swami vivekananda in love with america,..... tabasco sauce,......... , and chocolate ice cream


Swami Vivekanand ji fell in love with America.
He said it was where his heart was, and he loved the "Yankee-land" as he called it.
He said he liked to see new things, not the old ruins of Europe. He felt that America was the place, the people and the opportunity for everything. He may have upset the reporter, when in London he said,
"The American civilization is in my opinion, a very great one. I find the American mind peculiarly susceptible to new ideas, nothing is rejected because it is new. It is examined on its own merits.

" He told people in Calcutta: "America is where, more than anywhere else, the feeling of brotherhood has been developed. An American meets you for five minutes on board a train and you are his friend, and the next moment he invites you as a guest to his house and opens his whole home to you.
He spoke particularly of our women: "Their kindness to me it would take me years to tell. "They are the life and soul of this country" he remarked, and said he could never repay his debt of gratitude to them.
http://www.vedanta-atlanta.org/articles/vivekananda/america.html
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

whether you like it or not.’ You have heard of Swamiji experiencing nirvikalpa samàdhi in New
Hampshire, in Camp Percy near Francis Leggett’s cottage. I see Vivekananda eagerly waiting at the
dinner table for his share of chocolate ice-cream!



     


 You think of Vivekananda giving spellbinding lecture at the Parliament of Religions followed by a thunderous applause from the audience. I see him going back to Michigan in Bagley’s house and pouring a generous amount of Tabasco sauce on his bland American food to suit his palate.


Then I can visualize him taking Cornelia, the granddaughter of his friend, on his lap and telling her 


+++++++++++++++++++++++
the paragraph from the full storey, in this blog page is :
I would say a few words about Swamiji, strictly from my own perspective. Most of us are familiar with 
Swamiji’s meditative posture, sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, with his clasped hands placed on his 
lap. But have you ever visualized Swamiji sitting on a sofa next to a fireplace on a cold snowy 
afternoon in Minneapolis after taking a sleigh ride in the park, smoking a cigar, blowing smoke-rings 
above his head and talking about Wordsworth’s or Longfellow’s literary creations? I have. You have 
heard about a calm and serene Vivekananda, sitting cross-legged under the pine tree in Greenacre, 
Maine, and expounding Advaita Vedanta. Have you ever visualized him losing his cool and snubbing a 
person? That happened in a Boston house where he gave a lecture. After the lecture, a lady confronted 
him and said, ‘Swami, I don’t like your religion. It doesn’t have love in it.’ Swami Vivekananda 
responded in a heated tone, ‘Madam, I didn’t make Hindu religion. I am just here to expound it, 
whether you like it or not.’ You have heard of Swamiji experiencing nirvikalpa samàdhi in New 
Hampshire, in Camp Percy near Francis Leggett’s cottage. I see Vivekananda eagerly waiting at the 
dinner table for his share of chocolate ice-cream! You think of Vivekananda giving spellbinding lecture at the Parliament of Religions followed by a thunderous applause from the audience. I see him going back to Michigan in Bagley’s house and pouring a generous amount of Tabasco sauce on his bland American food to suit his palate. 

Then I can visualize him taking Cornelia, the granddaughter of his friend, on his lap and telling her 
stories from the Pancatantra. Thus, I see the human side of Vivekananda and I can feel good because I 
can relate him to our familiar life-stream. I can revere, admire and prostrate before the spiritual 
Vivekananda, but I love this human Vivekananda; not that I love spiritual Vivekananda any less, but I 
love human Vivekananda more. Of course, I have to admit that it is his spiritual side that makes his 
human side exceedingly appealing. He was truly a fusion of the East and the West, a synthesis of 
spirituality and humanity. 

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@



http://indiantake.blogspot.com/2009/09/swami-vivekananda-at-chicago.html

Saturday, October 03, 2009
Swami Vivekananda at Chicago
11 September 1893, Chicago - The World Parliament of Religions: Sisters and Brothers of America, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world. I thank you in the name of the mother of religions. I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. It was not a speech. It was the roar of a lion. The world would never see India the same way again. Indians would never see themselves the same way again. All because of one man. Narendranath Dutta, aka Swami Vivekananda. A proud representative of a 5000-year-old civilisation (India). A proud representative of a 5000-year-old way of life (Hinduism). Today, more than 115 years after that historic day, let us reaffirm our loyalty to our civilisation and our way of life.

http://greathindu.com/2010/02/swami-vivekananda-is-the-father-of-indian-science-heres-why/
Book By Deepak Kamat
Controversy
Conversion
Great Hindu
Hindutva
Internationalism
Islam
Media
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA IS THE FATHER OF INDIAN SCIENCE. HERE’S WHY?
February 27th, 2010 7 Comments Posted in Great Hindu
I was very glad to hear that Tatas are going to bring out cheap housing — one room-kitchen houses for just under Rs. 4 lakhs. Even I am a houseless dispossessed soul in Mother India’s lap… Maybe I will apply for one.
The seat of Tata Sons Chairman might be somewhat like the Vikramaditya Chair. Jamshedji was a visionary blessed by the Tatas. After that Naval Tata and Jamshedji also strode like collossus. I thought Ratan Tata would be a broken-man given the disparate empire he had to lead. However Ratan Tata consolidated his position.
Finally, let me tell you. It is Swami Vivekananda who is the father of Indian Industry and science. If not for the Swami, I shudder to think what would have happened.
Yes, there are companies larger than the Tatas. There are the Ambanis and Mittals.. but they don’t have values. Tatas have placed the nation and humanity much more higher than profits. No doubt, it is the Swami’s vision that is working.
Here is what Dr. Abdul Kalam (India’s President) says about their meeting.. very significant words!
At this point let me share the meeting between Swami Vivekananda and Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata during a ship journey. It happened in 1893. A ship was sailing Japan to USA. There were hundreds of people in that ship including two significant personalities. Swami Vivekananda and Jamshedji Tata were in that ship. Swamiji asked Jamshedji for what mission he was traveling. Jamshedji said that he wanted to bring steel industry to India. Swami Vivekanda blessed him. He suggested steel technology had two components – one is steel science and the other is manufacturing technology. What can you bring to this country in material technology – you will have to build material science within the country. Jamshedji was thinking and thinking and made a decision. Earlier when Jamshedji went to London he asked for technology transfer for Steel Plant. UK steel manufacturers looked at Jamshedji and said that if Indians make steel, Britishers will eat it. Jamshedji crossed Atlantic Ocean, talked to Americans and brought manufacturing technology for steel. And the Tata Steel was established in Jamshedpur. He seeded and worked for the steel plant. Jamshedji is not there now, but 7 million tones per annum steel is rolling out. The visionary Jamshedji gave one portion of his asset for starting a science institute today known as Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore. The message I would like to convey to this audience, dream gives vision, Vision gives thoughts and thought leads to actions. Jamshedji brought two establishment to this country – first one was steel plant and the other was an educational research institution. Hence have a goal, persevere and work hard to succeed.
Now you will realise the significance of the letter from Jamshedji to Swami Vivekananda. A visionary like Jamshedji with the blessing of Swamiji established Indian Institute of Science in 1905 with his funds. The IISc born out of a vision of great minds is the foremost scientific research institution providing post graduate education. This institution as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda dreamt, has one of the best material science lab., providing the best of research results for development and production of material for various R&D labs and industries. Also Indian Institute of Science is a world class institution in various areas for physics, aerospace technology, knowledge products, bio-science and bio-technology. This is the one institution where convergence of technology like bio-technology, information technology and nano-technology is emerging. The results will have tremendous influence in improving solar cell efficiency and healthcare, particularly drug delivery system. This institution also participated in the research and development of space programmes, defence programmes and also many societal missions.
Jamshetji Tata’s letter to Swami Vivekananda
Dear Swami Vivekananda ,
I trust, you remember me as a fellow -traveller on your voyage from Japan to Chicago. I very much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India, and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels.
I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of Research Institute of Science for India, of which you have doubtless heard or read. It seems to me that no better use can be made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency, and devote their lives to the cultivation of sciences – natural and humanistic. I am of opinion that, if such a crusade in favour of an asceticism of this kind were undertaken by a competent leader, it would greatly help asceticism, science, and the good name of our common country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of galvanazing into life our traditions in this respect? Perhaps you had better begin with a fiery pamphlet rousing our people in this matter. I should cheerfully defray all the expenses of publication.
23rd November 1898
Jamshedji N Tata’

*****************************************



http://www.archive.org/stream/completeworksoft029662mbp/completeworksoft029662mbp_djvu.txt

http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/complete_works.htm

Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
Introduction
Volume 1
Addresses at The Parliament of Religions

Response to Welcome
Why We Disagree
Paper on Hinduism
Religion not the Crying Need of India
Buddhism, the Fulfilment of Hinduism
Address at the Final Session

Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5
Volume 6
Volume 7
Volume 8
Volume 9
Unpublished
Appendices


Home / Complete-Works /
INTRODUCTION

OUR MASTER AND HIS MESSAGE

In the four volumes (Now in nine volumes — Ed.) of the works of the Swami Vivekananda which are to compose the present edition, we have what is not only a gospel to the world at large, but also to its own children, the Charter of the Hindu Faith. What Hinduism needed, amidst the general disintegration of the modern era, was a rock where she could lie at anchor, an authoritative utterance in which she might recognise her self. And this was given to her, in these words and writings of the Swami Vivekananda.

For the first time in history, as has been said elsewhere, Hinduism itself forms here the subject of generalisation of a Hindu mind of the highest order. For ages to come the Hindu man who would verify, the Hindu mother who would teach her children, what was the faith of their ancestors will turn to the pages of these books for assurance and light. Long after the English language has disappeared from India, the gift that has here been made, through that language, to the world, will remain and bear its fruit in East and West alike. What Hinduism had needed, was the organising and consolidating of its own idea. What the world had needed was a faith that had no fear of truth. Both these are found here. Nor could any greater proof have been given of the eternal vigour of the Sanâtana Dharma, of the fact that India is as great in the present as ever in the past, than this rise of the individual who, at the critical moment, gathers up and voices the communal consciousness.

That India should have found her own need satisfied only in carrying to the humanity outside her borders the bread of life is what might have been foreseen. Nor did it happen on this occasion for the first time. It was once before in sending out to the sister lands the message of a nation-making faith that India learnt as a whole to understand the greatness of her own thought — a self-unification that gave birth to modern Hinduism itself. Never may we allow it to be forgotten that on Indian soil first was heard the command from a Teacher to His disciples: "Go ye out into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature!" It is the same thought, the same impulse of love, taking to itself a new shape, that is uttered by the lips of the Swami Vivekananda, when to a great gathering in the West he says: "If one religion true, then all the others also must be true. Thus the Hindu faith is yours as much as mine." And again, in amplification of the same idea: "We Hindus do not merely tolerate, we unite ourselves with every religion, praying in the mosque of the Mohammedan, worshipping before the fire of the Zoroastrian, and kneeling to the cross of the Christian. We know that all religions alike, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, are but so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realise the Infinite. So we gather all these flowers, and, binding them together with the cord of love, make them into a wonderful bouquet of worship." To the heart of this speaker, none was foreign or alien. For him, there existed only Humanity and Truth.

Of the Swami's address before the Parliament of Religions, it may be said that when he began to speak it was of "the religious ideas of the Hindus", but when he ended, Hinduism had been created. The moment was ripe with this potentiality. The vast audience that faced him represented exclusively the occidental mind, but included some development of all that in this was most distinctive. Every nation in Europe has poured in its human contribution upon America, and notably upon Chicago, where the Parliament was held. Much of the best, as well as some of the worst, of modern effort and struggle, is at all times to be met with, within the frontiers of that Western Civic Queen, whose feet are upon the shores of Lake Michigan, as she sits and broods, with the light of the North in her eyes. There is very little in the modern consciousness, very little inherited from the past of Europe, that does not hold some outpost in the city of Chicago. And while the teeming life and eager interests of that centre may seem to some of us for the present largely a chaos, yet they are undoubtedly making for the revealing of some noble and slow-wrought ideal of human unity, when the days of their ripening shall be fully accomplished.

Such was the psychological area, such the sea of mind, young, tumultuous, overflowing with its own energy and self-assurance, yet inquisitive and alert withal, which confronted Vivekananda when he rose to speak. Behind him, on the contrary, lay an ocean, calm with long ages of spiritual development. Behind him lay a world that dated itself from the Vedas, and remembered itself in the Upanishads, a world to which Buddhism was almost modern; a world that was filled with religious systems of faiths and creeds; a quiet land, steeped in the sunlight of the tropics, the dust of whose roads had been trodden by the feet of the saints for ages upon ages. Behind him, in short, lay India, with her thousands of years of national development, in which she had sounded many things, proved many things, and realised almost all, save only her own perfect unanimity, from end to end of her great expanse of time and space, as to certain fundamental and essential truths, held by all her people in common.

These, then, were the two mind-floods, two immense rivers of thought, as it were, Eastern and modern, of which the yellow-clad wanderer on the platform of the Parliament of Religions formed for a moment the point of confluence. The formulation of the common bases of Hinduism was the inevitable result of the shock of their contact, in a personality, so impersonal. For it was no experience of his own that rose to the lips of the Swami Vivekananda there. He did not even take advantage of the occasion to tell the story of his Master. Instead of either of these, it was the religious consciousness of India that spoke through him, the message of his whole people, as determined by their whole past. And as he spoke, in the youth and noonday of the West, a nation, sleeping in the shadows of the darkened half of earth, on the far side of the Pacific, waited in spirit for the words that would be borne on the dawn that was travelling towards them, to reveal to them the secret of their own greatness and strength.

Others stood beside the Swami Vivekananda, on the same platform as he, as apostles of particular creeds and churches. But it was his glory that he came to preach a religion to which each of these was, in his own words, "only a travelling, a coming up, of different men, and women, through various conditions and circumstances to the same goal". He stood there, as he declared, to tell of One who had said of them all, not that one or another was true, in this or that respect, or for this or that reason, but that "All these are threaded upon Me, as pearls upon a string. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power, raising and purifying humanity, know thou that I am there." To the Hindu, says Vivekananda, "Man is not travelling from error to truth, but climbing up from truth to truth, from truth that is lower to truth that is higher." This, and the teaching of Mukti — the doctrine that "man is to become divine by realising the divine," that religion is perfected in us only when it has led us to "Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever-changing world, that One who is the only soul, of which all souls are but delusive manifestations" — may be taken as the two great outstanding truths which, authenticated by the longest and most complex experience in human history, India proclaimed through him to the modern world of the West.

