Translate the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
[Letter to Shri
[Translated from Bengali]
5th January, 1890.
MY DEAR FAKIR,
...A word for you. Remember always, I may not see
you again. Be moral. Be brave. Be a heart-whole man.
Strictly moral, brave unto desperation. Don't bother your head with
religious theories. Cowards only sin, brave men never, no, not even in
mind. Try to love anybody and everybody. Be a man and try to make those
immediately under your care, namely Ram, Krishnamayi, and Indu, brave, moral,
and sympathising. No religion for you, my children, but morality and
bravery. No cowardice, no sin, no crime, no weakness; the rest will come
of itself. ...And don't take Ram with you ever or ever allow him to visit a
theatre or any enervating entertainment whatever.
MY DEAR RAM,
KRISHNAMAYI, AND INDU,
Bear in mind, my children, that only cowards and those
who are weak commit sin and tell lies. The brave are always moral.
Try to be moral, try to be brave, try to be sympathizing.
[Letter to Pandit
Shankarlal of Khetri]
20th September, 1892.
DEAR PANDITJI MAHÂRÂJ,
Your letter has reached me duly. I do not know
why I should be undeservingly praised. "None is good, save One, that is,
God", as the Lord Jesus hath said. The rest are only tools in His
hands. "Gloria in Excelsis", "Glory unto God in the
highest", and unto men that deserve, but not to 'such an undeserving one
like me.’ Here "the servant is not worthy of the hire"; and a Fakir,
especially, has no right to any praise whatsoever; for would you praise your
servant for simply doing his duty?
...My unbounded gratitude to Pandit Sundarlaiji(?), and
to my Professor^ for this kind remembrance of me.
Now I would tell you something else. The Hindu mind was
ever deductive and never synthetic or inductive. In all our philosophies,
we always find hair-splitting arguments, taking for granted some general
proposition, but the proposition itself may be as childish as possible. No
body ever asked or searched the truth of these general pro positions. Therefore
independent thought we have almost none to speak of, and hence the dearth of
those sciences which are the results of observation and generalization.
And why was it thus?— From two causes: The tremendous heat of the climate
forcing us to love rest and contemplation better than activity, and the Brahmins
as priests never undertaking journeys or voyages to distant lands. There
were voyagers and people who traveled far; but they were almost always traders,
i.e. people from whom priestcraft and their own sole love for gain had taken
away all capacity for intellectual development. So their observations,
instead of adding to the store of human knowledge, rather degenerated it; for
their observations were bad and their accounts exaggerated and tortured into
fantastical shapes, until they passed all recognition.
So you see, we must travel, we must go to foreign
parts. We must see how the engine of society works in other countries, and keep
free and open communication with what is going on in the minds of other nations,
if we really want to be a nation again. And over and above all, we must cease to
tyrannize. To what a ludicrous state are we brought! If a Bhangi
comes to anybody as a Bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague; but no sooner
does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some mutterings of
prayers by a Padre, and get a coat on his back, no matter how threadbare, and
come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu-I don't see the man who then dare
refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of the hands! Irony can go no
further. And come and see what they, the Padres, are doing here in the
Dakshin(south). They are converting the lower classes by lakhs; and in
Travancore, the most priest-ridden country in India— where every bit of land
is owned by the Brahmins... nearly one-fourth has become Christian! And I
cannot blame them; what part have they in David and what in Jesse? When,
when, O Lord, shall man be brother to man?
^with whom he read the Maha-Bhâshya on Panini.
10th July, 1893.
BALAJI, G. G., BANKING CORPORATION, AND ALL MY MADRAS FRIENDS,
Excuse my not keeping you constantly informed of my
movements. One is so busy every day, and especially myself who am quite new to
the life of possessing things and taking care of them. That consumes so
much of my energy. It is really an awful botheration.
From Bombay we reached Colombo. Our steamer remained in
port for nearly the whole day, and we took the opportunity of getting off to
have a look at the town. We drove through the streets, and the only thing
I remember was a temple in which was a very gigantic Murti(image) of the Lord
Buddha in a reclining posture, entering Nirvana. ...
The next station was Penang, which is only a strip of
land along the sea in the body of the Malaya Peninsula. The Malayas are
all Muhammadans and in old days were noted pirates and quite a dread to
merchantmen. But now the leviathan guns of modern turreted battleships.
have forced the Malayas to look about for more peaceful pursuits. On our
way from Penang to Singapore, we had glimpses of Sumatra with its high
mountains, and the Captain pointed out to me several places as the favorite
haunts of pirates in days gone by. Singapore is the capital of the Straits
Settlements. It has a fine botanical garden with the most splendid
collection of palms. The beautiful fan-like palm, called the traveler's palm,
grows here in abundance, and the bread-fruit tree everywhere. The
celebrated mangosteen is as plentiful here as mangoes in Madras, but mango is
nonpareil. The people here are not half so dark as the people of Madras,
although so near the line. Singapore possesses a fine museum too.
Hong Kong next. You feel that you have reached
China, the Chinese element predominates so much. All labor, all trade
seems to be in their hands. And Hong Kong is real China. As soon as the
steamer casts anchor, you are besieged with hundreds of Chinese boats to carry
you to the land. These boats with two helms are rather peculiar. The
boatman lives in the boat with his family. Almost always, the wife is at the
helms, managing one with her hands and the other with one of her feet. And
in ninety per cent of cases, you find a baby tied to her back, with the hands
and feet of the little Chin left free. It is a quaint sight to see the
little John Chinaman dangling very quietly from his mother's back, whilst she is
now setting with might and main, now pushing heavy loads, or jumping with
wonderful agility from boat to boat. And there is such a rush of boats and
steam- launches coming in and going out. Baby John is every moment put
into the risk of having his little head pulverised, pigtail and all; but he does
not care a fig. This busy life seems to have no charm for him, and he is
quite content to learn the anatomy of a bit of rice-cake given to him from time
to time by the madly busy mother. The Chinese child is quite a philosopher
and calmly goes to work at an age when your Indian boy can hardly crawl on all
fours. He has learnt the philosophy of necessity too well. Their
extreme poverty is one of the causes why the Chinese and the Indians have
remained in a state of mummified civilization. To an ordinary Hindu or
Chinese, everyday necessity is too hideous to allow him to think of anything
Hong Kong is a very beautiful town. It is built on the
slopes of hills and on the tops too, which are much cooler than the city.
There is an almost perpendicular tramway going to the top of the hill, dragged
by wire- rope and steam-power.
We remained three days at Hong Kong and went to see
Canton, which is eighty miles up a river. The river is broad enough to
allow the biggest steamers to pass through. A number of Chinese steamers
ply between Hong Kong and Canton. We took passage on one of these in the
evening and reached Canton early in the morning. What a scene of bustle
and life! What an immense number of boats almost covering the waters!
And not only those that are carrying on the trade, but hundreds of others which
serve as houses to live in. And quite a lot of them so nice and big! In
fact, they are big houses two or three storeys high, with verandahs running
round and streets between, and all floating!
We landed on a strip of ground given by the Chinese
Government to foreigners to live in. Around us on both sides of the river for
miles and miles is the big city— wilderness of human beings, pushing,
struggling, surging, roaring. But with all its population, all its
activity, it is the dirtiest town I saw, not in the sense in which a town is
called dirty in India, for as to that not a speck of filth is allowed by the
Chinese to go waste ; but because of the Chinaman, who has, it seems, taken a
vow never to bathe! Every house is a shop, people living only on the top floor.
The streets are very very narrow, so that you almost touch the shops on both
sides as you pass. At every ten paces you find meat-stalls, and there are shops
which sell cat's and dog's meat. Of course, only the poorest classes of
Chinamen eat dog or cat.
The Chinese ladies can never be seen. They have got as
strict a zenana as the Hindus of Northern India; only the women of the labouring
classes can be seen. Even amongst these, one sees now and then a woman
with feet smaller than those of your youngest child, and of course they cannot
be said to walk, but hobble. I went to see several Chinese temples.
The biggest in Canton is dedicated to the memory of the first Buddhistic Emperor
and the five hundred first disciples of Buddhism. The central figure is of
course Buddha, and next beneath Him is seated the Emperor, and ranging on both
sides are the statues of the disciples, all beautifully carved out of wood.
From Canton I returned back to Hong Kong, and from
thence to Japan. The first port we touched was Nagasaki. We landed
for a few hours and drove through, the town. What a contrast! The
Japanese are one of the cleanliest peoples on earth. Everything is neat
and tidy. Their streets are nearly all broad, straight, and regularly
paved. Their little houses are cage-like, and their pine- covered
evergreen little hills form the background of almost every town and village.
The short-statured, fair-skinned, quaintly-dressed Japs, their movements,
attitudes, gestures, everything is picturesque. Japan is the land of the
picturesque! Almost every house has a garden at the back, very nicely laid
out according to Japanese fashion with small shrubs, grass-plots, small
artificial waters, and small stone bridges.
From Nagasaki to Kobe. Here I gave up the steamer and
took the land-route to Yokohama, with a view to see- the interior of Japan.
I have seen three big cities in the interior— Osaka,
a great manufacturing town, Kyoto, the former capital, and Tokyo, the present
capital: Tokyo is nearly twice the size of Calcutta with nearly double the
No foreigner is allowed to travel in the interior with
out a passport.
The Japanese seem now to have fully awakened them
selves to the necessity of the present times. They have now a thoroughly
organized army equipped with guns which one of their own officers has invented
and which is said to be second to none. Then, they are continually
increasing their navy. I have seen a tunnel nearly a mile long, bored by a
The match factories are simply a sight to see, and they
are bent upon making everything they want in their own country. There is a
Japanese line of steamers plying between China and Japan, which shortly intends
running between Bombay and Yokohama.
I saw quite a lot of temples. In every temple
there are some Sanskrit Mantras written in Old Bengali characters. Only a few of
the priests know Sanskrit. But they are an intelligent sect. The
modern rage for progress has penetrated even the priesthood. I cannot
write what I have in my mind about the Japs in one short letter. Only I
want that numbers of our young men should pay a visit to Japan and China every
year. Especially to the Japanese, India is still the dreamland of
everything high and good. And you, what: are you? ...talking twaddle
all your lives, vain talkers, what are you? Come, see these people, and then go
and hide your faces in shame. A race of dotards, you lose your caste if you come
out! Sitting down these hundreds of years with an ever- increasing load of
crystallized superstition on your heads, for hundreds of years spending all your
energy upon discussing the touchableness or untouchableness of this food or
that, with all humanity crushed out of you by the continuous social tyranny of
ages what are you? And what are you doing now? ...promenading the
sea-shores with books in your hands—repeating undigested stray bits of
European brainwork, and the whole soul bent upon getting a thirty-rupee
clerkship, or at best becoming a lawyer—the height of young India's
ambition—and every student with a whole brood of hungry children cackling at
his heels and asking for bread! Is there not water enough in the sea to
drown you, books, gowns, university diplomas, and all?
Come, be men! Kick out the priests who are always
against progress, because they would never mend, their hearts would never become
big. They are the offspring of centuries of superstition and tyranny.
Root out priestcraft first. Come, be men! Come out of your narrow
holes and have a look abroad. See how nations are on the march? Do
you love man? Do you love your country? Then come, let us struggle
for higher and better things; look not back, no, not even if you see the dearest
and nearest cry. Look not back, but forward!
India wants the sacrifice of at least a thousand of her
young men—men, mind, and not brutes. The English Government has been the
instrument, brought over here by the Lord, to break your crystallized
civilization, and Madras supplied the first men who helped in giving the English
a footing. How many men, unselfish, thorough- going men, is Madras ready
now to supply, to struggle unto life and death to bring about a new state of
things— sympathy for the poor, and bread to their hungry-mouths, enlightenment
to the people at large—and struggle unto death to make men of them who have
been brought to the level of beasts, by the tyranny of your forefathers?
PS. Calm and
silent and steady work, and no newspaper humbug, no name-making, you must always
20th August, 1893.
Received your letter yesterday. Perhaps you have
by this time got my letter from Japan. From Japan I reached Vancouver. The
way was by the Northern Pacific. It was very cold and I suffered much for
want of warm clothing. However, I reached Vancouver anyhow, and thence
went through Canada to Chicago. I remained about twelve days in Chicago.
And almost every clay I used to go to the Fair. It is a tremendous affair.
One must take at least ten days to go through it. The lady to whom Varada
Rao introduced me and her husband belong to the highest Chicago society, and
they were so very kind to me. I took my departure from Chicago and came to
Boston. Mr. Lalubhai was with me up to Boston. He was very kind to
The expense I am bound to run into here is awful.
You remember, you gave me Ł170 in notes and Ł9 in cash. It has come down
to Ł130 in all! On an average it costs me Ł1 every day; a cigar costs
eight annas of our money. The Americans are so rich that they spend money
like water, and by forced legislation keep up the price of everything so high
that no other nation on earth can approach it. Every common coolie earns
nine or ten rupees a day and spends as much. All those rosy ideas we had
before starting have melted, and I have now to fight against impossibilities.
A hundred times I had a mind to go out of the country and go back to India. But
I am determined, and I have a call from Above; I see no way, but His eyes see.
And I must stick to my guns, life or death. ...
Just now I am living as the guest of an old lady in a
village near Boston. I accidentally made her acquaintance in the railway train,
and she invited me to come over and live with her. I have an advantage in
living with her, in saving for some time my expenditure of Ł1 per day, and she
has the advantage of inviting her friends over here and showing them a curio
from India! And all this must be borne. Starvation, cold, hooting in
the streets on account of my quaint dress, these are what I have to fight
against. But, my dear boy, no great things were ever done without great labor.
...Know, then, that this is the land of Christians, and
any other influence than that is almost zero. Nor do I care a bit for the enmity
of any—ists in the world. I am here amongst the children of the Son of
Mary, and the Lord Jesus will help me. They like much the broad views of
Hinduism and my love for the Prophet of Nazareth. I tell them that I
preach nothing against the Great One of Galilee. I only ask the Christians
to take in the Great Ones of Ind along with the Lord Jesus, and they appreciate
Winter is approaching and I shall have to get all sorts
of warm clothing, and we require more warm clothing than the natives... Look
sharp, my boy, take courage. We are destined by the Lord to do great
things in India. Have faith. We will do. We, the poor and the despised,
who really feel, and not those....
In Chicago, the other day, a funny thing happened The
Raja of Kapurthala was here, and he was being lionized by some portion of
Chicago society. I once met the Raja in the Fair grounds, but he was too
big to speak with a poor Fakir. There was an eccentric Mahratta Brahmin
selling nail-made pictures in the Fair, dressed in a dhoti This fellow told the
reporters all sorts of things against the Raja—-, that he was a man of low
caste, that those Rajas were nothing but slaves, and that they generally led
immoral lives, etc., etc. And these truthful(?) editors, for which America
is famous, wanted to give to the boy's stories some weight ; and so the next day
they wrote huge columns in their papers about the description of a man of wisdom
from India, meaning me—extolling me to the skies, and putting all sorts of
words in my mouth, which I never even dreamt of, and ascribing to me all those
remarks made by the Mahratta Brahmin about the Raja of Kapurthala. And it
was such a good brushing that Chicago society gave up the Raja in hot haste.
...These newspaper editors made capital out of me to give my countryman a
brushing. That shows, however, that in this country intellect carries more
weight than all the pomp of money and title.
Yesterday Mrs. Johnson, the lady superintendent of the
women's prison, was here. They don't call it prison but reformatory here.
It is the grandest thing I have seen in America. How the inmates are
benevolently treated, how they are reformed and sent back as useful members of
society; how grand, how beautiful, you must see to believe! And, oh, how
my heart ached to think of what we think of the poor, the low, in India.
They have no chance, no escape, no way to climb up. The poor, the low, the
sinner in India have no friends, no help—they cannot rise, try however they
may. They sink lower and lower every day, they feel the blows showered
upon them by a cruel society, and they do not know whence the blow comes.
They have forgotten that they too are men and the result is slavery. Thoughtful
people within the last few years have seen it, but unfortunately laid it at the
door of the Hindu religion, and, to them, the only way of bettering is by
crushing this grandest religion of the world. Hear me, my friend, I have
discovered the secret through the grace of the Lord. Religion is not in
fault. On the other hand, your religion teaches you that every being is
only your own self multiplied. But it was the want of practical
application, the want of sympathy—the want of heart. The Lord once more
came to you as Buddha and taught you how to feel, how to sympathize with the
poor, the miserable, the sinner, but you heard Him not. Your priests
invented the horrible story that the Lord was here for deluding demons with
false doctrines! True indeed, but we are the demons, not those that
believed. And just as the Jews denied the Lord Jesus and are since that day
wandering over the world as homeless beggars, tyrannized over by everybody, so
you are bond-slaves to any nation that thinks it worth while to rule over you.
Ah, tyrants! you do not know that the obverse is tyranny, and the reverse
slavery. The slave and the tyrant are synonymous.
Balaji and G. G. may remember one evening
at Pondicherry—we were discussing the matter of sea-voyage with a Pandit, and
I shall always remember his brutal gestures and his Kadâpi Na(never)! They do
not know that India is a very small part of the world, and the whole world looks
down with contempt upon the three hundred millions of earthworms crawling upon
the fair soil of India and trying to oppress each other. This state of
things must be removed, not by destroying religion but by following the great
teachings of the Hindu faith, and joining with it the wonderful sympathy of that
logical development of Hinduism—Buddhism.
A hundred thousand men and women, fired with the zeal
of holiness, fortified with eternal faith in the Lord, and nerved to lion's
courage by their sympathy for the poor and the fallen and the downtrodden, will
go over the length and breadth of the land, preaching the gospel of salvation,
the gospel of help, the gospel of social raising- up, the -- the gospel of
No religion on earth preaches the dignity of humanity
in such a lofty strain as Hinduism, and no religion on earth treads upon the
necks of the poor and the low in such a fashion as Hinduism. The Lord has
shown me that religion is not in fault, but it is the Pharisees and Sadducees in
Hinduism, hypocrites, who invent all sorts of engines of tyranny in the shape of
doctrines of Pâramârthika and Vyâvahârika.
Despair not; remember the Lord says in the Gita,
"To work you have the right, but not to the result." Gird up your
loins, my boy. I am called by the Lord for this. I have been dragged
through a whole life full of crosses and tortures, I have seen the nearest and
dearest die, almost of starvation; I have been ridiculed, distrusted, and have
suffered for my sympathy for the very men who scoff and scorn. Well, my boy,
this is the school of misery, which is also the school for great souls and
prophets for the cultivation of sympathy, of patience, and, above all, of an
indomitable iron will which quakes not even if the universe be pulverized at our
feet. I pity them. It is not their fault. They are children,
yea, veritable children, though they be great and high in society. Their
eyes see nothing beyond their little horizon of a few yards—the routine-work,
eating, drinking, earning, and begetting, following each other in mathematical
precision. They know nothing beyond—happy little souls! Their
sleep is never disturbed, their nice little brown studies of lives never rudely
shocked by the wail of woe, of misery, of degradation, and poverty, that has
filled the Indian atmosphere— the result of centuries of oppression.
They little dream of the ages of tyranny, mental, moral, and physical, that has
reduced the image of God to a mere beast of burden; the emblem of the Divine
Mother, to a slave to bear children; and life itself, a curse. But there are
others who see, feel, and shed tears of blood in their hearts, who think that
there is a remedy for it, and who are ready to apply this remedy at any cost,
even to the giving up of life. And "of such is the kingdom of
Heaven". Is it not then natural, my friends, that they have no time to look
down from their heights to the vagaries of these contemptible little insects,
ready every moment to spit their little venoms?
Trust not to the so-called rich, they are more dead
than alive. The hope lies in you—in the meek, the lowly, but the
faithful. Have faith in the Lord; no policy, it is nothing. Feel for the
miserable and look up for help—it shall come. I have traveled twelve
years with this load in my heart and this idea in my head. I have gone
from door to door of the so-called rich and great. With a bleeding heart I
have crossed half the world to this strange land, seeking for help. The
Lord is great. I know He will help me. I may perish of cold or
hunger in this land, but I bequeath to you, young men, this sympathy, this
struggle for the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed. Go now this minute to
the temple of Pârthasârathi,^ and before Him who was friend to the poor and
lowly cowherds of Gokula, who never shrank to embrace the Pariah Guhaka, who
accepted the invitation of a prostitute in preference to that of the nobles and
saved her in His incarnation as Buddha —yea, down on your faces before Him,
and make a great sacrifice, the sacrifice of a whole life for them, for whom He
comes from time to time, whom He loves above all, the poor, the lowly, the
oppressed. Vow, then, to devote your whole lives to the cause of the
redemption of these three hundred millions, going down and down every day.
It is not the work of a day, and the path is full of
the most deadly thorns. But Pârthasârathi is ready to be our Sârathi---we
know that. And in His name and with eternal faith in Him, set fire to the
mountain of misery that has been heaped upon India for ages—and it shall be
burned down. Come then, look it in the face, brethren, it is a grand task,
and we are so low. But we are the sons of Light and children of God.
Glory unto the Lord, we will succeed. Hundreds will fall in the struggle,
hundreds will be ready to take it up. I may die here unsuccessful, another will
take up the task. You know the disease, you know the remedy, only have
faith. Do not look up to the so- called rich and great; do not care for
the heartless intellectual writers, and their cold-blooded newspaper articles.
Faith, sympathy—fiery faith and fiery sympathy! Life is nothing, death
is nothing, hunger nothing, cold nothing. Glory unto the Lord—march on,
the Lord is our General. Do not look back to see who
falls—forward—onward! Thus and thus we shall go on, brethren.
One falls, and another takes up the work.
From this village I am going to Boston tomorrow. I am
going to speak at a big Ladies' Club here, which is helping Ramâbâi. I must
first go and buy some clothing in Boston. If I am to live longer here, my
quaint dress will not do. People gather by hundreds in the streets to see
me. So what I want is to dress myself in a long black coat, and keep a red
robe and turban to wear when I lecture. This is what the ladies advise me
to do, and they are the rulers here, and I must have their sympathy.
Before you get this letter my money would come down to somewhat about Ł70 of Ł60.
So try your best to send some money. It is necessary to remain here for
some time to have any influence here. I could not see the phonograph for Mr.
Bhattacharya as I got his letter here. If I go to Chicago again, I will
look for them. I do not know whether I shall go back to Chicago or not. My
friends there write me to represent India. And the gentleman, to whom Varada Rao
introduced me, is one of the directors of the Fair; but then I refused as I
would have to spend all my little stock of money in remaining more than a month
In America, there are no classes in the railway except
in Canada. So I have to travel first-class, as that is the only class; but
I do not venture in the Pullmans. They are very comfortable—you sleep,
eat, drink, even bathe in them, just as if you were in a hotel—but they are
It is very hard work, getting into society and making
yourself heard. Now nobody is in the towns, they are all away in summer
places. They will all come back in winter. Therefore I must wait.
After such a struggle, I am not going to give up easily. Only try your best to
help me as much as you can; and even if you cannot, I must try to the end. And
even if I die of cold or
disease or hunger here, you take up the task. Holiness, sincerity, and
faith. I have left instructions with Cooks to forward any letter or money
to me wherever I am. Rome was not built in a day. If you can keep me here
for six months at least, I hope everything will come right. In the
meantime, I am trying my best to find any plank I can float upon. And if I
find out any means to support myself, I shall wire to you immediately.
First I will try in America; and if I fail, try in
England; if I fail, go back to India and wait for further commands from High.
Ramdas's father has gone to England. He is in a hurry to gone home.
He is a very good man at heart, only the Baniya roughness on the surface.
It would take more than twenty days for the letter to reach. Even now it
is so cold in New England that every day we have fires night and morning.
Canada is still colder. I never saw snow on such low hills as there.
Gradually I can make my way; but that means a longer
residence in this horribly expensive country. Just now the raising of the
Rupee in India has created a panic in this country, and lots of mills have been
stopped. So I cannot hope for anything just now, but I must wait.
Just now I have been to the tailor and ordered some winter clothings, and that
would cost at least Rs. 300 and up. And still it would not be good
clothes, only decent. Ladies here are very particular about a man's dress, and
they are the power in this country. They... never fail the
missionaries. They are helping our Ramâbâi every year. If you fail
in keeping me here, send some money to get me out of the country: In the
meantime if anything turns out in my favor, I will write or wire. A word
costs Rs. 4 in cable! !
I am so sorry that a moment's weakness on my part
should cause you so much trouble; I was out of pocket at that time. Since
then the Lord sent me friends. At a village near Boston I made the
acquaintance of Dr. Wright, Professor of Greek in the Harvard University. He
sympathized with me very much and urged upon me the necessity of going to the
Parliament of Religions, which he thought would give me an introduction to the
nation. As I was not acquainted with anybody, the Professor undertook to
arrange everything for me, and eventually I came back to Chicago. Here I,
together with the oriental and occidental delegates to the Parliament of
Religions, were all lodged in the house of a gentleman.
On the morning of the opening of the Parliament, we all
assembled in a building called the Art Palace, where one huge and other smaller
temporary halls were erected for the sittings of the Parliament. Men from
all nations were there. From India were Mazoomdar of the Brâhmo Samâj,
and Nagarkar of Bombay, Mr. Gandhi representing the Jains, and Mr. Chakravarti
representing Theosophy with Mrs. Annie Besant. Of these, Mazoomdar and I
were, of course, old friends, and Chakravarti knew me by name. There was a
grand procession, and we were all marshalled on to the platform. Imagine a hall
below and a huge gallery above, packed with six or seven thousand men and women
representing the best culture of the country, and on the platform learned men of
all the nations of the earth. And I, who never spoke in public in my life,
to address this august assemblage!! It was opened in great form with music
and ceremony and speeches: then the delegates were introduced one by one, and
they stepped up and spoke. Of course my heart was fluttering, and my
tongue nearly dried up; I was so nervous and could not venture to speak in the
morning. Mazoomdar made a nice speech, Chakravarti a nicer one, and they were
much applauded. They were all prepared and came with ready-made speeches.
I was a fool and had none, but bowed down to Devi Sarasvati and stepped up, and
Dr. Barrows introduced me. I made a short speech. I addressed the assembly
as "Sisters and Brothers of America", a deafening applause of two
minutes followed, and then I proceeded; and when it was finished, I sat down.
almost exhausted with emotion. The next day all the papers announced that
my speech was the hit of the day, and I became known to the whole of America.
Truly has it been said by the great commentator Shridhara---"[translated
from Sanskrit]-Who maketh the dumb a fluent speaker." His name be praised!
From that day I became a celebrity, and the day I read my paper on Hinduism, the
hall was packed as it had never been before. I quote to you from one of
the papers: "Ladies, ladies, ladies packing every place—filling every
corner, they patiently waited and waited while the papers that separated them
from Vivekananda were read", etc. You would be astonished if I sent over to
you the news paper cuttings, but you already know that I am a hater of
celebrity. Suffice it to say, that whenever I went on the platform, a
deafening applause would be raised for me. Nearly all the papers paid high
tributes to me, and even the most bigoted had to admit that "This man with
his handsome face and magnetic presence and wonderful oratory is the most
prominent figure in the Parliament", etc., etc. Sufficient for you to
know that never before did an Oriental make such an impression on American
And how to speak of their kindness? I have no
more wants now, I am well off, and all the money that I require to visit Europe
I shall get from here. ...A boy called Narasimhacharya has cropped up in our
midst. He has been loafing about the city for the last three years.
Loafing or no loafing, I like him; but please write to me all about him if you
know anything. He knows you. He came in the year of the Paris Exhibition
I am now out of want. Many of the handsomest houses in
this city are open to me. All the time I am living as a guest of somebody
or other. There is a curiosity in this nation, such as you meet with
nowhere else. They want to know everything, and their women— they are the most
advanced in the world. The average American woman is far more cultivated
than the average American man. The men slave all their life for money, and
the women snatch every opportunity to improve themselves. And they are a
very kind-hearted, frank people. Everybody who has a fad to preach comes
here, and I am sorry to say that most of these are not sound. The
Americans have their faults too, and what nation has not? But this is my
summing up: Asia laid the germs of civilisation, Europe developed man, and
America is developing the woman and the masses. It is the paradise of the
woman and the labourer. Now contrast the American masses and women with
ours, and you get the idea at once. The Americans are fast becoming
liberal. Judge them not by the specimens of hard-shelled Christians(it is
their own phrase) that you see in India. There are those here too, but their
number is decreasing rapidly, and this great nation is progressing fast towards
that spirituality which is the standard boast of the Hindu.
The Hindu must not give up his religion, but must keep
religion within its proper limits and give freedom to society to grow. All
the reformers in India made the serious mistake of holding religion accountable
for all the horrors of priestcraft and degeneration and went forth with to pull
down the indestructible structure, and what was the result? Failure!
Beginning from Buddha down to Ram Mohan Roy, everyone made the mistake of
holding caste to be a religious institution and tried to pull down religion and
caste all together, and failed. But in spite of all the ravings of the priests,
caste is simply a crystallised social institution, which after doing its service
is now filling the atmosphere of India with its stench, and it can only be
removed by giving back to the people their lost social individuality.
