The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Epistles - Second Series/CXXIV Sir
30th May, 1897.
I hear some unavoidable domestic grief has come upon you. To you, a man of
wisdom, what can this misery do? Yet the amenities of friendly intercourse,
incidental to relative existence in this world, require my making mention of
it. Those moments of grief, however, very often bring out a better spiritual
realisation. As if for a while the clouds withdraw and the sun of truth
shines out. In the case of some, half of the bondage is loosened. Of all
bandages the greatest is that of position — the fear of reputation is
stronger than the fear of death; but even this bondage appears to relax a
little. As if the mind sees for a moment that it is much better to listen to
the indwelling Lord than to the opinions of men. But again the clouds close
up, and this indeed is Mâyâ.
Though for a long time I had no direct correspondence with you, yet I have
often been receiving from others almost all the news about you. Some time
ago you kindly sent me to England a copy of a translation of the Gita. The
cover only bore a line of your handwriting. The few words in acknowledgment
of this gift, I am told, raised doubts in your mind about my old affection
Please know these doubts to be groundless. The reason of that laconic
acknowledgment is that I was given to see, during four or five years, only
that one line of your handwriting on the cover of an English Gita, from
which fact I thought, if you had no leisure to write more, would you have
leisure enough to read much? Secondly, I learnt, you were particularly the
friend of white-skinned missionaries of the Hindu religion and the roguish
black natives were repelling! There was apprehension on this score. Thirdly,
I am a Mlechchha, Shudra, and so forth; I eat anything and everything, and
with anybody and everybody — and that in public both abroad and here. In my
views, besides, much perversion has supervened — one attributeless absolute
Brahman, I see, I fairly understand, and I see in some particular
individuals the special manifestations of that Brahman; if those individuals
are called by the name of God, I can well follow — otherwise the mind does
not feel inclined towards intellectual theorisings such as the postulated
Creator and the like.
Such a God I have seen in my life, and his commands I live to follow. The
Smritis and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and
are full of fallacies, errors, the feelings of class and malice. Only parts
of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest are
to be rejected. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures; Rama,
Krishna, Buddha, Chaitanya, Nanak, Kabir, and so on are the true Avatâras,
for they had their hearts broad as the sky — and above all, Ramakrishna.
Ramanuja, Shankara etc., seem to have been mere Pundits with much narrowness
of heart. Where is that love, that weeping heart at the sorrow of others?
— Dry pedantry of the Pundit — and the feeling of only oneself getting to
salvation hurry-scurry! But is that going to be possible, sir? Was it ever
likely or will it ever be so? Can anything be attained with any shred of "I"
Another great discrepancy: the conviction is daily gaining on my mind that
the idea of caste is the greatest dividing factor and the root of Maya; all
caste either on the principle of birth or of merit is bondage: Some friends
advise, "True, lay all that at heart, but outside, in the world of relative
experience, distinctions like caste must needs be maintained." ... The idea
of oneness at heart (with a craven impotence of effort, that is to say), and
outside, the hell-dance of demons — oppression and persecution — ay, the
dealer of death to the poor, but if the Pariah be wealthy enough, "Oh, he is
the protector of religion!"
Over and above, I come to see from my studies that the disciplines of
religion are not for the Shudra; if he exercises any discrimination about
food or about going out to foreign lands, it is all useless in his case,
only so much labour lost. I am a Shudra, a Mlechchha, so I have nothing to
do with all that botheration. To me what would Mlechchha's food matter or
Pariah's? It is in the books written by priests that madnesses like that of
caste are to be found, and not in books revealed from God. Let the priests
enjoy the fruits of their ancestors' achievement, while I follow the word of
God, for my good lies there.
Another truth I have realised is that altruistic service only is religion,
the rest, such as ceremonial observances, are madness — even it is wrong to
hanker after one's own salvation. Liberation is only for him who gives up
everything for others, whereas others who tax their brains day and night
harping on "my salvation", "my salvation", wander about with their true
well-being ruined, both present and prospective; and this I have seen many a
time with my own eyes. Reflecting on all these sundry matters, I had no
heart for writing a letter to you. If notwithstanding all these
discrepancies, you find your attachment for me intact, I shall feel it to be
a very happy issue indeed.