For India herself, the short address forms, as has been said, a brief Charter of Enfranchisement. Hinduism in its wholeness the speaker bases on the Vedas, but he spiritualises our conception of the word, even while he utters it. To him, all that is true is Veda. "By the Vedas," he says, "no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times." Incidentally, he discloses his conception of the Sanatana Dharma. "From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the lowest ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists, and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu's religion." To his mind, there could be no sect, no school, no sincere religious experience of the Indian people — however like an aberration it might seem to the individual — that might rightly be excluded from the embrace of Hinduism. And of this Indian Mother-Church, according to him, the distinctive doctrine is that of the Ishta Devatâ, the right of each soul to choose its own path, and to seek God in its own way. No army, then, carries the banner of so wide an Empire as that of Hinduism, thus defined. For as her spiritual goal is the finding of God, even so is her spiritual rule the perfect freedom of every soul to be itself.

Yet would not this inclusion of all, this freedom of each, be the glory of Hinduism that it is, were it not for her supreme call, of sweetest promise: "Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that dwell in higher spheres! For I have found that Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion. And knowing Him, ye also shall be saved from death." Here is the word for the sake of which all the rest exists and has existed. Here is the crowning realisation, into which all others are resolvable. When, in his lecture on "The Work Before Us," the Swami adjures all to aid him in the building of a temple wherein every worshipper in the land can worship, a temple whose shrine shall contain only the word Om, there are some of us who catch in the utterance the glimpse of a still greater temple — India herself, the Motherland, as she already exists — and see the paths, not of the Indian churches alone, but of all Humanity, converging there, at the foot of that sacred place wherein is set the symbol that is no symbol, the name that is beyond all sound. It is to this, and not away from it, that all the paths of all the worships and all the religious systems lead. India is at one with the most puritan faiths of the world in her declaration that progress is from seen to unseen, from the many to the One, from the low to the high, from the form to the formless, and never in the reverse direction. She differs only in having a word of sympathy and promise for every sincere conviction, wherever and whatever it may be, as constituting a step in the great ascent.

The Swami Vivekananda would have been less than he was, had anything in this Evangel of Hinduism been his own. Like the Krishna of the Gitâ, like Buddha, like Shankarâchârya, like every great teacher that Indian thought has known, his sentences are laden with quotations from the Vedas and Upanishads. He stands merely as the Revealer, the Interpreter to India of the treasures that she herself possesses in herself. The truths he preaches would have been as true, had he never been born. Nay more, they would have been equally authentic. The difference would have lain in their difficulty of access, in their want of modern clearness and incisiveness of statement, and in their loss of mutual coherence and unity. Had he not lived, texts that today will carry the bread of life to thousands might have remained the obscure disputes of scholars. He taught with authority, and not as one of the Pandits. For he himself had plunged to the depths of the realisation which he preached, and he came back like Ramanuja only to tell its secrets to the pariah, the outcast, and the foreigner.

And yet this statement that his teaching holds nothing new is not absolutely true. It must never be forgotten that it was the Swami Vivekananda who, while proclaiming the sovereignty of the Advaita Philosophy, as including that experience in which all is one, without a second, also added to Hinduism the doctrine that Dvaita, Vishishtâdvaita, and Advaita are but three phases or stages in a single development, of which the last-named constitutes the goal. This is part and parcel of the still greater and more simple doctrine that the many and the One are the same Reality, perceived by the mind at different times and in different attitudes; or as Sri Ramakrishna expressed the same thing, "God is both with form and without form. And He is that which includes both form and formlessness."

It is this which adds its crowning significance to our Master's life, for here he becomes the meeting-point, not only of East and West, but also of past and future. If the many and the One be indeed the same Reality, then it is not all modes of worship alone, but equally all modes of work, all modes of struggle, all modes of creation, which are paths of realisation. No distinction, henceforth, between sacred and secular. To labour is to pray. To conquer is to renounce. Life is itself religion. To have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid.

This is the realisation which makes Vivekananda the great preacher of Karma, not as divorced from, but as expressing Jnâna and Bhakti. To him, the workshop, the study, the farmyard, and the field are as true and fit scenes for the meeting of God with man as the cell of the monk or the door of the temple. To him, there is no difference between service of man and worship of God, between manliness and faith, between true righteousness and spirituality. All his words, from one point of view, read as a commentary upon this central conviction. "Art, science, and religion", he said once, "are but three different ways of expressing a single truth. But in order to understand this we must have the theory of Advaita."

The formative influence that went to the determining of his vision may perhaps be regarded as threefold. There was, first, his literary education, in Sanskrit and English. The contrast between the two worlds thus opened to him carried with it a strong impression of that particular experience which formed the theme of the Indian sacred books. It was evident that this, if true at all, had not been stumbled upon by Indian sages, as by some others, in a kind of accident. Rather was it the subject-matter of a science, the object of a logical analysis that shrank from no sacrifice which the pursuit of truth demanded.

In his Master, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, living and teaching in the temple-garden at Dakshineshwar, the Swami Vivekananda — "Naren" as he then was — found that verification of the ancient texts which his heart and his reason had demanded. Here was the reality which the books only brokenly described. Here was one to whom Samâdhi was a constant mode of knowledge. Every hour saw the swing of the mind from the many to the One. Every moment heard the utterance of wisdom gathered superconsciously. Everyone about him caught the vision of the divine. Upon the disciple came the desire for supreme knowledge "as if it had been a fever". Yet he who was thus the living embodiment of the books was so unconsciously, for he had read none of them! In his Guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda found the key to life.

Even now, however, the preparation for his own task was not complete. He had yet to wander throughout the length and breadth of India, from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, mixing with saints and scholars and simple souls alike, learning from all, teaching to all, and living with all, seeing India as she was and is, and so grasping in its comprehensiveness that vast whole, of which his Master's life and personality had been a brief and intense epitome.

These, then — the Shâstras, the Guru, and the Mother­land — are the three notes that mingle themselves to form the music of the works of Vivekananda. These are the treasure which it is his to offer. These furnish him with the ingredients whereof he compounds the world's heal-all of his spiritual bounty. These are the three lights burning within that single lamp which India by his hand lighted and set up, for the guidance of her own children and of the world in the few years of work between September 19, 1893 and July 4, 1902. And some of us there are, who, for the sake of that lighting, and of this record that he has left behind him, bless the land that bore him and the hands of those who sent him forth, and believe that not even yet has it been given to us to understand the vastness and significance of the message that he spoke.

RESPONSE TO WELCOME

At the World's Parliament of Religions, Chicago11th September, 1893

Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.” Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.


Second speech
Home / Complete-Works / Volume 1 / Addresses at The Parliament of Religions /
<<
WHY WE DISAGREE
15th September, 1893
I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, "Let us cease from abusing each other," and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.
But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story's sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.
"Where are you from?"
"I am from the sea."
"The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?" and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.
"My friend," said the frog of the sea, "how do you compare the sea with your little well?”
Then the frog took another leap and asked, "Is your sea so big?"
"What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!"
"Well, then," said the frog of the well, "nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out."
That has been the difficulty all the while.
I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in the future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