Every man born here knows that he is a man. Every man born in India knows that
he is a slave of society. Now, freedom is the only condition of growth;
take that off, the result is degeneration. With the introduction of modern
competition, see how caste is disappearing fast! No religion is now
necessary to kill it. The Brâhmana shopkeeper, shoe maker, and
wine-distiller are common in Northern India. And why? Because of
competition. No man is prohibited from doing anything he pleases for his
livelihood under the present Government, and the result is neck and neck
competition, and thus thousands are seeking and finding the highest level they
were born for, instead of vegetating at the bottom.
I must remain in this country at least through the
winter, and then go to Europe. The Lord will provide everything for me.
You need not disturb yourself about it. I cannot express my gratitude for
your love. Day by day I am feeling that the Lord is with me, and I am
trying to follow His direction. His will be done. ...We will do
great things for the world, and that: for the sake of doing good and not for
name and fame.
"Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and
die." Be of good cheer and believe that we are selected by the Lord to do
great things, and we will do them. Hold yourself in readiness, i.e. be
pure and holy, and love for love's sake. Love the poor, the miserable, the
down- trodden, and the Lord will bless you.
See the Raja of Ramnad and others from time to time and
urge them to sympathise with the masses of India. Tell them how they are
standing on the neck of the poor and that they are not fit to be called men if
they do not try to raise them up. Be fearless, the Lord is with you, and
He will yet raise the starving and ignorant millions of India. A railway
porter here is better educated than many of your young men and most of your
princes. Every American woman has far better education than can be conceived of
by the majority of Hindu women. Why cannot we have the same education?
We must. Think not that you are poor; money is not power, but goodness,
holiness. Come and see how it is so all over the world.
PS. By the bye, your uncle's paper was the most curious phenomenon I ever
saw. It was like a tradesman's catalogue, and it was not thought fit to be
read in the Parliament. So Narasimhacharya read a few extracts from it in
a side hall, and nobody understood a word of it. Do not tell him of it. It
is a great art to press the largest amount of thought into the smallest number
of words. Even Manilal Dvivedi's paper had to be cut very short.
More than a thousand papers were read, and there was no time to give to such
wild perorations. I had a good long time given to me over the ordinary
half hour, ... because the most popular speakers were always put down last, to
hold the audience. And Lord bless them, what sympathy they have, and what
patience! They would sit from ten o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at
night —only a recess of half an hour for a meal, and paper after paper read,
most of them very trivial, but they would wait and wait to hear their favourites.
Dharmapâla of Ceylon was one of the favourites. But
unfortunately be was not a good speaker. He had only quotations from Max Müller
and Rhys Davids to give them. He is a very sweet man, and we became very
intimate during the Parliament.
A Christian lady from Poona, Miss Sorabji, and the Jain
representative, Mr. Gandhi, are going to remain longer in the country and make
lecture tours. I hope they will succeed. Lecturing is a very profitable
occupation in this country and sometimes pays well.
Mr. Ingersoll gets five to six hundred dollars a
lecture. He is the most celebrated lecturer in this country. Do not publish this
letter. After reading, send it to the Maharaja(of Khetri). I have sent him
m y photograph in America.
[Letter to Haripada
[Translated from Bengali]
C/o GEORGE W. HALE
541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
28th December, 1893.
It is very strange that news of my Chicago lectures has
appeared in the Indian papers; for whatever I do, I try my best to avoid
publicity. Many things strike me here. It may be fairly said that
there is no poverty in this country. I have never seen women elsewhere
ascultured and educated as they are here. Well-educated men there are in
our country, but you will scarcely find anywhere women like those here. It
is indeed true, that "the Goddess Herself lives in the houses of virtuous
men as Lakshmi" I have seen thousands of women here whose hearts are as
pure and stainless as snow. Oh, how free they are! It is they who
control social and civic duties. Schools and colleges are full of women,
and in our country women cannot be safely allowed to walk in the streets.
Their kindness to me is immeasurable. Since I came here, I have been
welcomed by them to their houses. They are providing me with food,
arranging for my lectures, taking me to market, and doing everything for my
comfort and convenience. I shall never be able to repay in the least the
deep debt of gratitude I owe to them.
Do you know who is the real "Shakti-worshipper"?
It is he who knows that God is the omnipresent force in the universe and sees in
women the manifestation of that Force. Many men here look upon their women
in this light. Manu, again, has said that gods bless those families where
women are happy and well treated. Here men treat their women as well as can be
desired, and hence they are so prosperous, so learned, so free, and so
energetic. But why is it that we are slavish, miserable, and dead?
The answer is obvious.
And how pure and chaste are they here! Few women
are married before twenty or twenty-five, and they are as free as the birds in
the air. They go to market, school, and college, earn money, and do all
kinds of work. Those who are well-to-do devote themselves to doing good to the
poor. And what are we doing? We are very regular in marrying our
girls at eleven years of age lest they should become corrupt and immoral. What
does our Manu enjoin? "Daughters should be supported and educated with as
much care and attention as the sons." As sons should be married after
observing Brahmacharya up to the thirtieth year, so daughters also must observe
Brahmacharya and be educated by their parents. But what are we actually
doing? Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will
be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are
If anybody is born of a low caste in our country, he is
gone for ever, there is no hope for him. Why? What a tyranny it is!
There are possibilities, opportunities, and hope for every individual in this
country. Today he is poor, tomorrow he may become rich and learned and
respected. Here everyone is anxious to help the poor. In India there
is a howling cry that we are very poor, but bow many charitable associations are
there for the well- being of the poor? How many people really weep for the
sorrows and sufferings of the millions of poor in India? Are we men?
What are we doing for their livelihood, for their improvement? We do not
touch them, we avoid their company! Are we men? Those thousands of
Brâhmanas—what are they doing for the low, down- trodden masses of India?
"Don't touch", "Don't touch", is the only phrase that plays
upon their lips! How mean and degraded has our eternal religion become at
their hands! Wherein does our religion lie now? In "Don't-
touchism" alone, and nowhere else!
I came to this country not to satisfy my curiosity, nor
for name or fame, but to see if I could find any means for the support of the
poor in India. If God helps me, you will know gradually what those means
As regards spirituality, the Americans are far inferior
to us but their society is far superior to ours. We will teach them our
spirituality and assimilate what is best in their society.
With love and best wishes,
[Letter to His
disciples in Madras]
C/o GEORGE W. HALE
541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
24th January, 1894.
Your letters have reached me. I am surprised that
so much about me has reached you. The criticism you mention of the
Interior is not to be taken as the attitude of the American people. That
paper is almost unknown here, and belongs to what they call a "blue-nose
Presbyterian paper", very bigoted. Still all the
"blue-noses" are not ungentlemanly. The American people and many
of the clergy, are very hospitable to me. That paper wanted a little
notoriety by attacking a man who was being lionised by society. That trick is
well known here, and they do not think anything of it. Of course, our
Indian missionaries may try to make capital out of it. If they do, tell
them, "Mark, Jew, a judgment has come upon you!" Their old building is
tottering to its foundation and must come down in spite of their hysterical
shrieks. I pity them—if their means of living fine lives in India is cut
down by the influx of oriental religions here. But not one of their
leading clergy is ever against me. Well, when I am in the pond, I must
I send you a newspaper cutting of the short sketch of
our religion which I read before them. Most of my speeches are extempore.
I hope to put them in book form before I leave the country. I do not
require any help from India, I have plenty here. Employ the money you have
in printing and publishing this short speech; and translating it into the
vernaculars, throw it broadcast; that will keep us before the national mind. In
the meantime do not forget our plan of a central college, and the starting from
it to all directions in India. Work hard. ...
About the women of America, I cannot express my
gratitude for their kindness. Lord bless them. In this country,
women are the life of every movement, and represent; all the culture of the
nation, for men are too busy to educate themselves.
I have received Kidi's letters. With the question
whether caste shall go or come I have nothing to do. My idea is to bring to the
door of the meanest, the poorest, the noble ideas that the human race has
developed both m and out of India, and let them think for themselves.
Whether there should be caste or not, whether women should be perfectly free or
not, does not concern me. "Liberty of thought and action is the only
condition of life, of growth, and well-being." Where it does not exist, the
man, the race, the nation must go down.
Caste or no caste, creed or no creed, any man, or
class, or caste, or nation, or institution which bars the power of free thought
and action of an individual even so long as that power does not injure others is
devilish and must go down.
My whole ambition in life is to set in motion a
machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody, and then let
men and women settle their own fate. Let them know what our forefathers as
well as other nations have thought on the most momentous questions of life.
Let them see specially what others are doing now, and then decide. We are
to put the chemicals together, the crystallisation will be done by nature
according to her laws. Work hard, be steady, and have faith in the Lord.
Set to work, I am coming sooner or later. Keep the motto before
you—"Elevation of the masses without injuring their religion".
Remember that the nation lives in the cottage. But,
alas! nobody ever did anything for them. Our modern reformers are very
busy about widow remarriage. Of course, I am a sympathiser in every
reform, but the fate of a nation does not depend upon the number of husbands
their widows get, but upon the condition of the masses. Can you raise
them? Can you give them back their lost individuality without making them
lose their innate spiritual nature? Can you become an occidental of
occidentals in your spirit of equality, freedom, work, and energy, and at the
same time a Hindu to the very backbone in religious culture and instincts?
This is to be done and we will do it. You are all born to do it. Have faith, in
yourselves, great convictions are the mothers of great deeds. Onward for
ever! Sympathy for the poor, the downtrodden, even unto death—this is
Onward, brave lads!
PS. Do not publish this letter; but there is no harm in preaching the idea
of elevating the masses hy means of a central college, and bringing education as
well as religion to the door of the poor by means of missionaries trained in
this college. Try to interest everybody.
I send you a few newspaper cuttings—only from the
very best and highest. The one by Dr. Thomas is very valuable as written
by one of the, if not the leading clergymen of America. The Interior with
all its fanaticism and thirst for notoriety was bound to say that I was the
public favourite. I cut a few lines from that magazine also.
9th April, 1894.
I got your last letter a few days ago. You see I
am so very busy here, and have to write so many letters every day, that you
cannot expect frequent communications from me. But I try my best to keep
you in touch with whatever is going on here. I will write to Chicago for one of
the books on the Parliament of Religions to be sent over to you. But by
this time you have got two of my short speeches.
Secretary Saheb writes me that I must come back to
India, because that is my field. No doubt of that. But my brother,
we are to light a torch which will shed a lustre over all India. So let us
not be in a hurry; every thing will come by the grace of the Lord. I have
lectured in many of the big towns of America, and have got enough to pay my
passage back after paying the awful expenses here. I have made a good many
friends here, some of them very influential. Of course, the orthodox
clergymen are against me; and seeing that it is not easy to grapple with me,
they try to hinder, abuse, and vilify me in every way; and Mazoomdar has come to
their help. He must have gone mad with jealousy. He has told them that I
was a big fraud, and a rogue! And again in Calcutta he is telling them
that I am leading a most sinful life in America, specially unchaste! Lord
bless him! My brother, no good thing can be done without obstruction.
It is only those who persevere to the end that succeed. ...I believe that the
Satya Yuga(Golden Age) will come when there will be one caste, one Veda, and
peace and harmony. This idea of Satya Yuga is what would revivify India.
Believe it. One thing is to be done if you can do it. Can you
convene a big meeting in Madras, getting Ramnad or any such big fellow as the
President, and pass a resolution of your entire satisfaction at my
representation of Hinduism here, and send it to the Chicago Herald, Inter-Ocean,
and the New York Sun, and the CommercialAdvertiser of Detroit(Michigan).
Chicago is in Illinois. New York Sun requires no particulars.
Detroit is in the State of Michigan. Send copies to Dr. Barrows, Chairman
of the Parliament of Religions, Chicago. I have forgotten his number, but the
street is Indiana Avenue. One copy to Mrs. J. J. Bagley of Detroit, Washington
Try to make this meeting as big as possible. Get hold
of all the big bugs who must join it for their religion and country. Try
to get a letter from the Mysore Maharaja and the Dewan approving the meeting and
its purpose—so of Khetri---in fact, as big and noisy a crowd as you can.
The resolution would be of such a nature that the Hindu
community of Madras, who sent me over, expressing its entire satisfaction in my
work here etc. .
Now try if it is possible. This is not much work.
Get also letters of sympathy from all parts you can and print them and send
copies to the American papers —as quickly as you can. That will go a long way,
my brethren. The B—- S—- fellows here are trying to talk all sorts of
nonsense. We must stop their mouths as fast as we can.
Up boys, and put yourselves to the task! If you
can do that, I am sure we will be able to do much in future. Old Hinduism
for ever! Down with all liars and rogues! Up, up, my boys, we are sure to
As to publishing my letters, such parts as ought to be
published may be published for our friends till I come. When once we begin
to work, we shall have a tremendous "boom", but I do not want to talk
without working. I do not know, but G. C. Ghosh and Mr. Mitra of Calcutta
can get up all the sympathisers of my late Gurudeva to do the same in Calcutta.
If they can, so much the better. Ask them, if they can, to pass the same
resolutions in Calcutta. There are thousands in Calcutta who sympathise
with our movement. However I have more faith in you than in them.
Nothing more to write.
Convey my greetings to all our friends -for whom I am
U. S. A.,
20th May, 1894.
MY DEAR SHARAT(SARADANANDA),
I am in receipt of your letter and am glad to learn
that Shashi(Ramakrishnananda) is all right. Now I tell you a curious fact.
Whenever anyone of you is sick, let him himself or anyone of you visualise him
in your mind, and mentally say and strongly imagine that he is all right. That
will cure him quickly. You can do it even without his knowledge, and even with
thousands of miles between you. Remember it and do not be ill any more.
You have received the money by this time. If you all like, you can give to
Gopal Rs. 300/- from the amount I sent for the Math. I have no more to
send now. I have to look after Madras now.
I cannot understand why Sanyal is so miserable on
account of his daughters' marriage. After all, he is going to drag his
daughters through the dirty Samsâra(world) which he himself wants to escape!
I can have but one opinion of that—condemnation! I hate the very name of
marriage, in regard to a boy or a girl. Do you mean to say that I have to help
in putting someone into bondage, you fool! If my brother Mohin marries, I
will throw him off. I am very decided about that. ...
Yours in love,
28th May, 1894
I could not reply to your note earlier, because I was
whirling to and fro from New York to Boston, and also I awaited Narasimha's
letter. I do not know when I am going back to India. It is better to
leave everything in the hands of Him who is at my back directing me. Try
to work without me, as if I never existed. Do not wait for anybody or
anything. Do whatever you can. Build your hope on none. Before
writing about myself, I will tell you about Narasimha. He has proved a
complete failure. ...However he wrote to me for help in the last stage, and I
will try to help him as much as is in my power. Meanwhile you tell his
people to send money as soon as they can for him to go over. ...He is in
distress. Of course I will see that he does not starve.
I have done a good deal of lecturing here. ...The
expenses here are terrible; money has to fly, although I have been almost always
taken care of everywhere by the nicest and the highest families.
I do not know whether I shall go away this summer or
not. Most probably not. In the meantime try to organise and push on our
plans. Believe you can do everything. Know that the Lord is with us, and
so, onward, brave souls!
I have had enough appreciation in my own country.
Appreciation or no appreciation, sleep not, slacken not. You must remember
that not a bit even of our plans has been as yet carried out.
Act on the educated young men, bring them together, and
organise them. Great things can be done by great sacrifices only. No
selfishness, no name, no fame, yours or mine, nor my Master's even! Work,
work the idea, the plan, my boys, my brave, noble, good souls—to the wheel, to
the wheel put your shoulders! Stop not to look back for name, or fame, or
any such nonsense. Throw self overboard and work. Remember,
"The grass when made into a rope by being joined together can even chain a
mad elephant." The Lord's blessings on you all! His power be in you
all—as I believe it is already. "Wake up, stop not until the goal
is reached", say the Vedas. Up, up, the long night is passing, the day is
approaching, the wave has risen, nothing will be able to resist its tidal fury.
The spirit, my boys, the spirit; the love, my children, the love; the faith, the
belief; and fear not! The greatest sin is fear.
My blessings on all. Tell all the noble souls in Madras
who have helped our cause that I send them my eternal love and gratitude, but I
beg of them not to slacken. Throw the idea broadcast. Do not be proud; do
not insist upon anything dogmatic; do not go against any thing—ours is to put
chemicals together, the Lord knows how and when the crystal will form.
Above all, be not inflated with my success or yours. Great works are to be
done; what is this small success in comparison with what is to come?
Believe, believe, the decree has gone forth, the fiat of the Lord has gone
forth—India must rise, the masses and the poor are to be made happy.
Rejoice that you are the chosen instruments in His hands. The flood of
spirituality has risen. I see it is rolling over the land resistless,
boundless, all-absorbing. Every man to the fore, every good will be added
to its forces, every hand will smooth its way, and glory be unto the Lord!
I do not require any help. Try to get up a fund, buy
some magic-lanterns, maps, globes, etc., and some chemicals. Get every
evening a crowd of the poor and low, even the Pariahs, and lecture to them about
religion first, and then teach them through the magic-lantern and other things,
astronomy, geography, etc., in the dialect of the people. Train up a band
of fiery young men. Put your fire in them and gradually increase the
organisation, letting it widen and widen its circle. Do the best you can,
do not wait to cross the river when the water has all run down. Printing
magazines, papers, etc., are good, no doubt, but actual work, my boys even if
infinitesimal, is better than eternal scribbling and talking. Call a
meeting at Bhattacharya's. Get a little money, and buy those things I have just
now stated, hire a hut, and go to work. Magazines are secondary, but this
is primary. You must have a hold on the masses. Do not be afraid of
a small beginning, great things come afterwards. Be courageous. Do
not try to lead your brethren, but serve them. The brutal mania for leading has
sunk many a great ship in the waters of life. Take care especially of that, i.e.
be unselfish even unto death, and work. I could not write all I was going
to say, but the Lord will give you all understanding, my brave boys. At
it, my boys! Glory unto the Lord! ...
U. S. A.,
11th July, 1894.
You must never write to me anywhere else but 541
Dearborn Ave Chicago. Your last letter has traveled the whole country to
come to me, and this was only because I am so well known. Some of the
resolutions are to be sent to Dr. Barrows with a letter thanking him for his
kindness to me and asking him to publish the letter in some American
newspapers—as that would be the best refutation of the false charges of the
missionaries that I do not represent anybody. Learn business, my boy.
We will do great things yet! Last year I only sowed the seeds; this year I
mean to reap. In the mean while, keep up as much enthusiasm as possible in
India. Let Kidi go his own way. He will come out all right in time.
I have taken his responsibility. He has a perfect right to his own
opinion. Make him write for the paper; that will keep him in good temper!
My blessings on him.
Start the journal and I will send you articles from
time to time. You must send a paper and a letter to Professor J. H. Wright of
Harvard University, Boston, thanking him as having been the first man who stood
as my friend and asking him to publish it in the papers, thus giving the lie to
In the Detroit lecture I got $900, i.e. Rs. 2,700.
In other lectures, I earned in one, $2,500, i.e. Rs. 7,500 in one hour, but got
only 200 dollars! I was cheated by a roguish Lecture Bureau. I have
given them up. I spent a good deal here; only about $3,000 remains.
I shall have to print much matter next year. I am
going regularly to work. ...The sheer power of the will will do everything.
...You must organise a society which should regularly meet, and write to me
about it as often as you can. In fact, get up as much enthusiasm as you
can. Only, beware of falsehood. Go to work, my boys, the fire will come to
you! The faculty of organisation is entirely absent in our nature, but
this has to be infused. The great secret is absence of jealousy. Be
always ready to concede to the opinions of your brethren, and try always to
conciliate. That is the whole secret. Fight on bravely! Life
is short! Give it up to a great cause. Why do you not write anything
about Narasimha? He is almost starving. I gave him something. Then
he went over to somewhere, I do not know where, and does not write.
Akshaya is a good boy. I like him very much. No use quarrelling with
the Theosophists. Do not go and tell them all I write to you...
Theosophists are our pioneers, do you know? Now Judge is a Hindu and Col.
a Buddhist, and Judge is the ablest man here. Now tell the Hindu
Theosophists to support Judge. Even if you can write Judge a letter,
thanking him as a co-religionist and for his labours in presenting Hinduism
before Americans; that will do his heart much good. We must not join any
sect, but we must sympathise and work with each. ...Work, work conquer all by
your love! ...
Try to expand. Remember the only sign of life is
motion and growth. You must send the passed resolution to Dr.J. H.
Barrows..., Dr. Paul Carus..., Senator Palmer..., Mrs. J. J. Bagley..., it must
come officially. ...I write this because I do not think you know the ways
of foreign nations... Keep on steadily. So far we have done wonderful
things. Onward, brave souls, we will gain! Organise and found
societies and go to work, that is the only way.
At this time of the year there is not much lecturing to
be done here; so I will devote myself to my pen and write. I shall be hard
at work all the time, and then, when the cold weather comes and people return to
their homes, I shall begin lecturing again and at the same time organise
My love and blessings to you all. I never forget
anybody, though I do not write often. Then again, I am now, continuously
traveling, and letters have to be redirected from one place to another.
Work hard. Be holy and pure and the fire will come.
[Letter to Isabelle
20th August, 1894.
Your very kind letter duly reached me at Annisquam.
I am with the Bagleys once more. They are kind as usual. Professor
Wright was not here. But he came the day before yesterday and we have very
nice time together. Mr. Bradley of Evanston, whom you have met at Evanston, was
here. His sister-in-law had me sit for a picture several days and had
painted me. I had some very fine boating and one evening overturned the
boat and had a good drenching—clothes and all. I had very very nice time
at Greenacre. They were all so earnest and kind people. Fanny
Hartley and Mrs. Mills have by this time gone back home I suppose.
From here I think I will go back to New York. Or
I may go to Boston to Mrs. Ole Bull. Perhaps you have heard of Mr. Ole Bull, the
great violinist of this country. She is his widow. She is a very
spiritual lady. She lives in Cambridge and has a fine big parlour made of wood
work brought all the way from India. She wants me to come over to her any
time and use her parlour to lecture. Boston of course is the great field
for everything, but the Boston people as quickly take hold of anything as give
it up; while the New Yorkers are slow, but when they get hold of anything they
do it with a mortal grip.
I have kept pretty good health all the time and hope to
do in the future. I had no occasion yet to draw on my reserve, yet I am
rolling on pretty fair. And I have given up all money-making schemes and will be
quite satisfied with a bite and a shed and work on.
I believe you are enjoying your summer retreat.
Kindly convey my best regards and love to Miss Howe and Mr. Frank Howe.
Perhaps I did not tell you in my last how I slept and
lived and preached under the trees and for a few days at least found myself once
more in the atmosphere of heaven.
Most probably I will make New York my centre for the
next winter; and as soon as I fix on that, I will write to you. I am not
yet settled in my ideas of remaining in this country anymore. I cannot
settle anything of that sort. I must bide my time. May the Lord
bless you all for ever and ever is the constant prayer of your ever affectionate
31st August, 1894.
I just now saw an editorial on me about the circular
from Madras in the Boston Transcript. Nothing has reached me yet.
They will reach me soon if you have sent them already. So far you have
done wonderfully, my boy. Do not mind what I write in some moments of
nervousness. One gets nervous sometimes alone in a country 15,000 miles
from home, having to fight every inch of ground with orthodox inimical
Christians. You must take those into consideration, my brave boy, and work
Perhaps you have heard from Bhattacharya that I
received a beautiful letter from G. G. His address was scrawled in such a
fashion as to become perfectly illegible to me. So I could not reply to
him direct. But I have done all that he desired. I have sent over my
photograph and written to the Raja of Mysore. Now I have sent a phonograph
to Khetri Raja. ...
Now send always Indian newspapers about me to me over
here. I want to read them in the papers themselves —do you know?
Now lastly, you must write to me all about Mr. Charu Chandra who has been so
kind to me. Give him my heartfelt thanks; but(between you and me) I
unfortunately do not remember him. Would you give me particulars?
The Theosophists here now like me, but they are 650 in
all!! There are the Christian Scientists. All of them like me.
They are about a million, I work with both, but join none, and will with the
Lord's grace mould them both after the true fashion; for they are after all
mumbling half realised truth. Narasimha, perhaps, by the time this reaches
you, will get the money etc.
I have received a letter from Cat, but it requires a
book to answer all his queries. So I send him my blessings through you and
ask you to remind him that we agree to differ—and see the harmony of contrary
points. So it does not matter what he believes in; he must act. Give
my love to Balaji, G. G., Kidi, Doctor, and to all our friends and all the great
and patriotic souls, who were brave and noble enough to sink their differences
for their country's cause.
With a magazine or journal or organ you become the
Secretary thereof. You calculate the cost of starting the magazine and the
work, how much the least is necessary to start it, and then write to me giving
name and address of the Society, and I will send you money myself, and not only
that, I will get others in America to subscribe annually to it liberally.
So ask them of Calcutta to do the same. Give me Dharmapâla's address.
He is a great and good man. He will work wonderfully with us. Now
organise a little society. You will have to take charge of the whole
movement, not as a leader, but as a servant. Do you know, the least show
of leading destroys everything by rousing jealousy?
Accede to everything. Only try to retain all of
my friends together. Do you see? And work slowly up. Let G. G.
and others, who have no immediate necessity for earning something, do as they
are doing, i.e. casting the idea broadcast. G. G. is doing well at Mysore.
That is the way. Mysore will be in time a great stronghold.
I am now going to write my mems in a book and next
winter will go about this country organising societies here. This is a great
field of work, and everything done here prepares England. So far you have done
very well indeed, my brave boy—all strength shall be given to you.
I have now Rs. 9,000 with me, part of which I will send
over to you for the organisation; and I will get many people to send money to
you in Madras yearly, half-yearly, or monthly. You now start a Society and
a journal and the necessary apparatus. This must be a secret amongst only
a few but at the same time try to collect funds from Mysore and elsewhere to
build a temple in Madras which should have a library and some rooms for the
office and the preachers who should be Sannyâsins, and for Vairagis(men of
renunciation) who may chance to come. Thus we shall progress inch by inch.
This is a great field for my work, and everything done here prepares the way for
my coming work in England. ...
You know the greatest difficulty with me is to keep or
even to touch money. It is disgusting and debasing. So you must
organise a Society to take charge of the practical and pecuniary part of it. I
have friends here who take care of all my monetary concerns. Do you see?
It will be a wonderful relief to me to get rid of horrid money affairs. So
the sooner you organise yourselves and you be ready as secretary and treasurer
to enter into direct communication with my friends and sympathisers here, the
better for you and me. Do that quickly, and write to me. Give the
society a non-sectarian name. ... Do you write to my brethren at the Math to
organise in a similar fashion. ...Great things are in store for you Alasinga.
Or if you think proper, you get some of the big folks to be named as
office-bearers of the Society, while you work in the real sense. Their
name will be a great thing. If your duties are too severe and do not let
you have any time, let G. G. do the business part, and by and by I hope to make
you independent of your college work so that you may, without starving yourself
and family, devote your whole soul to the work. So work, my boys, work!
The rough part of the work has been smoothened and rounded; now it will roll on
better and better every year. And if you can simply keep it going well
until I come to India, the work will progress by leaps and bounds. Rejoice
that you have done so much. When you feel gloomy, think what has been done
within the last year. How, rising from nothing, we have the eyes of the
world fixed upon us now. Not only India, but the world outside, is
expecting great things of us. Missionaries or M—or foolish officials—
none will be able to resist truth and love and sincerity. Are you sincere?
unselfish even unto death? and loving? Then fear not, not even
death. Onward, my lads! The whole world requires Light. It is
expectant! India alone has that Light, not in magic, mummery, and
charlatanism, but in the teaching of the glories of the spirit of real
religion— of the highest spiritual truth. That is why the Lord has
preserved the race through all its vicissitudes unto the present day. Now
the time has come. Have faith that you are all, my brave lads, born to do
great things! Let not the barks of puppies frighten you—no, not even the
thunderbolts of heaven—but stand up and work!
U. S. A.,
21st September, 1894.
...I have been continuously travelling from place to
place and working incessantly, giving lectures, holding classes, etc.
I have not been able to write a line yet for my
proposed book. Perhaps I may be able to take it in hand later on. I
have made some nice friends here amongst the liberal people, and a few amongst
the orthodox. I hope to return soon to India—I have had enough of this
country. and especially as too much work is making me nervous. The
giving of too many public lectures and constant hurry have brought on this
nervousness. I do not care for this busy, meaningless, money-making life.
So you see, I will soon return. Of course, there is a growing section with
whom I am very popular, and who will like to have me here all the time.
But I think I have had enough of newspaper blazoning and humbugging of a public
life. I do not care the least for it. ....
There is no hope for money for our project here.
