"What is this Europe? Why are the black, the bronze, the yellow,
the red inhabitants of Asia, Africa, and America bent low at the
feet of the Europeans? Why are they the sole rulers in this Kali-yuga?
To understand this Europe, one has to understand her through France,
the fountainhead of everything that is highest in the West.
The supreme power that rules the world is Europe, and of this Europe the great centre is Paris. Paris is the centre of Western Civilization. Here in Paris, matures and ripens every idea of Western ethics, manners and customs, light or darkness, good or evil. This Paris is like a vast ocean, in which there is many a precious gem, coral and pearl, and in which, again, there are sharks and other rapacious sea-animals as well.
Of Europe, the central field of work, the Karmakshetra, is France. A picturesque country, neither very cold nor very warm, very fertile, weather neither excessively wet nor extremely dry, sky clear, sun sweet, elms and oaks in abundance, grass-lands charming, hills and rivers small, springs delightful. Excepting some parts of China, no other country in the world have I seen that is so beautiful as France. That play of beauty in water and fascination in land, that madness in the air, that ecstasy in the sky ! Nature so lovely, the men so fond of beauty !
The rich and the poor, the young and the old, keep their houses, their rooms, so artistically neat and clean - the whole country looks like a picture. Such love of nature and art have I seen nowhere except in Japan. The palatial structures, the gardens resembling Indra's paradise, the groves, even the farmer's fields - everywhere and in everything there is an attempt at beauty, an attempt at art, remarkable, and affected with success, too.
Paris is the fountainhead of European civilization, as Gomookhi is of the Ganga. This huge metropolis is a vision of heaven on earth, the city of constant rejoicing. Such luxury, such enjoyments, such mirthfulness are neither in London nor in Berlin nor anywhere else. True, there is wealth in London and in New York, in Berlin there is learning and wisdom; but nowhere is that genius of the Frenchman. Let there be wealth in plenty, let there be learning and wisdom, let there be beauty of Nature also, elsewhere - but where is the MAN? This remarkable French character is the incarnation of the ancient Greek, as it were, that had died to be reborn again - always joyful, always full of enthusiasm, very light and silly, yet again exceedingly grave, prompt, and resolute to do every work, and again despondent at the least resistance. But that despondency is only for a moment with the Frenchman, his face soon after glowing again with fresh hope and trust.
The Paris University is the model of European universities. All the academies of Science that are in the world are imitations of the French Academy. Paris is the first teacher of the founding of colonial empires. The terms used in military art in all languages are still mostly French. The style and diction of French writings are copied in all the European languages. Of science, philosophy, and art, this Paris is the mine. Everywhere, in every respect, there is imitation of the French. As if the French were the townspeople and the other nations only villagers compared with them. What the French initiate, the Germans, the English, and other nations imitate, may be fifty or twenty-five years later, whether it be in learning, or in art, or in social matters.
This French civilization reached Scotland, and when the Scottish King became the King of England, it awoke and roused England; it was during the reign of the Stuart Dynasty of Scotland that the Royal Society and other institutions were established in England. Again, France is the home of liberty. From here, the city of Paris, travelled with tremendous energy the power of the People, and shook the very foundations of Europe. From that time, the face of Europe has completely changed, and a new Europe has come into existance. 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, is no more heard in France; she is now imitating other ideas and purposes, while the spirit of the French Revolution is still working among the other nations of Europe.
One distinguished scientist of England told me the other day that Paris was the centre of the world, and that the more a nation would succeed in establishing its connection with the city of Paris, the more would that nation's progress be achieved. Though such assertion is a partial exaggeration of fact, yet it is certainly true that if anyone has to give the world any new idea, this Paris is 'the' place for for its dissemination. If one can gain the approbation of the citizens of Paris, that voice the whole of Europe is sure to echo back. The sculptor, the painter, the musician, the dancer, or any artist, if he can first obtain celebrity in Paris, acquires very easily the esteem and eulogy of other countries.
We hear only of the darker side of this Paris in our country - that it is a horrible place, a hell on earth. Some of the English hold this view; and the wealthy of other countries, in whose eyes no other enjoyment is possible in life except the gratification of the senses, naturally see Paris as the home of immorality and enjoyments. But it is the same in all the big cities of the West, such as London, Berlin, Vienna, New York. The only difference is: in other countries the means of enjoyment are commonplace and vulgar, but the very dirt of civilized Paris is coated over with gold leaf. To compare the refined enjoyments of Paris with the barbarity, in this respect, of other cities is to compare the wild boar's wallowing in the mire with the peacock's dance, spreading out its feathers like a fan.
What nation in the world has not the longing to enjoy and live a life of pleasure? Otherwise, why should those who get rich hasten to Paris, of all places? Why do kings and emperors, assuming other names, come to Paris and live incognito and feel themsleves happy by bathing in this whirlpool of sense-enjoyment? The longing is in all countries, and no pains are spared to satisfy it; the only difference is: The French have perfected it as a science, they know how to enjoy, they have risen to the highest rung of the ladder of enjoyment."
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Interesting Places to Visit
Traduction des textes en francais
Quotes from Sri Swami Vivekananda
RK Digest Chatroom and Message Board
Another Sri Swami Vivekananda Site
Visit Site dedicated to the Holy Mother
Visit site dedicated to "M", Author of Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
Visit Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeva Site
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SRI SARADA NAHABAT GUESTBOOK
The Oneness of the Human Family
Vedanta Society of Toronto
Visit the RAMAKRISHNA MATH at Chennai, India
DAILY SUTRAS collected and prepared by EM Hashim
Sanscrit Etymological Sources