third speech
PAPER ON HINDUISM
Read at the Parliament on 19th September, 1893
Three religions now stand in the world which have come down to us from time prehistoric — Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. They have all received tremendous shocks and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength. But while Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of birth by its all-conquering daughter, and a handful of Parsees is all that remains to tell the tale of their grand religion, sect after sect arose in India and seemed to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very foundations, but like the waters of the seashore in a tremendous earthquake it receded only for a while, only to return in an all-absorbing flood, a thousand times more vigorous, and when the tumult of the rush was over, these sects were all sucked in, absorbed, and assimilated into the immense body of the mother faith.From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists, and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu's religion.Where then, the question arises, where is the common centre to which all these widely diverging radii converge? Where is the common basis upon which all these seemingly hopeless contradictions rest? And this is the question I shall attempt to answer.The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. It may sound ludicrous to this audience, how a book can be without beginning or end. But by the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.
The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis, and we honour them as perfected beings. I am glad to tell this audience that some of the very greatest of them were women. Here it may be said that these laws as laws may be without end, but they must have had a beginning. The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or end. Science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form in God. In that case God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make Him mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So God would die, which is absurd. Therefore there never was a time when there was no creation.If I may be allowed to use a simile, creation and creator are two lines, without beginning and without end, running parallel to each other. God is the ever active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time and again destroyed. This is what the Brâhmin boy repeats every day: "The sun and the moon, the Lord created like the suns and moons of previous cycles." And this agrees with modern science.Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, "I", "I", "I", what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare, “No”. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die. Some are born happy, enjoy perfect health, with beautiful body, mental vigour and all wants supplied. Others are born miserable, some are without hands or feet, others again are idiots and only drag on a wretched existence. Why, if they are all created, why does a just and merciful God create one happy and another unhappy, why is He so partial? Nor would it mend matters in the least to hold that those who are miserable in this life will be happy in a future one. Why should a man be miserable even here in the reign of a just and merciful God?In the second place, the idea of a creator God does not explain the anomaly, but simply expresses the cruel fiat of an all-powerful being. There must have been causes, then, before his birth, to make a man miserable or happy and those were his past actions.Are not all the tendencies of the mind and the body accounted for by inherited aptitude? Here are two parallel lines of existence — one of the mind, the other of matter. If matter and its transformations answer for all that we have, there is no necessity for supposing the existence of a soul. But it cannot be proved that thought has been evolved out of matter, and if a philosophical monism is inevitable, spiritual monism is certainly logical and no less desirable than a materialistic monism; but neither of these is necessary here.We cannot deny that bodies acquire certain tendencies from heredity, but those tendencies only mean the physical configuration, through which a peculiar mind alone can act in a peculiar way. There are other tendencies peculiar to a soul caused by its past actions. And a soul with a certain tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body which is the fittest instrument for the display of that tendency. This is in accord with science, for science wants to explain everything by habit, and habit is got through repetitions. So repetitions are necessary to explain the natural habits of a new-born soul. And since they were not obtained in this present life, they must have come down from past lives.There is another suggestion. Taking all these for granted, how is it that I do not remember anything of my past life ? This can be easily explained. I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness; but let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would be conscious even of your past life.This is direct and demonstrative evidence. Verification is the perfect proof of a theory, and here is the challenge thrown to the world by the Rishis. We have discovered the secret by which the very depths of the ocean of memory can be stirred up — try it and you would get a complete reminiscence of your past life.So then the Hindu believes that he is a spirit. Him the sword cannot pierce — him the fire cannot burn — him the water cannot melt — him the air cannot dry. The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is located in the body, and that death means the change of this centre from body to body. Nor is the soul bound by the conditions of matter. In its very essence it is free, unbounded, holy, pure, and perfect. But somehow or other it finds itself tied down to matter, and thinks of itself as matter.Why should the free, perfect, and pure being be thus under the thraldom of matter, is the next question. How can the perfect soul be deluded into the belief that it is imperfect? We have been told that the Hindus shirk the question and say that no such question can be there. Some thinkers want to answer it by positing one or more quasi-perfect beings, and use big scientific names to fill up the gap. But naming is not explaining. The question remains the same. How can the perfect become the quasi-perfect; how can the pure, the absolute, change even a microscopic particle of its nature? But the Hindu is sincere. He does not want to take shelter under sophistry. He is brave enough to face the question in a manly fashion; and his answer is: “I do not know. I do not know how the perfect being, the soul, came to think of itself as imperfect, as joined to and conditioned by matter." But the fact is a fact for all that. It is a fact in everybody's consciousness that one thinks of oneself as the body. The Hindu does not attempt to explain why one thinks one is the body. The answer that it is the will of God is no explanation. This is nothing more than what the Hindu says, "I do not know."Well, then, the human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite, and death means only a change of centre from one body to another. The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present. The soul will go on evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. But here is another question: Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions — a powerless, helpless wreck in an ever-raging, ever-rushing, uncompromising current of cause and effect; a little moth placed under the wheel of causation which rolls on crushing everything in its way and waits not for the widow's tears or the orphan's cry? The heart sinks at the idea, yet this is the law of Nature. Is there no hope? Is there no escape? — was the cry that went up from the bottom of the heart of despair. It reached the throne of mercy, and words of hope and consolation came down and inspired a Vedic sage, and he stood up before the world and in trumpet voice proclaimed the glad tidings: "Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone you shall be saved from death over again." "Children of immortal bliss" — what a sweet, what a hopeful name! Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name — heirs of immortal bliss — yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the Children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth — sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter. Thus it is that the Vedas proclaim not a dreadful combination of unforgiving laws, not an endless prison of cause and effect, but that at the head of all these laws, in and through every particle of matter and force, stands One "by whose command the wind blows, the fire burns, the clouds rain, and death stalks upon the earth."And what is His nature?He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All-merciful. "Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life." Thus sang the Rishis of the Vedas. And how to worship Him? Through love. "He is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life."This is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas, and let us see how it is fully developed and taught by Krishna, whom the Hindus believe to have been God incarnate on earth.He taught that a man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by water; so a man ought to live in the world — his heart to God and his hands to work.It is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love God for love's sake, and the prayer goes: "Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward — love unselfishly for love's sake." One of the disciples of Krishna, the then Emperor of India, was driven from his kingdom by his enemies and had to take shelter with his queen in a forest in the Himalayas, and there one day the queen asked him how it was that he, the most virtuous of men, should suffer so much misery. Yudhishthira answered, "Behold, my queen, the Himalayas, how grand and beautiful they are; I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore I love them. Similarly, I love the Lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love Him for love's sake. I cannot trade in love."The Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is therefore, Mukti — freedom, freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.And this bondage can only fall off through the mercy of God, and this mercy comes on the pure. So purity is the condition of His mercy. How does that mercy act? He reveals Himself to the pure heart; the pure and the stainless see God, yea, even in this life; then and then only all the crookedness of the heart is made straight. Then all doubt ceases. He is no more the freak of a terrible law of causation. This is the very centre, the very vital conception of Hinduism. The Hindu does not want to live upon words and theories. If there are existences beyond the ordinary sensuous existence, he wants to come face to face with them. If there is a soul in him which is not matter, if there is an all-merciful universal Soul, he will go to Him direct. He must see Him, and that alone can destroy all doubts. So the best proof a Hindu sage gives about the soul, about God, is: "I have seen the soul; I have seen God." And that is the only condition of perfection. The Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realising — not in believing, but in being and becoming.Thus the whole object of their system is by constant struggle to become perfect, to become divine, to reach God and see God, and this reaching God, seeing God, becoming perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect, constitutes the religion of the Hindus.And what becomes of a man when he attains perfection? He lives a life of bliss infinite. He enjoys infinite and perfect bliss, having obtained the only thing in which man ought to have pleasure, namely God, and enjoys the bliss with God.So far all the Hindus are agreed. This is the common religion of all the sects of India; but, then, perfection is absolute, and the absolute cannot be two or three. It cannot have any qualities. It cannot be an individual. And so when a soul becomes perfect and absolute, it must become one with Brahman, and it would only realise the Lord as the perfection, the reality, of its own nature and existence, the existence absolute, knowledge absolute, and bliss absolute. We have often and often read this called the losing of individuality and becoming a stock or a stone.“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.”I tell you it is nothing of the kind. If it is happiness to enjoy the consciousness of this small body, it must be greater happiness to enjoy the consciousness of two bodies, the measure of happiness increasing with the consciousness of an increasing number of bodies, the aim, the ultimate of happiness being reached when it would become a universal consciousness.Therefore, to gain this infinite universal individuality, this miserable little prison-individuality must go. Then alone can death cease when I am alone with life, then alone can misery cease when I am one with happiness itself, then alone can all errors cease when I am one with knowledge itself; and this is the necessary scientific conclusion. Science has proved to me that physical individuality is a delusion, that really my body is one little continuously changing body in an unbroken ocean of matter; and Advaita (unity) is the necessary conclusion with my other counterpart, soul.Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Thus Chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all other could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfill its services in discovering one energy of which all others are but manifestations, and the science of religion become perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the constant basis of an ever-changing world. One who is the only Soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, that the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science.All science is bound to come to this conclusion in the long run. Manifestation, and not creation, is the word of science today, and the Hindu is only glad that what he has been cherishing in his bosom for ages is going to be taught in more forcible language, and with further light from the latest conclusions of science.Descend we now from the aspirations of philosophy to the religion of the ignorant. At the very outset, I may tell you that there is no polytheism in India. In every temple, if one stands by and listens, one will find the worshippers applying all the attributes of God, including omnipresence, to the images. It is not polytheism, nor would the name henotheism explain the situation. "The rose called by any other name would smell as sweet." Names are not explanations.I remember, as a boy, hearing a Christian missionary preach to a crowd in India. Among other sweet things he was telling them was that if he gave a blow to their idol with his stick, what could it do? One of his hearers sharply answered, "If I abuse your God, what can He do?" “You would be punished,” said the preacher, "when you die." "So my idol will punish you when you die," retorted the Hindu.The tree is known by its fruits. When I have seen amongst them that are called idolaters, men, the like of whom in morality and spirituality and love I have never seen anywhere, I stop and ask myself, "Can sin beget holiness?"Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse. Why does a Christian go to church? Why is the cross holy? Why is the face turned toward the sky in prayer? Why are there so many images in the Catholic Church? Why are there so many images in the minds of Protestants when they pray? My brethren, we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing. By the law of association, the material image calls up the mental idea and vice versa. This is why the Hindu uses an external symbol when he worships. He will tell you, it helps to keep his mind fixed on the Being to whom he prays. He knows as well as you do that the image is not God, is not omnipresent. After all, how much does omnipresence mean to almost the whole world? It stands merely as a word, a symbol. Has God superficial area? If not, when we repeat that word "omnipresent", we think of the extended sky or of space, that is all.As we find that somehow or other, by the laws of our mental constitution, we have to associate our ideas of infinity with the image of the blue sky, or of the sea, so we naturally connect our idea of holiness with the image of a church, a mosque, or a cross. The Hindus have associated the idea of holiness, purity, truth, omnipresence, and such other ideas with different images and forms. But with this difference that while some people devote their whole lives to their idol of a church and never rise higher, because with them religion means an intellectual assent to certain doctrines and doing good to their fellows, the whole religion of the Hindu is centred in realisation. Man is to become divine by realising the divine. Idols or temples or churches or books are only the supports, the helps, of his spiritual childhood: but on and on he must progress.He must not stop anywhere. "External worship, material worship," say the scriptures, "is the lowest stage; struggling to rise high, mental prayer is the next stage, but the highest stage is when the Lord has been realised." Mark, the same earnest man who is kneeling before the idol tells you, "Him the Sun cannot express, nor the moon, nor the stars, the lightning cannot express Him, nor what we speak of as fire; through Him they shine." But he does not abuse any one's idol or call its worship sin. He recognises in it a necessary stage of life. "The child is father of the man." Would it be right for an old man to say that childhood is a sin or youth a sin?
If a man can realise his divine nature with the help of an image, would it be right to call that a sin? Nor even when he has passed that stage, should he call it an error. To the Hindu, man is not travelling from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lower to higher truth. To him all the religions, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, mean so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realise the Infinite, each determined by the conditions of its birth and association, and each of these marks a stage of progress; and every soul is a young eagle soaring higher and higher, gathering more and more strength, till it reaches the Glorious Sun.Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it. Every other religion lays down certain fixed dogmas, and tries to force society to adopt them. It places before society only one coat which must fit Jack and John and Henry, all alike. If it does not fit John or Henry, he must go without a coat to cover his body. The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realised, or thought of, or stated, through the relative, and the images, crosses, and crescents are simply so many symbols — so many pegs to hang the spiritual ideas on. It is not that this help is necessary for every one, but those that do not need it have no right to say that it is wrong. Nor is it compulsory in Hinduism.One thing I must tell you. Idolatry in India does not mean anything horrible. It is not the mother of harlots. On the other hand, it is the attempt of undeveloped minds to grasp high spiritual truths. The Hindus have their faults, they sometimes have their exceptions; but mark this, they are always for punishing their own bodies, and never for cutting the throats of their neighbours. If the Hindu fanatic burns himself on the pyre, he never lights the fire of Inquisition. And even this cannot be laid at the door of his religion any more than the burning of witches can be laid at the door of Christianity.To the Hindu, then, the whole world of religions is only a travelling, a coming up, of different men and women, through various conditions and circumstances, to the same goal. Every religion is only evolving a God out of the material man, and the same God is the inspirer of all of them. Why, then, are there so many contradictions? They are only apparent, says the Hindu. The contradictions come from the same truth adapting itself to the varying circumstances of different natures.It is the same light coming through glasses of different colours. And these little variations are necessary for purposes of adaptation. But in the heart of everything the same truth reigns. The Lord has declared to the Hindu in His incarnation as Krishna, "I am in every religion as the thread through a string of pearls. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power raising and purifying humanity, know thou that I am there." And what has been the result? I challenge the world to find, throughout the whole system of Sanskrit philosophy, any such expression as that the Hindu alone will be saved and not others. Says Vyasa, "We find perfect men even beyond the pale of our caste and creed." One thing more. How, then, can the Hindu, whose whole fabric of thought centres in God, believe in Buddhism which is agnostic, or in Jainism which is atheistic?The Buddhists or the Jains do not depend upon God; but the whole force of their religion is directed to the great central truth in every religion, to evolve a God out of man. They have not seen the Father, but they have seen the Son. And he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father also. This, brethren, is a short sketch of the religious ideas of the Hindus. The Hindu may have failed to carry out all his plans, but if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite like the God it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ, on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms, and find a place for, every human being, from the lowest grovelling savage not far removed from the brute, to the highest man towering by the virtues of his head and heart almost above humanity, making society stand in awe of him and doubt his human nature. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognise divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be created in aiding humanity to realise its own true, divine nature.Offer such a religion, and all the nations will follow you. Asoka's council was a council of the Buddhist faith. Akbar's, though more to the purpose, was only a parlour-meeting. It was reserved for America to proclaim to all quarters of the globe that the Lord is in every religion.May He who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Buddha of the Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heaven of the Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble idea! The star arose in the East; it travelled steadily towards the West, sometimes dimmed and sometimes effulgent, till it made a circuit of the world; and now it is again rising on the very horizon of the East, the borders of the Sanpo,* a thousandfold more effulgent than it ever was before.Hail, Columbia, motherland of liberty! It has been given to thee, who never dipped her hand in her neighbour’s blood, who never found out that the shortest way of becoming rich was by robbing one’s neighbours, it has been given to thee to march at the vanguard of civilisation with the flag of harmony.
>>
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
fourth speech
Home / Complete-Works / Volume 1 / Addresses at The Parliament of Religions /
<<
RELIGION NOT THE CRYING NEED OF INDIA
20th September, 1893

Christians must always be ready for good criticism, and I hardly think that you will mind if I make a little criticism. You Christians, who are so fond of sending out missionaries to save the soul of the heathen — why do you not try to save their bodies from starvation? In India, during the terrible famines, thousands died from hunger, yet you Christians did nothing. You erect churches all through India, but the crying evil in the East is not religion — they have religion enough — but it is bread that the suffering millions of burning India cry out for with parched throats. They ask us for bread, but we give them stones. It is an insult to a starving people to offer them religion; it is an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics. In India a priest that preached for money would lose caste and be spat upon by the people. I came here to seek aid for my impoverished people, and I fully realised how difficult it was to get help for heathens from Christians in a Christian land.
>>
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

fifth speech
Home / Complete-Works / Volume 1 / Addresses at The Parliament of Religions /
<<
BUDDHISM, THE FULFILMENT OF HINDUISM
26th September, 1893
I am not a Buddhist, as you have heard, and yet I am. If China, or Japan, or Ceylon follow the teachings of the Great Master, India worships him as God incarnate on earth. You have just now heard that I am going to criticise Buddhism, but by that I wish you to understand only this. Far be it from me to criticise him whom I worship as God incarnate on earth. But our views about Buddha are that he was not understood properly by his disciples. The relation between Hinduism (by Hinduism, I mean the religion of the Vedas) and what is called Buddhism at the present day is nearly the same as between Judaism and Christianity. Jesus Christ was a Jew, and Shâkya Muni was a Hindu. The Jews rejected Jesus Christ, nay, crucified him, and the Hindus have accepted Shâkya Muni as God and worship him. But the real difference that we Hindus want to show between modern Buddhism and what we should understand as the teachings of Lord Buddha lies principally in this: Shâkya Muni came to preach nothing new. He also, like Jesus, came to fulfil and not to destroy. Only, in the case of Jesus, it was the old people, the Jews, who did not understand him, while in the case of Buddha, it was his own followers who did not realise the import of his teachings. As the Jew did not understand the fulfilment of the Old Testament, so the Buddhist did not understand the fulfilment of the truths of the Hindu religion. Again, I repeat, Shâkya Muni came not to destroy, but he was the fulfilment, the logical conclusion, the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.The religion of the Hindus is divided into two parts: the ceremonial and the spiritual. The spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks.In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India, and the two castes become equal. In religion there is no caste; caste is simply a social institution. Shâkya Muni himself was a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large-heartedness to bring out the truths from the hidden Vedas and through them broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarising into practice — nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytising.The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha's Brahmins disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, "I am for the poor, for the people; let me speak in the tongue of the people." And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may be the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God.On the philosophic side the disciples of the Great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which every one, man or woman, clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls oneself a Buddhist in India, the land of its birth.But at the same time, Brahminism lost something — that reforming zeal, that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody, that wonderful heaven which Buddhism had brought to the masses and which had rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who wrote about India of that time was led to say that no Hindu was known to tell an untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realise what the separation has shown to us, that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beggars, and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahmins with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanising power of the Great Master.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

final speech

Home / Complete-Works / Volume 1 / Addresses at The Parliament of Religions /
<<
ADDRESS AT THE FINAL SESSION
27th September, 1893

The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labour.My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realised it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to his enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter. Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth; or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth. If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: "Help and not Fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."





ADDRESSES AT THE PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS
RESPONSE TO WELCOMEChicago, September 11,


Sisters and Brothers of America, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:
As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:
Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me.
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal
http://www.theuniversalwisdom.org/hinduism/welcome-address-vivekananda/

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
http://www.ascension-research.org/Parliament-of-Religions-1893.html
At the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Illinois

WHY WE DISAGREE
15th September, 1893
I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, "Let us cease from abusing each other", and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.
But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story's sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it eith an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well. "Where are you from?" "I am from the sea." "The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?" and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other. "My friend", said the frog of the sea, "how do you compare the sea with your little well?" Then the frog took another leap and asked, "Is your sea so big?" "What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well" "Well, then," said the frog of the well, "nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out."
That has been the difficulty all the while.
I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.
ADDRESS AT THE FINAL SESSION
27th September, 1893

The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor.
My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this unfearful dream and then realised it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.
Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of anyone of the religions and the destruction of others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, not a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: "Help and not Fight", "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."

XxXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX



http://www.boloji.com/people/03007.htm

Hinduism People
Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man
IntroductionRarely does humanity witness a combination of a great Guru (Spiritual Teacher) and equally capable Shishya (spiritual aspirant) as Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. Upanishads and the Gita do mention of such noble pairs, when the fully primed aspirant seeking higher knowledge humbly bows down to the Teacher, and says, "O sir, please tell me 'what is that by knowing which nothing else remains to be known'. Give me that, acquiring which all desires nullify. O gracious one, I surrender at your feet; please tell me what is right for me." And the compassionate Teacher describes the nature of Atman and Brahman, starting as external reality to begin with, but culminating into true knowledge of our inner soul as Brahman. As Guru spoke, so did the aspirant (Sadhaka) experience the Truth contained in those words. It was as if a film on Brahman was being run in front of the yearning aspirant.
One such pair flourished in the last two decades of nineteenth century, when Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa sculpted the most wonderful masterpiece in the form of Swami Vivekananda out of raw skeptical, rational but fearless and dynamic Narendranath. Their association has unleashed such a tremendous spiritual force that it has already started destroying the dross and dreary ignorance covering the minds and hearts of mankind all over the globe.
To arrest the sectarian influence of onward march of scientific reason, to fight the onslaught of external technological progress, which claimed material prosperity as the only goal for humanity, one required answers in the scientific language alone. Language of devotion and faith was brushed aside as weakness and defeat. Religion was on defensive in the face of clattering advances of science. To combat this destructive march of quasi-purposive science, Swami Vivekananda entered the world arena as a great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
Childhood
Swami Vivekananda was born in an educated and well-to-do family in Calcutta, on 12th January 1863. His father was a famous lawyer, educated and well versed in modern liberal thought and scientific outlook. He was well traveled and knew many languages including Persian and English.
Swami Vivekananda’s mother, Bhuvaneshawaridevi, was a pious and wise lady devoted to God. She inspired the latent virtues of fearlessness, honesty, justice, and devotion in her son, Narendra, as Swami Vivekananda was called in his childhood. She told Narendra the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two greatest Indian Epics, which influenced later life of Swami Vivekananda.
From his early childhood, Narendra was naughty, brave, and fearless. He also did not approve of injustice or sycophancy. But his peculiar tendencies in the childhood were –
1. The ease with which he used to go into intense meditation and
2. Unusual capacity of intense mental concentration, which made him learn and remember essential subject matter in the books in very short period of time, and that too by just reading once!
As an example, let me cite the following example (example is from his later life):
Once Swami Vivekananda was reading the volumes of 'Encyclopedia Britannica'. His disciple associate (Sharatchandra Chakravarti), seeing those twenty-four volumes, remarked, "It is difficult to master the contents of so many volumes in one life." He did not know at the time that the Swami had already finished ten volumes and was reading the eleventh. "What do you mean?" said Swamiji. "Ask me whatever you like from those ten volumes and I can tell you all about it." The disciple, out of curiosity, brought down the books and asked Swamiji many questions on difficult and varied topics/subjects, selecting one or two from different volumes. Swami Vivekananda not only replied each correctly, but in many instances he quoted the very language of the books!At other time, Swami Vivekananda happened to turn the pages of a book in quick succession just by looking at them once. The disciple asked as to what Swamiji was doing. Swami Vivekananda replied, "Why, I am reading the book." The fellow was utterly surprised to see such an odd method of reading the book! Then Swami Vivekananda explained: Just as a child reads every letter of a word, most of adults read a cluster of words or a full sentence, similarly ‘I can read paragraph to paragraph’. Thus, three glances and the whole page used to be read! Later he greatly emphasized to cultivate power of mind in the form of purity and concentration for spiritual gains, so also perfection in many arts and studies in science and other branches of education.
College Days
The versatile and young Narendra was well versed with both Indian and western philosophical thought, including the Vedanta of Upanishads and newer trends in the philosophy of Schopenhauer, Kant, and Hegel in European culture. He once said, "Kant's great achievement was the discovery that 'time, space, and causation are modes of thought,' but Vedanta taught of this ages ago and called it 'Maya'. Schopenhauer stands on reason only and rationalizes the Vedas… Shankara maintained the orthodoxy of Vedas."
It was a rare combination of science and literature that flourished in the mind of this young man, hungry for knowledge in all the fields. He even went to Calcutta medical school to see for himself the arrangement of brain, spinal cord, and the nerves in the dead bodies in the anatomical museum. He wanted to understand the flow of current etc. that would make him understand various Kundalini Chakras etc.
Equally adept he was in the art of music and singing. His voice was clear, pure, and full with emotion that was sure to bring tears to the eyes of the listeners. Even Sri Ramakrishna used to say, 'no one sings more touchingly than Naren'. He was expert in playing percussion instruments like Tabla, Mrudungam, and especially Pakhavaz.
Thus equipped with the knowledge of English and Bengali (he also knew some Hindi), art and literature, music and singing (he also had comments about painting!), philosophy and science, Swami Vivekananda presented himself at the holy feet of Sri Ramakrishna in the year 1881, at the tender age of eighteen.
continued



Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 2
Narendra Meets the MasterIn the year 1881 Narendra met Sri Ramakrishna for the first time. As it happened, Sri Ramakrishna had gone to Calcutta to one of his devotee's house. It was near Narendra's. There devotional songs were to be sung; but singer didn't turn up for the program. Surendra and Ram, householder devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, and friends of Swami Vivekananda, thought of inviting Narendra to fill up the gap, for they knew the high capabilities of Narendra in singing and playing the musical instruments.
Thus came our hero to the house of the devotee and sang one of the most touching songs, in Bengali. The first lines went like this: 'O mind, why do you loiter in this foreign land wearing foreigner's dress and clothes? Let us go home, to our own land, where we truly belong!' Sri Ramakrishna was visibly moved by the sincerity and quality of Narendra's singing. Tears welled up in the eyes of Sri Ramakrishna, and he lovingly got acquainted with Narendra. He invited Naren to visit Dakshineswar at his earliest convenience.
Moreover, once Narendra's English college teacher in his lecture had told the class to visit Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa at Dakshineswar to know the exact meaning of the word 'trance', for Sri Ramakrishna often went into that state of super conscious Samadhi. Accordingly, in the November of 1881 Narendra went to Dakshineswar with his friends.
Sri Ramakrishna treated him with utmost love and familiarity, as if they knew each other intimately and were meeting not as strangers but as close old friends. [Sri Ramakrishna in his vision knew Narendra to be a sage who has accompanied him (Sri Ramakrishna) on the earth to help him in his mission. Sri Ramakrishna had very vividly described the vision to his devotees.]
Narendra knew nothing about this. He was totally stranger to Kali Temple, Dakshineswar and Sri Ramakrishna. On seeing Narendra Sri Ramakrishna got up and said, "O Narayana, why did you take such long to come here? I have been restlessly waiting for you since long." Thus saying, he escorted Narendranath to inner room and fed him with his own hands with sweets and other eatables. Naturally Swami Vivekananda was puzzled to receive this kind of treatment; this was not natural reaction between two strangers!
Commenting about his first visit later Narendra said, "It was most unusual kind of meeting. I could not understand the peculiar behavior of that 'mad, monomaniac Brahmin'. I was reluctant to visit him again, but his pure love, simplicity, genuine renunciation and love for God pulled me again and again to him, despite protests of logic and reason."
The Teacher and the Disciple
The great soul in Narendranath readily recognized the extraordinary greatness in Sri Ramakrishna in the form of true love for God and great renunciation. However, his skepticism and logical mind was not ready to accept the 'powers' manifested in Sri Ramakrishna. He thought that this 'simple insane' Brahmin might be playing tricks with others in the form of hypnotism or mesmerism. His trance and Samadhi were thought to be the whims and play of mind/psyche rather than divine super-conscious states. In fact Swami Vivekananda postponed his visit to Dakshineswar for about six months, although he had promised Sri Ramakrishna to visit him soon.
But at last the call of Divine was far too powerful for Narendra to resist anymore. And one afternoon, alone on foot, he started for the second meeting with his mentor, and would be Guru, Sri Ramakrishna. And what did he say? He asked, "Sir, have you seen God?" Calmly Sri Ramakrishna replied, "Yes, I see Him as clearly as one sees an apple over the palm, nay, even more intently! And not only this, you can also see Him." This unusual and most confident answer turned Narendra to more perplexity and surprise. He had been asking the same question 'Sir, have you seen God' to many a great religious and noble persons, but he never got such clear cut answer from any of them. Many religious Pundits, Devendranath Tagore and many scholars of Brahmo Movement were reluctant to answer his question with any authority or resoluteness. But today he got the most emphatic answer in positive.
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting all alone. He was very pleased to receive Narendranath and called him near his tiny bedstead. Sri Ramakrishna went into a divine mood and slowly approaching Narendra in a peculiar way touched his right foot to Narendra's body. Immediately Narendra had a wonderful experience, which is given in his own words,
"I saw with my eyes open that all the things of the room together with the walls were rapidly whirling and receding into an unknown region, and my I-ness together with the whole universe was, as it were, going to vanish in an all devouring great void. I was then overwhelmed with terrible fear. I knew that the destruction of I-ness was death, so I thought that death was before me, very near at hand. Unable to control myself, I cried out loudly, saying, 'Ah! What is it you have done to me? I have my parents, you know.'"
Laughing loudly at his words, Sri Ramakrishna touched Narendra's chest with his hand and said, "Let it then cease now. It need not be done all at once. It will come to pass in course of time." Swami Vivekananda was amazed to notice how that extraordinary experience vanished as quickly as it had come! He came to normal state and saw things inside and outside the room standing still as before.
Continued

Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 3
Learning at the Holy Feet of Thakur
Narendra was sure that this was no hypnotism, for he thought himself endowed with solid will power and self-confidence, and that his mind could not be affected by anyone. But equally true was the fact, he realized, 'how could I consider this person (Sri Ramakrishna) mad, when he could shatter to pieces the structure of a mind like mine, possessing a strong and powerful will and firm convictions! As if he could refashion my mind like a ball of soft clay into any pattern as it pleased him!' Still Narendra decided to remain on guard, and to further explore the reality about the Master. He kept the final judgment about this 'wonderful madman' pending for the future.
The third visit followed much earlier than the second one. This time Sri Ramakrishna asked Narendra to accompany him to the nearby garden of Jadu Mallick. Thakur had full permission to enter the garden anytime he wished. Thus, here these two persons, the Master and his would be disciple, were left all alone. Sri Ramakrishna went into ecstatic mood and elevated Narendra to such a state of consciousness where although Narendra forgot himself bodily, he could answer the questions put by Sri Ramakrishna. Narendra did not remember anything about this episode, but Thakur later told his devotees that on that day he put many intimate questions to Narendra and got answers to them all. He asked Narendra about the purpose of his descent on the earth, the nature of his work in the future, his plans and mission in life and so on. On the basis of these questions the Master came to know that Narendra would lead life of a monk and would leave his body when he comes to know his true nature. Sri Ramakrishna knew that Swami Vivekananda was ever-perfected soul – Nitya Siddha – in meditation.
Change of Views
After this meeting Narendra was forced to change many of his preconceived notions about God, divinity, and perfected souls. He had formerly great objection, as most of us have, to accept another man as Guru or spiritual guide. This is because we think that the person whom we accept as Guru might turn out to be an ordinary man full of inherent weakness of lust and gold. But on coming in the company of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendra understood that such great souls with complete renunciation, selflessness, and compassion, though rare, actually are born in the world – souls with extraordinary purity, love, and penance - that shake the limited conception about God and God-Man existing in the little mind and intellect of we ordinary people.
Therefore, if they are accepted as Gurus, ordinary men will be benefited, and not harmed. Consequently Narendra was ready to accept the Master as his Guru, but still he could not go so far as to accept indiscriminately whatever Sri Ramakrishna said! As Swami Saradananda writes,
"A powerful mind feels strong resistance from within when, at the time of accepting new truth, it has to change its former convictions. Narendranath was in that predicament. Though acquainted with the Master's wonderful powers, he could not completely accept him, and though feeling attracted, he tried to stand aloof from him."
Naren started visiting the Master more frequently. Soon he got acquainted with a few more sincere disciples who had already decided to dedicate their lives at the Holy feet of Sri Ramakrishna. These meetings with the Master were full of fun and joy, pleasure and gaiety, and there was never even the shadow of gloom, dejection, despair, or worry. It was always 'Ananda Mela' (mart of pleasure) at Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna used to 'teach' in simple language through parables and stories. There was never a feeling that the Master was the Guru, but mostly all looked upon him as their wise friend with huge spiritual knowledge borne out of innumerable direct personal experiences.
A few of the disciples visited Sri Ramakrishna daily, others at varying interval per week. There was no restriction or compulsion on any one, but Thakur used to emphasis the importance of love for God, austerities, sadhana, renunciation, continence, and purity to get spiritual insights.
Besides these sincere 'monk like' disciples belonging to 'inner circle', many householder devotees, sadhus, fakirs, and lay people used to visit Kali Temple daily, and also met Sri Ramakrishna who used to live in one of the rooms nearby. (It is worth visiting the Kali Temple and Dakshineswar once in lifetime where as recently as 115 years back the great child of the Mother realized Her Living presence in that 'stone idol'!)
The Teachings of Vedanta
Through the talks and stories, parables and devotional music and singing (bhajana and kirtana) concerning Sri Krishna, Radha, Gopis of Vrindavan, and Mother Kali and Chaitannya, Narendra came to know the essence of religion as 'Realization of Highest Truth' in our lives. As he was opposed and reluctant to accept idol or image worship, and believed in non-dual form of God, Thakur explained him the subtle points about Brahma, Atman, and Unified Consciousness – the one without the second. Thus, the Master persuaded Narendra to read to him Ashtavakra Gita and similar texts on Advaita Vedanta, explaining finer points, which were difficult to comprehend. Sri Ramakrishna preferred to tell these nuances in total privacy, when no one else would be present in the room. It was all Jnana and Yoga to begin with. Later Bhakti and Karma Yoga were added, so to so, which we shall subsequently touch upon. The Master also instructed his disciples about the importance, ways, methods, and means about mediation and spiritual disciplines.
Thus, between 1881 and 1886, for five years, Narendra was groomed to become a great yogi with unparalleled sharpness of intellect, reason, and logic. No one could stand his incisive power of critical analysis based on scientific reason and rationality in the matters of Vedanta. Added to this was the gracious gift of the Master to his beloved Naren, the gift of Nirvikalpa Samadhi – highest non-dual consciousness – through which Swami Vivekananda realized the Truths of super-conscious states. He was face to face with Atman, the God of the Master. Therefore, as is said, 'nothing else remained for Swami Vivekananda to be realized now'. He had realized the highest Truth.
But was that the case, indeed!
No! For, he still had to realize the truth of Mother; to realize that impersonal and personal aspects of God are one and the same thing as Shiva and Shakti, the two sides of the same coin. God with attributes and form and God without attributes and form had relationship like that of fire and its power to burn, sun and its rays, milk and its whiteness, or diamond and its luster. One cannot be separated from the other. This unity in duality (which likewise can be extended to unity in universal diversity) is in fact the successive stages in realization of the ultimate Truth, which Swami Vivekananda later elaborated in one of lectures in the USA as,
"It is like taking photographs of the sun from different locations and stations in orbit; all the photographs would appear different, but the essence would be the one, Sun!"
Continued


Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 4
Learning Through Hardships
Death of Narendra's father and his subsequent prayer to Ma Kali
No one knows the ways of divine play! Inscrutable are the ways of the Lord that only a few can understand; others call it fate. Such a life shattering event occurred in the life of Swami Vivekananda when he had passed his degree course in the college, and when was about 21 years of age. Everything was going on smoothly for him at home and at Dakshineswar, when his father suddenly died due to massive heart attack. The liberal attorney, Vishwanath Dutta, although outwardly appeared well off, in fact was in severe debt. His unusual generosity and carelessness in handling money-matters had put him in a situation where nothing was left as savings. The debtors took away their share leaving the bereaved family in utter poverty and want. Narendra's uncles also shied away in this hour of crisis, and instead of helping him they took away their share and kept aloof. It was difficult for Narendra to make two ends meet.
To add to the difficulty, Narendra could not get a job even after trying hard. In this situation of utter emergency and despair, Swami Vivekananda took the decision to leave the home and walk out in the unknown world as a Sannyasin. Here at Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna in his spiritual mood came to know about the secret resolve of his beloved disciple to leave the world, which caused much anguish and concern in his heart. In such a situation the Master met Narendra at one of the devotee's house. In his deep emotional voice, the Master sang a song, which ran like this –
"I am afraid to speak, and equally afraid not to speak,The doubt rises in my mind,Lest I should lose you, ah my Rai,Lest I should lose you"
Immediately the meaning was clear to Narendra; he knew that Sri Ramakrishna had come to know his secret resolve to become Sannyasin, and that the song was meant for him to reconsider his decision. Tears flowed down the cheeks of both the Guru and the disciple wetting their chests as well. All other devotees present there were surprised to see such an unusual behavior of the Master and Narendranath; no one knowing the real cause behind this emotional outburst.
After some time the emotions calmed down and Sri Ramakrishna forced Swami Vivekananda to accompany him to Dakshineswar. There Sri Ramakrishna inquired about the problem and requested Naren not to desert him till his death. Narendra had to promise, for he could not disobey the sincerity in Master's appeal.
Then Swami Vivekananda said to Sri Ramakrishna, "O Sir, please pray to the Mother so that my family is supplied with coarse grain and clothes. I know the Mother listens to you and definitely grants your prayers."
But the Master had different plans, if we can say so.
Sri Ramakrishna said, "Look my boy, I have given everything to the Mother; how can I ask back anything from her now? But one thing I can tell you, why don't you go and pray to the Mother to fulfill your wish? My Mother is very kind and gracious, and I am sure she will not disappoint you."
Thus, Swami Vivekananda was forced to pray to the Mother to fulfill his wants. That night Narendra and the Master were alone in the Kali Temple, when Swami Vivekananda went to the Mother's shrine to pray and ask for material things of urgent necessity. However, as he entered the shrine all that he could say was, "O Mother, please give me Jnana and Bhakti."
Thus praying, Narendra returned back to where Sri Ramakrishna was waiting for him. The Master inquired, "Naren, have you asked for food and money required for your family?" Swami Vivekananda, surprised as he was as well, replied, "Why, no sir! I asked for Jnana and Bhakti."
"You fool," said the Master, "Go and ask for wealth and the things you actually need now." Thrice Swami Vivekananda went to Ma Kali, but could not utter a word about money, clothes, food, and grains, but instead all the three times he prayed to the Mother for Jnana and Bhakti!
As soon as Swami Vivekananda used to enter the temple, he was elevated to such a wonderful state of mind and consciousness that the whole world including money, material comfort, and food lost their value, and in its place there shone forth the face of divine and blissful Mother, gracious enough to grant highest Jnana and Bhakti. Who fool would ask for transient and useless things when in fact Mother was granting Jnana! Who would ask for pebbles when someone was distributing the gems! Who would ask for vegetables to the king, when he was willing to grant his whole kingdom!
Now Swami Vivekananda understood the deep meaning and significance of his Master's word that formless god and God with form as the Mother were but one. Swami Vivekananda accepted Mother on that day as the highest embodiment of spiritual virtues, power, and knowledge. Exhausted, but satiated with inner knowledge of divinity in all its aspects, he bowed down at the holy feet of the Master and prayed, "O Lord, today I came to know who you are. You are all, everything in this universe. I do not want anything anymore from the Mother. It is all your wish."
Embracing his disciple, the master assured, "Go my son, be at peace. From today onwards you and your family would ever be provided with simple clothes and food, and shelter. This much I guarantee for you and your family."
The Teachings of VedantaNarendra had developed peculiar sharpness of perception and assimilation that empowered him with unusual power to pick up 'the gems' from the talks of his Master. He could, as compared to others, easily 'see' the deep meaning in the words of Sri Ramakrishna, even though the Master told them in simple language, and never as preaching. Thus, gradually Swami Vivekananda started assimilating tips and hints on practical Vedanta that could benefit individual and collective life in the society.
Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva
The invaluable mantra "Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva" (serving every being as the full manifestation of God) that Narendranath received from his Master.
For instance, sometime in 1884, once the Master was sitting in the room surrounded by his devotees including Narendranath. In the course of conversation arose the topic of Vaishnava religion, and explaining the essence of that doctrine the Master said, "That doctrine teaches that one should always be careful to observe three things, namely, a taste for God's name, kindness to all beings, and the service of co-devotees. …One should have the conviction in one's heart that the whole universe belongs to Krishna, and therefore, one should have compassion for all beings." No sooner had Sri Ramakrishna uttered the words ‘compassion for all beings’ than he suddenly went into ecstasy. Regaining partial normal consciousness, he continued, "Talk of compassion for beings! Insignificant creature that you are, how can you show compassion for all beings? Who are you to show compassion? You wretch, who are you to bestow it! No, no; it is not compassion to jives, but service to them as Shiva."
All went on listening to those words of the Master spoken in that ecstatic mood, but none could detect and understand their hidden import at that time. It was Narendranath alone who, coming out of the room at the end of Master's ecstasy, said, "Ah, what a wonderful light have I got today from the Master's words! What a new and attractive Gospel have we received today through those words of his, wherein a synthesis has been effected of sweet devotion to the Lord with Vedantic knowledge, which is generally regarded as dry austere and lacking in sympathy with the suffering of others. Whenever shall I get the opportunity I will preach this wonderful doctrine of 'Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva', serving God in each living being!”
To give an example how in later life Swami Vivekananda actually put this mantra in practice, the following incidence is worth mentioning:
After his return from USA around 1898, Swami Vivekananda had acquired land at Belur for construction of the Temple of Sri Ramakrishna and the Math for Sannyasins. He was not keeping well and had gone to Darjeeling hill station for rest. Meanwhile an epidemic of plague broke out in Calcutta; the panic set in all over. People were running in fear, leaving Calcutta. Many died and there was no one to take care of the sick or dispose of the dead bodies. The news reached the broad-hearted Swami who immediately returned to Calcutta and ordered all the inmates of Belur Math to get busy in the service and care of the affected. Many a Sannyasin protested, 'this is not our work; Sri Ramakrishna had never told us social service. Our main aim is to seek the God and do sadhana.' This was the argument put forward by some of the Sannyasins. Swami Vivekananda thundered at them saying, "O my brothers, have you forgotten the mantra of our Master! 'Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva'! By serving human beings we are serving the highest expression of the God on this earth. Love the Lord in these suffering patients. I appeal to you to come forward in this calamity and serve the living God.
All the monks were stunned to listen to these powerful words of their leader and many of them saw the truth therein. But someone still protested, "O swami, from where the money would come?" To this the Swami retaliated, "If need be, sell off the Belur Math! The money thus gathered would be put to the service of these men. I care not for home or shelter for ourselves; we are Sannyasins, and we have taken the vow of poverty. Tree shade would be our roof and a loin cloth would be enough for us to cover our bodies."
Thus were engaged all the monks, householder devotees of Thakur, and inmates of Belur Math in the service of the afflicted. The British authorities in their report on the epidemic had recorded that due to this timely help from the Math mortality was less and moreover, the epidemic was brought under control much quicker.
Continued



Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 5
The Master Departs
In the month of October 1885 Sri Ramakrishna developed throat ailment, which subsequently proved to be incurable cancer of throat. The doctors gave up any hope of recovery, and there was, for the first time, an atmosphere of gloom, anxiety, and worry at Dakshineswar. Swami Vivekananda organized the team of his fellow brothers and devotees to take due care of the Master. Timetables were set up so that someone would always be available for providing necessary help to Thakur and Ma Saradadevi. The householder devotees on their part offered monetary and material help for Thakur's nursing care, medicines, and food. Thus a nucleus of sangha – mission – evolved around Thakur in his presence with the help and efforts of his monk-like disciples, Swami Vivekananda, in particular.
In these critical days of his illness Sri Ramakrishna made certain important moves. He called Narendra and told him 'to take care of these boys', i.e. his brother disciples, lest they should go back to the worldly life. Swami Vivekananda was to become their leader and see to it that they were properly trained and cared for as Sannyasins. Secondly, Sri Ramakrishna once wrote, 'Naren will teach.' Naren, at that time only 23 years of age, never dreamt of such a role in future life, but the telescopic vision of the Master could see the future role of Swami Vivekananda as the world teacher and world leader. He said, "Naren, at present you may deny and protest, but I tell you, your very nature would get this work done through you. The Mother would see to that you spread Her message all over." Thus, the mantle of leadership fell on the broad, powerful, pure, and wise shoulders of Narendranath.
One day, about three days prior to his leaving this world, Sri Ramakrishna called Swami Vivekananda and transferred all his spiritual powers to him, saying, "O Naren, today I have given you everything I had, and have become a fakir, a pauper."
And the last stroke was very touching, amusing a bit, and full with insight. Skepticism had not yet died down completely from the mind of Swami Vivekananda. One day, as he was sitting at the holy feet of his ailing Master, a thought arose in his mind, 'If now in this condition of distress the Master tells me he is Avatar Purusha, then I will accept him as the greatest of God Man." As soon as the thought arose in the mind of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna, though weak and unable to get up, said, 'Even now you have doubts! O Naren, the same Rama and the same Krishna are embodied in this body as Ramakrishna. I am speaking the truth.'
Thus, was completed the training, revelations, and transfer of all the spiritual powers from the Master to his most able disciple for the welfare and benefit of future mankind. All doubts vanished from the heart and mind of Narendranath; he had become one with the Master. Therefore, we say that Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual experiences and powers were so vast that they could not be contained in one body. It required three bodies, those of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Ma Saradadevi, and Swami Vivekananda (the Holy Trio) for its full expression.
Sri Ramakrishna left the worldly abode on 16th August 1886. To fulfill his Master's desire, Swami Vivekananda now rented an old house at Baranagore and converted it into a monastery, where all his grief-stricken (but firm in determination) brother disciples started staying in great atmosphere of brotherhood. They daily worshiped Sri Ramakrishna in his photo image (I shall send you one) and everyone shared the work of begging for the food, worshiping the Master, teachings his message, and reading from the ancient Indian scriptures, viz. the Gita and Upanishads. The Ramakrishna Mission had come to life.
What next? – The Soul Wants to Soar High
Swami Vivekananda's realization of the highest Truths, both in its formless and personal aspects, acted as 'theoretical' confirmation of the highest Vedantic principles as laid down in Upanishads. They remained confined in the heart of Narendra making him aglow with effulgent divinity, but the condition of his mind was like the trapped bird in a golden cage. It wanted to spread its mighty wings, strengthened with the power of nondual realizations and teachings of the Master, far afar. It wanted to soar high in limitless sky to cover the whole humanity under its massive wings and make them aware of those invaluable truths.
The restlessness reached the stage when Swami Vivekananda could no longer confine himself to the four walls of Baranagore monastery. He intently desired to go into open world to learn more of practicality of Vedanta. How can Vedanta be applied in day-to-day life to alleviate the sufferings of the masses! Is it possible? Such and many similar questions crowded his mind from dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn.
And one day, alone, sometime in July 1888, Swami Vivekananda left Calcutta telling his brother disciples not to follow him. Thus started the second important phase in the life of Swami Vivekananda, the Parivrajaka Monk, wandering years of the Swami. He went to Varanasi, Ayodhya, Vrindavan, Lucknow, Agra, and the Himalayas, thus covering the entire north of India. These are the great places of historical importance due to their socio-religious and spiritual importance. These are the places connected with life and teachings of Rama and Sri Krishna, Sita and Radha who glorified divine love and dharma as the final culmination of spiritual quest. There is that great Himalayas where loneliness prevailed and called the individual sadhaka to ready himself/herself to merge into the glory of Infinite.
This was a short trip and the swami returned back to Calcutta in a few months' time. For sometime he remained in the company of his brother disciples trying to devise the means and the ways to propagate their Master's message to every nook and corner of India, and world, but his future plans could but be sketchy, for he didn't understand how to go about it. The force of knowledge was very great in his heart, acting as if like a silent bomb, which no one knew when and where would it burst. The restlessness could not be contained in the narrow confines of his head and heart; it must come out to cover all the sky. And hence, for the second time in around July 1890, he left his brothers to wander all over the country, after seeking blessings from Ma Saradadevi.
On Pilgrimage of India
For two years and more, he wandered all over from north to west, from west to southern tip of India learning and assimilating the prevalent religio-social culture and economic condition of India and her children. And what did he see? He saw that the masses were submerged in deep poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, and superstition. The many years of foreign rule and estrangement from the wisdom of Upanishads have made them slaves not only of British rule, but also of the outdated social customs and rituals. The meanings of God, religion, dharma etc. were distorted to their lowest and crudest level. In the face of utter poverty, food itself had become their dharma and God. And, indeed, the Swami once acceded, 'Religion can't come on empty stomach. For poor religion comes in the form of bread. Give bread, give secular education, improve their material condition, cover their half-naked bodies with some semblance of decency, and then tell the masses about spirituality. Then, talk of realization of Atman and Brahman, God and Religion. Oh, my Mother India, to what pitiable condition you have come to.’
His heart cried out in silence, and his eyes shed silent tears of sorrow at the suffering of masses. The mighty Jnani in the Swami became the compassionate saint like that Buddha. Bhakti and Jnana must be activated with Selfless Karma; it must be so. Something must be done for the masses; that was the pressing necessity. And thus indeed he resolved. Tears of anguish softened and broadened his heart, and one day he said, "O brother, I do not know the meaning of religion; but one thing is sure, now I feel my heart has broadened and is capable of accommodating and feeling for everyone, be he destitute or a king, healthy or afflicted. I see the same Narayana in poor and fool, wealthy and wise."
Swami Vivekananda's plan for future course was taking shape gradually. He must do something to alleviate the suffering of the Indian people. He was ready to keep sadhana and mediation aside for time being so that he could devote himself fully to this cause. He also thought of going to rich countries like America and earn such a large amount of money that could help him in fulfilling his pledge! To work is to worship; that was the new mantra that, Swami Vivekananda thought, would help India rise again. Sacrifice, renunciation and service were the essential requisites for this dream to come true and for India to come out of darkness of ignorance and poverty. Material progress, secular education, and service to sick must be added to meditation and spiritual practices for fulfillment of final spiritual aim.
Parivrajaka Sadhu: The ‘Wandering Monk’
By 1892 Swami Vivekananda became a sage of high intellect, action, and devotion. In his life, he had experienced the Truth of all four Yogas, viz. Yoga of meditation, Jnana (discrimination), action, and devotion. He was well versed in the study of the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. He also studied life and teachings of Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohamed, and Lord Buddha. In fact it is believed that once Swami Vivekananda had the vision of Buddha in his deep meditation.
Thus having acquired direct knowledge of all the religions, having come to the conclusion that all religions speak of the same truth, Swami Vivekananda had intense desire to spread this wonderful message of divine unity of Existence and Unity in Diversity.
Accordingly, he continued to travel all over the Holy Land of India to get first hand information about the state of religion in the Indian masses. The vast land opened up a new challenge before the Swami to explore its religious-spiritual truths. These days of a ‘wandering monk’ make an important stage in the history of spiritual revival of India as well as the whole world.
Why? For, his experiences during the wandering days added compassion to his broad outlook and sharp intellect. He could understand the sad plight of fellow countrymen, their exploitation, poverty, suffering and affliction under the mercy of foreign rule and darkness of ignorance.
"To the hungry religion comes in the form of bread", he declared. And he would have added, "And for the ignorant religion comes in the form of education".
Material progress and spiritual uplift are not contradictory, are not antagonist to each other, but, rather, the goal of religion and our efforts should be to bridge the yawning gap between the two, he maintained.
He was convinced that science and religion should join hands so that a new chapter could be written in the human history. He saw, learnt, and was convinced that, while material progress of India was as important as the spiritual revival, to the West religion would come in the form of spiritual blend with materialism.
He met with many eminent and noble persons, the Maharaja of Khetri, Dewan of Porbandar and Junagadh, Raja of Ramnad, and many intellectuals in the state of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madras. All these gentlemen were highly impressed by the sincerity, knowledge, spirituality and new Vedantic approach to life of this English speaking Monk.
And then, once during casual discussion, the Dewan of Porbandar said, "Swamiji, I am afraid you cannot do much in this country. Few will appreciate you here. You ought to go to the West where people will understand you and your worth. Surely you can throw a great light on Western culture by preaching the Sanatana Dharma!"
"The poverty ridden illiterate people of our country are not yet ready to receive the message of Vedanta. Why don’t you attend the Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago a few months hence? There you represent and elaborate the true Hinduism of which, your Guru, Sri Ramakrishna was the living embodiment."
Swami Vivekananda began planning for his visit to America, and on 31st May 1893 he set sails for that far off land; the ochre robed sadhu planning to conquer the scientific reason of West with Vedantic intuition of the East.
Continued

Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 6
Swami Vivekananda Arrives In AmericaSwami Vivekananda began to plan for his visit to America, and on 31st May 1893 he set sails for that far off land; the ochre robed sadhu planning to conquer the scientific reason of West with Vedantic intuition of the East.Simple in life style, unknown of exact dates of the Parliament, Swami Vivekananda reached Chicago much ahead of the commencement of the Parliament. He had no letter or credentials from any society or organization; he was not aware what religion he would represent at the Parliament, and most importantly he was short of money. In the Chicago Science Fare he was impressed by the advances America had made in the field of science and technology in comparison to which India was poor, very backward, as far as the material progress was concerned. The glamour, the innovative application of electricity, telephone, communication, applied aspects of physics for the welfare and comfort of the masses, all filled his heart with amazement and excitement. He used to think: Oh, how much India needs to learn and acquire!Soon Swami Vivekananda started feeling the shortage of money, and thus he was forced to retreat to nearby Boston where life was somewhat easier and less costly. Here he got acquainted with one Professor John Wright of Harvard University. This professor was highly learned man, holding prestigious and privileged position in the social circle. During his talks and discussion with the Hindu monk, the professor realized the uniqueness of Swami Vivekananda; he realized that this sannyasin is no common man; he is very highly intellectual and spiritual soul. Thus, he arranged for the admission of Swami Vivekananda to the Chicago World Parliament Of Religions, gave him enough money, and letters of references for his comfortable and unobtrusive stay in Chicago.After troublesome arrival at Chicago station, as it happened, one Mrs. George W. Hale invited the Swami to her house and gave orders to servants that he should be taken to a room and attended to in every way. She promised the Swami that after he had had his breakfast she herself would accompany him to the venue of the Parliament of Religions. The Swami was grateful beyond words. Mrs. George W. Hale, her husband, and children became his warmest friends. With Hale he called on the officers of the Parliament, gave his credentials, and was accepted as a delegate. He felt with the passing of each moment that the Parliament of Religions would be the great test, the crucial experience for him. He passed his time in prayer, in meditation, and in earnest longing that he might be made the true instrument of the Lord, the true spokesman of Hinduism, the true bearer of Sri Ramakrishna's message. He became acquainted with many distinguished persons who were to attend the Parliament. In this grand circle of ecclesiastics he moved as one lost in rapture and prayer. He had no personal feelings in the matter save as related to the carrying out the mission entrusted to him by his Master.At The Parliament Of Religions: 11th To 27th Of September 1893Initially anxious, for the Swami had never spoken on public platform before, the swami went on postponing his turn on the day one of the Parliament: 11th September 1893. However, towards the end of the day, the swami rose to speak, and instantly became the celebrity, as we all know.(1) 11th September 1893: 'Response To Welcome' AddressSwami Vivekananda addressed the august assembly of seven thousand people starting with the words: "Sisters and Brothers of America..." and the whole of audience went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three minutes. What Swami Vivekananda spoke came from the inmost depth of his illumined soul, from his conviction and deep spiritual insight. This explains why his common words -'Sisters and Brothers of America'- created an unprecedented spontaneous spiritual upsurge of emotion in the minds of the audience of seven thousand members and raised them to their feet.
He continued, "I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of mother of religions; I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects".
The lord says in Gita, "Whosoever comes to Me; through whatever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me."
"I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all of persecution with the sword or with the pen."(2) 19th September: Paper on Hinduism"...Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relation between soul and soul and between individual spirit and Father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them."
"...Allow me to call you; brethren, by that sweet name-heirs of immortal bliss-yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth-sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is standing libel on human nature..."(3) 27th September 1893: Address at the Final Session"If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It ahs proved to the world that holiness, purity, and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: "Help and not Fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."In USA After The ParliamentThe unification of the world through the progress of science and technology, communication and commerce necessitated parallel spread of culture and religious ideas. To fulfill this global mission, Swami Vivekananda reached America in the year 1893. After his astounding success at the Chicago Parliament of Religions, he decided to stay in America to spread the message of Vedanta. His power to enthrall the audience, his eloquence, and his depth of spiritual knowledge automatically attracted many agencies and bureaus to invite him for a nationwide lecture series. Accordingly, for nearly one year, he traveled, toured, and lectured in various cities in big and small states of America.Towards the end of 1894, Swamiji was 'tired and disgusted with the fame he had acquired, and felt that the interest he had awakened was not what he wanted; to his mind it was too superficial.' The Swami wanted earnest minded young people to take interest in his teachings of Vedanta. Therefore in the month of January 1895, the Swami established himself in a lodging in the city of New York at 54 West, 33rd Street. Here he held classes for the aspirants according to his choice of time and the topic, and free of cost.
Continued


Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 7
His Work in America (1893 - 1896) In New York - 1895Gradually many interested followers started coming to the lodging room to listen to his talks. Some came out of curiosity, others were genuinely interested in knowing the eastern philosophical currents; particularly what did Hinduism mean. The Swami talked about the ancient teachings of Vedanta and related subjects in the Upanishads and the Gita: the nature of Spirit and God, the yoga and the meditation. He emphasized the all-encompassing non-sectarian nature of Hindu thought in its essence, and the universal message of not only toleration of various religious faiths, but also accepting each one as the true path to realize that Self.Soon the hall started to fill up with increasing number of listeners; the followers started to occupy whatever place they could find - the marble topped tables, dressers, and even the steps on the staircase. The Swami sat on the floor, in a posture of a yogi - serene, tranquil, and calm. In the silence in the room, his voice reverberated with the mystical quality of his sermons and talks. Everyone tried to catch every word that came out from the bottom of swami's heart. Like an ancient Guru taking full responsibility of his devotees, the Swami taught them about basic spirituality underlying various sects and faiths. The offering of these valuable treasures was totally free, without carrying any fees or charges in exchange. Declining invitations to dine at his friends', the Swami and one of his disciples - Mr. Landsberg (later to become Swami Kripananda) - cooked their own simple food consisting of rice and vegetables, barley and beans.Dedicating himself fully to the will of God, Swami Vivekananda started giving lectures in earnest, daily from 11 to 1 pm, and also took visitors whenever they knocked at his door. The questions were answered; the doubts were cleared. Some learnt the steps to meditation from this great yogi adept in that art. During such demonstrations, the Swami at times merged into higher states of samadhi, thus incidentally revealing the truth of what he preached. During his discourses he often used Sanskrit verses and hymns to emphasis a particular point. The gentle murmur, the sonorous humming of his songs and singing produced such a spiritual atmosphere that one was reminded of the piety and gaiety of the room of his master - Sri Ramakrishna - at Dakshineswar.In the first half of 1895, Swami Vivekananda dealt largely with Raja and Jnana Yoga. He talked and emphasized the value of purity of thought, chastity of both body and mind, control of mind and senses as the prerequisite for the practice of Raja Yoga, and in general for the spiritual progress. He taught the path of practical spirituality. Such gems as "religion is realization," "each soul is potentially divine," and "religion is to manifest this divinity within," were dispersed amongst the eager seekers after the Truth. A few indeed could gather and make these precious teachings their own.Through Jnana Yoga the Swami made clear the ultimate finality of renunciation and fearlessness through discrimination and non-attachment. These virtues or values were the natural outcome as one proceeded to seek the Truth. Vedanta was not mere rational and positive philosophy, but also practical religion to be realized or experienced, he maintained. The growth, progress, and development of individual character and personality were the natural outcome of spiritual practice. The final stage is the intuitive realization of the Absolute Consciousness by way of transcendental release into the realm of Total Freedom; freedom from the painful and sorrowful cycle of birth and death.These talks made immense impact or impression on the audience, for, the subject matter was fresh, novel, and bearing impress of Truth. Moreover, the preacher himself had experienced these spiritual truths in his life at the holy feet of his Master, Sri Ramakrishna. During this period, in addition to the classes at his lodging room, Swami Vivekananda also spoke to small gatherings in and around New York. For instance, he held Sunday classes at Miss Corbin's, Mrs. Andrew's, spoke on "Vedanta Philosophy" at the house of A. L. Barber at 871 Fifty Avenue, Dixon Society, Metaphysical Society at Hartford, Conn. ("Soul and God"); Motts Memorial building at 64 Madison Avenue ("The Science of Religion"), etc.The selected disciples who were impressed by the Swami's talks and teachings include among others - 1) Miss Laura Glenn (later to become Sister Devamata), 2) Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 3) Mme. Marie Louise, 4) Lean Landsberg, 5) Mrs. Ole Bull, 6) Dr. Allan Day, 7) Miss S. Ellen Waldo, 8) Miss Mary Phillips, 9) Professor Wyman, 10) Harvard University Professor John Henry Wright, 11) Dr Street (later to become Swami Yogananda), 12) Mr. Francis Legget, 13) Mrs. Sturges, 14) Miss Josephine MacLeod, 15) Dr. and Mrs. Egbert Guernsey, 16) Emma Thursby, and 17) 'faithful' Goodwin.During the first six months of this stay in New York, between January 1895 and June 1895, Swami Vivekananda took holiday twice. He visited and rested for two weeks in the month of April at Ridgley Manor on the Hudson River at the invitation of Mr. Legget. Later in the first week of June he went to Camp Percy near a lake in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There he meditated and studied the Hindu Scriptures including the Gita and the Upanishads. Refreshed from the rest, but still feeling unexplained restlessness from constant talks and speeches, the Swami felt the need to go into seclusion, for the spirit of sannyasin was uppermost in his mind. That opportunity came soon.At The Thousand Island Park: The Inspired TalksOne Miss Dutcher, a devoted student of the Swami, owned a small cottage at Thousand Island Park, a village situated on Wellesley Island of the St. Lawrence River. She volunteered to offer her cottage for the Swami to rest as well as to teach as many devotees as can be accommodated in the cottage. Twelve sincere and real devotees agreed to the proposal, and Swami Vivekananda also felt it as an opportunity to instill some real and serious thoughts of Vedanta in the hearts of those intimate learners. For, it was but natural that only those would venture to come to such a far off remote island, who were really interested in his message and teachings.Soon the plan was given the shape by way of additional modifications to the cottage. A separate room, entry, and privacy were arranged for the Swami. And there was enough room for twelve members to stay with some adjustment. The talks, "The Inspired Talks", as they came to be known, started from 19th June 1895 through second week of August. Thus for seven weeks the Swami inspired this sincere batch with the Advaita teachings of Upanishads, The Gita, and even of various scriptures of Christian faith. The impact of these talks, which the Swami delivered from a higher plane of consciousness, inspired his disciples, as he himself was, in this great mission. He initiated all these devotees by giving them a Mantra and two of these disciples later took vows of sannyasa, and five more were initiated as Brahmacharinis.Later, one of the participants wrote: "It was a perpetual inspiration to live with a man like Swami Vivekananda. From morning till night it was ever the same, we lived in a constant atmosphere of intense spirituality. ...Those ideas were new and strange to us, and we were slow in assimilating them, but the Swami's patience never flagged, his enthusiasm never waned."The message of Swami Vivekananda was:
Renunciation of sense gratification, sincere search for higher Self, and manifestation of our inner divinity based on true discrimination is the ideal for this age. Try to seek Freedom from 'this indecent clinging to life,' the bondage in which Maya has caught us, in which Maya has enmeshed all mankind. Sooner or later the opportunity to escape will come to all, but to make conscious and deliberate effort is the beginning of religion.And one would not be surprised if one were told that within minutes the Swami, established as he was in his higher plane of consciousness, created "The Song of The Sannyasin":
Strike off thy fetter! Bonds that bind thee down,Of shining gold, or darker, baser ore;Love, hate - good, bad - and all the dual throng.Know, slave is slave, caressed or whipped, not free;For fetters though of gold, are not less strong to bind;Then off with them, sannyasin bold! Say - "Om Tat Sat, Om!"Few only know the Truth. The rest will hateAnd laugh at thee, great one; but pay no heed.Go thou, the free, from place to place, and helpThem out of darkness, Maya's veil. WithoutThe fear of pain or search pleasure, goBeyond them both, sannyasin bold! Say - "Om Tat Sat, Om!"
Continued



Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 8
First Visit to England and EuropeOn August 7, 1895 Swami Vivekananda left The Thousand Island Park for New York, and from there he was to make that historic first visit to England and Europe. He had received two invitations, one from Miss F. Henrietta Muller and the other from Mr. E. T. Sturdy, to visit and enlighten the British people. The Swami was to be their guest of honor during his stay in London. Mr. Sturdy had lived in India, and also had known Swami Shivananda, and from him about his brother-disciple Swami Vivekananda. For about ten days the Swami was busy in New York making arrangements for his first stop at Paris. From there he was to go to England. Mr. Francis Legget was to accompany him in the voyage. Accordingly the Swami sailed from New York on 17th August 1895 to reach Paris on 24th.For most part his Paris visit was for rest and as a pleasure trip. But Swamiji did not lose the opportunity to get acquainted with the culture and history of France. Mrs. Sturges and Miss MacLeod gave him the company, as they knew Paris well. They conducted him on various tours visiting the world-renowned art galleries, museums, churches, cathedrals, and other places of import. The high culture and historical background filled the Swami's heart with admiration. He also met a few renowned intellectuals and personage of fame, discussing with them the various cultural and spiritual aspects of the two nations.In these days the Swami received letters from Indian friends that the Missionaries were bent on criticizing his life, eating habits, conduct and teachings. The orthodox Hindus were thus skeptical about his mission in the West. To such criticism Swami Vivekananda wrote to his disciple friend Alasinga Perumal in Madras:
"I am surprised you take the missionaries' nonsense seriously... if the missionaries tell you that I have ever broken the two great vows of the sannyasin - chastity and poverty - tell then that they are big liars.
...I do not stand at anybody's dictation. I know my mission in life, and no chauvinism about me; I belong as much to the world as to India, no humbug about that... What country has any special claim on me? Am I any nation's salve?
I see a greater Power than man, or God, or devil, at my back..."This letter shows Swami Vivekananda in his true spirit: a fearless sannyasin. The Christian Missionaries mattered to the narrow-minded people; but for Swami Vivekananda, the matter required to be viewed from the broadest possible perspective.Consequent upon these thoughts, and also the fact that he was coming from a subject nation to preach Hinduism to the nation of rulers, the Swami had some apprehension as to how he would be received by the people of England. Would they not look at him with contempt, and criticize his missionary zeal? But to his surprise he was received with great warmth and courtesy, bordering on respect. 'Later on, this uncertainty would give place to wonder and gratification at his singular and immediate success.'In LondonSwami Vivekananda reached London in the second week of September 1895. Many friends, Mr. Sturdy and Miss Muller being the main, received him in London. Initially he stayed as Miss Muller's guest at Juan Duff House, Regent Street Cambridge. Later he moved to Mr. Sturdy's house at High View, Caversham, Reading - some thirty-six miles southwest of London. Here he stayed for six weeks and paid visits to many places of historic importance and artistic interest. He also had high-level philosophical discussions with his friends and new introductions, and he translated Naradiya Bhakti Sutra into English as well. For most time in September and October 1895, the Swami lived quietly at Reading; for 'the London season was not open yet, and Mr. Sturdy wanted him to go slowly and build on a sure foundation rather than make a good deal of noise for nothing.'The English people received him warmly and gladly. They were civil and polite towards him; he felt 'at home' in England. In the late October, two of his friends decided to arrange his first lecture. Accordingly, the Swami delivered his first speech at Prince's Hall, Piccadilly on 22nd October; the subject being "Self-Knowledge". It was a tremendous success, as many people attended and appreciated his talk. Favorable reports appeared the next day in morning newspapers - The Standard wrote: "Since the days of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, and Keshab Chandra Sen, there has not appeared on an English platform a more interesting Indian figure than the Hindu who lectured in Prince's Hall..."The London Daily Chronicle wrote:
"Vivekananda, the popular Hindu monk, whose physiognomy bore the most striking resemblance to the classic face of Buddha, denounced our commercial prosperity, our bloody wars, and our religious intolerance, declaring that at such a price the mild Hindu would have none of our vaunted civilization."Swami Vivekananda also gave one interview to the "Westminster Gazette". It was published under the title "An Indian Yogi in London". In this interview the swami had a long discussion pertaining to the concept and need of renunciation and sannyasa, with particular reference to his life. He elaborated the influence of the teachings and life of his Master, to wit - Sri Ramakrishna; that he did not believe in starting a new sect, but such fellowship and foundation as would encompass and form the basis for all the religious faiths. He was interested in giving 'general outline of Vedanta and to let each apply them to his own concrete forms'. Truth is that which stands the day of light anywhere and everywhere, and that which stands on its own authority.In his own words: "I propound a philosophy, which can serve as a basis to every possible religious system in the world, and my attitude is one of extreme sympathy - my teaching is antagonistic to none. I direct my attention to the individual, to make him strong, to teach him that he himself is divine, and I call upon men to make themselves conscious of this divinity within."And this was what the correspondent felt when he felt after the interview: "I then took my leave from one of the most original of men that I have had the honour of meeting."Following such spread about the swami's personality, influence, and grasp of spirituality, people started coming to him for discussions, seek instructions, and just to pay courtesy visits and satisfy their curiosity. Swami Vivekananda was satisfied that the British people did not reject him or his teachings. And thus in the following month, the short stay that was possible in England, the swami laid the firm foundation for future work and made a deep and lasting impression upon those whom he met. Thus his lecture at Prince's Hall on October 22, 1895 marks the beginning of his work in Europe.He held number of talks in the last week of this October - the Chelsea residence of the Rev. H. R. Haweis, residence of Mr. Chemier, at Maidenhead, and stayed at 80 (61) Oakley Street, Chelsea from October 29th. He held about eight classes per week apart from public lectures. The people sat on floor for want of space without feeling any inconvenience. He spoke on 'Indian Philosophy and Western Society' on November 5, in front of a select audience of scientists; on 10th November he talked on 'The Basis of Vedanta Morality' before Ethical Society of Moncure Conway at South Place Chapel.His Meeting with Margaret NobleIt was in the month of November 1895 that Swami Vivekananda met Margaret Noble; later to become his most devoted disciple - Sister Nivedita. The Swami was seated on the floor of West End drawing room in meditative pose, his face radiant with dignity and poise, childlike simplicity and calm radiating spiritual aura. Margaret Noble was one of them listening to the celestial words of the Swami who was elaborating ancient wisdom of Upanishads and Vedanta to the small group:'Friends, your Church is true, our temples are true, and true is Brahman, formless and eternal, beyond the two. Time has come when nations would exchange their spiritual ideals as treasures, as they are already exchanging the commodities of the market. These ideals are but various impressions in different modes of manifestation of the One. 'All these are threaded upon Me, like pearls upon a string', so says the Lord in The Gita. Love is the highest virtue, love knows of giving alone, never expecting anything in return. Love God, but don't barter worldly pleasures and comforts in exchange for that.'Those words were full with deep meaning about true religion; words sweet yet foreign to this educated, literate, bold, and intelligent lady. The words full with wisdom of ancient Hindu thought entered her mind as the Swami continued: Man proceeds from lower truth to higher truth, and not from error to truth. This growth in search of higher and still higher truth is what religion is all about. The mind rebels and refuses to accept the truth. The words continued to make impact on Margaret; as if she continued to listen to the words of her master in the state of ecstasy: "You must have heard the mischievous word Maya..."It took the Swami full four lectures to elaborate and bring home the concept of Maya, but still, Sister Nivedita wondered as to how many really understood the intricacies of it. The struggle that Sister Nivedita perceived in the life of her Master was an effort of translating superconscious into practical life. She remembered Sri Ramakrishna mildly rebuking his beloved disciple 'I thought you had been born for something greater my boy' when Swami Vivekananda was put the question 'Naren, what is your highest ambition' and he had answered 'to remain always in samadhi'.Thus continued the teaching of a disciple in the lecture series through 1895 and the second visit to London in 1896. In those few days Sister Nivedita realized the whole ancient realm of Indian spirituality dating back to 5000 BCE. The words like Atman, Brahman, Self, Maya, Ishwara, God, Realization etc. opened up new vistas in front of her inner eyes, like flowers arranged in a wonderful bouquet by a deft artist. Listening led to contemplation that merged into mediation, and soon Nivedita left everything comfortable in her land of birth and accompanied her Master to reach the shores of India. Yes, the land of spirituality, but afflicted with poverty, want, disease, ignorance, and burden. The only force of attraction for her was Vedanta as preached to her by none other than her venerable Master, Swami Vivekananda.More about Swami Vivekananda's Work in Britain During the month of November, Swami Vivekananda gave many more lectures and talks in which the swami brought forth the ideas of benefits and flaws of religious organizations. He said: "It is well to be born in a Church, but it is terrible to die there,' symbolizing the narrowness and fossilization that creeps in organized religions and precepts. It is true that initially such 'family' of like-minded brothers and sisters encourages and benefits the aspirant to progress in his/her austerities, study, practice, and faith, but it also imposes restrictions for the full realization of divine potential. Later, the swami did organize the 'Ramakrishna Order', maintaining that he had done so to spread the message of his Master even at the cost of losing some depth of his teachings. He felt that the need of the hour was to make Sri Ramakrishna's teachings and sayings 'broadcast' in every direction, in every layer of the society, so that the masses can stand the drift away from spirituality in the face of powerful currents of science and materialism. Swami Vivekananda was more than pleased with his work in England, as can be seen from his letters written to his friends in India. "In England my work is really splendid," he wrote.
Continued
Swami VivekanandaThe Universal Man - 9
Back to America: Consolidating the gains thereMeanwhile in the midst of his work in England, Swami Vivekananda received letters and messages from his disciples and friends in America to the effect that in his absence the American work was suffering, losing direction and force. The swami was pulled on one side by the American friends, and on the other by the British insistence to stay in England! As a compromise, the swami decided to call one of his brother disciples from India (Turiyananda, Saradananda, Abhedananda) to England to continue the work there, and he himself left again for the United States of America (27th November 1895), promising the British people he would come again.In his absence of nearly four months, his friends and disciples, notably Swami Kripananda, Mme. Marie Louise and Leon Landsberg, had continued the work in America. In the early months of 1896, the swami consolidated the mains during 1895. Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin constantly accompanied the Swami and faithfully noted down every word the swami spoke at lectures and discourses. Thus, we owe much to him for the recorded details of swami's words.In New York againSwami Vivekananda delivered a series of lectures in a short span after his arrival back to USA. Beginning from January 1896, the lectures were - "The ideal of Universal Religion," "The Cosmos: The Macrocosm," "The Cosmos: The Microcosm," "Immortality," ad so on. He continued with his classes and instructed the disciples about Yoga, and also helped in free translation and running commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Furthering his exposition of paths to purification of mind and realization of Self, the swami now talked on Karma Yoga, Bhakti, and Jnana. A year back he had already talked about Raja Yoga. Thus, for the first time, the swami attempted a neat, systematic, and complete elucidation of all the four yogas mentioned in the Scriptures, the Gita, and the Puranas. This unique contribution of Swami Vivekananda to elaborate different means for differing likings and aptitudes of the aspirants, and emphasizing the utility of combining these yogas suitable to the spiritual aspirants, can be seen as the new contribution and fresh wave in Vedanta.The swami's success in America did not come easily. Many attempts were made to malign/tarnish his image by raising doubts about his intentions and even character. But the swami remained unruffled and calm. His disciples wrote in the columns of the newspapers and journals and won the war against narrow-minded distracters.The swami's fame spread from one place to the next, from one corner to the other. Attendance at his lectures and public meetings significantly increased, reaching more than 1500 people at Madison Square. This "Lightning Orator" gave lectures on (February 1896) "Bhakti Yoga," "The Real and Apparent man," "My Master," "The Hindu Conception of God: the Atman," and many more. Swami Kripananda wrote in his letter dated 19th February, "People are quick to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of a system (Vedanta), which equally as a philosophy and religion appeals to the heart as well as to the reason, and satisfies all the religious cravings of human nature..."To DetroitIn February 1896 The Swami gave formal shape to the first Vedanta Society (of New York) in America. The work was organized to speed up the maintenance of accounts, distribution of books and literature, planning his lectures and discourses, and most importantly, to invite members of 'all religious creeds and organizations to become students of Vedanta without a change of faith'. 'Toleration and acceptance of all religion' was the watchword. Mr. Francis H. Legget was appointed as the president, while Miss Mary Philips was chosen as the secretary of this Vedanta Society. Miss Waldo, Mrs. Arthur Smith, Mr. And Mrs. Walter Goodyear, and Miss Emma Thursby counted themselves as dedicated workers.Through this, the swami envisaged an interchange of ideals and ideas between the east and the west. He felt that this would reduce the friction and bias born out of strangeness between the two worlds. In exchange for the spiritual outpourings from the east, the swami dreamt of transport of the message of science, industry, economics, applied sociology, organization, and cooperation, and such highly evolved ideologies of the west to the east. The Vedanta would offer the necessary common platform for the eastern and the western people to meet, the swami believed.In March 1896 the swami left for Detroit, where he stayed for two weeks. During this short stay he conducted twenty-two classes and gave three public lectures. These included: "The Ideal of a Universal Religion," in two sessions, and on March 15th - "India's Message to the World". His lectures were very well received; the organizers finding it difficult to accommodate the crowd! The swami had a spiritual aura about him; he was full with bhakti, and was spiritually at a very high level of expression. The listeners were inspired by his mere presence, his words adding the necessary finish.To BostonIn the second half of March 1896, the swami went to Boston and stayed there for another two weeks. Here he spoke before the most prestigious and highly intellectual class of people of America: The Professors and scholars of the Graduate Philosophical Club of Harvard University. Swami's most devoted disciple, Mrs. Bull, had arranged the lectures, ably supported by equally respectful Professor John Henry Wright. The Swami spoke on "The Vedanta Philosophy" on 25th March before the club where such distinguished thinkers as George H. Palmer, William James, Josiah Royce, Hugo Munsterberg, and young George Santayana were present.Swami Vivekananda was at his best in bringing forth the essence of Vedanta philosophy, and made an indelible impression on the minds of the learned professors and scholars. Indeed, the Swami was offered the prestigious 'Chair of Eastern Philosophy' in the university, which the sannyasin did not accept! The lecture was followed by critical evaluation of the eastern thought in all its ramifications, in particular Vedanta, by way of question and answer sessions, and criticism and discussions. Reverend C. C. Everett, Dean of the Harvard Divinity School wrote:"There are indeed few departments of study more attractive than the Hindu thought. ...Vedanta System is not to be regarded merely as a curiosity, as a speculative vagary. We Occidentals busy ourselves with the manifold. We can, however, have no understanding of the manifold, if we have no sense of the One in which the manifold exists. The reality of the One is the truth, which the East may well teach us; and we owe a debt of gratitude to Vivekananda that he taught this lesson so efficiently."Such and more reports appeared, with full praise for the Swami, in many more journals, magazines, periodicals, and newspapers. The swami's answers, after the lectures, were sincere, erudite, emotionally appealing, and impromptu. Full with eloquence, and penetrating with truth, freshness, vitality, and wit these lectures affected the curious minds with a force that was great, but always gentle and never disturbing. Speaking on Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and other Yogas, the Swami emphasized the need to understand the limitations of mind and senses, including emotions and feelings; even in their all-encompassing realm of esthetic expressions: art, music, painting, science, and literature! The bliss and beauty of Atman was incomparable with any of these, to say the least. Every art, every scientific truth is surely worthy of experience and knowledge, but Vedanta preaches a state beyond all these, the state where hypnotic spell of mind and matter vanishes into inexplicable Freedom.But, it is indeed very difficult, even to think of such state, let alone, try to attain to it; hypnotized as we are by the magic of this world.To Chicago and back to New YorkFrom Boston, the swami traveled to Chicago on March 30. Here also he remained for about two weeks before returning to New York. In Chicago he conducted many classes arranged by his friends. However, soon his health was not all that good; he felt the strain of his arduous tours and lectures, and thus, he soon returned to New York for rest and planning the future course of action (13th April 1896).In New York, the swami busied himself with editing and perfecting the Harvard Lectures, and adding explanatory notes to them, for they were to be printed soon. The swami was constantly mindful and thoughtful of the need to 'systematize his religious ideas'. He felt it necessary to reorganize the whole Hindu philosophy in such a way as would become intellectually appealing and to the western mind and psyche. Of course, Vedanta was firm base, but the swami wanted to reconcile the dualism, qualified monism, and Advaita Vedanta into a grand synthesis of truth. Each has its own place, a necessity, depending on the faiths, beliefs, and the customs of the different sections of the people, he maintained. It was necessary to show the Vedanta in every religion, for Vedanta was not only the practical, but also the philosophical basis of every religion. The Indian sects like the Shaivaite, the Shakta, the Vaishnava, and the followers of religious faiths practiced but one denomination of Vedanta. 'His first and immediate task was to remodel the Indian thought forms they contained along the lines acceptable to modern intellect of the west.' He insisted that 'Hindu spiritual ideas were truly scientific as well. Thus, he tried to bring closeness between the progress of science and the Hindu spiritual philosophy.Second Visit to EnglandThe first phase of American work came to an end about middle of 1896, and Swami Vivekananda decided to revisit England. Accordingly he left America in July and reached England on 17th September 1896. He stayed here for about three months and left for India in the month of December 1896. His second visit to England, in fact, was more fruitful and intense as far as his work was concerned. During this short stay, the Swami delivered eight very important lectures that projected his clarity of the intricacies of Vedanta in its all ramifications culminating into the full-blown flower of Advaita. More importantly, as a consequence of the substance of and mastery over the subject, he could push forward his plan for the western world to put Vedanta into practice in daily life. Out of these lectures four were on "Maya" and the other for on "Practical Vedanta". Margaret Noble, later to become Sister Nivedita, was highly impressed by his knowledge and spiritual personality now accepted Swami Vivekananda as her Master and decided to dedicate her life in the service of the poor and the education for girls in India. Similarly, Mr. and Mrs. Sevier also became his disciples and came to India to work and take up the full responsibility of managing and running the Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati in the district of Almora at the foot-hills of the Himalayas.In his lectures on "Maya" the Swami elaborated the concept of Maya as not something illusory, not something that does not exist, but as 'it is a statement of fact about the world as one perceives it.' Such simplicity of definition could come only from someone who has fully comprehended the essence of Universal Philosophical thought. On the basis of such understanding the Swami came to the conclusion that 1) The aim of human life is to realize our true divine nature, and 2) as a natural consequence of this, the person should be able to render selfless service, to enrich the world of values, and to effect the welfare of all from the manifestation of one's divinity.Thus, Practical Vedanta is the method to struggle to realize and manifest our Divine Nature. In this way was born the Motto of Ramakrishna Order: Atmano Mokshartham Jagad-hitayacha - For the liberation of self and welfare of the world.Return to IndiaAfter triumphant success in spreading India's message of Advaita Vedanta - Eternal Truth of Eternal Religion - Swami Vivekananda returned to India on 15th January 1897.
Dr. CS ShahMarch 17, 2002
###################################
THE SOCIAL WORLD.
May 3, 1894, Wednesday
Page 8, 950 words