It is useless to hope. No large number of men in any country do good out of mere
sympathy. The few who really give money in the Christian lands often do so
through priestcraft and fear of hell. So it is as in our Bengali proverb,
"Kill a cow and make a pair of shoes out of the leather and give them in
charity to a Brâhmana". So it is here, and so everywhere; and then,
the Westerners are miserly in comparison to our race. I sincerely believe
that the Asians are the most charitable race in the world, only they are very
I am going to live for a few months in New York.
That city is the head, hand, and purse of the country. Of course, Boston
is called the Brahmanical city, and here in America there are hundreds of
thousands that sympathise with me. ...The New York people are very open. I
will see what can be done there, as I have some very influential friends.
After all, I am getting disgusted with this lecturing business. It will
take a long time for the Westerners to understand the higher spirituality,
Everything is Ł. s. d. to them. If a religion brings them money or health
or beauty or long life, they will all flock to it, otherwise not...
Give to Balaji, G. G., and all of our friends my best
Yours with everlasting love,
U. S. A.,
21st September, 1894.
I am very sorry to hear your determination of giving up
the world so soon. The fruit falls from the tree when it gets ripe.
So wait for the time to come. Do not hurry. Moreover, no one has the
right to make others miserable by his foolish acts. Wait, have patience,
everything will come right in time.
[Letter to Isabelle
26th Sept., 1894.
Your letter with the India mail just to hand. A
quantity of newspaper clippings were sent over to me from India. I send
them back for your perusal and safe keeping.
I am busy writing letters to India last few days. I
will remain a few days more in Boston.
With my love and blessings,
Yours ever affly.,
U. S. A.
27th September, 1894.
...One thing I find in the books of my speeches and
sayings published in Calcutta. Some of them are printed in such a way as
to savour of political views; whereas I am no politician or political agitator.
I care only for the Spirit—when that is right everything will be righted by
itself. ...So you must warn the Calcutta people that no political significance
be ever attached falsely to any of my writings or sayings. What nonsense!
...I heard that Rev. Kali Charan Banerji in a lecture to Christian missionaries
said that I was a political delegate. If it was said publicly, then
publicly ask the Babu for me to write to any of the Calcutta papers and prove
it, or else take back his foolish assertion. This is their trick! I
have said a few harsh words in honest criticism of Christian governments in
general, but that does not mean that I care for, or have any connection with
politics or that sort of thing. Those who think it very grand to print extracts
from those lectures and want to prove that I am a political preacher, to them I
say, "Save me from my friends." ...
...Tell my friends that a uniform silence is all my
answer to my detractors. If I give them tit for tat, it would bring us
down to a level with them. Tell them that truth will take care of itself, and
that they are not to fight anybody for me. They have much to learn yet,
and they are only children. They are still full of foolish golden
...This nonsense of public life and newspaper blazoning
has disgusted me thoroughly. I long to go back to the Himalayan quiet,
Ever yours affectionately,
29th September, 1894.
You all have done well, my brave unselfish children.
I am so proud of you. ...Hope and do not despair. After such a start, if
you despair you are a fool. ...
Our field is India, and the value of foreign
appreciation is in rousing India up. That is all. ...We must have a strong
base from which to spread. ...Do not for a moment quail. Everything will
come all right. It is will that moves the world.
You need not be sorry, my son, on account of the young
men becoming Christians. What else can they be under the existing social
bondages, especially in Madras? Liberty is the first condition of growth.
Your ancestors gave every liberty to the soul, and religion grew. They put
the body under every bondage, and society did not grow. The opposite is
the case in the West—every liberty to society, none to religion. Now are
falling off the shackles from the feet of Eastern society as from those of
Each again will have its type; the religious or
introspective in India, the scientific or out-seeing in the West. The West
wants every bit of spirituality through social improvement. The East wants
every bit of social power through spirituality. Thus it was that the
modern reformers saw no way to reform but by first crushing out the religion of
India. They tried, and they failed. Why? Because few of them ever
studied their own religion, and not one ever underwent the training necessary to
understand the Mother of all religions. I claim that no destruction of
religion is necessary to improve the Hindu society, and that this state of
society exists not on account of religion, but because religion has not been
applied to society as it should have been. This I am ready to prove from
our old books, every word of it. This is what I teach, and this is what we
must struggle all our lives to carry out. But it will take time, a long
time to study. Have patience and work. [Sanskrit]—Save yourself by
PS. The present Hindu society is organised only for spiritual men, and
hopelessly crushes out everybody else. Why? Where shall they go who
want to enjoy the world a little with its frivolities? Just as our
religion takes in all, so should our society. This is to be worked out by
first understanding the true principles of our religion and then applying them
to society. This is the slow but sure work to be done.
23rd October, 1894.
DEAR VEHEMIA CHAND
I am going on very well in this country. By this
time I have become one of their own teachers. They all like me and my
teachings. ...I travel all over the country from one place to another, as was my
habit in India, preaching and teaching. Thousands and thousands have
listened to me and taken my ideas in a very kindly spirit. It is the most
expensive country, but the Lord provides for me everywhere I go.
With my love to you and all my friends there(Limbdi,
[Letter to Isabell
C/o MRS. T. TOTTEN.
1708 W I STREET,
26th(?) October, 1894.
Excuse my long silence; but I have been regularly
writing to Mother Church. I am sure you are all enjoying this nice cool
weather. I am enjoying Baltimore and Washington very much. I will go hence
to Philadelphia. I thought Miss Mary was in Philadelphia, and so I wanted
her address. But as she is in some other place near Philadelphia, I do not
want to give her the trouble to come up to see me, as Mother Church says.
The lady with whom I am staying is Mrs. Totten, a niece
of Miss Howe. I will be her guest more than a week yet; so you may write
to me to her care.
I intend going over to England this winter somewhere in
January or February. A lady from London with whom one of my friends is
staying has sent an invitation to me to go over as her guest; and from India
they are urging me every day to come back.
How did you like Pitoo in the cartoon? Do not
show it to anybody. It is too bad of our people to caricature Pitoo that
I long ever so much to hear from you, but take a little
more care to make your letter just a bit more distinct. Do not be angry
for the suggestion.
Your ever loving brother,
[Letter to Alasinga
27th October, 1894.
By this time you must have received my other letters.
You must excuse me for certain harshness of tone some times, and you know full
well how I love you. You have asked me often to send over to you all about my
movements in this country and all my lecture reports. I am doing exactly
here what I used to do in India. Always depending on the Lord and making
no plans ahead. ...Moreover you must remember that I have to work incessantly in
this country, and that I have no time to put together my thoughts in the form of
a book, so much so, that this constant rush has worn my nerves, and I am feeling
it. I cannot express my obligation to you, G. G. and all my friends in
Madras, for the most unselfish and heroic work you did for me. But it was
not at all meant to blazon me, but to make you conscious of your own strength.
I am not an organiser, my nature tends towards scholarship and meditation.
I think I have worked enough, now I want rest and to teach a little to those
that have come to me from my Gurudeva(venerable Guru). You have known now
what you can do, for it is really you, young men of Madras, that have done all;
I am only the figurehead. I am a Tyâgi(detached) monk. I only want
one thing. I do not believe in a God or religion which cannot wipe the
widow's tears or bring a piece of bread to the orphan's mouth. However
sublime be the theories, however well-spun may be the philosophy I do not call
it religion so long as it is confined to books and dogmas. The eye is in
the forehead and not in the back. Move onward and carry into practice that which
you are very proud to call your religion, and God bless you!
Look not at me, look to yourselves. I am happy to
have been the occasion of rousing an enthusiasm. Take advantage of it,
float along with it, and everything will come right. Love never fails, my
son; today or tomorrow or ages after, truth will conquer. Love shall win
the victory. Do you love your fellow men? Where should you go to
seek for God—are not all the poor, the miser able, the weak, Gods? Why
not worship them first? Why go to dig a well on the shores of the Ganga?
Believe in the omnipotent power of love. Who cares for these tinsel puffs of
name? I never keep watch of what the newspapers are saying. Have you
love?— You are omnipotent. Are you perfectly unselfish? If so, you
are irresistible. It is character that pays everywhere. It is the
Lord who protects His children in the depths of the sea. Your country requires
heroes; be heroes! God bless you!
Everybody wants me to come over to India. They
think we shall be able to do more if I come over. They are mistaken, my
friend. The present enthusiasm is only a little patriotism, it means
nothing. If it is true and genuine, you will find in a short time hundreds
of heroes coming forward and carrying on the work. Therefore know that you
have really done all, and go on. Look not for me. Akshoy Kumar Ghosh is in
London. He sent a beautiful invitation from London to come to Miss Müller's.
And I hope I am going in January or February next. Bhattacharya writes me
to come over. Here is a grand field. What have I to do with this
"ism" or that "ism"? I am the servant of the Lord, and
where on earth is there a better field than here for propagating all high ideas?
Here, where if one man is against me, a hundred hands are ready to help me;
here, where man feels for man, weeps for his fellow-men and women are goddesses!
Even idiots may stand up to hear themselves praised, and cowards assume the
attitude of the brave when everything is sure to turn out well, but the true
hero works in silence. How many Buddhas die before one finds expression!
My son, I believe in God, and I believe in man. I believe in helping the
miserable. I believe in going even to hell to save others. Talk of
the Westerners? They have given me food, shelter, friendship, protection
even the most orthodox Christians! What do our people do when any of their
priests go to India? You do not touch them even, they are MLECHCHHAS!
No man, no nation, my son, can hate others and live; India's doom was sealed the
very day they invented the word MLECHCHHA and stopped from communion with
others. Take care how you foster that idea. It is good to talk
glibly about the Vedanta, but how hard to carry out even its least precepts!
Ever yours with
PS. Take care of these two things love of power and jealousy. Cultivate
always "faith in yourself".
30th November, 1894.
I am glad to learn that the phonograph and the letter
have reached you safely. You need not send any more newspaper cuttings.
I have been deluged with them. Enough of that. Now go to work for
the organisation. I have started one already in New York and the Vice- President
will soon write to you. Keep correspondence with them. Soon I hope
to get up a few in other places. We must organise our forces not to make a
sect—not on religious matters, but on the secular business part of it. A
stirring propaganda must be launched out. Put your heads together and
What nonsense about the miracle of Ramakrishna!
...Miracles I do not know nor understand. Had Ramakrishna nothing to do in
the world but turning wine into the Gupta's medicine? Lord save me from
such Calcutta people! What materials to work with! If they can write
areal life of Shri Ramakrishna with the idea of showing what he came to do and
teach, let them do it, otherwise let them not distort his life and sayings.
These people want to know God who see in Shri Ramakrishna nothing but jugglery!
...Now let Kidi translate his love, his knowledge, his teachings, his
eclecticism, etc. This is the theme. The life of Shri Ramakrishna
was an extraordinary searchlight under whose illumination one is able to really
understand the whole scope of Hindu religion. He was the object-lesson, of
all the theoretical knowledge given in the Shâstras(scriptures). He
showed by his life what the Rishis and Avataras really wanted to teach.
The books were theories, he was the realisation. This man had in fifty-one
years lived the five thousand years of national spiritual life and so raised
himself to be an object-lesson for future generations. The Vedas can only
be explained and the Shâstras reconciled by his theory of Avastha or
stages—that we must not only tolerate others, but positively embrace them, and
that truth is the basis of all religions. Now on these lines a most
impressive and beautiful life can be written. Well, everything in good
time. Avoid all irregular indecent expressions about sex etc. ..., because
other nations think it the height of indecency to mention such things, and his
life in English is going to be read by the whole world. I read a Bengali
life sent over. It is full of such words. ...So take care, carefully avoid
such words and expressions. The Calcutta friends have not a cent worth of
ability; but they have their assertions of individuality. They are top
high to listen to advice. I do not know what to do with these wonderful
gentlemen. I have not got much hope in that quarter. His will be
done. I am simply ashamed of the Bengali book. The writer perhaps
thought he was a frank recorder of truth and keeping the very language of
Paramahamsa. But he does not remember that Ramakrishna would never use
that language before ladies. And this man expects his work to be read by
men and women alike! Lord, save me from fools! They, again, have their own
freaks; they all knew him! Bosh and rot. ...Beggars taking upon themselves
the air of kings! Fools thinking they are all wise! Puny slaves
thinking that they are masters! That is their condition. I do not
know what to do. Lord save me. I have all hope in Madras. Push
on with your work; do not be governed by the Calcutta people. Keep them in
good humour in the hope that someone of them may turn good. But push on
with your work independently. "Many come to sit at dinner when it is
cooked." Take care and work on.
Yours ever with blessings,
U. S. A.
30th November, 1894.
...As to the wonderful stories published about Shri
Ramakrishna, I advise you to keep clear of them and the fools who write them.
They are true, but the fools will make a mess of the whole thing, I am sure. He
had a whole world of knowledge to teach, why insist upon unnecessary things as
miracles really are! They do not prove anything. Matter does not
prove Spirit. What connection is there between the existence of God, Soul, or
immortality, and the working of miracles? ...Preach Shri Ramakrishna.
Pass the Cup that has satisfied your thirst. ...Preach Bhakti. Do not
disturb your head with metaphysical nonsense, and do not disturb others by your
Yours ever with blessings,
[Letter to Alasinga
U. S. A.,
26th December, 1894.
...In reference to me every now and then attacks are
made in missionary papers(so I hear), but I never care to see them. If you
send any of those made in India, I should throw them into the waste-paper
basket. A little agitation was necessary for our work. We have had
enough. Pay no more attention to what people say about me, whether good or
bad. You go on with your work and remember that "Never one meets with
evil who tries to do good"(Gita, VI. 40).
Every day the people here are appreciating me.
And between you and me, I am more of an influence here than you dream of.
Everything must proceed slowly. ...I have written to you before, and I write
again, that I shall not pay heed to any criticism or praise in the newspapers.
They are consigned to the fire. Do you do the same. Pay no attention
whatsoever to newspaper nonsense or criticism. Be sincere and do your
duty. Everything will come all right. Truth must triumph. ...
Missionary misrepresentations should be beneath your
notice. ...Perfect silence is the best refutation to them, and I wish you to
maintain the same. ...Make Mr. Subrahmanya Iyer the President of your Society.
He is one of the sincerest and noblest men I know; and in him, intellect and
emotion are beautifully blended. Push on in your work, without counting
much on me; work on your own account. ...As for me, I do not know when I shall
go back; I am working here and in India as well. ...
With my love to you all,
Yours ever with
Your letter just to hand. ...I was mistaken in asking
you to publish the scraps I sent you. It was one of my awful mistakes.
It shows a moment's weakness. Money can be raised in this country by
lecturing for two or three years. But I have tried a little, and although
there is much public appreciation of my work, it is thoroughly uncongenial and
demoralising to me. ...
I have read what you say about the Indian papers and
their criticisms, which are natural. Jealousy is the central vice of every
enslaved race. And it is jealousy and want of combination which cause and
perpetuate slavery. You cannot feel the truth of this remark until you
come out of India. The secret of Westerners' success is this power of
combination, the basis of which is mutual trust and appreciation. The
weaker and more cowardly a nation is, so much the more is this sin visible.
...But, my son, you ought not to expect anything from a slavish race. The
case is almost desperate no doubt, but let me put the case before you all.
Can you put life into this dead mass—dead to almost all moral aspiration, dead
to all future possibilities—and always ready to spring upon those that would
try to do good to them? Can you take the position of a physician who tries
to pour medicine down the throat of a kicking and refractory child? ...An
American or a European always supports his countrymen in a foreign country.
...Let me remind you again, "Thou hast the right to work but not to the
fruits thereof." Stand firm like a rock. Truth always triumphs.
Let the children of Shri Ramakrishna be true to themselves and everything will
be all right. We may not live to see the outcome, but as sure as we live,
it will come sooner or later. What India wants is a new electric fire to
stir up a fresh vigour in the national veins. This was ever, and always will be,
slow work. Be content to work, and, above all, be true to yourself.
Be pure, staunch, and sincere to the very backbone, and everything will be all
right. If you have marked anything in the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna,
it is this—they are sincere to the backbone. My task will be done, and I
shall be quite content to die, if I can bring up and launch one hundred such men
over India. He, the Lord, knows best. Let ignorant men talk
nonsense. We neither seek aid nor avoid it—we are the servants of the Most
High. The petty attempts of small men should be beneath our notice.
Onward! Upon ages of struggle a character is built. Be not
discouraged. One word of truth can never be lost; for ages it may be
hidden under rubbish, but it will show itself sooner or later. Truth is
indestructible, virtue is indestructible, purity is indestructible. Give me a
genuine man; I do not want masses of converts. My son, hold fast! Do
not care for anybody to help you. Is not the Lord infinitely greater than all
human help? Be holy—trust in the Lord, depend on Him always, and you are
on the right track; nothing can prevail against you. ...
Let us pray, "Lead, Kindly Light"—a beam
will come through the dark, and a hand will be stretched forth to lead us.
I always pray for you: you must pray for me. Let each one of us pray day
and night for the downtrodden millions in India who are held fast by poverty,
priestcraft, and tyranny—pray day and night for them. I care more to
preach religion to them than to the high and the rich. I am no
metaphysician, no philosopher, nay, no saint. But I am poor, I love the
poor. I see what they call the poor of this country, and how many there
are who feel for them! What an immense difference in India! Who
feels there for the two hundred millions of men and women sunken for ever in
poverty and ignorance? Where is the way out? Who feels for them?
They cannot find light or education. Who will bring the light to
them—who will travel from door to door bringing education to them? Let
these people be your God—think of them, work for them, pray for them
incessantly—the Lord will show you the way. Him I call a Mahâtman(great
soul) whose heart bleeds for the poor, otherwise he is a Duratman(wicked soul).
Let us unite our wills in continued prayer for their good. We may die
unknown, unpitied, unbewailed, without accomplishing anything—but not one
thought will be lost. It will take effect, sooner or later. My heart
is too full to express my feeling; you know it, you can imagine it. So
long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor
who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them!
I call those men who strut about in their finery, having got all their money by
grinding the poor, wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two
hundred millions who are now no better than hungry savages! We are poor,
my brothers, we are nobodies, but such have been always the instruments of the
Most High. The Lord bless you all.
With all love,
U. S. A..
I have forgotten your address in Calcutta; so I direct
this to the Math. I heard about your speeches in Calcutta and how
wonderful was the effect produced by them. A certain retired missionary
here wrote me a letter addressing me as brother and then hastily went to publish
my short answer and make a show. But you know what people here think of
such gentlemen. Moreover, the same missionary went privately to some of my
friends to ask them not to befriend me. Of course he met with universal
contempt. I am quite astonished at this man's behaviour —a preacher of
religion to take to such underhand dealings! Unfortunately too much of
that in every country and in every religion. Last winter I travelled a
good deal in this country although the weather was very severe. I thought
it would be dreadful, but I did not find it so after all. You remember
Col. Neggenson, President of the Free Religious Society. He makes
very kind inquiries about you. I met Dr. Carpenter of Oxford(England) the
other day. He delivered an address on the ethics of Buddhism at Plymouth.
It was very sympathetic and scholarly. He made inquiries about you and
your paper. Hope, your noble work will succeed. You are a worthy
servant of Him who came Bahujana Hitaya Bahujana Sukhaya(for the good of the
many, for the happiness of the many).
...The Christianity that is preached in India is quite
different from what one sees here; you will be astonished to hear, Dharmapâla,
that I have friends in this country amongst the clergy of the Episcopal and even
Presbyterian churches, who are as broad, as liberal and as sincere as you are in
your own religion. The real spiritual man is broad everywhere. His
love forces him to be so. Those to whom religion is a trade are forced to
become narrow and mischievous by their introduction into religion of the
competitive, fighting, and selfish methods of the world.
Yours ever in
U. S. A.,
Listen to an old story. A lazy tramp sauntering
along the road saw an old man sitting at the door of his house and stopped
to inquire of him the whereabouts of a certain place. "How far is
such and such a village?" he asked. The old man remained silent.
The man repeated his query several times. Still there was no answer.
Disgusted at this, the traveller turned to go away. The old man then stood
up and said, "The village of—is only a mile from here."
"What!" said the tramp, "Why did you not speak when I asked you
before?" "Because then", said the old man, "you seemed so
halting and careless about proceeding, but now you are starting off in good
earnest, and you have a right to an answer."
Will you remember this story, my son? Go to work,
the rest will come: "Whosoever not trusting in anything else but Me, rests
on Me, I supply him with everything he needs"(Gita, IX. 22). This is
...The work should be in the line of preaching and
serving, at the present time. Choose a place of meeting where you can
assemble every week holding a service and reading the Upanishads with the
commentaries, and so slowly go on learning and working. Everything will
come to you if you put your shoulders to the wheel. ...
Now, go to work! G. G.'s nature is of the
emotional type, you have a level head; so work together; plunge in; this is only
the beginning. Every nation must save itself; we must not depend upon
funds from America for the revival of Hinduism, for that is a delusion. To
have a centre is a great thing; try to secure such a place in a large town like
Madras, and go on radiating a living force in all directions. Begin
slowly. Start with a few lay missionaries; gradually others will come who
will devote their whole lives to the work. Do not try to be a ruler.
He is the best ruler who can serve well. Be true unto death. The
work we want—we do not seek wealth, name or fame. ...Be brave. ...Endeavour to
interest the people of Madras in collecting funds for the purpose, and then make
a beginning. ...Be perfectly unselfish, and you will be sure to succeed.
...Without losing the independence in work, show all regards to your superiors.
Work in harmony... My children must be ready to jump into fire, if needed, to
accomplish their work. Now work, work, work! We will stop and
compare notes later on. Have patience, perseverance, and purity.
I am writing no book on Hinduism just now. I am
simply jotting down my thoughts. I do not know if I shall publish them.
What is in books? The world is too full of foolish things already.
If you could start a magazine on Vedantic lines, it would further our object.
Be positive; do not criticise others. Give your message, teach what you
have to teach, and there stop. The Lord knows the rest. ...
Do not send me any more newspapers, as I do not notice
the missionary criticisms on myself; and here the Public estimation of me is
better for that reason.
...If you are really my children, you will fear
nothing, stop at nothing. You will be like lions. We must rouse
India and the whole world. No cowardice. I will take no nay.
Do you understand? Be true unto death! ...The secret of this is Guru-Bhakti—faith
in the Guru unto death! Have you that? I believe with all my heart that
you have, and you know that I have confidence in you so go to work. You
must succeed. My prayers and benedictions follow every step you take.
Work in harmony. Be patient with everybody. Every one has my love. I am
watching you. Onward! Onward! This is just the beginning.
My little work here makes a big echo in India, do you know? So I shall not
return there in a hurry. My intention is to do something permanent here,
and with that object I am working day by day. I am every day gaining the
confidence of the American people. ...Expand your hearts and hopes, as wide as
the world. Study Sanskrit, especially the three Bhâshyas(commentaries) on the
Vedanta. Be ready, for I have many plans for the future. Try to be a
magnetic speaker. Electrify the people. Everything will come to you
if you have faith. So tell Kidi, in fact, tell all my children there.
In time they will do great things at which the world will wonder. Take
heart and work. Show me something you have done. Show me a temple, a
press, a paper, a home for me. Where shall I come to if you cannot make a
home for me in Madras? Electrify people. Raise funds and preach.
Be true to your mission. Thus far you promise well, so go on and do better and
...Do not fight with people; do not antagonise anyone.
Why should we mind if Jack and John become Christians? Let them follow
whatever religion suits them. Why should you mix in controversies?
Bear with the various opinions of everybody. Patience, purity, and
perseverance will prevail.
541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
3rd January, 1895.
DEAR MRS. BULL,
I lectured at Brooklyn last Sunday, Mrs. Higgins gave a
little reception the evening I arrived, and some of the prominent members of the
Ethical Society including Dr. Jain [Janes] were there. Some of them
thought that such Oriental religious subjects will not interest the Brooklyn,
But the lecture, through the blessings of the Lord,
proved a tremendous success. About 800 of the elite of Brooklyn were
present, and the very gentlemen who thought it would not prove a success are
trying for organising a series in Brooklyn. The New York course for me is
nearly ready, but I do not wish to fix the dates until Miss Thursby comes to New
York. As such Miss Phillips who is a friend of Miss Thursby's and who is
arranging the New York course for me will act with Miss Thursby in case she
wants to get up something in New York.
I owe much to the Hale family and I thought to give
them a little surprise by dropping in on New Year's day. I am trying to
get a new gown here. The old gown is here, but it is so shrunken by constant
washings that it is unfit to wear in public. I am almost confident of
finding the exact thing in Chicago.
I hope your father is all right by this time.
With my love to Miss Farmer, Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons, and
the rest of the holy family, I am ever yours,
PS. I saw
Miss Couring at Brooklyn. She was as kind as ever. Give her my love if you
write her soon.
[Letter to G. G.
11th January, 1895.
DEAR G. G.,
Your letter just to hand... The Parliament of
Religions was organised with the intention of proving the superiority of the
Christian religion over other forms of faith, but the philosophic religion of
Hinduism was able to maintain its position notwithstanding. Dr. Barrows
and the men of that ilk are very orthodox, and I do not look to them for help.
...The Lord has sent me many friends in this country, and they are always on the
increase. The Lord bless those who have tried to injure me. ...I have been
running all the time between Boston and New York, two great centres of this
country, of which Boston may be called the brain and New York, the purse.
In both, my success is more than ordinary. I am indifferent to the
newspaper reports, and you must not expect me to send any of them to you.
A little boom was necessary to begin work. We have had more than enough of
I have written to Mani Iyer, and I have given you my
directions already. Now show me what you can do. No foolish talk
now, but actual work; the Hindus must back their talk with real work; if they
cannot they do not deserve anything; that is all. America is not going to
give you money for your fads. And why should they? As for me, I want
to teach the truth; I do not care whether here or elsewhere.
In future do not pay any heed to what people say wither
for or against you or me. Work on, be lions; and the Lord will bless you.
I shall work incessantly until I die, and even after death I shall work for the
good of the world. Truth is infinitely more weighty than untruth; so is
goodness. If you possess these, they will make their way by sheer gravity.
I have no connection with the Theosophists. And
Judge will help me—pooh! ...Thousands of the best men do care for me:
you know this, and have faith in the Lord. I am slowly exercising an
influence in this land greater than all the newspaper blazoning of me can do.
The orthodox feel it, but they cannot help it. It is the force of
character, of purity, and of truth of personality. So long as I have these
things, you can feel easy; no one will be able to injure a hair of my head.
If they try, they will fail, saith the Lord. ... Enough of books and theories.
It is the life that is the highest and the only way to stir the hearts of
people; it carries the personal magnetism. ...The Lord is giving me a deeper and
deeper insight every day. Work, work, work. ...Truce to foolish talk; talk
of the Lord. Life is too short to be spent in talking about frauds and
You must always remember that every nation must save
itself; so must every man; do not look to others for help. Through hard
work here, I shall be able now and then to send you a little money for your
work; but that is all. If you have to look forward to that, better stop
work. Know also that this is a grand field for my ideas, and that I do not
care whether they are Hindus or Mohammedans or Christians, but those that love
the Lord will always command my service.
...I like to work on calmly and silently, and the Lord
is always with me. Follow me, if you will, by being intensely sincere,
perfectly unselfish, and, above all, by being perfectly pure. My blessings
go with you. In this short life there is no time for the exchange of
compliments. We can compare notes and compliment each other to our hearts'
content after the battle is finished. Now, do not talk; work, work, work!
I do not see anything permanent you have done in India—I do not see any centre
you have made—I do not see any temple or hall you have erected—I do not see
anybody joining hands with you. There is too much talk, talk, talk!
We are great, we are great! Nonsense! We are imbeciles; that is what
we are! This hankering after name and fame and all other humbugs—what
are they to me? What do I care about them? I should like to see hundreds
coming to the Lord! Where are they? I want them, I want to see them.
You must seek them out. You only give me name and fame. Have done
with name and fame; to work, my brave men, to work! You have not caught my
fire yet—you do not understand me! You run in the old ruts of sloth and
enjoyments. Down with all sloth, down with all enjoyments here or
hereafter. Plunge into the fire and bring the people towards the Lord.
That you may catch my fire, that you may be intensely
sincere, that you may die the heroes' death, on the field of battle—is the
constant prayer of
Alasinga, Kidi, Dr. Balaji, and all the others not to pin their faith on what
Tom, Dick, and Harry say for or against us, but to concentrate all their energy
12th January, 1895.
I am sorry you still continue to send me pamphlets and
newspapers, which I have written you several times not to do. I have no
time to peruse them and take notice of them. Please send them no more.
I do not care a fig for what the missionaries or the Theosophists say about me.
Let them do as they please. The very taking notice of them will be to give
them importance. Besides, you know, the missionaries only abuse and never
Now know once and for all that I do not care for name
or fame, or any humbug of that type. I want to preach my ideas for the good of
the world. You have done a great, work; but so far as it goes it has only
given me name and fame. My life is more precious than spending it in
getting the admiration of the world. I have no time for such foolery.
