and gentlemen were also present. The Swami spoke for more than an hour and a half about ancient civilisations – the Greek and the Aryan. He than traced the influence of Indian thought on Europe, in Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and the Egyptian neo-Platonists, and showed how it even entered Spain, Germany and other European countries at different periods of history down to our own times. He discussed the Vedas and the Vedic mythology and explained the different ideas and stages of worship found therein, in the course of which he pointed out that behind them all stood as the background the idea, “Ekam Sad Vipra Bahudha Vadanti” – ”That which exists is One, sages call It variously.” Continuing he said that, unlike the Greeks, the Aryans, dissatisfied with external nature, had gone into the Inner Self and solved the problem of life by Self-realisation. The Swami then passed on to the consideration of the Dualistic, Qualified-monistic, and Advaitic theories, and reconciled them by saying that they were but steps leading to the final evolution of Advaitism, the last step being “Tat Tvam Asi” – “Thou art That.” He deplored the system of text-torturing, of which even the greatest commentators were guilty. Ramanuja had distorted the Advaita texts of the Upanishads, while Shankara had done the same with the Dvaita texts. Proceeding further, the Swami regretted that in modem India, “The people are neither Hindus, nor Vedantins, they are merely ‘don’t-touchists’ ; the kitchen is their temple, and cooking-pots their object of worship. This state of things must go. The sooner it is given up, the better for our religion. Let the Upanishads shine in their glory, and at the same time let not quarrels exist among the different sects.”
The Swami had to rest in the middle of his speech, so exhausted was he ; the audience waited patiently until he was
able to resume. He spoke for another half hour, and explained that knowledge was the finding of unity in diversity, and that the highest point in every science was reached when it found the one unity underlying all variety, and this was as true in physical science as in the spiritual. The Swami closed his address with a tribute to the noble character of the Maharaja who, as a true Kshatriya, had assisted him so materially in spreading the Eternal Truths of Hinduism in the West. The lecture made a lasting impression on the people of Khetri.
To the Swami, at Khetri, work was both pleasure and rest. Besides lecturing and attending to public functions in his honour he spent the time in riding and sight-seeing with his companions and his royal disciple. A curious incident happened here. When the Maharaja and the Swami were out riding one day, they passed a narrow pathway with overhanging branches of trees and prickly shrubs. The Maharaja just held a branch of one of the shrubs to make way for the Swami. But the Swami did not like his being helped in this way, as he thought it was rather deprecatory of his manhood, and remarked to this effect to the Maharaja. But the Maharaja gave the significant reply, “Well, Swamiji, it has been the duty of Kshatriyas to protect Dharma always,” to which the Swami remarked after a short period of silence, “Perhaps you are right.”
Next the Swami is seen passing rapidly through Kishen-garh, Ajmere, Jodhpur and Indore on his Way to Khandwa. At Jodhpur he was the guest of the Prime Minister, Raja Sir Pratap Singh, for about ten days. When he arrived at Khandwa in Indore, as the guest of Babu Haridas Chatterjee, he had high fever, but he soon got over it. After a stay of about a week he left Khandwa for Calcutta. The night before he left, his host pressed him for initiation. He firmly held the Swami’s feet and implored him to give him Mantra. The Swami avoided, saying that he did not care to make Chelas and raise the standard of religious or social Gurudom. He, however, advised his host to remember the simple truth, so often repeated, that man can do what man has done. “Man’s constitution,” he said, “embodies divine omnipotence and this should be realised and set up as the model of all human action.”
The Swami must have had reasons of his own for not gratifying the earnest and pious desire of his kind host, for it is a fact that he had made disciples before and after, though not without making a thorough study of their personalities. As a true teacher he gave special instructions to different individuals according to their religious temperaments and tendencies. Thus to one he would speak of Bhakti, to another of Jnana, as the highest ideal, but insisted that everyone should stand on his own legs and rely on himself if he wanted to bring to fruition the highest possibilities of his nature.
The Swami had now almost finished his lecturing campaign in India, during which he outlined his plans to bring about a rehabilitation of the Dharma. He pointed out to the nation the points where they were in agreement and on which they could build their glorious future much more glorious than the past. He showed to them the value and significance of the culture they had inherited from their ancestors – a culture in comparison with which any other civilisation, past or present, pales into insignificance – till their hearts throbbed at the very name of India. He pointed out clearly that the Indian nationalism was to be based on the greatness of the past though various new things also had to be assimilated in the process of growth. If we have to be true to the genius of the race, if we have to appeal to the soul of the nation, we have to drink deep of the fountain of the past and then proceed to build the future. This heritage from the past, he pointed out, was essentially a religious heritage. The main current of life in India flowed in the field of religion and from this were supplied the demands of the nation iri all departments of life ; more than once religion had come to the rescue of the life secular. Religion had released in the past political forces when the old ones were found wanting. The fundamental problem in India therefore was to organise the whole country round the spiritual ideal. By religion he meant the eternal principles as taught by the Shrutis and not the superstitions and local customs, which are mere accretions showed that the nation depended upon the character and qualities of its individual members. On the strength of the individuals lay the strength of the whole nation. So each individual, he urged, if he desired the good of the nation as a whole, should try, whatever might be the walk of his life, to build character, acquire such virtues as courage, strength, self-respect, love and service for others. To the young men especially he held out renunciation and service as the highest ideals.
Having finished the lecturing tour the Swami returned to Calcutta, where other aspects of his mission kept him engaged – notably the training of his own disciples, the moulding of their characters so as to enable them to carry into practice his plans for the regeneration of the nation.