(All communications for this column must be addressed to the "City Editor,
The New-York Times."
Matter which correspordents desire to have used in the Sunday edition of The Times must reach this office not later than Thursday evening.) [ END OF FIRST PARAGRAPH ]


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


I Love Human Vivekananda
Asim Choudhuri

{This is the abridged text of the speech Sri Asim Choudhuri delivered at the Institute after he was
presented the Vivekananda Award 2009 on 18 March.}

Iam overwhelmed, but I accept the Vivekananda Award with gratitude and humility. It is all Swamiji’s
work. The Award emphasizes the need for and the importance of keeping alive Swamiji’s mission,
work, life and message in people’s mind. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to contribute a
little toward that end.

In 1992, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Parliament of Religions, I was staying in Chicago. I
was transferred to Chicago from Cleveland a little earlier. So in retrospect, the transfer seemed
providential because if I had not been in Chicago in 1992, I probably would not have been standing
here in front of you. Doing school in Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith, Deoghar, Swami Vivekananda
was no stranger to me. Nevertheless, pressures of life, especially working in a foreign country, raising
family in a foreign land, forced me to temporarily ignore the call of my soul. But it all came back to me
in 1992. I started reading about the great soul and Sister Gargi’s book inspired me to follow his
footprints around the world. I owe Sister Gargi a monumental debt of gratitude. My effort to trace
Swami Vivekananda’s footprints have culminated into two books—Swami Vivekananda in Chicago—
New Findings and Swami Vivekananda in America—New Findings.

A question may arise in our minds: why spend so much energy and time to trace Swamiji’s footprints? I
can give you a very simple answer—I love him. I do not want his footprints to fade away and
disappear. There is a little story associated with this. Once in 2005, I was trying to follow his footprints
in Des Moines which is about 200 miles west of Chicago. So I left my home in Phoenix at 5am, flew to
Kansas City, about 1200 miles away, rented a car, drove to Des Moines, another 250 miles, and went to
the public library there. In the public library I looked for the newspapers which were published in
November, 1893. I looked at those newspapers, got the information and armed with that information I
went to the Church where Swamiji lectured. I met the pastor. He gave all the newsletters and some very
valuable information of that era. By the time I finished talking to the pastor and taking snaps, it was 9
pm. So I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. After dinner, it is customary in Chinese restaurants in
America to bring in fortune-cookies. So I cracked open a cookie. Instead of the usual messages that one
finds in a fortune-cookie like ‘You are kind-hearted and socially active’ or ‘You will land in your dream
job in no time’, what I found was totally different. I found the message which said—‘The way to love
anything is to realize that it might be lost.’ Now the mystic in me interpreted the message as being
related to my Vivekananda’s dream for I have followed Swamiji’s wanderings in America for the last
16-18 years.

My very first encounter with Swamiji in American newspapers was a comment about Swamiji, where
the editor said, ‘Cull from the dictionary a hundred superlative adjectives, descriptive of the most
highest, cultivated, and active intellectual; then go and hear Vivekananda. Before he has talked ten
minutes, you will toss your collection of choice adjectives in the waste-basket and acknowledge your
inability to describe this wonderful man.’ Believe me, I have seen many, many newspapers and reviews
about Swamiji, but I think this is the most telling.

I would say a few words about Swamiji, strictly from my own perspective. Most of us are familiar with
Swamiji’s meditative posture, sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, with his clasped hands placed on his
lap. But have you ever visualized Swamiji sitting on a sofa next to a fireplace on a cold snowy
afternoon in Minneapolis after taking a sleigh ride in the park, smoking a cigar, blowing smoke-rings
above his head and talking about Wordsworth’s or Longfellow’s literary creations? I have. You have
heard about a calm and serene Vivekananda, sitting cross-legged under the pine tree in Greenacre,
Maine, and expounding Advaita Vedanta. Have you ever visualized him losing his cool and snubbing a
person? That happened in a Boston house where he gave a lecture. After the lecture, a lady confronted
him and said, ‘Swami, I don’t like your religion. It doesn’t have love in it.’ Swami Vivekananda
responded in a heated tone, ‘Madam, I didn’t make Hindu religion. I am just here to expound it,
whether you like it or not.’ You have heard of Swamiji experiencing nirvikalpa samàdhi in New
Hampshire, in Camp Percy near Francis Leggett’s cottage. I see Vivekananda eagerly waiting at the
dinner table for his share of chocolate ice-cream! You think of Vivekananda giving spellbinding lecture at the Parliament of Religions followed by a thunderous applause from the audience. I see him going back to Michigan in Bagley’s house and pouring a generous amount of Tabasco sauce on his bland American food to suit his palate.

Then I can visualize him taking Cornelia, the granddaughter of his friend, on his lap and telling her
stories from the Pancatantra. Thus, I see the human side of Vivekananda and I can feel good because I
can relate him to our familiar life-stream. I can revere, admire and prostrate before the spiritual
Vivekananda, but I love this human Vivekananda; not that I love spiritual Vivekananda any less, but I
love human Vivekananda more. Of course, I have to admit that it is his spiritual side that makes his
human side exceedingly appealing. He was truly a fusion of the East and the West, a synthesis of
spirituality and humanity.

What knowledge have I gained from following Swamiji’s footprints around the world? A good deal, but
nothing that you don’t know already or that you cannot acquire. These are all in the nine volumes of
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. No matter what you do in life—you may be a
businessman, a teacher, or a professor, a student, a taxi-driver, whoever you are, the road map as to how
you should conduct your life is given in those nine volumes. I sincerely believe those volumes should
be mandatory reading for the politicians. Yes, for the politicians, who are steering India’s future. Why?
It is because in those nine volumes one can find the recipes for rejuvenated India. That was Swami
Vivekananda’s dream! Only Vivekananda knew what he had done for India and for the whole human
race. We should consider ourselves blessed if we know a very little of what he had done.
__________
* This is the abridged text of the speech Sri Asim Choudhuri delivered at the Institute after he was
presented the Vivekananda Award 2009 on 18 March.



2 comments:

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

YOu may want to see a different facet of Swami Vivekananda, with proof.

Vivekanandayb.blogspot.com.

If you are afraid of criticism, you can delete this comment.

I and god said...

dear blogger multisubj yb truth seeker,

i am astonished to see your knowledge and capacity.

in this country , people are so much bound with their convictions that they are not open for any other view point.

i admire your information , and skill you possess, though i may not be agree with some of your points.

i live in delhi, but if you ever come to delhi, please make a point to call me, or inform, we can see each other, or if i have your phone no. i would like to call you. or we can sometime speak on skype. my skype address is ashok.gupta004

again thanks for writing on my blog, it has increased my information.

i am new to blogging.that is why such a late reply.
yours
ashok gupta
delhi