"What work have you done in the way of advancing the ideas and organising
in India? None, none, none!
An organisation that will teach the Hindus mutual help
and appreciation is absolutely necessary. Five thousand people attended
that meeting that was held in Calcutta, and hundreds did the same in other
places, to express an appreciation of my work here—well and good! But if
you asked them each to give an anna, would they do it? The whole national
character is one of childish dependence. They are all ready to enjoy food
if it is brought to their mouth, and even some want it pushed down. ...You
do not deserve to live if you cannot help yourselves. ...
I have given up at present my plan for the education of
the masses. It will come by degrees. What I now want is a band of
fiery missionaries. We must have a College in Madras to teach comparative
religions, Sanskrit, the different schools of Vedanta, and some European
languages; we must have a press, and papers printed in English and in the
Vernaculars. When this is done, then I shall know that you have
accomplished something. Let the nation show that they are ready to do.
If you cannot do anything of the kind in India, then let me alone. I have
a message to give, let me give it to the people who appreciate it and who will
work it out. What are I who takes it? "He who doeth the will of
my Father," is my own. ...
My name should not be made prominent; it is my ideas
that I want to see realised. The disciples of all the prophets have always
inextricably mixed up the ideas of the Master with the person, and at last
killed the ideas for the person. The disciples of Shri Ramakrishna must
guard against doing the same thing. Work for the idea, not the person.
The Lord bless you.
Yours ever with
[Written to Mrs.
Ole Bull whom Swamiji called "Dhirâ Mâtâ", the "Steady
Mother" on the occasion of the loss of her father.]
20th January, 1895.
...I had a premonition of your father's giving up the old body and it is not my
custom to write to anyone when a wave of would-be inharmonious Mâyâ strikes
him. But these are the great turning points in life, and I know that you
are unmoved. The surface of the sea rises and sinks alternately, but to
the observant soul the child of light—each sinking reveals more and more of
the depth and of the beds of pearls and coral at the bottom. Coming and
going is all pure delusion. The soul never comes nor goes. Where is the
place to which it shall go when all space is in the soul When shall be the time
for entering and departing when all time is in the soul?
The earth moves, causing the illusion of the movement
of the sun; but the sun does not move. So Prakriti, or Mâyâ, or Nature,
is moving, changing, unfolding veil after veil, turning over leaf after leaf of
this grand book— while the witnessing soul drinks in knowledge, unmoved,
unchanged. All souls that ever have been, are, or shall be, are all in the
present tense and—to use a material simile—are all standing at one
geometrical point. Because the idea of space does occur in the soul, therefore
all that were ours, are ours, and will be ours, are always with us, were always
with us, and will be always with us. We are in them. They are in us. Take these
cells. Though each separate, they are all nevertheless inseparably joined
at A B. There they are one. Each is an individual, yet ail are one
at the axis A B. None can escape from that axis, and however broken or
torn the circumference, yet by standing at the axis, we may enter any one of the
chambers. This axis is the Lord. There we are one with Him, all in all, and all
The cloud moves across the face of the moon, creating
the illusion that the moon is moving. So nature, body, matter moves on, creating
the illusion that the soul is moving. Thus we find at last that, that
instinct(or inspiration?) which men of every race, whether higher low, have had
to feel, viz the presence of the departed about them, is true intellectually
Each soul is a star, and all stars are set in that
infinite azure, that eternal sky, the Lord. There is the root, the
reality, the real individuality of each and all. Religion began with the
search after some of these stars that had passed beyond our horizon, and ended
in finding them all in God, and ourselves in the same place. The whole
secret is, then, that your father has given up the old garment he was wearing
and is standing where he was through all eternity. Will he manifest
another such garment in this or any other world? I sincerely pray that he
may not, until he does so in full consciousness. I pray that none may be
dragged anywhither by the unseen power of his own past actions. I pray
that all may be free, that is to say, may know that they are free. And if
they are to dream again, let us pray that their dreams be all of peace and
[Letter to Miss
54 W. 33RD STREET,
1st February, 1895.
I just received your beautiful note. ...Well, sometimes
it is a good discipline to be forced to work for work's sake, even to the length
of not being allowed to enjoy the fruits of one's labour. ...I am very glad of
your criticisms and am not sorry at all. The other day at Miss Thursby's I
had an excited argument with a Presbyterian gentleman, who, as usual, got very
hot, angry, and abusive. However, I was afterwards severely reprimanded by
Mrs. Bull for this, as such things hinder my work. So, it seems is your
I am glad you write about it just now, because I have
been giving a good deal of thought to it. In the first place, I am not at
all sorry for these things—perhaps that may disgust you it may. I know full
well how good it is for one's worldly prospects to be sweet. I do every
thing to be sweet, but when it comes to a horrible compromise with the truth
within, then I stop. I do not believe in humility. I believe in
Samadarshitva—same state of mind with regard to all. The duty of the ordinary
man is to obey the commands of his "God", society; but the children of
light never do so. This is an eternal law. One accommodates himself
to surroundings and social opinion and gets all good things from society, the
giver of all good to such. The other stands alone and draws society up
towards him. The accommodating man finds a path of roses; the non-accommodating,
one of thorns. But the worshippers of "Vox populi" go to annihilation
in a moment; the children of truth live for ever.
I will compare truth to a corrosive substance of
infinite power. It burns its way in wherever it falls—in soft substance
at once, hard granite slowly, but it must. What is writ is writ. I am so,
so sorry, Sister, that I can not make myself sweet and accommodating to every
black falsehood. But I cannot. I have suffered for it all my life.
But I cannot. I have essayed and essayed. But I cannot. At
last I have given it up. The Lord is great. He will not allow me to
become a hypocrite. Now let what is in come out. I have not found a way
that will please all, and I cannot but be what I am, true to my own self.
"Youth and beauty vanish, life and wealth vanish, name and fame vanish,
even the mountains crumble into dust. Friendship and love vanish. Truth
alone abides."God of Truth, be Thou alone my guide! I am too old to
change now into milk and honey. Allow me to remain as I am. "Without
fear—without shop keeping, caring neither for friend nor foe, do thou hold on
to Truth, Sannyâsin, and from this moment give up this world and the next and
all that are to come their enjoyments and their vanities. Truth, be thou
alone my guide." I have no desire for wealth or name or fame or enjoyments.
Sister—they are dust unto me. I wanted to help my brethren. I have
not the tact to earn money, bless the Lord. What reason is there for me to
conform to the vagaries of the world around me and not obey the voice of Truth
within? The mind is still weak. Sister, it sometimes mechanically
clutches at earthly help. But I am not afraid. Fear is the greatest
sin my religion teaches.
The last fight with the Presbyterian priest and the
long fight afterwards with Mrs. Bull showed me in a clear light what Manu says
to the Sannyâsin, "Live alone, walk alone." All friendship, all love,
is only limitation. There never was a friendship, especially of women,
which was not exacting, O great sages! You were right. One cannot
serve the God of Truth who leans upon somebody. Be still, my soul!
Be alone! and the Lord is with you. Life is nothing! Death is a
delusion! All this is not, God alone is! Fear not, my soul! Be
alone. Sister, the way is long, the time is short, evening is approaching.
I have to go home soon. I have no time to give my manners a finish.
I cannot find time to deliver my message. You are good, you are so kind, I
will do anything for you: and do not be angry, I see you all are mere children.
Dream no more! Oh, dream no more, my soul!
In one word, I have a message to give, I have no time to be sweet to the world,
and every attempt at sweetness makes me a hypocrite. I will die a thousand
deaths rather than lead a jelly-fish existence and yield to every requirement of
this foolish world, no matter whether it be my own county or a foreign country.
You are mistaken, utterly mistaken, if you think I have a work, as Mrs. Bull
thinks; I have no work under or beyond the sun. I have a message, and I
will give it after my own fashion. I will neither Hinduise my message, nor
Christianise it, nor make it any "ise" in the world. I will only my-ise
it and that is all. Liberty, Mukti, is all my religion, and every thing
that tries to curb it, I will avoid by fight or flight. Pooh! I try
to pacify the priests! I Sister, do not take this amiss. But you are
babies and babies must submit to be taught. You have not yet drunk of that
fountain which makes "reason unreason, mortal immortal, this world a zero,
and of man a God". Come out if you can of this network of foolishness
they call this world. Then I will call you indeed brave and free. If you
cannot, cheer those that dare dash this false God, society, to the ground and
trample on its unmitigated hypocrisy; if you cannot cheer them, pray, be silent,
but do not try to drag them down again into the mire with such false nonsense as
compromise and becoming nice and sweet.
I hate this world, this dream, this horrible nightmare,
with its churches and chicaneries, its books and black-guardisms, its fair faces
and false hearts, its howling righteousness on the surface and utter hollowness
beneath, and, above all, its sanctified shopkeeping. What! measure
my soul according to what the bond-slaves of the world say?—Pooh!
Sister, you do not know the Sannyâsin. "He stands on the heads of
the Vedas!" say the Vedas, because he is free from churches and sects and
religions and prophets and books and all of that ilk! Missionary or no
missionary, let them howl and attack me with all they can, I take them as
Bhartrihari says, "Go thou thy ways, Sannyâsin! Some will say,
‘Who is this mad man?' Others, ‘Who is this Chandâla?’ Others
will know thee to be a sage. Be glad at the prattle of the worldlings." But
when they attack, know that, "The elephant passing through the market-place
is always beset by curs, but he cares not. He goes straight on his own
way. So it is always, when a great soul appears there will be numbers to
bark after him."^
I am living with Landsberg at 54 W. 33rd Street.
He is a brave and noble soul. Lord bless him. Sometimes I go to the
Guernseys' to sleep.
Lord bless you all ever and ever—and may He lead you
quickly out of this big humbug, the world! May you never be enchanted by
this old witch, the world! May Shankara help you! May Umâ open the
door of truth for you and take away all your delusions!
Yours with love and blessings,
54 W 33 street
To Professor J.H.
New York 1st Feb 95
You must be immersed in your work now, however taking advantage of your kindness
to me I want to bother you a little.
What was the original Greek idea of the soul both philosophical and popular?
What books can I consult (Translations of course) to get it?
So with the Egyptians & Babylonians & Jews?
Will you kindly name me the books? ...
Ever gratefully & fraternally
19 W., 38 ST.,
...Meddle not with so-called social reform, for there
cannot be any reform without spiritual reform first. Who told you that I
want social reform? Not I. Preach the Lord—say neither good nor
bad about the superstitions and diets. Do not lose heart, do not lose
faith in your Guru, do not lose faith in God. So long as you possess these
three, nothing can harm you, my child. I am growing stronger every day.
Work on, my brave boys.
Ever yours with
To Mrs. Hale .
54 W. 33. Newyork [sic]
The 18th March [February] 95
I am sure you are all right by this time. The babies write from time to time and
so I get your news regularly, Miss Mary is in a lecturing mood now, good for
her. Hope she will not let her energies fritter away now-a penny saved is a
penny gained. Sister Isabell has sent me the French Books and the Calcutta
pamphlets have arrived but the big Sanskrit books ought to come. I want them
badly. Make them payable here if possible or I will send you the postage.
I am doing very well. Only some of these big dinners kept me late and I returned
home at 2 o'clock in the morning several days. Tonight I am going to one of
these. This will be the last of its kind. So much keeping up the night is not
good for me. Every day from II to I o'clock I have classes in my rooms and
I talk [to] them till they [grow] tired. The Brooklyn course ended yesterday.
Another lecture I have there next Monday.
Bean soup and rice or barley is now my general diet. I am faring well.
Financially I am making the ends meet and nothing more because I do not charge
anything for the classes I have in my rooms. And the public lectures have to go
through so many hands.
I have a good many lectures planned ahead in New York which I hope to deliver by
and by. Sister Isabel wrote to me a beautiful letter and the does so much for
me. My eternal gratitude to her.
Baby [Harriet McKindley, youngest of the "sisters" ?] has stopped
writing I do not know why.
Kindly tell baby to send me a little Sanskrit book
??>which came from India. I forgot to bring it over. I want to translate some
passages from it.
Mr. Higgins is full of joy. It was he who planned all this for me and he is so
glad that everything succeeded so well.
Mrs. Gurnsey is going to give up this house and going to some other house. Miss
[Florence] Gurnsey wants to marry but her father and mother does not like it at
all. I am very sorry for her, poor "Sister Jenny"* and so many men are
after her. Here is a very rich railway gentleman called Mr Corbin, his only
daughter Miss Corbin is very much interested in me. And though she is one of the
leaders of the 400, she is very intellectual and spiritual too in a way. Their
house is always choke full of swells & foreign aristocracy. Princes &
Barons & what not from all over the world. Some of these foreigners are very
bright. I am sorry your home-manufactured aristocracy is not very interesting.
Behind her parlor she has a long arbour with all sorts of palms & seats
& electric light. There I will have a little class next week of a score of
long-pockets. The Fun is not bad. "This world is a great humbug after
all" Mother. "God alone is real everything else is a dream only."
Mother temple [Mrs. James Matthews, a married sister of Mr. Hale's] says she
does not like to be bossed by you and that is why she does not come to Chicago.
She is very happy nearby. Between Swells and Delmonico & Waldorf dinners my
health was going to be injured. So I quickly turned a thorough vegetarian to
avoid all invitations. The rich are really the salts of this world-they are
neither food nor drink. Goodbye for the present.
Your ever affectionate Son 78
[Letter to Isabelle
54 WEST, 33
25th February, 1895.
I am sorry you had an attack of illness. I will give
you an absent treatment though your confession takes half the strength out of my
mind. That you have rolled out of it is all right. All's well that ends
well. The books have arrived in good condition and many thanks for them.
^ Swamiji took
delight in gently teasing the Hale sisters(of whom Isabelle was one) about their
study and practice of Christian Science. He wrote this short note from New
York, and in this is he slyly poked inn at the "Scientists' " practice
of never confessing to sickness.
U. S. A.,
6th March, 1895.
...Do not for a moment think the "Yankees"
are practical in religion. In that the Hindu alone is practical, the
Yankee in money-making, so that as soon as I depart, the whole thing will
disappear. Therefore I want to have a solid ground under my feet before I
depart. Every work should be made thorough. ...You need not insist upon
preaching Shri Ramakrishna. Propagate his ideas first, though I know the
world always wants the Man first, then the idea. ...Do not figure out big plans
at first, but begin slowly, feel your ground, and proceed up and up.
...Work on, my brave boys. We shall see the light some
Harmony and peace! ...Let things slowly grow.
Rome was not built in a day. The Maharaja of Mysore is dead one of our greatest
hopes. Well! the Lord is great. He will send others to help the
cause. Send some Kushâsanas(small sitting-mats) if you can.
Yours ever with
[Letter to Isabelle
54 W., 33
27th March, 1895.
Your kind note gave me pleasure inexpressible. I
was also able to read it through very easily. I have at last hit upon the
orange and have got a coat, but could not as yet get any in summer material.
If you get any, kindly inform me. I will have it made here in New York.
Your wonderful Dearborn Ave. misfit tailor is too much even for a monk.
Sister Locke writes me a long letter and perhaps
wondering at my delay in reply. She is apt to be carried away by
enthusiasm; so I am waiting, and again I do not know what to answer.
Kindly tell her from me that it is impossible for me to fix any place just now.
Mrs. Peake though noble, grand, and very spiritual, is as much clever in worldly
matter as I, yet I am getting cleverer every day. Mrs. Peake has been
offered, by some one whom she knows only hazily in Washington, a place for
Who knows that she will not be played, upon? This
is a wonderful country for cheating, and 99.9 per have some motive in the
background to advantage of others. If any one just but closes his eyes for
a moment he is gone!! Sister Josephine is fiery. Mrs. Peake is
a simple good woman. I have so well handled by the people here that I look
round me for hours I take a step. Everything will come to right. Ask
Sister Josephine to have a little patience.
You are every day finding kindergarten better than
running an old man's home I am sure. You saw Mrs. Bull, and I am sure you
were quite surprised to find her so tame and gentle. Do you see Mrs. Adams
now then? Mrs. Bull has been greatly benefited by her lessons. I also took
a few, but no use; the ever increasing load in front does not allow me to bend
forward as Mrs. Adams wants it. If I try to bend forward in walking, the centre
of gravity comes to the surface of the stomach, and so I go cutting front
No millionaire coming? Not even a few hundred
thousands? Sorry, very sorry!!! I am trying my best: what I can do?
My classes are full of women. You of course cannot marry a woman.
Well, have patience. I will keep my eyes open and never let go an
opportunity. If you do not get one, it would not be owing to any laziness
at least on my part.
Life goes on the old ruts. Sometimes I get
disgusted with eternal lecturings talkings, want to be silent for days days.
Hoping you the best dreams(for that is the only way to
I remain ever your
U. S. A.,
Your letter just to hand. You need not be afraid of
anybody's attempting to hurt me. So long as the Lord protects me I shall
be impregnable. Your ideas of America are very hazy. ...This is a huge
country, the majority do not care about religion.... Christianity holds its
ground as a mere patriotism, and nothing more.
...Now my son, do not lose courage. ...Send me the
Vedanta-Sutras and the Bhâshyas(commentaries) of all the sects. ... I am in His
hands. What is the use of going back to India? India cannot further my
ideas. This country takes kindly to my ideas. I will go back when I
get the Command. In the meanwhile, do you all gently and patiently work.
If anybody attacks me, simply ignore his existence. ...My idea is for you to
start a Society where people could be taught the Vedas and the Vedanta, with the
commentaries. Work on this line at present. ...Know that every time you
feel weak, you not only hurt yourself but also the Cause. Infinite faith
and strength are the only conditions of success.
Be cheerful... Hold onto your own ideal. ... Above all, never attempt to guide
or rule others, or, as the Yankees say, "boss" others. Be the
servant of all.
Ever yours with
To Mrs. Hale
I was away a long time in the country. Came back day before yesterday.
I think the summer coat is in Chicago. If so will you kindly send it over c/o
Miss Phillips 19 W. 38 st New York? It is getting hot here every day.
I will remain in New York till the end of May at least. Hoping you are all in
perfect health I remain yours tly
54 W. 33.
Perhaps you did not receive my letter asking you to send the Calcutta pamphlets
about the Paramhansa Ramkrishna. Kindly send them to me at 54 W. 33. And also
the pamphlets about the Calcutta meeting if you have any. Also the summer coat
to the care of Miss Phillips 19 W. 38.
As I do not see any probability of my going soon to Chicago-I am thinking of
drawing all my money from the Chicago bank to New York. Will you kindly
ascertain the exact total amount I have in Chicago? So that I may draw it out at
once and deposit it in some New York bank.
Kindly do these and I will bother you no more. I have written to India long ago
about the rugs. I do not know whether Dewanji [Shri Haridas Viharidas Desai,
Dewan of Junagadh] is alive or dead. I have no information.
I am all right and will be more than a month yet in Newyork. After that I am
going to the Thousand Islands wherever that place may be for a little summer
quiet and rest. Mrs. Bagley has been down here to see me and attended several of
The classes are going on with a boom; almost every day I have one, and they are
packed full. But no "money" except they maintain themselves. I charge
no fees. Except as the members contribute to the rent & c voluntarily.It is
mostly probable that I will go away this summer.
With my love to all Ever gratefully yours
To Mrs Hale
The Ist of May 1895
Many many thanks for sending the coat. Now I am well equipped for summer. I am
so sorry the rugs could not come before I leave this country. They will come if
Dewanji is alive.
I have been out of town a few days and am now come back all right healthy as
Lord bless you ever & ever for your untiring kindness to me.
Ever Yours grateful son
P.S. The History of
Rajasthan [by James Tod, given to him by Mrs. Potter Palmer] I present you and
the sachel [sic] to the babies. Yours -- Vivekananda
U. S. A.,
2nd May, 1895.
So you have made up your mind to renounce the world.
I have sympathy with your desire. There is nothing so high as renunciation
of self. But you must not forget that to forgo your own favourite desire
for the welfare of those that depend upon you is no small sacrifice.
Follow the spotless life and teachings of Shri Ramakrishna and look after the
comforts of your family. You do your own duty, and leave the rest to Him.
Love makes no distinction between man and man, between
an Aryan and a Mlechchha, between a Brâhmana and a Pariah, nor even between a
man and a woman. Love makes the whole universe as one's own home. True
progress is slow but sure. Work among those young men who can devote heart and
soul to this one duty—the duty of raising the masses of India. Awake
them, unite them, and inspire them with this spirit of renunciation; it depends
wholly on the young people of India.
Cultivate the virtue of obedience, but you must not
sacrifice your own faith. No centralisation is possible unless there is
obedience to superiors. No great work can be done without this
centralisation of individual forces. The Calcutta Math is the main centre;
the members of all other branches must act in unity and conformity with the
rules of that centre.
Give up jealousy and conceit. Learn to work
unitedly for others. This is the great need of our country.
To Francis Leggett
Many thanks for your kind present. The cigars are indeed delicious and a hundred
times so as coming from you.
With everlasting love and regards,
I remain yours truly, 103
U. S. A.,
6th May, 1895.
This morning I received your last letter and that first
volume of the Bhâshya of Râmânujâcharya. A few days ago I received
another letter from you. Also I received a letter from Mr. Mani Iyer.
I am doing well and going on in the same old rate. You mention about the
lectures of Mr. Lund. I do not know who he is or where he is. He may
be some one lecturing in Churches; for had he big platforms, we would have heard
of him. Maybe, he gets them reported in some newspapers and sends them to India;
and the missionaries may be making trade out of it. Well, so far I guess
from the tone of your letters. It is no public affair here to call forth
any defence from us; for in that case I will have to fight hundreds of them here
every day. For India is now in the air, and the orthodox, including Dr.
Barrows and all the rest, are struggling hard to put out the fire. In the
second place, every one of these orthodox lectures against India must have a
good deal of abuse buried against me. If you hear some of the filthy
stories the orthodox men and women invent against me, you will be astonished.
Now, do you mean to say that a Sannyâsin should go about defending himself
against the brutal and cowardly attacks of these self-seeking men and women?
I have some very influential friends here who, now and then, give them their
quietus. Again, why should I waste my energies defending Hinduism if the
Hindus all go to sleep? What are you three hundred millions of people doing
there, especially those that are so proud of their learning etc.? Why do
you not take up the fighting and leave me to teach and preach? Here am I
struggling day and night in the midst of strangers. ...What help does India
send? Did the world ever see a nation with less patriotism than the
Indian? If you could send and maintain for a few years a dozen
well-educated strong men to preach in Europe and America, you would do immense
service to India both morally and politically. Every man who morally
sympathises with India becomes a political friend. Many of the Western
people think of you as a nation of half-naked savages, and therefore only fit to
be whipped into civilisation. If you three hundred millions become cowed
by the missionaries—you cowards —and dare not say a word, what can one man
do in a far distant land? Even what I have done, you do not deserve.
Why do you not send your defences to the American
magazines? What prevents you? You race of cowards—physical, moral,
and spiritual! You animals fit to be treated as you are with two ideas
before you—lust and money— you want to prod a Sannyâsin to a life of
constant fighting, and you are afraid of the "Saheb logs", even
missionaries! And you will do great things, pish! Why not some of you
write a beautiful defence and send it to the Arena Publishing Company of Boston?
The Arena is a magazine which will gladly publish it and perhaps pay you hard
money. So far it ends. Think of this when you will be tempted to be
a fool. Think that up to date every blackguard of a Hindu that had
hitherto come to Western lands had too often criticised his own faith and
country in order to get praise or money. You know that I did not come to
seek name and fame; it was forced upon me. Why shall I go back to India?
Who will help me? ...You are children, you prattle you do not know what.
Where are the men in Madras who will give up the world to preach religion?
Worldliness and realisation of God cannot go together. I am the one man
who dared defend his country, and I have given them such ideas as they never
expected from a Hindu. There are many who are against me, but I will never
be a coward like you. There are also thousands in the country who are my
friends, and hundreds who would follow me unto death; every year they will
increase, and if I live and work with them, my ideals of life and religion will
be fulfilled. Do you see?
I do not hear much now about the Temple Universal that
was to be built in America; yet I have a firm footing in New York, the very
centre of American life, and so my work will go on. I am taking several of my
disciples to a summer retreat to finish their training in Yoga and Bhakti and
Jnana, and then they will be able to help carry the work on. Now my boys,
go to work.
Within a month I shall be in a position to send some
money for the paper. Do not go about begging from the Hindu beggars. I will do
it all myself with my own brain and strong right hand. I do not want the
help of any man here or in India. ...Do not press too much the Ramakrishna
Now I will tell you my discovery. All of religion
is contained in the Vedanta, that is, in the three stages of the Vedanta
philosophy, the Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita; one Comes after the other.
These are the three stages of spiritual growth in man. Each one is
necessary. This is the essential of religion: the Vedanta, applied to the
various ethnic customs and creeds of India, is Hinduism. The first stage,
i.e. Dvaita, applied to the ideas of the ethnic groups of Europe, is
Christianity; as applied to the Semitic groups, Mohammedanism. The Advaita,
as applied in its Yoga-perception form, is Buddhism etc. Now by religion is
meant the Vedanta; the applications must vary according to the different needs,
surroundings, and other circumstances of different nations. You will find
that although the philosophy is the same, the Shaktas, Shaivas, etc. apply it
each to their own special cult and forms. Now, in your journal write article
after article on these three systems, showing their harmony as one following
after the other, and at the same time keeping off the ceremonial forms
altogether. That is, preach the philosophy, the spiritual part, and let
people suit it to their own forms. I wish to write a book on this subject,
therefore I wanted the three Bhâshyas; but only one volume of the Râmânujâ(Bhâshya)
has reached me as yet.
The American Theosophists have seceded from the others,
and now they hate India. Poor things! And Sturdy of England who has
lately been in India and met my brother Shivananda wrote me a letter wanting to
know when I go over to England. I wrote him a nice letter. What about Babu
Akshay Kumar Ghosh? I do not hear anything from him more. Give the
missionaries and others their dues. Get up some of our very strong men and
write a nice, strong, but good-toned article on the present religious revival in
India and send it to some American magazine. I am acquainted with only one
or two of them. You know I am not much of a writer. I am not in the
habit of going from door to door begging. I sit quiet and let things come
to me. ...Now, my children, I could have made a grand success in the way of
organising here, if I were a worldly hypocrite. Alas! That is all of
religion here; money and name = priest, money and lust = layman. I am to
create a new order of humanity here who are sincere believers in God and care
nothing for the world. This must be slow, very slow. In the meantime you
go on with your work, and I shall steer my boat straight ahead. The
journal must not be flippant but steady, calm, and high-toned. ...Get hold of a
band of fine, steady writers. ...Be perfectly unselfish, be steady and
work on. We will do great things; do not fear. ...One thing more. Be the
servant of all, and do not try in the least to govern others. That will
excite jealousy and destroy everything. ...Go on. You have worked
wonderfully well. We do not wait for help, we will work it out, my boy, be
self-reliant, faithful and patient. Do not antagonise my other friends,
live in harmony with all. My eternal love to all.
Ever yours with
will come to help you if you put yourself forward as a leader. ...Kill self
first if you want to succeed.
14th May, 1895.
...Now I have got a hold on New York, and I hope to get
a permanent body of workers who will carry on the work when I leave the country.
Do you see, my boy, all this newspaper blazoning is nothing? I ought to be
able to leave a permanent effect behind me when I go: and with the blessings of
the Lord it is going to be very soon... Men are more valuable than all the
wealth of the world.
You need not worry about me. The Lord is always
protecting me. My coming to this country and all my labours must not be in
The Lord is merciful, and although there are many who
try to injure-me any way they can, there are many also who will befriend me to
the last. Infinite patience, infinite purity, and infinite perseverance
are the secret of success in a good cause.
Ever yours with
To Mrs Bull
The 28th May'95
Your last kind letter to hand. This week will be the last of my classes. I am
going next Tuesday with Mr. Leggett to Maine. He has a fine lake and a forest
there. I will be two or three weeks there. From thence I go to the Thousand
Islands. Also I have an invitation to speak at a parliament of religions at
Toronto Canada on July 18th. I will go there from Thousand Islands and return
So far everything is going on well with me
Ever your grateful son
P.S. My regards & love to your daughter and pray for her speedy
To Mrs. Bull
Today I leave New York at 5 p. m. by steamer with Mr. Leggett.
The classes were closed on Saturday last [June 1] and so far the work has been
very successful, no small part of which is due to you.
Ever praying for you & yours
I am ever your Son
P.S. I will
acquaint you with my whereabouts as soon as I know it myself.
[Letter to Mr. F.
C/O MISS DUTCHER,
THOUSAND ISLAND PARK, N.Y.,
18th June, 1895.
A letter reached me from Mrs. Sturges the day before
she left, including a cheque for $50. It was impossible to make the
acknowledgement reach her the next day; so I take this opportunity to ask you
the favour of sending her my thanks and acknowledgement in your next to her.
We are having a nice time here except, as an old Hindu
proverb says, that "a pestle must pound even if it goes to heaven".
I have to work hard all the same. I am going to Chicago in the beginning
of August. When are you starting?
All our friends here send their respects to you. Hoping
you all bliss and joy and health, and ever praying for the same.
I remain, yours
In a postscript to a letter from Chicago, dated June 20, 1895, Swamiji had
written to Shri Haridas Viharidas Desai, Dewan of Junagadh
P.S. I would ask a
favour of you. I am going off now to N.Y. This family [the Hales] have sheltered
me all the time and loved me as their son-and that in spite of the calumny of
our countrymen and their own priests and that I came to them without any
credentials or introductions or anything of that sort.I would like to make them
a little present-if you can send me some beautiful rugs made in Agra or Lahore-2
or 3 pieces-they are very fond of Indian rugs for their floors. It is a great
luxury. There is one difficulty-the Americans allow nothing in without taxing
duty. Perhaps the consul at Bombay can make it come free by permitting it as a
present to friends-if not you may send them over-I will pay the duty here. If
they are too expensive, I do not care to have. 113
19 W. 38TH ST.,
22nd June, 1895
I will write you a whole letter instead of a line. I am
glad you are progressing. You are mistaken in thinking that I am not going
to return to India; I am coming soon. I am not giving to failures, and
here I have planted a seed, and it is going to become a tree, and it must. Only
I am afraid it will hurt its growth if I give it up too soon. ...
Work on, my boy. Rome was not built in a day. I
am guided by the Lord, so everything will come all right in the end.
With my love ever and ever to you,
U. S. A.,
1st July, 1895.
I received your missionary book and the Ramnad photos.
I have written to the Raja as well as the Dewan at Mysore. The missionary
pamphlet must have reached here long ago, as the Ramâbâi circle controversy
with Dr. Janes savoured of it, it seems. Now you need not be afraid of
anything. There is one misstatement in that pamphlet. I never went
to a big hotel in this country, and very few times to any other. At
Baltimore, the small hotels, being ignorant, would not take in a black man,
thinking him a negro. So my host, Dr. Vrooman, had to take me to a larger
one, because they knew the difference between a negro and a foreigner. Let
me tell you, Alasinga, that you have to defend yourselves. Why do you
behave like babies? If anybody attacks your religion, why cannot you
defend it? As for me, you need not be afraid, I have more friends than
enemies here, and in this country one-third are Christians, and only a small
number of the educated care about the missionaries. Again, the very fact of the
missionaries being against anything makes the educated like it. They are
less of a power here now, and are becoming less so every day. If their attacks
pain you, why do you behave like a petulant child and refer to me?
...Cowardice is no virtue.
Here I have already got a respectable following.
Next year I will organise it on a working basis, and then the work will be
carried on. And when I am off to India, I have friends who will back me
here and help me in India too; so you need not fear. So long as you shriek
at the missionary attempts and jump without being able to do anything, I laugh
at you; you are little dollies, that is what you are. ...What can Swami do for
I know, my son, I shall have to come and manufacture
men out of you. I know that India is only inhabited by women and eunuchs.
So do not fret. I will have to get means to work there. I do not put
myself in the hands of imbeciles. You need not worry, do what little you
can. I have to work alone from top to bottom. ..."This Âtman(Self)
is not to be reached by cowards." You need not be afraid for me. The
Lord is with me, you defend yourselves only and show me you can do that; and I
will be satisfied. Don't bother me any more with what any one says about
me. I am not waiting to hear any fool's judgment of me. You babies,
great results are attained only by great patience, great courage, and great
attempts. ...Kidi's mind is taking periodic somersaults, I am afraid. ...
The brave alone do great things, not the cowards.
Know once for all, you faithless ones, that I am in the hands of the Lord.
So long as I am pure and His servant, not a hair of my head will be touched.
...Do something for the nation, then they will help you, then the nation will be
with you. Be brave, be brave! Man dies but once. My disciples must
not be cowards.
Ever yours with
[Letter to Mrs
A glorious time to you, dear Mother, and I am sure this letter will find you in
all health. Many thanks for the $50 you sent; it went a long way.
We have had such a nice time here. Two ladies came up
all the way from Detroit to be with us here. They are so pure and good. I
am going from the Thousand Island to Detroit and thence to Chicago.
Our class in New York is going on, and they have
carried it bravely on, although I was not there.
By the by, the two ladies who have come from Detroit
were in the class, and unfortunately were mighty frightened with imps and other
persons of that ilk. They have been taught to put a little salt, just a
little, in burning alcohol, and if there is a black precipitate, that must be
the impurities showing the presence of the imps. How ever, these two
ladies had too much fright from the imps. It is said that these imps are
everywhere filling the whole universe. Father Leggett must be awfully
downcast at your absence, as I did not hear from him up to date. Well, it
is better to let grief have its way. So I do not bother him any more.
Aunt Joe Joe must have had a terrible time at sea. All
is well that ends well.
The babies^ must be enjoying their stay in Germany very
much. My shiploads of love to them.
We all here send you love, and I wish you a life that
will be like a torch to generations to come.
Alberta-then at school in Germany
[Letter to Mrs.
C/O MISS DUTCHER,
THOUSAND ISLAND PARK,
I am sure you are in New York by this time, and that it
is not very hot there now.
We are having great times here. Marie Louise arrived
yesterday. So we are exactly seven now including all that have come yet.
All the sleep of the world has come upon me. I
sleep at least two hours during the day and sleep through the whole night as a
piece of log. This is a reaction, I think, from the sleeplessness of New
York. I am also writing and reading a little, and have a class every
morning after breakfast. The meals are being conducted on the strictest
vegetarian principles, and I am fasting a good deal.
I am determined that several pounds of my fat shall be
off before I leave. This is a Methodist place, and they will have their
camp meeting in August. It is a very beautiful spot, but I am afraid it
becomes top crowded during the season.
Miss Joe Joe's fly-bite has been cured completely by
this time, I am sure. Where is ...Mother? Kindly give her my best
regards when you write her next.
I will always look back upon the delightful time I had
at Percy, and always thank Mr. Leggett for that treat. I shall be able to
go to Europe with him. When you meet him next, kindly give him my eternal
love and gratitude. The world is always bettered by the love of the likes
Are you with your friend, Mrs. Dora(long German name)?
She is a noble soul, a genuine Mahâtmâ(great soul). Kindly give her my
love and regards.
I am in a sort of sleepy, lazy, happy state now and do
not seem to dislike it. Marie Louise brought a little tortoise from New
York, her pet. Now, arriving here, the pet found himself surrounded with
his natural element. So by dint of persistent tumbling and crawling, he
has left the love and fondlings of Marie Louise far, far behind. She was a
little sorry at first, but we preached liberty with such a vigour that she had
to come round quick.
May the Lord bless you and yours for ever and ever is
the constant prayer of
PS. Joe Joe did not send the birch bark book. Mrs. Bull was very
glad to have the one I had sent her.
I had a large number of very beautiful letters from
India. Everything is all right there. Send my love to the babies on
the other side—the real "innocents abroad".
[Letter to Mr. F.
C/O MISS DUTCHER,
THOUSAND ISLAND PARK, N. Y.,
7th July, 1895.
I see you are enjoying New York very much, so excuse my
breaking into your reverie with a letter.
I had two beautiful letters from Miss MacLeod and Mrs.
Sturges. Also they sent over two pretty birch bark books. I have
filled them with Sanskrit texts and translations, and they go by today's post.
Mrs. Dora^ is giving, I hear, some startling
performances in the Mahâtmâ line.
Since leaving Percy^^ I have invitations to come over
to London from unexpected quarters, and that I look forward to with great
I do not want to lose this opportunity of working in
London. And so your invitation, coupled with the London one, is, I know, a
divine call for further work.
I shall be here all this month and only have to go to
Chicago for a few days sometime in August.
Don't fret. Father Leggett, this is the best time for
expectation when sure in love.
Lord bless you ever and ever, and may all happiness be
yours for ever, as you richly deserve it.
Ever yours in love and affection,
Rosthlesberger, an occultist who had introduced Miss MacLeod and Mrs. Sturges to
^^Percy- Mr. Leggett's camp in New Hampshire. From here Swami Vivekananda
went to Thousand Island Park.
[Letter to The
Maharaja of Khetri]
U. S. A.,
9th July, 1895.
... About my coming
to India, the matter stands thus. I am, as your Highness well knows, a man
of dogged perseverance. I have planted a seed in this country; it is
already a plant, and I expect it to be a tree very soon, I have got a few
hundred followers. I shall make several Sannyâsins, and then I go to
India, leaving the work to them. The more the Christian priests oppose me,
the more I am determined to leave a permanent mark on their country. ...I have
already some friends in London. I am going there by the end of August.
...This winter anyway has to be spent partly in London and partly in New York,
and then I shall be free to go to India. There will be enough men to carry
on the work here after this winter if the Lord is kind. Each work has to
pass through these stages— ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance.
Each man who thinks ahead of his time is sure to be misunderstood. So
opposition and persecution are welcome, only I have to be steady and pure and
must have immense faith in God, and all these will vanish. ...
[Letter to Francis
C/O MISS DUTCHER,
THOUSAND ISLAND PARK, N. Y.,
31st July, 1895.
I wrote you before this a letter, but as I am afraid it
was not posted carefully, I write another.
I shall be in time before the 14th. I shall have
to come to New York before the 11th anyway. So there will be time enough
to get ready.
I shall go with you to Paris, for my principal object
in going with you is to see you married. When you go away for a trip, I go
to London. That is all.
It is unnecessary to repeat my everlasting love and
blessings for you and yours.
Ever your son,
U. S. A.,
By the time this reaches you, dear Alasinga, I shall be in Paris. ...I have done
a good deal of work this year and hope to do a good deal more in the next.
Don't bother about the missionaries. It is quite natural that they should
cry. Who does not when his bread is dwindling away? The missionary funds
have got a big gap the last two years, and it is on the increase. However,
I wish the missionaries all success. So long as you have love for God and
Guru and faith in truth, nothing can hurt you, my son. But the loss of any
of these is dangerous. You have remarked well; my ideas are going to work
in the West better than in India. ...I have done more for India than India ever
did for me. ...I believe in truth, the Lord sends me workers by the scores
wherever I go—and they are not like the ...disciples either—they are ready
to give up their lives for their Guru. Truth is my God, the universe my
country. I do not believe in duty. Duty is the curse of the
Samsari(householder), not for the Sannyâsin. Duty is humbug I am free, my
bonds are cut; what care I where this body goes or does not go? You have
helped me well right along. The Lord will reward you. I sought
praise neither from India nor from America, nor do I seek such bubbles. I
have a truth to teach, I, the child of God. And He that gave me the truth
will send me fellow workers from the earth's bravest and best. You Hindus
will see in a few years what the Lord does in the West. You are like the
Jews of old—dogs in the manger, who neither eat nor allow others to eat. You
have no religion, your God is the kitchen, your Bible the cooking-pots. ...You
are a few brave lads. ...Hold on, boys, no cowards among my children. ...Are
great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience, and indomitable will must
show. I could have told you many things that would have made your heart
leap, but I will not. I want iron wills and hearts that do not know how to
quake. Hold on. The Lord bless you.
Ever yours with
DEAR MRS. BULL,
...Now here is another letter from Mr. Sturdy. I
send it over to you. See how things are being prepared ahead. Don't
you think this coupled with Mr. Leggett's invitation as a divine call? I
think so and am following it. I am going by the end of August with Mr.
Leggett to Paris, and then I go to London.
What little can be done for my brethren and my work is
all the help I want from you now. I have done my duty to my people fairly
well. Now for the world that gave me this body—the country that gave me the
ideas, the humanity which allows me to be one of them!
The older I grow, the more I see behind the idea of the
Hindus that man is the greatest of all beings. So say the Mohammedans too.
The angels were asked by Allah to bow down to Adam. lblis did not, and
therefore he became Satan. This earth is higher than all heavens; this is
the greatest school in the universe; and the Mars or Jupiter people cannot be
higher than we, because they cannot communicate with us. The only
so-called higher beings are the departed, and these are nothing but men who have
taken another body. This is finer, it is true, but still a man-body, with hands
and feet, and so on. And they live on this earth in another Âkâsha, without
being absolutely invisible. They also think, and have consciousness, and
everything else like us. So they also are men, so are the Devas, the
angels. But man alone becomes God; and they all have to become men again
in order to
become God. ...
[Letter to Mr. E.
3 RUE CASTIGLIONE, PARIS,
26th August, 1895.
Aum tat sat
I arrived here day before yesterday. I came over
to this country as the guest of an American friend who is going to be married
here next week. I shall have to stop here with him till that time; and
after that I shall be free to come to London. Eagerly anticipating the joy
of meeting you,
Ever yours in Sat,
9th September, 1895.
...I am surprised you take so seriously the
missionaries' nonsense. ...If the people in India want me to keep strictly to my
Hindu diet, please tell them to send me a cook and money enough to keep him.
This silly bossism without a mite of real help makes me laugh. On the
other hand, if the missionaries tell you that I have ever broken the two great
vows of the Sannyâsin—chastity and poverty tell them that they are big liars.
Please write to the missionary Hume asking him categorically to write you what
misdemeanour he saw in me, or give you the names of his informants, and whether
the information was first-hand or not; that will settle the question and expose
the whole thing. ...
As for me, mind you, I stand at nobody's dictation.
I know my mission in life, and no chauvinism about me; I belong as much to India
as to the world, no humbug about that. I have helped you all I could.
You must now help yourselves. What country has any special claim on me? Am
I any nation's slave? Don't talk any more silly nonsense, you faithless
I have worked hard and sent all the money I got to
Calcutta and Madras, and then after doing all this, stand their silly dictation!
Are you not ashamed? What do I owe to them? Do I care a fig for
their praise or fear their blame? I am a singular man, my son, not even
you can understand me yet. Do your work; if you cannot, stop; but do not
try to "boss" me with your nonsense. I see a greater Power than
man, or God, or devil at my back. I require nobody's help. I have
been all my life helping others. ...They cannot raise a few rupees to help the
work of the greatest man their country ever produced—Ramakrishna Paramahamsa;
and they talk nonsense and want to dictate to the man for whom they did nothing,
and who did everything he could for them! Such is the ungrateful world!
Do you mean to say I am born to live and die one of
those caste-ridden, superstitious, merciless, hypocritical, atheistic cowards
that you find only amongst the educated Hindus? I hate cowardice; I will
have nothing to do with cowards or political nonsense. I do not believe in
any politics. God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything
else is trash.
I am going to London tomorrow. ...
24th October, 1895.
...I have already delivered my first address, and you
may see how well it has been received by the notice in the Standard. The
Standard is one of the most influential conservative papers. I am going to
be in London for a month, then I go off to America and shall come back again
next summer. So far you see the seed is well sown in England. ...
Take courage and work on. Patience and steady
work—this is the only way. Go on; remember—patience and purity and
courage and steady work. ...So long as you are pure, and true to your
principles, you will never fail—Mother will never leave you, and all blessings
will be yours.
Yours with love,
18th November, 1895.
...In England my work is really splendid, I am
astonished myself at it. The English people do not talk much in the
newspapers, but they work silently. I am sure of more work in England than
in America. Bands and bands come, and I have no room for so many; so they
squat on the floor, ladies and all. I tell them to imagine that they are under
the sky of India, under a spreading banyan, and they like the idea. I
shall have to go away next week, and they are so sorry. Some think my work
here will be hurt a little if I go away so soon. I do not think so.
I do not depend on men or things. The Lord alone I depend upon—and He
works through me.
...Please everybody without becoming a hypocrite and
without being a coward. Hold on to your own ideas with strength and
purity, and whatever obstructions may now be in your way, the world is bound to
listen to you in the long run. ...
I have no time even to die, as the Bengalis say.
I work, work, work, and earn my own bread and help my country, and this all
alone, and then get only criticism from friends and foes for all that!
Well, you are but children, I shall have to bear everything. I have sent for a
Sannyâsin from Calcutta and shall leave him to work in London. I want one
more for America—I want my own man. Guru-Bhakti is the foundation of all
...I am really tired from incessant work. Any
other Hindu would have died if he had to work as hard as I have to. ...I want to
go to India for a long rest. ...
Ever yours with
love and blessings,
228 W. 39TH ST.,
20th December, 1895.
...Have patience and be faithful unto death. Do not
fight among yourselves. Be perfectly pure in money dealings. ...We will do
great things yet. ...So long as you have faith and honesty and devotion,
everything will prosper.
...In translating the Suktas, pay particular attention
to the Bhâshyakâras(commentators), and pay no attention whatever to the
orientalists. They do not understand a single thing about our Shâstras(scriptures).
It is not given to dry philologists to understand philosophy or religion. ...For
instance the word Ânid-avâtam in the Rig-Veda was translated—"He lived
without breathing". Now, here the reference is really to the chief
Prana, and Avatam has the root-meaning for unmoved, that is, without vibration.
It describes the state in which the universal cosmic energy, or Prana, remains
before the Kalpa(cycle of creation) begins: vide—the Bhâshyakâras.
Explain according to our sages and not according to the so-called European
scholars. What do they know?
...Be bold and fearless, and the road will be clear.
...Mind, you have nothing whatsoever to do with the Theosophists. If you
all stand by me and do not lose patience, I assure you, we shall do great work
yet. The great work will be in England, my boy, by and by. I feel you sometimes
get disheartened, and I am afraid you get temptations to play in the hands of
the Theosophists. Mind you, the Guru-Bhakta will conquer the world-this is
the one evidence of history. ...It is faith that makes a lion of a man.
You must always remember how much work I have to do. Sometimes I have to
deliver two or three lectures a day—and thus I make my way against all odds—
hard work; any weaker man would die.
...Hold on with faith and strength; be true, be honest,
be pure, and don't quarrel among yourselves. Jealousy is the bane of our
With love to you and all our friends there,
[Letter to Miss Mary
228 W. 39TH STREET,
10th February, 1896.
I was astonished at learning that you have not received
my letter yet. I wrote immediately after the receipt of yours and also
sent you some booklets of three lectures I delivered in New York. These
Sunday public lectures are now taken down in shorthand and printed. Three
of them made two little pamphlets, several copies of which I have forwarded to
you. I shall be in New York two weeks more, and then I go to Detroit to
come back to Boston for a week or two.
My health is very much broken down this year by
constant work. I am very nervous. I have not slept a single night
soundly this winter. I am sure I am working too much, yet a big work awaits me
I will have to go through it, and then I hope to reach
India and have a rest all the rest of my life. I have tried at least to do my
best for the world, leaving the result to the Lord. Now I am longing for
rest. Hope I will get some, and the Indian people will give me up. How I
would like to become dumb for some years and not talk at all! I was not
made for these struggles and fights of the world. I am naturally dreamy
and restful, I am a born idealist, can only live in a world of dreams; the very
touch of fact disturbs my visions and makes me unhappy. They will be done!
I am ever ever grateful to you four sisters; to you I
owe everything I have in this country. May you be ever blessed and happy.
Wherever I be, you will always be remembered with the deepest gratitude and
sincerest love. The whole life is a succession of dreams. My
ambition is to be a conscious dreamer, that is all. My love to all—to
[Letter to E.T.
228 W. 39TH STREET,
13th February, 1896.
About the Sannyâsin coming over from India, I am sure
he will help you in the translation work, also in other work. Later on,
when I come, I may send him over to America. Today another Sannyâsin has
been added to the list. This time it is a man who is a genuine American
and a religious teacher of some standing in the country. He was Dr.
Street. He is now Yogananda, as his leaning is all towards Yoga.
I have been sending regular reports to the Brahmavâdin
from here. They will be published soon. It takes such a long time
for things to reach India! Things are growing nobly in America. As
there was no hocus-pocus from the beginning, the Vedanta is drawing the
attention of the highest classes in American society. Sarah Bernhardt, the
French actress, has been playing "Iziel" here. It is a sort of
Frenchified life of Buddha, where a courtesan "Iziel" wants to seduce
the Buddha, under the banyan—and the Buddha preaches to her the vanity of the
world, whilst she is sitting all the time in Buddha's lap. However, all is
well that ends well the courtesan fails. Madame Bernhardt acts the
courtesan. I went to see the Buddha business—and Madame spying me in the
audience wanted to have an interview with me. A swell family of my
acquaintance arranged the affair. There were besides Madame M. Morrel, the
celebrated singer, also the great electrician Tesla. Madame is a very
scholarly lady and has studied up the metaphysics a good deal. M. Morrel
was being interested, but Mr. Tesla was charmed to hear about the Vedantic Prana
and Âkâsha and the Kalpas, which according to him are the only theories modern
science can entertain. Now both Âkâsha and Prana again are produced from
the cosmic Mahat, the Universal Mind, the Brahmâ or Ishvara. Mr. Tesla
thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to
potential energy. I am to go and see him next week, to get this new mathematical
In that case, the Vedantic cosmology will be placed on
the surest of foundations. I am working a good deal now upon the cosmology
and eschatology^ of the Vedanta. I clearly see their perfect unison with
modern science, and the elucidation of the one will be followed by that of the
other. I intend to write a book later on in the form of questions and answers.^
The first chapter will be on cosmology, showing the harmony between Vedantic
theories and modern science.
Brahman = The
Mahat or Ishvara = Primal Creative Energy
Prana and Akasha = Force and Matter
The eschatology will be explained from the Advaitic standpoint only. That
is to say, the dualist claims that the soul after death passes on to the Solar
sphere, thence to the Lunar sphere, thence to the Electric sphere. Thence
he is accompanied by a Purusha to Brahmaloka. (Thence, says the Advaitist, he
goes to Nirvana.)
Now on the Advaitic side, it is held that the soul
neither comes nor goes, and that all these spheres or layers of the universe are
only so many varying products of Âkâsha and Prana. That is to say, the
lowest or most condensed is the Solar sphere, consisting of the visible
universe, in which Prana appears as physical force, and Âkâsha as sensible
matter. The next is called the Lunar sphere, which surrounds the Solar
sphere. This is not the moon at all, but the habitation of the gods, that is to
say, Prana appears in it as psychic forces, and Âkâsha as Tanmatras or fine
particles. Beyond this is the Electric sphere, that is to say, a condition
in which the Prana is almost inseparable from Âkâsha, and you can hardly tell
whether Electricity is force or matter. Next is the Brahmaloka, where
there is neither Prana nor Âkâsha, but both are merged in the mind-stuff, the
primal energy. And here—there being neither Prana nor Âkâsha—the
Jiva contemplates the whole universe as Samashti or the sum total of Mahat or
mind. This appears as a Purusha, an abstract universal soul, yet not the
Absolute, for still there is multiplicity, from this the Jiva finds at last that
Unity which is the end. Advaitism says that these are the visions which
rise in succession before the Jiva, who himself neither goes nor comes, and that
in the same way this present vision has been projected. The
projection(Srishti) and dissolution must take place in the same order, only one
means going backward, and the other coming out.
Now as each individual can only see his own universe,
that universe is created with his bondage and goes away with his liberation,
although it remains for others who are in bondage. Now name and form
constitute the universe. A wave in the ocean is a wave, only in so far as
it is bound by name and form. If the wave subsides, it is the ocean, but
those name and form have immediately vanished for ever. So though the name
and form of wave could never be without water that was fashioned into the wave
by them, yet the name and form themselves were not the wave. They die as
soon as ever it returns to water. But other names and forms live in
relation to other waves. This name-and-form is called Mâyâ, and the
water is Brahman. The wave was nothing but water all the time, yet as a wave it
had the name and form. Again this name and form cannot remain for one
moment separated from the wave, although the wave as water can remain eternally
separate from name and form. But because the name and form can never be
separated, they can never be said to exist. Yet they are not zero.
This is called Mâyâ.
I want to work all this out carefully, but you will see
at a glance that I am on the right track. It will take more study in
physiology, on the relations between the higher and lower centres, to fill out
the psychology of mind, Chitta(mind-stuff), and Buddhi(intellect), and so on.
But I have clear light now, free of all hocus-pocus. I want to give them
dry, hard reason, softened in the sweetest syrup of love and made spicy with
intense work, and cooked in the kitchen of Yoga, so that even a baby can easily
^eschatology-That is, doctrine of the last things death, judgment, etc.
^“I intend to write a book later on in the form of questions and answers”
-This was never done. But from his lectures in London in 1896, it is easy
to see that his mind was still working on these ideas. (See also Vol.
VIII, pp. 277.78, 363).
U. S. A.,
17th February, 1896.
...I have used some very harsh words in my letters,
which you ought to excuse, as you know, I get nervous at times. The work
is terribly hard; and the more it is growing, the harder it is becoming. I
need a long rest very badly. Yet a great work is before me in England.
Have patience, my son—it will grow beyond all your
expectations. ...Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties
before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or
I have succeeded now in rousing the very heart of the
American civilisation. New York, but it has been a terrific struggle. ...I
have spent nearly all I had on this New York work and in England. Now
things are in such a shape that they will go on. Just as I am writing to
you, every one of my bones is paining after last afternoon's long Sunday public
lecture. Then you see, to put the Hindu ideas into English and then make
out of dry philosophy and intricate mythology and queer startling psychology, a
religion which shall be easy, simple, popular, and at the same time meet the
requirements of the highest minds— is a task only those can understand who
have attempted it. The dry, abstract Advaita must become living—poetic— in
everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate mythology must come concrete moral
forms; and out of bewildering yogi-ism must come the most scientific and
practical psychology and all this must be put in a form so that a child may
grasp it. That is my life's work. The Lord only knows how far I
shall succeed. "To work we have the right, not to the fruits
thereof." It is hard work, my boy, hard work! To keep one's
self steady in the midst of this whirl of Kâma-Kânchana(lust and gold) and
hold on to one's own ideals, until disciples are moulded to conceive of the
ideas of realisation and perfect renunciation, is indeed difficult work, my boy.
Thank God, already there is great successor cannot blame the missionaries and
others for not understanding me they hardly ever saw a man who did not care in
the least about women and money. At first they could not believe it to be
possible; how could they? You must not think that the Western nations have
the same ideas of chastity and purity as the Indians. Their equivalents
are virtue and courage... People are now flocking to me. Hundreds
have now become convinced that there are men who can really control their bodily
desires; and reverence and respect for these principles are growing. All
things come to him who waits. May you be blessed for ever and ever!
Yours with love,
23rd March, 1896.
...One of my new Sannyâsins is indeed a woman.
... The others are men. I am going to make some more in England and take
them over to India with me. These "white" faces will have more
influence in India than the Hindus; moreover, they are vigorous, the Hindus are
dead. The only hope of India is from the masses. The upper classes
are physically and morally dead. ...
My success is due to my popular style—the greatness
of a teacher consists in the simplicity of his language.
...I am going to England next month. I am afraid I have
worked too much; my nerves are almost shattered by this long-continued work.
I don't want you to sympathise, but only I write this so that you may not expect
much from me now. Work on, the best way you can. I have very little
hope of being able to do great things now. I am glad, however, that a good
deal of literature has been created by taking down stenographic notes of my
lectures. Four books are ready. ...Well, I am satisfied that I have tried my
best to do good, and shall have a clear conscience when I retire from work and
sit down in a cave.
With love and
blessings to all,
U. S. A.,
...Push on with the work. I will do all I can...
If it pleases the Lord, yellow-garbed Sannyâsins will be common here and in
England. Work on, my children.
Mind, so long as you have faith in your Guru, nothing
will be able to obstruct your way. That translation of the three Bhâshyas(commentaries)
will be a great thing in the eyes of the Westerners.
...Wait, my child, wait and work on. Patience
patience. ...I will burst on the public again in good time...
Yours with love,
14th April, 1896.
DEAR DR. NANJUNDA
I received your note this morning. As I am
sailing for England tomorrow, I can only write a few hearty lines. I have
every sympathy with your proposed magazine for boys, and will do my best to help
it on. You ought to make it independent, following the same lines as the
Brahmavâdin, only making the style and matter much more popular. As for
example, there is a great chance, much more than you ever dream of, for those
wonderful stories scattered all over the Sanskrit literature, to be re-written
and made popular. That should be the one great feature of your journal.
I will write stories, as many as I can, when time permits. Avoid all
attempts to make the journal scholarly—the Brahmavâdin stands for that and it
will slowly make its way all over the world, I am sure. Use the simplest
language possible, and you will succeed. The main feature should be the
teaching of principles through stories. Don't make it metaphysical at all.
As to the business part, keep it wholly in your hands. "Too many
cooks spoil the broth." In India the one thing we lack is the power
of combination, organisation, the first secret of which is obedience.
I have also promised to help starting a magazine in
Bengali in Calcutta. Only the first year I used to charge for my lectures.
The last two years, my work was entirely free of all charges. As such, I
have almost no money to send you or the Calcutta people. But I will get
people to help you with funds very soon. Go on bravely. Do not
expect success in a day or a year. Always hold on to the highest. Be
steady. Avoid jealousy and selfishness. Be obedient and eternally
faithful to the cause of truth, humanity, and your country, and you will move
the world. Remember it is the person, the life, which is the secret of
power—nothing else. Keep this letter and read the last lines whenever
you feel worried or jealous. Jealousy is the bane of all slaves. It is the bane
of our nation. Avoid that always.
attend you and all success.
14th July, 1896.
DEAR DR. NANJUNDA
The numbers of Prabuddha Bharata have been received and
distributed too to the class. It is very satisfactory. It will have
a great sale, no doubt, in India. In America I may get also a number of
subscribers. I have already arranged for advertising it in America and
Goodyear has done it already. But here in England the progress will be
slower indeed. The great drawback here is—they all want to start papers of
their own; and it is right that it should be so, seeing that, after all, no
foreigner will ever write the English language as well as the native Englishman,
and the ideas, when put in good English, will spread farther than in Hindu
English. Then again it is much more difficult to write a story in a
foreign language than an essay. I am trying my best to get you subscribers
here. But you must not depend on any foreign help. Nations, like
individuals, must help themselves. This is real patriotism. If a
nation cannot do that, its time has not yet come. It must wait. It
is from Madras that the new light must spread all over India. With this
end you must work. One point I will remark however. The cover is
simply barbarous. It is awful and hideous. If it is possible, change
it. Make it symbolical and simple, without human figures at all. The
banyan tree does not mean awakening, nor does the hill, nor the saint, nor the
European couple. The lotus is a symbol of regeneration.
We are awfully behindhand in art especially in that of
painting. For instance, make a small scene of spring re-awakening in a
forest, showing how the leaves and buds are coming again. Slowly go on,
there are hundreds of ideas to be put forward. You see the symbol I made
for the Râja-Yoga, printed by Longman Green and Co. You can get it at
Bombay. It consists of my lectures on Râja-Yoga in New York.
I am going to Switzerland next Sunday, and shall return
to London in the autumn, and take up the work again. ...I want rest very badly,
Yours with all
6th August, 1896.
I learnt from your letter the bad financial state the
Brahmavâdin is in. I will try to help you when I go back to London.
You must not lower the tone. Keep up the paper. Very soon I will be
able to help you in such a manner as to make you free of this nonsense teacher
business. Do not be afraid. Great things are going to be done, my
child. Take heart. The Brahmavâdin is a jewel—it must not perish.
Of course, such a paper has to be kept up by private help always, and we will do
it. Hold on a few months more.
Max Müller's article on Shri Ramakrishna has been
published in the Nineteenth Century. I will send you a copy as soon as I
get it. He writes me very nice letters and wants material for a big work
on Ramakrishna's life. Write to Calcutta to send all the material they can
to Max Müller.
I have received the communication to the American paper
before. You must not publish it in India. Enough of this newspaper
blazoning, I am tired of it anyhow. Let us go our own way, and let fools
talk. Nothing can resist truth.
I am, as you see, now in Switzerland and am always on
the move. I cannot and must not do anything in the way of writing, nor
much reading either. There is a big London work waiting for me from next
month. In winter I am going back to India and will try to set things on
their feet there.
My love to all. Work on, brave hearts, fail
not— no saying nay; work on—the Lord is behind the work. Mahashakti is
Yours with love and
PS. Do not be afraid, money and everything will come soon.
8th August, 1896
Since writing to you a few days ago I have found my way
to let you know that I am in a position to do this for the Brahmavâdin. I
will give you Rs. 100 a month for a year or two, i.e. Ł60 or Ł70 a year, i.e.
as much as would cover Rs. 100 a month. That will set you free to work for the
Brahmavâdin and make it a better success. Mr. Mani Iyer and a few friends
can help in raising fund that would cover the printing etc. What is the
income from subscription? Can these be employed to pay the contributors
and get a fine series of articles? It is not necessary that everybody
should understand all that is written in the Brahmavâdin, but that they must
subscribe from patriotism and good Karma—the Hindus I mean.
Several things are necessary. First there should
be strict integrity. Not that I even hint that any of you would digress
from it, but the Hindus have a peculiar slovenliness in business matters, not
being sufficiently methodical and strict in keeping accounts etc.
Secondly, entire devotion to the cause, knowing that
your SALVATION depends upon making the Brahmavâdin a success. Let this
paper be your Ishtadevata, and then you will see how success comes. I have
already sent for Abhedananda from India. I hope there will be no delay
with him as it was with the other Swami. On receipt of this letter you
send me a clear account of all the income and the expenses of the Brahmavâdin
so that I may judge from it what best can be done. Remember that perfect
purity, disinterestedness, and obedience to the Guru are the secret of all
A big foreign circulation of a religious paper is
impossible. It must be supported by the Hindus if they have any sense of
virtue or gratitude left to them.
By the by, Mrs. Annie Besant invited me to speak at her
Lodge, on Bhakti. I lectured there one night. Col. Olcott also
was there. I did it to show my sympathy for all sects. ...Our
countrymen must remember that in things of the Spirit we are the teachers, and
not foreigners —but in things of the world we ought to learn from them.
I have read Max Müller's article, which is a good one, considering that when he
wrote it, six months ago. he had no material except Mazoomdar's leaflet.
Now he writes me a long and nice letter offering to write a book on Shri
Ramakrishna. I have already supplied him with much material, but a good deal
more is needed from India.
Work on! Hold on! Be brave! Dare
anything and everything!
...It is all misery, this Samsâra, don't you see!
blessings and love,
[Letter to E.T.
23rd August, 1896.
Today I received a letter from India written by
Abhedananda that in all probability he had started on the 11th August by the
B.I.S.N., "S.S.Mombassa". He could not get an earlier steamer;
else he would have started earlier. In all probability he would be able to
secure a passage on the Mombassa. The Mombassa will reach London about the
15th of September. As you already know, Miss Müller changed the date of
my visiting Deussen to the 19th September. I shall not be in London to
receive Abhedananda. He is also coming without any warm clothing; but I am
afraid by that time it will begin to cool in England, and he will require at
least some underwear and an overcoat. You know all about these things much
better than I. So kindly keep a look out for this Mombassa. I expect
also another letter from him.
I am suffering from a very bad cold indeed. I
hope by this time Mohin's money from the Raja has arrived to your care. If
so, I do not want the money I gave him back. You may give him the whole of
I had some letters from Goodwin and Saradananda.
They are doing well. Also one from Mrs. Bull regretting that you and I
could not be corresponding members of some Society, she is founding at
Cambridge. I do remember to have written to her about your and my
non-acquiescence in this membership. I have not yet been able to write
even a line. I had not a moment's time even to read, climbing up hill and
going down dale all the time. We will have to begin the march again in a few
days. Kindly give my love to Mohin and Fox when you see them next.
With love to all our friends,
26th August, 1896.
DEAR NANJUNDA RAO,
I have just now got your letter. I am on the
move. I have been doing a great deal of mountain-climbing and
glacier-crossing in the Alps. Now I am going to Germany. I have an
invitation from Prof. Deussen to visit him at Kiel. From thence I go back
to England. Possibly I will return to India this winter.
What I objected to in the design for the Prabuddha
Bharata was not only its tawdriness, but the crowding in of a number of figures
without any purpose. A design should be simple, symbolical, and condensed.
I will try to make a design for Prabuddha Bharata in London and send it over to
The work is going on beautifully, I am very glad to
say. ...I will give you one advice however. All combined efforts in India
sink under the weight of one iniquity—we have not yet developed strict
business principles. Business is business, in the highest sense, and no
friendship—or as the Hindu proverb says "eye-shame" —should be
there. One should keep the clearest account of everything in one's
charge—and never, never apply the funds intended for one thing to any other
use whatsoever —even if one starves the next moment. This is business
integrity. Next, energy unfailing. Whatever you do let that be your
worship for the time. Let this paper be your God for the time, and you
When you have succeeded in this paper, start vernacular
ones on the same lines in Tamil, Telugu, Canarese, etc. We must reach the
masses. The Madrasis are good, energetic, and all that, but the land of
Shankaracharya has lost the spirit of renunciation, it seems.
My children must plunge into the breach, must renounce
the world—then the firm foundation will be laid.
Go on bravely—never mind about designs and other
details at present—"With the horse will come the reins". Work
unto death—I am with you, and when I am gone, my spirit will work with you.
This life comes and goes —wealth, fame, enjoyments are only of a few days. It
is better, far better to die on the field of duty, preaching the truth, than to
die like a worldly worm. Advance!
Yours with all love
C/O MISS H. MULLER,
AIRLIE LODGE, RIDGEWAY GARDENS,
22nd September, 1896.
I am sure you have got the article on Ramakrishna, I
sent you, by Max Müller. Do not be sorry, he does not mention me there at
all, as it was written six months before he knew me. And then who cares
whom he mentions, if he is right in the main point. I had a beautiful time
with Prof. Deussen in Germany. Later, he and I came together to London,
and we have already become great friends.
I am soon sending you an article on him. Only
pray do not put that old-fashioned "Dear Sir" before my articles.
Have you seen the Râja-Yoga book yet? I will try to send you a design for
the coming year. I send you a Daily News article on a book of travel written by
the Czar of Russia. The paragraph in which he speaks of India as the land
of spirituality and wisdom, you ought to quote in your paper and send the
article to the Indian Mirror.
You are very welcome to publish the Jnana-Yoga
lectures, as well as Dr.(Nanjunda Rao) in his Awakened India—only the simpler
ones. They have to be very carefully gone through and all repetitions and
contradictions taken out. I am sure I will now have more time to write.
Work on with energy.
With love to all,
PS. I have marked the passage to be quoted, the
rest of course is useless for a paper.
I do not think it would be good just now to make the
paper a monthly one yet, unless you are sure of giving a good bulk. As it
is now, the bulk and the matter are all very poor. There is yet a vast
untrodden field, namely —the writing of the lives and works of Tulasidasa,
Kabir, Nanak, and of the saints of Southern India. They should be written
in a thorough-going, scholarly style, and not in a slipshod, slovenly way.
In fact, the ideal of the paper, apart from the preaching of Vedanta, should be
to make it a magazine of Indian research and scholarship, of course, bearing on
religion. You must approach the best writers and get carefully-written
articles from their pen. Work on with all energy.
Yours with love,
14 GREY COAT
I have returned about three weeks from Switzerland but
could not write you further before. I have sent you by last mail a paper
on Paul Deussen of Kiel. Sturdy's plan about the magazine is still hanging
fire. As you see, I have left the St. George's Road place. We have a
lecture hall at 39 Victoria Street. C/o E. T. Sturdy will always reach me
for a year to come. The rooms at Grey Coat Gardens are only lodgings for self
and the other Swami taken for three months only. The work in London is
growing apace, the classes are becoming bigger as they go on. I have no
doubt this will go on increasing at this rate and the English people are steady
and loyal. Of course, as soon as I leave, most of this fabric will tumble
down. Something will happen. Some strong man will arise to take it
up. The Lord knows what is good. In America there is room for twenty
preachers on the Vedanta and Yoga. Where to get these preachers and where
also the money to bring them? Half the United States can be conquered in
ten years, given a number of strong and genuine men. Where are they?
We are all boobies over there! Selfish cowards, with our nonsense of
lip-patriotism, orthodoxy, and boasted religious feeling! The Madrasis
have more of go and steadiness, but every fool is married. Marriage!
Marriage! Marriage! ...Then the way our boys are married nowadays!
...It is very good to aspire to be a non-attached householder; but what we want
in Madras is not that just now but non-marriage. ...
My child, what I want is muscles of iron and nerves of
steel, inside which dwells a mind of the same material as that of which the
thunderbolt is made. Strength, manhood, Kshatra-Virya+Brahma-Teja.
Our beautiful hopeful boys they have everything, only if they are not
slaughtered by the millions at the altar of this brutality they call marriage. O
Lord, hear my wails! Madras will then awake when at least one hundred of
its very Part's blood, in the form of its educated young men, will stand aside
from the world, gird their loins, and be ready to fight the battle of truth,
marching on from country to country. One blow struck outside of India is
equal to a hundred thousand struck within. Well, all will come if the Lord
Miss Müller was the person who offered that money I
promised. I have told her about your new proposal. She is thinking
about it. In the meanwhile I think it is better to give her some work. She has
consented to be the agent for the Brahmavâdin and Awakened India. Will you
write to her about it? Her address is Airlie Lodge, Ridgeway Gardens,
Wimbledon, England. I was living with her over there for the last few
weeks. But the London work cannot go on without my living in London. As
such I have changed quarters. I am sorry it has chagrined Miss Müller a
bit. Cannot help. Her full name is Miss Henrietta Müller. Max
Müller is getting very friendly. I am soon going to deliver two lectures
I am busy writing something big on the Vedanta
philosophy, I am busy collecting passages from the various Vedas bearing on the
Vedanta in its threefold aspect. You can help me by getting someone to
collect passages bearing on, first the Advaitic idea, then the Vishishtadvaitic,
and the Dvaitic from the Samhitâs, the Brâhmanas, the Upanishads, and the
Puranas. They should be classified and very legibly written with the name and
chapter of the book, in each case. It would be a pity to leave the West without
leaving something of the philosophy in book form.
There was a book published in Mysore in Tamil
characters, comprising all the one hundred and eight Upanishads; I saw it in
Professor Deussen's library. Is there a reprint of the same in Devanagari?
If so, send me a copy. If not, send me the Tamil edition, and also write on a
sheet the Tamil letters and compounds, and all juxtaposed with its Nagari
equivalents, so that I may learn the Tamil letters.
Mr. Satyanathan, whom I met in London the other day,
said that there has been a friendly review of my Râja-Yoga book in the Madras
Mail, the chief Anglo- Indian paper in Madras. The leading physiologist in
America, I hear, has been charmed with my speculations. At the same time,
there have been some in England, who ridiculed my ideas. Good! My
speculations of course are awfully bold; a good deal of them will ever remain
meaningless; but there are hints in it which the physiologists had better taken
up earlier. Nevertheless, I am quite satisfied with the result. "Let
them talk badly of me if they please, but let them talk", is my motto.
In England, of course, they are gentlemen and never
talk the rot I had in America. Then again the English missionaries you see
over there are nearly all of them from the dissenters. They are not from
the gentleman class in England. The gentlemen here, who are religious, all
belong to the English Church. The dissenters have very little voice in
England and no education. I never hear of those people here against whom
you time to time warn me. They are unknown here and dare not talk
nonsense. I hope Ram K. Naidu is already in Madras, and you are enjoying
Persevere on, my brave lads. We have only just
begun. Never despond! Never say enough! ...As soon as a man comes
over to the West and sees different nations, his eyes open. This way I get
strong workers not by talking, but by practically showing what we have in India
and what we have not. I wish at least that a million Hindus had travelled all
over the world!
Yours ever with
C/o E. T. STURDY,
39 VICTORIA STREET,
28th October, 1896.
...I am not yet sure what month I shall reach India.
I will write later about it. The new Swami^ delivered his maiden speech
yesterday at a friendly society's meeting. It was good and I liked it; he
has the making of a good speaker in him, I am sure.
...You have not yet brought, out the— ... Again,
books must be cheap for India to have a large sale; the types must be bigger to
satisfy the public. ...You can very well get out a cheap edition of— if you
like. I have not reserved any copyright on it purposely. You have
missed a good opportunity by not getting out the—book earlier, but we Hindus
are so slow that when we have done a work, the opportunity has already passed
away, and thus we are the losers. Your—book came out after a year's
talk! Did you think the Western people would wait for it till Doomsday?
You have lost three- fourths of the sale by this delay. ...That Haramohan is a
fool, slower than you, and his printing is diabolical. There is no use in
publishing books that way; it is cheating the public, and should not be done.
I shall most probably return to India accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Sevier, Miss Müller,
and Mr. Goodwin. Mr. and Mrs. Sevier are probably going to settle in Almora at
least for some time, and Goodwin is going to become a Sannyâsin. He of
course will travel with me. It is he to whom we owe all our books.
He took shorthand notes of my lectures, which enabled the books to be published.
...All these lectures were delivered on the spur of the moment, without the
least preparation, and as such, they should be carefully revised and edited.
...Goodwin will have to live with me. ...He is a strict vegetarian.
Yours with love,
PS. I have sent a little note to the Indian Mirror today about Dr. Barrows
and how he should be welcomed. You also write some good words of welcome
for him in the Brahmavâdin. All here send love
On the eve of the lecture-tour of Dr. Barrows in India at the end of 1896, Swami
Vivekananda in a letter to the Indian Mirror, Calcutta, introduced the
distinguished visitor to his countrymen and advised them to give him a fitting
reception. He wrote among other things as follows:
28th October, 1896.
Dr. Barrows was the ablest lieutenant Mr. C. Boney could have selected to carry
out successfully his great plan of the Congresses at the World's Fair, and it is
now a matter of history how one of these Congresses scored a unique distinction
under the leadership of Dr. Barrows.
It was the great courage, untiring industry, unruffled
patience, and never-failing courtesy of Dr. Barrows that made the Parliament a
India, its people, and their thoughts have been brought
more prominently before the world than ever before by that wonderful gathering
at Chicago, and that national benefit we certainly owe to Dr. Barrows more than
to any other man at that meeting.
Moreover, he comes to us in the sacred name of
religion, in the name of one of the great teachers of mankind, and I am sure,
his exposition of the system of the Prophet of Nazareth would be extremely
liberal and elevating. The Christ-power this man intends to bring to India
is not that of the intolerant, dominant superior, with heart full of contempt
for everything else but its own self, but that of a brother who craves for a
brother's place as a co-worker of the various powers already working in India.
Above all, we must remember that gratitude and hospitality are the peculiar
characteristics of Indian humanity; and as such, I would beg my countrymen to
behave in such a manner that this stranger from the other side of the globe may
find that in the midst of all our misery, our poverty, and degradation, the
heart beats as warm as of yore, when the "wealth of Ind" was the
proverb of nations and India was the land of the "Aryas"
14 GREY COAT
WESTMINSTER, S. W.,
11th November, 1896.
I shall most probably start on the 16th of December, or
may be a day or two later. I go from here to Italy, and after seeing a few
places there, join the steamer at Naples. Miss Müller, Mr. and Mrs.
Sevier, and a young man called Goodwin are accompanying me. The Seviers
are going to settle at Almora. So is Miss Müller. Sevier was an
officer in the Indian army for 5 years. So he knows India a good deal.
Miss Müller was a Theosophist who adopted Akshay. Goodwin is an
Englishman, through whose shorthand notes it has been possible for the pamphlets
to be published.
I arrive at Madras first from Colombo. The other
people go their way to Almora. I go from thence direct to Calcutta.
I will write you the exact information when I start.
PS. The first edition of Râja-Yoga is sold out, and a second is in the
press. India and America are the biggest buyers.
39 VICTORIA STREET,
LONDON, S. W.,
20th November, 1896.
I am leaving England on the 16th of December for Italy,
and shall catch the North German Lloyd S. S. Prinz Regent Luitpold at Naples.
The steamer is due at Colombo on the 14th of January next.
I intend to see a little of Ceylon, and shall then go
to Madras. I am being accompanied by three English friends—Capt. and
Mrs. Sevier and Mr. Goodwin. Mr. Sevier and his wife are going to start a
place near Almora in the Himalayas which I intend to make my Himalayan Centre,
as well as a place for Western disciples to live as Brahmacharins and Sannyâsins.
Goodwin is an unmarried Young man who is going to travel and live with me; he is
like a Sannyâsin.
I am very desirous to reach Calcutta before the birth
day festival of Shri Ramakrishna. ...My present plan of work is to start two
centres, one in Calcutta and the other in Madras, in which to train up young
preachers. I have funds enough to start the one in Calcutta, which being
the scene of Shri Ramakrishna's life-work, demands my first attention. As for
the Madras one, I expect to get funds in India.
We will begin work with these three centres; and later
on, we will get to Bombay and Allahabad. And from these points, if the
Lord is pleased, we will invade not only India, but send over bands of preachers
to every country in the world. That should be our first duty. Work
on with a heart. 39 Victoria will be the London headquarters for some time
to come, as the work will be carried on there. Sturdy had a big box of
Brahmavâdin I did not know before. He is now canvassing subscribers for
Now we have got one Indian magazine in English fixed.
We can start some in the vernaculars also. Miss M. Noble of Wimbledon is a
great worker. She will also canvass for both the Madras papers. She
will write you. These things will grow slowly but surely. Papers of this
kind are supported by a small circle of followers. Now they cannot be
expected to do too many things at a time—they have to buy the books, find the
money for the work in England, subscribers for the paper here, and then
subscribe to Indian papers. It is too much. It is more like trading than
teaching. Therefore you must wait, and yet I am sure there will be a few
subscribers here. Again, there must be work for the people here to do when
I am gone, else the whole thing will go to pieces. Therefore there must be
a paper here, so also in America by and by. The Indian papers are to be
supported by the Indians. To make a paper equally acceptable to all
nationalities means a staff of writers from all nations; and that means at least
a hundred thousand rupees a year.
You must not forget that my interests are international
and not Indian alone. I am in good health; so is Abhedananda.
With all love and
[Letter to An
13th December, 1896.
We have only to grasp the idea of gradation of morality
and everything becomes clear.
the ideals to be attained through less and less worldliness, less and less
resistance, less and less destructiveness. Keep the ideal in view and work
towards it. None can live in the world without resistance, without
destruction, without desire. The world has not come to that state yet when
the ideal can be realised in society.
The progress of the world through all its evils is
making it fit for the ideals, slowly but surely. The majority will have to
go on with this slow growth—the exceptional ones will have to get out to
realise the idea in the present state of things.
Doing the duty of the time is the best way, and if it
is done only as a duty, it does not make us attached,
Music is the highest art and, to those who understand,
is the highest worship.
We must try our best to destroy ignorance and evil.
Only we have to learn that evil is destroyed by the growth of good.
[Letter to Shrimati
Sarala Ghoshal—Editor, Bhârati]
THE MAHARAJA OF BURDWAN'S HOUSE,
DARJEELING, 6th April, 1897.
I feel much obliged for the Bhârati sent by you, and
consider myself fortunate that the cause, to which my humble life has been
dedicated, has been able to win the approbation of highly talented ladies like
In this battle of life, men are rare who encourage the
initiator of new thought, not to speak of women who would offer him
encouragement, particularly in our unfortunate land. It is therefore that
the approbation of an educated Bengali lady is more valuable than the loud
applause of all the men of India.
May the Lord grant that many women like you be born in
this country, and devote their lives to the betterment of their motherland!
I have something to say in regard to the article you
have written about me in the Bhârati. It is this. It has been for
the good of India that religious preaching in the West has been and will be
done. It has ever been my conviction that we shall not be able to rise unless
the Western people come to our help. In this country no appreciation of
merit can yet be found, no financial strength, and what is most lamentable of
all, there is not a bit of practicality.
There are many things to be done, but means are wanting
in this country. We have brains, but no hands. We have the doctrine
of Vedanta, but we have not the power to reduce it into practice. In our
books there is the doctrine of universal equality, but in work we make great
distinctions. It was in India that unselfish and disinterested work of the
most exalted type was preached; but in practice we are awfully cruel, awfully
heartless—unable to think of anything besides our own mass-of-flesh bodies.
Yet it is only through the present state of things that
it is possible to proceed to work. There is no other way. Every one
has the power to judge of good and evil, but he is the hero who undaunted by the
waves of Samsâra— which is full of errors, delusions, and miseries—with one
hand wipes the tears, and with the other, unshaken, shows the path of
deliverance. On the one hand there is the conservative society, like a
mass of inert matter; on the other, the restless, impatient, fire-darting
reformer; the way to good lies between the two heard in Japan that it was the
belief of the girls of that country that their dolls would be animated if they
were loved with all their heart. The Japanese girl never breaks her doll.
O you of great fortune! I too believe that India will awake again if
anyone could love with all his heart the people of the country—bereft of the
grace of affluence, of blasted fortune, their discretion totally lost,
downtrodden, ever-starved, quarrelsome, and envious. Then only will India awake,
when hundreds of large-hearted men and women, giving up all desires of enjoying
the luxuries of life, will long and exert themselves to their utmost for the
well-being of the millions of their countrymen who are gradually sinking lower
and lower in the vortex of destitution and ignorance. I have experienced
even in my insignificant life that good motives, sincerity, and infinite love
can conquer the world. One single soul possessed of these virtues can
destroy the dark designs of millions of hypocrites and brutes.
My going to the West again is yet uncertain; if I go,
know that top will be for India. Where is the strength of men in this country?
Where is the strength of money? Many men and women of the West are ready
to do good to India by serving even the lowest Chandâlas, in the Indian way,
and through the Indian religion. How many such are there in this country?
And financial strength! To meet the expenses or my reception, the people
of Calcutta made me deliver a lecture and sold tickets! ...I do not blame
nor censure anybody for this, I only want to show that our well-being is
impossible without men and money coming from the West.
Ever grateful and ever praying to the Lord for your
ALMORA, 29th May,
MY DEAR DOCTOR
Your letter and the two bottles containing the
medicines were duly received. I have begun from last evening a trial of
your medicines. Hope the combination will have a better effect than the one
I began to take a lot of exercise on horseback, both
morning and evening. Since that I am very much better indeed. I was so
much better the first week of my gymnastics that I have scarcely felt so well
since I was a boy and used to have kusti(wrestling) exercises. I really began to
feel that it was a pleasure to have a body. Every movement made me
conscious of strength—every movement of the muscles was pleasurable.
That exhilarating feeling has subsided somewhat, yet I feel very strong.
In a trial of strength I could make both G. G. and Niranjan go down before me in
a minute. In Darjeeling I always felt that I was not the same man.
Here I feel that I have no disease whatsoever, but there is one marked change.
I never in my life could sleep as soon as I got into bed. I must toss for
at least two hours. Only from Madras to Darjeeling(during the first month)
I would sleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. That ready
disposition to sleep is gone now entirely, and my old tossing habit and feeling
hot after the evening meal have come back. I do not feel any heat after
the day meal. There being an orchard here, I began to take more fruit than
usual as soon as I came. But the only fruit to be got here now is the
apricot. I am trying to get more varieties from Naini Tal. There has not
been any thirst even though the days are fearfully hot. ...On the whole my own
feeling is one of revival of great strength and cheerfulness, and a feeling of
exuberant health, only I am afraid I am getting fat on a too much milk diet.
Don't you listen to what Yogen writes. He is a hypochondriac himself and
wants to make everybody so. I ate one-sixteenth of a barphi(sweetmeat) in
Lucknow, and that according to Yogen was what put me out of sorts in Almora!
Yogen is expected here in a few days. I am going to take him in hand.
By the by, I am very susceptible to malarious influences. The first week's
indisposition at Almora might have been caused to a certain extent by my passage
through the Terai. Anyhow I feel very, very strong now. You ought to
see me, Doctor, when I sit meditating in front of the beautiful snow-peaks
and repeat from the Upanishads: [Sanskrit]—He has neither disease, nor decay,
nor death; for, verily, he has obtained a body full of the fire of Yoga."
I am very glad to learn of the success of the meetings
of the Ramakrishna Mission at Calcutta. All blessings attend those that
help in the great work. ...
With all love,
Yours in the Lord,
1st June, 1897.
DEAR MR. —,
The objections you show about the Vedas would be valid
if the word Vedas meant Samhitâs. The word Vedas includes the three
parts, the Samhitâs, the Brâhmanas, and the Upanishads, according to the
universally received opinion in India. Of these, the first two portions,
as being the ceremonial parts, have been nearly put out of sight; the Upanishads
have alone been taken up by all our philosophers and founders of sects.
The idea that the Samhitâs are the only Vedas is very
recent and has been started by the late Swami Dayânanda. This opinion has
not got any hold on the orthodox population.
The reason of this opinion was that Swâmi Dayânanda
thought he could find a consistent theory of the whole, based on a new
interpretation of the Samhitâs, but the difficulties remained the same, only
they fell back on the Brâhmanas. And in spite of the theories of
interpretation and interpolation a good deal still remains.
Now if it is possible to build a consistent religion on
the Samhitâs, it is a thousand times more sure that a very consistent and
harmonious faith can be based upon the Upanishads, and moreover, here one has
not to go against the already received national opinion. Here all the Âchâryas(Teachers)
of the past would side with you, and you have a vast scope for new progress.
The Gita no doubt has already become the Bible of
Hinduism, and it fully deserves to be so; but the personality of Krishna has
become so covered with haze that it is impossible today to draw any life-giving
inspiration from that life. Moreover, the present age requires new mode of
thought and new life.
Hoping this will help you in thinking along these
I am yours with
[Letter to Sharat
Chandra Chakravarty, a disciple of Swamiji]
[Translated from Sanskrit]
3rd July, 1897.
Constant salutation be to Shri Ramakrishna, the Free,
the Ishvara, the Shiva-form, by whose power we and the whole world are blessed.
Mayest thou live long, O Sharat Chandra!
Those writers of Shastra who do not tend towards work
say that all-powerful destiny prevails; but others who are workers consider the
will of man as superior. Knowing that the quarrel between those who
believe in the human will as the remover of misery and others who rely on
destiny is due to indiscrimination—try to ascend the highest peak of
It has been said that adversity is the touchstone of
true knowledge, and this may be said a hundred times with regard to the truth:
"Thou art That." This truly diagnoses the Vairâgya(dispassion)
disease. Blessed is the life of one who has developed this symptom. In
spite of your dislike I repeat the old saying: "Wait for a short
Time." You are tired with rowing; rest on your oars. The
momentum will take the boat to the other side. This has been said in the
Gita(IV. 38), "In good time, having reached perfection in Yoga, one
realises That in one's own heart;" and in the Upanishad, "Neither by
rituals, nor by progeny, nor by riches, but by renunciation alone a few(rare)
people attained immortality"(Kaivalya, 2). Here, by the word
renunciation Vairâgya is referred to. It may be of two kinds, with or
without purpose. If the latter, none but worm-eaten brains will try for it.
But if the other is referred to, then renunciation would mean the withdrawal of
the mind from other things and concentrating it on God or Âtman. The Lord
of all cannot be any particular individual. He must be the sum total.
One possessing Vairâgya does not understand by Âtman the individual ego but
the All-pervading Lord, residing as the Self and Internal Ruler in all. He
is perceivable by all as the sum total. This being so, as Jiva and Ishvara
are in essence the same, serving the Jivas and loving God must mean one and the
same thing. Here is a peculiarity: when you serve a Jiva with the idea
that he is a Jiva, it is Daya(compassion) and not Prema(love); but when you
serve him with the idea that he is the Self, that is Prema. That the Âtman
is the one objective of love is known from Shruti, Smriti, and direct
perception. Bhagavan Chaitanya was right, therefore, when he said.
"Love to God and compassion to the Jivas". This conclusion of
the Bhagavan, intimating differentiation between Jiva and Ishvara, was right, as
He was a dualist. But for us, Advaitists, this notion of Jiva as distinct
from God is the cause of bondage. Our principle, therefore, should be
love, and not compassion. The application of the word compassion even to
Jiva seems to me to be rash and vain. For us, it is not to pity but to
serve. Ours is not the feeling of compassion but of love, and the feeling
of Self in all.
For thy good, O Sharman, may thine be Vairâgya, the
feeling of which is love, which unifies all inequalities, cures the disease of
Samsâra, removes the threefold misery inevitable in this phenomenal world,
reveals the true nature of all things, destroys the darkness of Mâyâ, and
which brings out the Selfhood of everything from Brahmâ to the blade of grass!
This is the
constant prayer of VIVEKANANDA. Ever bound to thee in love.
[Letter to Miss
9th July, 1897.
I am very sorry to read between the lines the
desponding tone of your letter, and I understand the cause; thank you for your
warning, I understand your motive perfectly. I had arranged to go with Ajit
Singh to England; but the doctors not allowing, it fell through. I shall
be so happy to learn that Harriet has met him. He will be only too glad to
meet any of you.
I had also a lot of cuttings from different American
papers fearfully criticising my utterances about American women and furnishing
me with the strange news that I had been outcasted! As if I had any caste
to lose, being a Sannyâsin!
Not only no caste has been lost, but it has
considerably Shattered the opposition to sea-voyage my going to the West.
If I should have to be outcasted, it would be with half the ruling princes of
India and almost all of educated India. On the other hand, a leading Raja
of the caste to which I belonged before my entering the order got up a banquet
in my honour, at which were most of the big bugs of that caste. The Sannyâsins,
on the other hand, may not dine with any one in India, as it would be beneath
the dignity of gods to dine with mere mortals. They are regarded as Nârâyanas,
while the others are mere men. And dear Mary, these feet have been washed and
wiped and worshipped by the descendants of kings, and there has been a progress
through the country which none ever commanded in India.
It will suffice to say that the police were necessary
to keep order if I ventured out into the street! That is outcasting
indeed! Of course, that took the starch out of the missionaries, and who
are they here?—Nobodies. We are in blissful ignorance of their existence
all the time. I had in a lecture said something about the missionaries and
the origin of that species except the English Church gentlemen, and in that
connection had to refer to the very churchy women of America and their power of
inventing scandals. This the missionaries are parading as an attack on
American women en masse to undo my work there, as they well know that anything
said against themselves will rather please the U.S. people. My dear Mary,
supposing I had said all sorts of fearful things against the
"Yanks"—would that be paying off a millionth part of what they say
of our mothers and sisters? "Neptune's waters" would be
perfectly useless to wash off the hatred the Christian "Yanks" of both
sexes bear to us "heathens of India"—and what harm have we done
them? Let the "Yanks" learn to be patient under criticism and
then criticise others. It is a well-known psychological fact that those
who are ever ready to abuse others cannot bear the slightest touch of criticism
from others. Then again, what do I owe them? Except your family, Mrs.
Bull, the Leggetts, and a few other kind persons, who else has been kind to me?
Who came forward to help me work out my ideas? I had to work till I am at
death's door and had to spend nearly the whole of that energy in America, so
that the Americans may learn to be broader and more spiritual. In England
I worked only six months. There was not a breath of scandal save one, and
that was the working of an American woman, which greatly relieved my English
friends—not only no attacks but many of the best English Church clergymen
became my firm friends, and without asking I got much help for my work, and I am
sure to get much more. There is a society watching my work and getting
help for it, and four respectable persons followed me to India to help my work,
and dozens were ready, and the next time I go, hundreds will be.
Dear, dear Mary, do not be afraid for me. ...The world
is big, very big, and there must be some place for me even if the
"Yankees" rage. Anyhow, I am quite satisfied with my work. I
never planned anything. I have taken things as they came. Only one
idea was burning in my brain—to start the machine for elevating the Indian
masses—and that I have succeeded in doing to a certain extent. It would
have made your heart glad to see how my boys are working in the midst of famine
and disease and misery—nursing by the mat-bed of the cholera-stricken Pariah
and feeding the starving Chandâla—and the Lord sends help to me and to them
all. "What are men?" He is with me, the Beloved, He was when I
was in America, in England, when I was roaming about unknown from place to place
in India. What do I care about what they talk—the babies, they do not know any
better. What! I, who have realised the Spirit and the vanity of all
earthly nonsense, to be swerved from my path by babies' prattle! Do I look
I had to talk a lot about myself because I owned that
to you. I feel my task is done—at most three or four years more of life
are left. I have lost all wish for my salvation. I never wanted
earthly enjoyments. I must see my machine in strong working order, and
then knowing sure that I have put in a lever for the good of humanity, in India
at least, which no power can drive back, I will sleep, without caring what will
be next; and may I be born again and again, and suffer thousands of miseries so
that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum
total of all souls— and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my
God the poor of all races, of all species, is the special object of my worship.
"He who is in you and is outside of you, who works
through every hand, who walks through every foot, whose body you are. Him
worship, and break all other idols.
"He who is the high and the low, the saint and the
sinner, the god and the worm, Him worship, the visible, the knowable, the real,
the omnipresent, break all other idols.
"In whom there is neither past life nor future
birth, nor death nor going or coming, in whom we always have been and always
will be one. Him worship, break all other idols.
"Ay, fools, neglecting the living Gods and His
infinite reflection with which the world is full, and running after imaginary
shadows! Him worship, the only visible, and break all other idols."
My time is short. I have got to unbreast whatever
I have to say, without caring if it smarts some or irritates others.
Therefore, my dear Mary, do not be frightened at whatever drops from my lips,
for the power behind me is not Vivekananda but He the Lord, and He knows best.
If I have to please the world, that will be injuring the world: the voice of the
majority is wrong, seeing that they govern and make the sad state of the world.
Every new thought must create opposition—in the civilised a polite sneer, in
the vulgar savage howls and filthy scandals.
Even these earthworms must stand erect, even children
must see light. The Americans are drunk with new wine. A hundred
waves of prosperity have come and gone over my country. We have learned
the lesson which no child can yet understand. It is vanity. This
hideous world is Mâyâ. Renounce and be happy. Give up the idea of
sex and possessions. There is no other bond. Marriage and sex and
money are the only living devils. All earthly love proceeds from the body.
No sex, no possessions; as these fall off, the eyes open to spiritual vision.
The soul regains its own infinite power. How I wish I were in England to
see Harriet. I have one wish left—to see you four sisters before I die,
and that must happen,
Yours ever affly.,
[Letter to Mrs.
28th July, 1897
MY DEAR MOTHER,
Many many thanks for your beautiful and kind letter.
I wish I were in London to be able to accept the invitation with the Raja of
Khetri. I had a great many dinners to attend in London last season.
But it was fated not to be, and my health did not permit my going over with the
Raja. So Alberta is once more at home in America. I owe her a debt
of gratitude for all she did for me in Rome. How is Holli? To both
of them my love, and kiss the new baby for me, my youngest sister.
I have been taking some rest in the Himalayas for nine
months. Now I am going down to the plains to be harnessed once more for
To Frankincense and Joe Joe and Mabel my love, and so
to you eternally.
Yours ever in the Lord,
11th August, 1897.
...Well, the work of the Mother will not suffer;
because it has been built and up to date maintained upon truth, sincerity, and
purity. Absolute sincerity has been its watchword,
Yours with all
11th October, 1897.
...Leave words when you start for Bombay to somebody to
take care of three Sannyâsins I am sending to Jaipur. Give them food and
good lodging. They will be there till I come. They are
fellows—innocent, not learned. They belong to me, and one is my Gurubhâi(brother-disciple).
If they like, take them to Khetri where I will come soon. I am travelling
now quietly. I will not even lecture much this year. I have no more
faith in all this noise and humbug which brings no practical good. I must
make a silent attempt to start my institution in Calcutta; for that I am going
to visit different centres quietly to collect funds.
[Letter to Mahendra
Nath Gupta, author of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna..]
24th November, 1897.
MY DEAR M.,
Many many thanks for your second leaflet(leaves from
the Gospel). It is indeed wonderful. The move is quite original, and
never was the life of a great Teacher brought before the public, untarnished by
the writer's mind, as you are presenting this one. The language also is
beyond all praise, so fresh, so pointed, and withal so plain and easy.
I cannot express in adequate terms how I have enjoyed
the leaflets. I am really in a transport when I read them. Strange,
isn't it? Our Teacher and Lord was so original, and each one of us will
have to be original or nothing. I now understand why none of us attempted
his life before. It has been reserved for you, this great work. He
is with you evidently.
With all love and Namaskara,
PS. The Socratic dialogues are Plato all over; you are entirely hidden.
Moreover, the dramatic part is infinitely beautiful. Everybody likes it here and
in the West.
[Letter to Maharaja of
9th June, 1898.
Very sorry to learn that you are not in perfect health.
Sure you will be in a few days.
I am starting for Kashmir on Saturday next. I
have your letter of introduction to the Resident, but better still if you kindly
drop a line to the Resident, telling him that you have already given an
introduction to me.
Will you kindly ask Jagamohan to write to the Dewan of
Kishangarh reminding him of his promise to supply me with copies of Nimbârka Bhâshya
on the Vyasa-Sutras and other Bhâshyas(commentaries) through his Pandits.
With all love and blessings,
PS. Poor Goodwill is dead. Jagamohan knows him well. I want a
couple of tiger skins, if I can, to be sent to the Math as present to two
European friends. These seem to be most gratifying presents to Westerners.
[Letter to Maharaja
17th September, 1898.
I have been very ill here for two weeks. Now
getting better. I am in want of funds. Though the American friends
are doing everything they can to help me, I feel shame to beg from them all the
time, especially as illness makes one incur contingent expenses. I have no
shame to beg of one person in the world and that is yourself. Whether you
give or refuse, it is the same to me. If possible send some money kindly.
How are you? I am going down by the middle of October.
Very glad to learn from Jagamohan the complete recovery
of the Kumar(Prince) Saheb. Things are going on well with me; hoping it is
the same with you.
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Maharaja
16th October 1898.
The letter that followed my wire gave the desired
information: therefore I did not wire back about my health in reply to yours.
This year I suffered much in Kashmir and am now
recovered and going to Calcutta direct today. For the last ten years or so
I have not seen the Pujâ of Shri Durga in Bengal which is the great affair
there. I hope this year to be present.
The Western friends will come to see Jaipur in a week
or two. If Jagamohan be there, kindly instruct him to pay some attention
to them and show them over the city and the old arts.
I leave instructions with my brother Saradananda to
write to Munshiji before they start for Jaipur.
How are you and the Prince? Ever as usual praying
for your welfare,
I remain yours
PS. My future address is Math, Belur. Howrah Dist. Bengal.
[Letter to Maharaja
26th October, 1898.
I am very very anxious about your health. I had a
great desire to look in on my way down, but my health failed completely, and I
had to run down in all haste. There is some disturbance with my heart, I
However I am very anxious to know about your health.
If you like I will come over to Khetri to see you. I am praying day and
night for your welfare. Do not lose heart if anything befalls, the
"Mother" is your protection. Write me all about yourself. ...How
is the Kumar Saheb?
With all love and everlasting blessings,
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Maharaja
THE MATH, BELUR,
Very glad to learn that you and the Kumar are enjoying
good health. As for me, my heart has become very weak. Change, I do
not think, will do me any good, as for the last 14 years I do not remember to
have stopped at one place for 3 months at a stretch. On the other hand if
by some chance I can live for months in one Place, I hope it will do me good.
I do not mind this. However, I feel that my work in this life is done.
Through good and evil, pain and pleasure, my life-boat has been dragged on.
The one great lesson I was taught is that life is misery, nothing but misery.
Mother knows what is best. Each one of us is in the hands of Karma; it
works itself out—and no nay. There is only one element in life Which is
worth having at any cost, and it is love. Love immense and infinite, broad
as the sky and deep as the ocean—this is the one great gain in life.
Blessed is he who gets it.
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Maharaja
15th December, 1898.
Your very kind letter received with the order of 500 on
Mr. Dulichand. I am a little better now. Don't know whether this
improvement will continue or not.
Are you to be in Calcutta this winter, as I hear?
Many Rajas are coming to pay their respects to the new Viceroy. The
Maharaja of Sikar is here, I learn from the papers already.
Ever praying for you and yours,
Yours in the Lord,
[Letter to Shrimati
[Translated from Bengali]
3rd January, 1899.
Some very important questions have been raised in your
letter. It is not possible to answer them fully in a short note, still I
reply to them as briefly as possible.
(1) Rishi, Muni, or God none has power to force an
institution on society. When the needs of the times press hard on it,
society adopts certain customs for self-preservation. Rishis have only
recorded those customs. As a man often resorts even to such means as are
good for immediate self-protection but which are very injurious in the future,
similarly society also not unfrequently saves itself for the time being, but
these immediate means which contributed to its preservation turn out to be
terrible in the long run.
For example, take the prohibition of widow-marriage in
our country. Don't think that Rishis or wicked men introduced the law
pertaining to it. Notwithstanding the desire of men to keep women
completely under their control, they never could succeed in introducing those
laws without betaking themselves to the aid of a social necessity of the time.
Of this custom two points should be specially observed:
(a) Widow-marriage takes place among the lower
(b) Among the higher classes the number of women
is greater than that of men.
Now, if it be the rule to marry every girl, it is
difficult enough to get one husband apiece; then how to get, in succession, two
or three for each? Therefore has society put one party under disadvantage,
i.e. it does not let her have a second husband, who has had one; if it did, one
maid would have to go without a husband. On the other hand, widow-marriage
obtains in communities having a greater number of men than women, as in their
case the objection stated above does not exist. It is becoming more and
more difficult in the West, too, for unmarried girls to get husbands.
Similar is the case with the caste system and other
So, if it be necessary to change any social custom the
necessity underlying it should be found out first of all, and by altering it,
the custom will die of itself. Otherwise no good will be done by
condemnation or praise.
(2) Now the question is: Is it for the good of the public at
large that social rules are framed or society is formed? Many reply to
this in the affirmative; some, again, may hold that it is not so. Some
men, being comparatively powerful, slowly bring all others under their control
and by stratagem, force, or adroitness gain their own objects. If this be true,
what can be the meaning of the statement that there is danger in giving liberty
to the ignorant? What, again, is the meaning of liberty?
Liberty does not certainly mean the absence of
obstacles in the path of misappropriation of wealth etc. by you and me, but it
is our natural right to be allowed to use our own body, intelligence, or wealth
according to our will, without doing any harm to others; and all the members of
a society ought to have the same opportunity for obtaining wealth, education, or
knowledge. The second question is: Those who say that if the ignorant and
the poor be given liberty, i.e. full right to their body, wealth, etc., and if
their children have the same opportunity to better their condition and acquire
knowledge as those of the rich and the highly situated, they would become
perverse—do they say this for the good of society or blinded by their
selfishness? In England too I have heard, "Who will serve us if the
lower classes get education?"
For the luxury of a handful of the rich, let millions
of men and women remain submerged in the hell of want and abysmal depth of
ignorance, for if they get wealth and education, society will be upset!
Who constitute society? The millions or you, I
and a few others of the upper classes?
Again, even if the latter be true, what ground is there
for our vanity that we lead others? Are we omniscient?
[Sanskrit]—One should raise the self by the self-" Let each one work out
one's own salvation. Freedom in all matters, i.e. advance towards Mukti is the
worthiest gain of man. To advance onself towards freedom—physical, mental, and
spiritual—and help others to do so, is the supreme prize of man. Those
social rules which stand in the way of the unfoldment of this freedom are
injurious, and steps should be taken to destroy them speedily. Those
institutions should be encouraged by which men advance in the path of freedom.
That in this life we feel a deep love at first sight
towards a particular person who may not be endowed with extraordinary qualities,
is explained by the thinkers of our country as due to the associations of a past
Your question regarding the will is very interesting:
it is the subject to know. The essence of all religions is the
annihilation of desire, along with which comes, of a certainty, the annihilation
of the will as well, for desire is only the name of a particular mode of the
will. Why, again, is this world? Or why are these manifestations of
the will? Some religions hold that the evil will should be destroyed and
not the good. The denial of desire here would be compensated by enjoyments
hereafter. This reply does not of course satisfy the wise. The
Buddhists, on the other hand, say that desire is the cause of misery, its
annihilation is quite desirable. But like killing a man in the effort to
kill the mosquito on his cheek, they have gone to the length of annihilating
their own selves in their efforts to destroy misery according to the Buddhistic
The fact is, what we call will is an inferior
modification of something higher. Desirelessness means the disappearance
of the inferior modification in the form of will and the appearance of that
superior state. That state is beyond the range of mind and intellect.
But though the look of the gold mohur is quite different from that of the rupee
and the pice, yet as we know for certain that the gold mohur is greater than
either, so, that highest state—Mukti, or Nirvana, call it what you
like—though out of the reach of the mind and intellect, is greater than the
will and all other powers. It is no power, but power is its modification,
therefore it is higher. Now you will see that the result of the proper exercise
of the will, first with motive for an object and then without motive is that the
will-power will attain a much higher state.
In the preliminary state, the form of the Guru is to be
meditated upon by the disciple. Gradually it is to be merged in the Ishta.
By Ishta is meant the object of love and devotion. ...It is very difficult to
superimpose divinity on man, but one is sure to succeed by repeated efforts. God
is in every man, whether man knows it or not; your loving devotion is bound to
call up the divinity in him.
[Letter to Miss
THE MATH, BELUR,
2nd February, 1899.
MY DEAR JOE,
You must have reached N.Y. by this time and are in the
midst of your own after a long absence. Fortune has favoured you at every
step of this journey—even the sea was smooth and calm, and the ship nearly
empty of undesirable company. Well, with me it is doing otherwise. I
am almost desperate I could not accompany you. Neither did the change at
Vaidyanath do me any good. I nearly died there, was suffocating for eight
days and nights!! I was brought back to Calcutta more dead than alive, and
here I am struggling to get back to life again.
Dr. Sarkar is treating me now.
I am not so despondent now as I was. I am
reconciled to my fate. This year seems to be very hard for us.
Yogananda, who used to live in Mother's house, is suffering for the last month
and every day is at death's door. Mother knows best, I am roused to work
again, though not personally but am sending the boys all over India to make a
stir once more. Above all, as you know, the chief difficulty is of funds.
Now that you are in America, Joe, try to raise some funds for our work over
I hope to rally again by March, and by April I start
for Europe. Again Mother knows best.
I have suffered mentally and physically all my life,
but Mother's kindness has been immense. The joy and blessings I had
infinitely more than I deserve. And I am struggling not to fail Mother,
but that she will always find me fighting, and my last breath will be on the
My best love and blessings for you ever and ever.
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Raja of
14th June, 1899.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I want your Highness in that fashion as I am here, you
need most of friendship and love just now.
I wrote you a letter a few weeks ago but could not get
news of yours. Hope you are in splendid health now. I am starting
for England again on the 20th this month.
I hope also to benefit somewhat by this sea-voyage.
May you be protected from all dangers and may all
blessings ever attend you!
I am yours in the
Jagamohan my love and good-bye.
2nd September, 1899.
...Life is a series of fights and disillusionments.
...The secret of life is not enjoyment, but education through experience.
But, alas, we are called off the moment we begin really to learn. That
seems to be a potent argument for a future existence. ...Everywhere it is better
to have a whirlwind come over the work. That clears the atmosphere and
gives us a true insight into the nature of things. It is begun anew, but
on adamantine foundations....
Yours with best
[Letter to Miss Mary Hale]
1719 TURK STREET,
28th March, 1900
WELL BLESSED MARY,
This is to let you know "I am very happy". Not that I am getting into a shadowy optimism, but my power of suffering is increasing. I am being lifted up above the pestilential miasma of this world's joys and sorrows; they are losing their meaning. It is a land of dreams; it does not matter whether one enjoys or weeps; they are but dreams, and as such, must break sooner or later. How are things going on with you folks there? Harriet is going to have a good time at Paris. I am sure to meet her over there and parler fransaise! I am getting by heart a French dictionnaire! I am making some money too; hard work morning and evening; yet better for all that. Good sleep, good digestion, perfect irregularity.
You are going to the East. I hope to come to Chicago before the end of April. If I can't, I will surely meet you in the East before you go.
What are the McKindley girls doing? Eating grapefruit concoctions and getting plump? Go on, life is but a dream. Are you not glad it is so? My! They want an eternal heaven! Thank God, nothing is eternal except Himself. He alone can bear it, I am sure. Eternity of nonsense!
Things are beginning to hum for me; they will presently roar. I shall remain quiet though, all the same. Things are not humming for you just now. I am so sorry, that is, I am trying to be, for I cannot be sorry for anything and more. I am attaining peace that passeth understanding, which is neither joy nor sorrow, but something above them both. Tell Mother that. My passing through the valley of death, physical, mental, last two years, has helped me in this. Now I am nearing that Peace, the eternal silence. Now I mean to see things as they are, everything in that peace, perfect in its way. "He whose joy is only in himself, whose desires are only in himself, he has learned his lessons." This is the great lesson that we are here to learn through myriads of births and heavens and hells — that there is nothing to be asked for, desired for, beyond one's Self. "The greatest thing I can obtain is my Self." "I am free", therefore I require none else for my happiness. "Alone through eternity, because I was free, am free, and will remain free for ever." This is Vedantism. I preached the theory so long, but oh, joy! Mary, my dear sister, I am realising it now every day. Yes, I am — "I am free." "Alone, alone, I am the one without a second."
Ever yours in the Sat-Chit-Ânanda,
PS. Now I am going to be truly Vivekananda. Did you ever enjoy evil! Ha! ha! you silly girl, all is good! Nonsense. Some good, some evil. I enjoy the good and I enjoy the evil. I was Jesus and I was Judas Iscariot; both my play, my fun. "So long as there are two, fear shall not leave thee." Ostrich method? Hide your heads in the sand and think there is nobody seeing you! All is good! Be brave and face everything — come good, come evil, both welcome, both of you my play. I have no good to attain, no ideal to clench up to, no ambition to fulfil; I, the diamond mine, am playing with pebbles, good and evil; good for you — evil, come; good for you-good, you come too. If the universe tumbles round my ears, what is that to me? I am Peace that passeth understanding; understanding only gives us good or evil. I am beyond, I am peace.
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
26th December, 1900.
I got all the news from your letter. If your
health is bad, then certainly you should not come here; and also I am going to
Mayavati tomorrow. It is absolutely necessary that I should go there once.
If Alasinga comes here, he will have to await my
return. I do not know what those here are deciding about Kanai. I shall
return shortly from Almora, and then I may be able to visit Madras. From
Vaniyambadi I have received a letter. Write to the people there conveying
my love and blessings, and tell them that on my way to Madras I shall surely
visit them. Give my love to all. Don't work too hard. All is well
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
6th January, 1901.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
I send you forthwith a translation of the Nasadiya Hymn
sent by Dr. Bose through you. I have tried to make it as literal as
I hope Dr. Bose has recovered his health perfectly by
Mrs. Sevier is a strong woman, and has borne her loss
quietly and bravely. She is coming over to England in April, and I am
going over with her.
I ought to come to England as early as I can this
summer; and as she must go to attend to her husband's affairs, I accompany her.
This place is very, very beautiful, and they have made
it simply exquisite. It is a huge place several acres in area, and is very
well kept. I hope Mrs. Sevier will be in a position to keep it up in the
future. She wishes it ever so much, of course.
My last letter from Joe informed me that she was going
up the ...with Mme Calvé.
I am very glad to learn that Margot is leaving her lore
for future use. Her book has been very much appreciated here, but the
publishers do not seem to make any effort at sale.
The first day's touch of Calcutta brought the asthma
back; and every night I used to get a fit during the two weeks I was there.
I am, however, very well in the Himalayas.
It is snowing heavily here, and I was caught in a
blizzard on the way; but it is not very cold, and all this exposure to the snows
for two days on my way here seems to have done me a world of good.
Today I walked over the snow uphill about a mile,
seeing Mrs. Sevier's lands; she has made beautiful roads all over. Plenty
of gardens, fields, orchards, and large forests, all in her land. The
living houses are so simple, so clean, and so pretty, and above all so suited
for the purpose.
Are you going to America soon? If not, I hope to
see you In London in three months.
Kindly give my best wishes to Miss Olcock and kindly
convey my undying love to Miss Müller the next time you see her; so to Sturdy.
I have seen my mother, my cousin, and all my people in Calcutta.
Kindly send the remittance you send my cousin to
me—in my name so that I shall cash the cheque and give her the money.
Saradananda and Brahmananda and the rest were well in the Math when I last left
All here send love.
Ever your loving
PS. Kali has taken two sacrifices; the cause has already two European
martyrs. Now, it is going to rise up splendidly.
My love to Alberta and Mrs. Vaughan.
The snow is lying all round six inches deep, the sun is
bright and glorious, and now in the middle of the day we are sitting outside,
reading. And the snow all about us I The winter here is very mild in spite
of the snow. The air is dry and balmy, and the water beyond all praise.
15th January, 1901.
MY DEAR STURDY,
I learn from Saradananda that you have sent over Rs.
1,529-5-5 to the Math, being the money that was in hand for work in England.
I am sure it will be rightly used.
Capt. Sevier passed away about three months ago.
They have made a fine place here in the mountains and Mrs. Sevier means to keep
it up. I am on a visit to her, and I may possibly come over to England
I wrote you a letter from Paris. I am afraid you
did not get it.
So sorry to learn the passing away of Mrs. Sturdy.
She has been a very good wife and good mother, and it is not ordinarily one
meets with such in this life.
This life is full of shocks, but the effects pass away
anyhow, that is the hope.
It is not because of your free expression of opinion in
your last letter to me that I stopped writing. I only let the wave pass,
as is my wont. Letters would only have made a wave of a little bubble.
Kindly tender my regards and love to Mrs. Johnson and
other friends if you meet them.
And I am ever yours
in the Truth,
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
THE MATH, BELUR,
HOWRAH DIST., BENGAL,
26th January, 1901
MY DEAR MOTHER,
Many thanks for your very encouraging words. I
needed them very much just now. The gloom has not lifted with the advent
of the new century, it is visibly thickening. I went to see Mrs. Sevier at
Mayavati. On my way I learnt of the sudden death of the Raja of Khetri.
It appears he was restoring some old architectural monument at Agra, at his own
expense, and was up some tower on inspection. Part of the tower came down,
and he was instantly killed.
The three cheques have arrived. They will reach my
cousin when next I see her.
Joe is here, but I have not seen her yet.
The moment I touch Bengal, especially the Math, the
asthmatic fits return! The moment I leave, I recover!
I am going to take my mother on pilgrimage next week.
It may take months to make the complete round of pilgrimages. This is the
one great wish of a Hindu widow. I have brought only misery to my people
all my life. I am trying at least to fulfil this one wish of hers.
I am so glad to learn all that about Margot; everybody
here is eager to welcome her back. I hope Dr. Bose has completely
recovered by this time.
I had a beautiful letter also from Mrs. Hammond.
She is a great soul.
However, I am very calm and self-possessed this time
and find everything better than I ever expected.
With all love.
Ever your son,
[Letter to Swami
MY DEAR SHASHI,
I am going with my mother to Rameswaram, that is all.
I don't know whether I shall go to Madras at all. If I go, it will be
strictly private. My body and mind are completely worked out; I cannot
stand a single person. I do not want anybody. I have neither the
strength nor the money, nor the will to take up anybody with me.
Bhaktas(devotees) of Guru Maharaj or not, it does not matter. It was very
foolish of you even to ask such a question. Let me tell you again, I am more
dead than alive, and strictly refuse to see anybody. If you cannot manage
this, I don't go to Madras. I have to become a bit selfish to save my
Let Yogin-Ma and others go their own way. I shall
not take up any company in my present state of health.
Yours in love,
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
THE MATH, BELUR,
2nd February, 1901.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
Several days ago I received your letter and a cheque of
Rs. 150 included. I will tear up this one, as the three Previous cheques I
have handed over to my cousin.
Joe is here, and I have seen her twice; she is busy
visiting. Mrs. Sevier is expected here soon—en route to England. I
expected to go to England with her, but as it now turns out, I must go on a long
pilgrimage with my mother.
My health suffers the moment I touch Bengal; anyhow, I
don't much mind it now; I am going on well and so do things about me.
Glad to learn about Margot's success, but, says Joe, it
is not financially paying; there is the rub. Mere continuance is of little
value, and it is a far cry from London to Calcutta. Well, Mother knows.
Everybody is praising Margot's Kali the Mother, but alas! they can't get a
book to buy; the booksellers are too indifferent to promote the sale of the
That this new century may find you and yours in
splendid health and equipment for a yet greater future is and always has been
the prayer of your son
[Letter to Miss
14th February, 1901.
MY DEAR JOE,
I am ever so glad to hear that Bois is coming to
Calcutta. Send him immediately to the Math. I will be here. If
possible I will keep him here for a few days and then let him go again to Nepal.
THE MATH, BELUR,
11th February, 1901.
Just now received your nice long letter. I am so
glad that you met and approve Miss Cornelia Sorabji. I knew her father at
Poona, also a younger sister who was in America. Perhaps her mother will
remember me as the Sannyâsin who used to live with the Thakore Sahib of Limbdi
I hope you will go to Baroda and see the Maharani.
I am much better and hope to continue so for some time.
I have just now a beautiful letter from Mrs. Sevier in which she writes a whole
lot of beautiful things about you.
I am so glad you saw Mr. Tata and find him so strong
I will of course accept an invitation if I am strong
enough to go to Bombay.
Do wire the name of the steamer you leave by for
Colombo. With all love,
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
29th March, 1901.
MY DEAR MOTHER,
By this time you must have received my other note from
Dacca. Saradananda has been suffering badly from fever in Calcutta, which
has become simply a hell of demons this year. He has recovered and is now
in the Math which, thank God, is one of the healthiest places in our Bengal.
I do not know what conversation took place between you
and my mother; I was not present. I suppose it was only an eager desire on
her part to see Margot, nothing else.
My advice to Margot would be to mature her plans in
England and work them out a good length before she comes back. Good solid
work must wait.
Saradananda expects to go to Darjeeling to Mrs.
Banerji, who has been in Calcutta for a few days, as soon as he is strong
I have no news yet of Joe from Japan. Mrs. Sevier
expects to sail soon. My mother, aunt, and cousin came over five days ago
to Dacca, as there was a great sacred bath in the Brahmaputra river.
Whenever a particular conjunction of planets takes place, which is very rare, a
huge concourse of people gather on the river on a particular spot. This
year there has been more than a hundred thousand people; for miles the river was
covered with boats.
The river, though nearly a mile broad at the place, was
one mass of mud! But it was firm enough, so we had our bath and Pujâ(worship),
and all that.
I am rather enjoying Dacca. I am going to take my
mother and the other ladies to Chandranath, a holy place at the easternmost
corner of Bengal.
I am rather well and hope you and your daughter and
Margot are also enjoying splendid health.
With everlasting love,
Ever your son,
PS. My cousin and mother send you and Margot their love.
PS. I do not know the date.
15th May, 1901.
MY DEAR SWARUP(ÂNANDA),
Your letter from Naini Tal is quite exciting. I
have just returned from my tour through East Bengal and Assam. As usual I
am quite tired and broken down.
If some real good comes out of a visit to H. H. of
Baroda I am ready to come over, otherwise I don't want to undergo the expense
and exertion of the long journey. Think it well over and make Inquiries,
and write me if you still think it would be best for the Cause for me to come to
see H. H....
Yours with love and
[Letter to Miss
THE MATH, BELUR,
18th May, 1901.
MY DEAR MARY,
Sometimes it is hard work to be tied to the
shoe-strings of a great name. And that was just what happened to my
letter. You wrote on the 22nd January, 1901. You tied me to the
latchet of a great name, Miss MacLeod. Consequently the letter has been
following her up and down the world. Now it reached me yesterday from
Japan, where Miss MacLeod is at present. Well, this, therefore, is the
solution of the sphinx's riddle. "Thou shalt not join a great name
with a small one."
So, Mary, you have been enjoying Florence and Italy,
and I do not know where you be by this time. So, fat old "laidy",
I throw this letter to the mercy of Monroe & Co., 7 rue Scribe.
Now, old "laidy"—so you have been dreaming
away in Florence and the Italian lakes. Good; your poet objects to its
being empty though.
Well, devoted sister, how about myself? I came to
India last fall, suffered all through winter, and went this summer touring
through Eastern Bengal and Assam— through a land of giant rivers and hills and
malaria—and after hard work of two months had a collapse, and am now back to
Calcutta slowly recovering from the effects of it.
The Raja of Khetri died from a fall a few months ago.
So you see things are all gloomy with me just now, and my own health is
wretched. Yet I am sure to bob up soon and am waiting for the next turn.
I wish I were in Europe, just to have a long chat with
you, and then return as quick to India; for, after all, I feel a sort of quiet
nowadays, and have done with three-fourths of my restlessness.
My love to Harriet Woolley, to Isabel, to Harriet
McKindley; and to mother my eternal love and gratitude. Tell mother, the
subtle Hindu's gratitude runs through generations.
Ever yours in the
PS. Write a
line when you feel like it.
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
3rd June, 1901.
MY DEAR SHASHI,
Reading your letter I felt like laughing, and also
rather sorry. The cause of the laughter is that you had a dream through
indigestion and made yourself miserable, taking it to be real. The cause
of my sorrow is that it is dear from this that your health is not good, and that
your nerves require rest very badly.
Never have I laid a curse on you, and why should I do
so now? All your life you have known my love for you, and today are you
doubting it? True, my temper was ever bad, and nowadays owing to illness
it occasionally becomes terrible—but know this for certain that my love can
My health nowadays is becoming a little better.
Have the rains started in Madras? When the rains begin a little in the
South, I may go to Madras via Bombay and Poona. With the onset of the
rains the terrible heat of the South will perhaps subside.
My great love to you and all others. Yesterday Sharat
returned to the Math from Darjeeling—his health is much better than it was
before. I have come here after a tour of East Bengal and Assam. All
work has its ups and downs, its periods of intensity and slackness. Again
it will rise up. What fear? ...
Whatever that may be, I say that you stop your work for
some time and come straight back to the Math. After you have taken a
month's rest here, you and I together will make a grand tour via Gujarat,
Bombay, Poona, Hyderabad, Mysore to Madras. Would not that be grand?
If you cannot do this, stop your lectures in Madras for a month. Take a
little good food and sleep well. Within two or three months I shall go
there. In any case, reply immediately as to what you decide to do.
[Letter to Miss
THE MATH, BELUR,
14th June, 1901.
I am so glad you are enjoying Japan-especially Japanese
art. You are perfectly correct in saying that we will have to learn many
things from Japan. The help that Japan will give us will be with great
sympathy and respect, whereas that from the West unsympathetic and destructive.
Certainly it is very desirable to establish a connection between India and
As for me, I was thrown hors de combat in Assam. The
climate of the Math is just reviving me a bit. At Shillong—the hill
sanatorium of Assam—I had fever, asthma, increase of albumen, and my body
swelled to almost twice its normal size. These symptoms subsided, however,
as soon as I reached the Math. It is dreadfully hot this year; but a bit
of rain has commenced, and I hope we will soon have the monsoon in full force.
I have no plans just now, except that the Bombay Presidency wants me so badly
that I think of going there soon. We are thinking of starting touring
through Bombay in a week or so.
The 300 dollars you speak of sent by Lady Betty have
not reached me yet, nor have I any intimation of its arrival from General
He, poor man, was rather miserable, after his wife and
children sailed for Europe and asked me to come and see him, but unfortunately I
was so ill, and am so afraid of going into the City that I must wait till the
rains have set in.
Now, Joe dear, if I am to go to Japan, this time it is
necessary that I take Saradananda with me to carry on the work. Also I
must have the promised letter to Li Huang Chang from Mr. Maxim; but Mother knows
the rest. I am still undecided.
So you went to Alanquinan to see the foreteller?
Did he convince you of his powers? What did he say? Write particular
s'il vous plait.
Jules Bois went as far as Lahore, being prevented from
entering Nepal. I learn from the papers that he could not bear the heat
and fell ill; then he took ship et bon voyage. He did not write me a
single line since we met in the Math. You also are determined to drag Mrs.
Bull down to Japan from Norway all the way— bien, Mademoiselle, vous ętes use
puissante magicienne, sans doute^ Well, Joe, keep health and spirits up; the
Alanquinan man's words come out true most of them; and glorie et honneur await
you-and Mukti. The natural ambition of woman is through marriage to climb
up, leaning upon a man; but those days are gone. You shall be great
without the help of any man, just as you are, plain, dear Joe—our Joe,
everlasting Joe. ...
We have seen enough of this life to care for any of its
bubbles have we not Joe? For months I have been practising to drive away
all sentiments; therefore I stop here, and good-bye just now. It is
ordained by Mother we work together; it has been already for the good of many;
it shall be for the good of many more; so let it be. It is useless
planning, useless high flights; Mother will find Her own way;... rest assured.
Ever yours with
love and heart's blessings,
PS. Just now came a cheque for Rs. 300 from Mr. Okakura, and the
invitation. It is very tempting, but Mother knows all the same.
^Well, Miss, you
are undoubtedly a powerful magician.
THE MATH, BELUR,
18th June, 1901.
I enclose with yours an acknowledgement of Mr.
Okakura's money—of course I am up to all your tricks.
However, I am really trying to come, but you know—
one month to go—one to come—and a few days' stay! Never mind, I am
trying my best. Only my terribly poor health, some legal affairs, etc.,
etc., may make a little delay.
With everlasting love,
THE MATH, BELUR,
I can't even in imagination pay the immense debt of
gratitude I owe you. Wherever you are you never forget my welfare; and,
there, you are the only one that bears all my burdens, all my brutal outbursts.
Your Japanese friend has been very kind, but my health
is so poor that I am rather afraid I have not much time to spare for Japan.
I will drag myself through the Bombay Presidency even if only to say, "How
do you do?" to all kind friends.
Then two months will be consumed in coming and going,
and only one month to stay; that is not much of a chance for work, is it?
So kindly pay the money your Japanese friend has sent
for my passage. I shall give it back to you when you come to India in
I have had a terrible collapse in Assam from which I am
slowly recovering. The Bombay people have waited and waited till they are
sick—must see them this time. If in spite of all this you wish me to
come, I shall start the minute you write.
I had a letter from Mrs. Leggett from London asking
whether the Ł300 have reached me safe. They have, and I had written a
week or so before to her the acknowledgment, C/o Monroe & Co., Paris, as per
her previous instructions.
Her last letter came to me with the envelope ripped up
in a most barefaced manner! The post offices in India don't even try to do
the opening of my mail decently.
Ever yours with
[Letter to Miss
5th July, 1901.
MY DEAR MARY,
I am very thankful for your very long and nice letter,
especially as I needed just such a one to cheer me up a bit. My health has
been and is very bad. I recover for a few days only; then comes the
inevitable collapse. Well, this is the nature of the disease anyway.
I have been touring of late in Eastern Bengal and
Assam. Assam is, next to Kashmir, the most beautiful country in India, but very
unhealthy. The huge Brahmaputra winding in and out of mountains and hills,
studded with islands, is of course worth one's while to see.
My country is, as you know, the land of waters. But
never did I realise before what that meant. The rivers of East Bengal are
oceans of rolling fresh water, not rivers, and so long that steamers work on
them for weeks. Miss MacLeod is in Japan. She is of course charmed
with the country and asked me to come over, but my health not permitting such a
long voyage, I desisted. I have seen Japan before.
So you are enjoying Venice. The old man must be
delicious; only Venice was the home of old Shylock, was it not?
Sam is with you this year—I am so glad! He must
be enjoying the good things of Europe after his dreary experience in the North.
I have not made any interesting friends of late, and the old ones that you knew
of, have nearly all passed away, even the Raja of Khetri. He died of a
fall from a high tower at Secundra, the tomb of Emperor Akbar. He was
repairing this old grand piece of architecture at his own expense at Agra, and
one day while on inspection, he missed his footing, and it was a sheer fall of
several hundred feet. Thus we sometimes come to grief on account of our
zeal for antiquity. Take care, Mary, don't be too zealous for your piece of
In the Mission Seal, the snake represents mysticism;
the sun knowledge; the worked up waters activity; the lotus love; the swan the
soul in the midst of all.
With love to Sam and to mother,
Ever with love,
PS. My letter had to be short; I am out of sorts all the time; it is the
THE MATH, BELUR,
6th July, 1901.
Things come to me by fits—today I am in a fit of
writing. The first thing to do is, therefore, to pen a few lines to you.
I am known to be nervous, I worry much; but it seems, dear Christine, you are
not far behind in that trick. One of our poets says, "Even the
mountains will fly, the fire will be cold, yet the heart of the great will never
change." I am small, very, but I know you are great, and my faith is always
in your true heart. I worry about everything except you. I have
dedicated you to the Mother. She is your shield, your guide. No harm
can reach you-nothing hold you down a minute. I know it.
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Miss
THE MATH, BELUR,
HOWRAH DIST., BENGAL,
27th August, 1901.
MY DEAR MARY,
I would that my health were what you expected—at
least to write you a long letter. It is getting worse, in fact, every day,
and so many complications and botherations without that. I have ceased to
notice it at all.
I wish you all joy in your lovely Swiss
chalet—splendid health, good appetite, and a light study of Swiss or other
antiquities just to liven things up a bit. I am so glad you are breathing
the free air of the mountains, but sorry that Sam is not in the best of health.
Well, there is no anxiety about it, he has naturally such a fine physique. ...
"Women's moods and man's luck—the gods
themselves do not know, what to speak, of man?" My instincts may be very
feminine, but what I am exercised with just this moment is, that you get a
little bit of manliness about you. Oh! Mary, your brain, health,
beauty, everything is going to waste just for lack of that one
essential—assertion of individuality. Your haughtiness, spirit, etc. are
all nonsense, only mockery; you are at best a boarding-school girl, no backbone!
Alas! this lifelong leading-string business!
This is very harsh, very brutal; but I can't help it. I love you, Mary,
sincerely, genuinely; I can't cheat you with namby-pamby sugar candies. Nor do
they ever come to me.
Then again, I am a dying man; I have no time to fool
in. Wake up, girl. I expect now from you letters of the right slashing
order; give it right straight; I need a good deal of rousing.
I did not hear anything of the MacVeaghs when they were
here. I have not had any direct message from Mrs. Bull or Nivedita, but I
hear regularly from Mrs. Sevier, and they are all in Norway as guests of Mrs.
I don't know when Nivedita comes to India or it she
ever comes back.
I am in a sense a retired man; I don't keep much note
of what is going on about the Movement; then the Movement is getting bigger, and
it is impossible for one man to know all about it minutely.
I now do nothing, except trying to eat and sleep and
nurse my body the rest of the time. Good-bye, dear Mary; hope we shall
meet again somewhere in this life. but, meeting or no meeting, I remain,
Ever your loving
[Letter to Shri M.
THE MATH, BELUR,
29th August, 1901.
I am getting better, though still very weak. ...The
present disturbance is simply nervous. Anyhow I am getting better every
I am so much beholden to mother^ for her kind proposal,
only I am told by everybody in the Math that Nilambar Babu's place and the whole
of the village of Belur at that becomes very malarious this month and the next.
Then the rent is so extravagant, I would therefore advise mother to take a
little house in Calcutta if she decides to come. I may in all probability
go and live there, as it is not good for me to catch malaria over and above the
present prostration. I have not asked the opinion of Saradananda or
Brahmananda yet. Both are in Calcutta. Calcutta is healthier these
two months and very much less expensive.
After all, let her do as she is guided by the Lord.
We can only suggest and may be entirely wrong.
If she selects Nilambar's house for residence, do first
arrange the rent etc. beforehand. "Mother" knows best.
That is all I know too.
With all love and blessings,
Ever yours in the
[Letter to Shri M.
THE MATH, BELUR,
7th September; 1901.
I had to consult Brahmananda and others, and they were
everyone in Calcutta, hence the delay in replying to your last.
The idea of taking a house for a whole year must be
worked out with deliberation. As on the one hand there is some risk of
catching malaria in Belur this month, in Calcutta on the other hand there is the
danger of plague. Then again one is sure to avoid fever if one takes good
care not to go into the interior of this village, the immediate bank of the
river being entirely free from fever. Plague has not come to the river
yet, and all the available places in this village are filled with Marwaris
during the plague season.
Then again you ought to mention the maximum rent you
can pay, and we seek the house accordingly. The quarter in the city is
another suggestion. For myself, I have almost become a foreigner to Calcutta.
But others will soon find a house after your mind. The sooner you decide
these two points:(1) Whether mother stays at Belur or Calcutta,(2) If Calcutta,
what rent and quarter, the better, as it can be done in a trice after receiving
Yours with love and
PS. We are
all right here. Moti has returned after his week's stay in Calcutta.
It is raining here day and night last three days. Two of our cows have
[Letter to Miss
THE MATH, BELUR,
8th November, 1901.
MY DEAR JOE,
By this time you must have received the letter
explaining the word abatement. I did not write the letter nor send the
wire. I was too ill at the time to do either, I have been ever since my
trip to East Bengal almost bedridden. Now I am worse than ever with the
additional disadvantage of impaired eyesight. I would not write these
things, but some people require details, it seems.
Well, I am so glad that you are coming over with your
Japanese friends—they will have every attention in my power. I will most
possibly be in Madras. I have been thinking of leaving Calcutta next week
and working my way gradually to the South.
I do not know whether it will be possible to see the
Orissan temples in company with your Japanese friends. I do not know
whether I shall be allowed inside myself—owing to my eating "Mlechchha"
food. Lord Curzon was not allowed inside.
However, your friends are welcome to what I can do
always. Miss Müller is in Calcutta. Of course she has not visited
Yours with all
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
BENARES (VARANASI) CANTONMENT,
9th February, 1902.
MY DEAR SWARUP(ÂNANDA),
...In answer to Charu's letter, tell him to study the
Brahma-Sutras, himself. What does he mean by the Brahma-Sutras containing
references to Buddhism? He means the Bhâshyas, of course, or rather ought
to mean, and Shankara was only the last Bhâshyakâra (commentator). There
are references, though in Buddhistic literature, to Vedanta, and the Mahayana
school of Buddhism is even Advaitistic. Why does Amara Singha, a Buddhist,
give as one of the names of Buddha—Advayavadi? Charu writes, the word Brahman
does not occur in the Upanishads! Quelle bętise!
I hold the Mahayana to be the older of the two schools
The theory of Mâyâ is as old as the Rik-Samhita. The
Shvetashvatara Upanishad contains the word "Mâyâ" which is developed
out of Prakriti. I hold that Upanishad to be at least older than Buddhism.
I have had much light of late about Buddhism, and I am
ready to prove:
(1) That Shiva-worship, in various forms, antedated the
Buddhists, that the Buddhists tried to get hold of the sacred places of the
Shaivas but, failing in that, made new places in the precincts just as you find
now at Bodh-Gavii and Sarnath (Varanasi).
(2) The story in the Agni-Purana about Gayasura does not
refer to Buddha at all—as Dr. Rajendralal will have it—but simply to a
(3) That Buddha went to live on Gayashirsha mountain proves
the pre-existence of the place.
(4) Gaya was a place of ancestor-worship already, and the
footprint-worship the Buddhists copied from the Hindus.
(5) About Varanasi, even the oldest records go to prove it as
the great place of Shiva-worship; etc., etc.
Many are the new facts I have gathered in Bodh-Gava and
from Buddhist literature. Tell Charu to read for himself and not be swayed
by foolish opinions.
I am rather well here, in Varanasi, and if I go on
improving in this way, it will be a great gain.
A total revolution has occurred in my mind about the
relation of Buddhism and Neo-Hinduism. I may not live to work out the
glimpses, but I shall leave the lines of work indicated, and you and your
brethren will have to work it out.
Yours with all
blessings and love,
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
10th February, 1902.
Welcome to India once more, dear mother and daughter. A copy of a Madras
journal that I received through the kindness of Joe delighted me exceedingly, as
the reception Nivedita had in Madras was for the good of both Nivedita and
Madras. Her speech was indeed beautiful.
I hope you are resting well after your long journey,
and so is Nivedita. I wish it so much that you should go tor a few hours
to a few villages west of Calcutta to see the old Bengali structures made of
wood, bamboo, cane, mica, and grass.
These are the bungalows, most artistic. Alas! the
name is travestied nowadays by every pigsty appropriating the name.
In old days a man who built a palace still built a
bungalow for the reception of guests. The art is dying out. I wish I
could build the whole of Nivedita's School in that style. Yet it is good to see
the few that yet remained, at least one.
Brahmananda will arrange for it, and you have only to
take a journey of a few hours.
Mr. Okakura has started on his short tour. He intends
to visit Agra, Gwalior, Ajanta, Ellora, Chittore, Udaipur, Jaipur, and Delhi.
A very well-educated rich young man of Varanasi, with
whose father we had a long-standing friendship, came back to this city
yesterday. He is especially interested. in art, and spending
purposely a lot of money in his attempts to revive dying Indian arts. He
came to see me only a few hours after Mr. Okakura left. He is just the man
to show him artistic India (i.e. what little is left), and I am sure he will be
much benefited by Okakura's suggestions. Okakura just found a common
terracotta water-vessel here used by the servants. The shape and the
embossed work on it simply charmed him, but as it is common earthenware and
would not bear the journey, he left a request with me to have it reproduced in
brass. I was at my wit's end as to what to do. My young friend comes
a few hours after, and not only undertakes to have it done but offers to show a
few hundreds of embossed designs in terracotta infinitely superior to the one
He also offers to show us old paintings in that
wonderful old style. Only one family is left in Varanasi who can paint
after the old style yet. One of them has painted a whole hunting scene on a pea,
perfect in detail and action!
I hope Okakura will come to this city on his return and
be this gentleman's guest and see a bit of what is left.
Niranjan has gone with Mr. Okakura, and as he is a
Japanese, they don't object to his going into any temple. It seems that
the Tibetans and the other Northern Buddhists have been coming here to worship
Shiva all along.
They allowed him to touch the sign of Shiva and
worship. Mrs. Annie Besant tried once, but, poor woman, although she bared her
feet, put on a Sari, and humiliated herself to the dust before the priests, she
was not admitted even into the compound of the temple. The Buddhists are not
considered non-Hindus in any of our great temples. My plans are not
settled; I may shift from this place very soon.
Shivananda and the boys send you all their welcome,
regards, and love.
I am, as ever, your most affectionate son
[Letter to Sister
12th February, 1902.
May all powers come unto you! May Mother Herself be your hands and mind!
It is immense power—irresistible—that I pray for you, and, if possible,
along with it infinite peace. . . .
If there was any truth in Shri Ramakrishna, may He take
you into His leading, even as He did me, nay, a thousand times more!
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
12th February, 1902.
MY DEAR RAKHAL,
I was glad to get all the detailed news from your
letter. Regarding Nivedita's School, I have written to her what I have to say.
My opinion is that she should do what she considers to be best.
Don't ask my opinion on any other matter either.
That makes me lose my temper. Just do that work for me—that is all. Send
money, for at present only a few rupees are left.
Kanai(Nirbhayananda) lives on Mâdhukari,^ does his
Japa at the bathing ghat, and comes and sleeps here at night; Nyeda does a poor
man's work and comes and sleeps here at night. “Uncle”^ and Niranjan have
gone to Agra. I may get their letter today.
Continue doing your work as the Lord guides. Why
bother about the opinion of this man and that? My love to all.
food obtained by begging from several houses.
^”Uncle” -Mr. Okakura was endearingly so called. "Kura"
approximating to Khurha" in Bengali which means uncle; Swamiji out of fun
calls him uncle
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
18th February, 1902.
MY DEAR RAKHAL.,
You must have received by this time my letter of
yesterday containing an acknowledgment of the money. The main object of
this letter is to write about—. You should go and meet him as soon as you get
this letter. ... Get a competent doctor and have the disease diagnosed properly.
Now where is Vishnu Mohini, the eldest daughter of Ram Babu?^ She has recently
been widowed. ...
Anxiety is worse than the disease. Give a little
money — whatever is needed. If in this hell of a world one can
bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person,
that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all
else is mere moonshine...
Reply very soon. "Uncle" and Niranjan
have written a letter from Gwalior... Here it is now becoming hot gradually.
This place was cooler than Bodh-Gaya. ...I was very pleased to hear that the
Saraswati-Pujâ was celebrated by Nivedita with great success. If she
wants to open the School soon, let her do so. Readings from the sacred
books, worship, study —see that all these are being maintained. My love
^Ram Chandra Datta, a disciple of Shri Ramakrishna.
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
21st February, 1902.
MY DEAR RAKHAL,
I received a letter from you just now. If mother
and grandmother desire to come, send them over. It is better to get away
from Calcutta now when the season of plague is on. There is wide-spread plague
in Allahabad; I do not know if it will spread to Varanasi this time.... Tell
Mrs. Bull from me that a tour to Ellora and other places involves a difficult
journey, and it is now very hot. Her body is so tired that it is not
proper to go on a tour at present. It is several days since I received a
letter from "Uncle". The last news was that he had gone to
Ajanta. Mahant also has not replied, perhaps he will do so with the reply
to Raja Pyari Mohan's letter. ...
Write me in detail about the matter of the Nepal
Minister. Give my special love and blessings to Mrs. Bull, Miss MacLeod,
and all others. My love and greetings to you, Baburam,^ and all others.
Has Gopal Dada^ got the letter? Kindly look after the goat a bit.
PS. All the boys here send you their respectful salutations.
^Baburam - Swami
^Gopal Dada - Swami Advsitananda.
[Letter to Swami
[Translated from Bengali]
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
24th February, 1902.
This morning I got a small American parcel sent by you. I have received no
letter, neither the registered one you refer to nor any other. Whether the
Nepalese gentleman came and what happened—I have not been able to know
anything at all about it. To write a simple letter so much trouble and so
much delay! ...Now I shall be relieved if I get the accounts. That also I
get who knows after how many months! ...
21st April, 1902.
It seems the plan of going to Japan seems to have come
to nought. Mrs. Bull is gone, you are going. I am not sufficiently
acquainted with the Japanese.
Sadananda has accompanied the Japanese to Nepal along
with Kanai. Christine could not start earlier, as Margot could not go till
the end of this month.
I am getting on splendidly, they say, but yet very weak
and no water to drink. Anyhow the chemical analysis shows a great
improvement. The swelling about the feet and the complaints have all
Give my infinite love to Lady Betty and Mr. Leggett, to
Alberta and Holly—the baby has my blessings from before birth and will have
How did you like Mayavati? Write me a line about
15th May, 1902.
I send you the letter to Madame Calvé.
. . .
I am somewhat better, but of course far from what I
expected. A great idea of quiet has come upon me. I am going to
retire for good—no more work for me. If possible, I will revert to my old days
All blessings attend you, Joe; you have been a good
angel to me.
[Letter to Mrs. Ole
14th June, 1902.
DEAR DHIRÂ MÂTÂ,
...In my opinion, a race must first cultivate a great
respect for motherhood, through the sanctification and inviolability of
marriage, before it can attain to the ideal of perfect chastity. The Roman
Catholics and the Hindus, holding marriage sacred and inviolate, have produced
great chaste men and women of immense power. To the Arab, marriage is a
contract or a forceful possession, to be dissolved at will, and we do not find
there the development of the idea of the virgin or the Brahmacharin.
Modern Buddhism—having fallen among races who had not yet come up to the
evolution of marriage—has made a travesty of monasticism. So until there
is developed in Japan a great and sacred ideal about marriage(apart from mutual
attraction and love), I do not see how there can be great monks and nuns.
As you have come to see that the glory of life is chastity, so my eyes also have
been opened to the necessity of this great sanctification for the vast majority,
in order that a few lifelong chaste powers may be produced. ...
I wanted to write many things, but the flesh is weak.
..."Whosoever worships me, for whatsoever desire, I meet him with