The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Newspaper Reports/Part IIi: Indian Newspaper Reports

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Part IIi: Indian Newspaper Reports
A BENGALI SADHU[1]

[Madura Mail, January 28, 1893]

(Though this extract does not mention Swami Vivekananda by name, refers to an M.A. which the Swami never received, and describes him as two years older than his actual age--still there is indubitable internal evidence that the Bengali Sâdhu was Swami Vivekananda. Furthermore, the date coincides accurately with the Swami's stay in Madras, and a back reference to this event published in the Indian Social Reformer, on July 13, 1902, is added confirmation. Incidentally, no copy of the Indian Social Reformer of 1892 1893 is available today.)

A BENGALI SADHU ON HINDU RELIGION AND SOCIOLOGY

A young Bengalee Sanyashi [Sannyâsin] of about thirty two years of age, and a Master of Arts of the Calcutta University was last week interviewed at the Triplicane Literary Society by about a hundred educated Indians among whom was Dewan Bahadur Raghunatha Rao. A summary of what was stated by the Sadhu is published by the Indian Social Reformer, from which we make the following extracts: [2]

The Vedic Religion

The perfect religion is the Vedic religion. The Vedas have two parts, mandatory and optional. The mandatory injunctions are eternally binding on us. They constitute the Hindu religion. The optional ones are not so. These have been changing and been changed by the Rishis to suit the times. The Brahmins at one time ate beef and married Sudras. [A] calf was killed to please a guest. Sudras cooked for Brahmins. The food cooked by a male Brahmin was regarded as polluted food. But we have changed our habits to suit the present yug[a]. Although our caste rules have so far changed from the time of Manu, still if he should come to us now, he would still call us Hindus. Caste is a social organization and not a religious one. It was the outcome of the natural evolution of our society. It was found necessary and convenient at one time. It has served its purpose. But for it, we would long ago have become Mahomedans [sic]. It is useless now. It may be dispensed with. Hindu religion no longer requires the prop of the caste system. A Brahmin may interdine with anybody, even a Pariah. He won't thereby lose his spirituality. A degree of spirituality that is destroyed by the touch of a Pariah, is a very poor quantity. It is almost at the zero point. Spirituality of a Brahmin must overflow, blaze and burn [so] as to warm into spiritual life not one Pariah but thousands of Pariahs who may touch him. The old Rishis observed no distinctions or restrictions as regards food. A man who feels that his own spirituality is so flimsy that the sight of a low caste man annihilates it need not approach a Pariah and must keep his precious little to himself.

The Hindu Ideal of Life

The Hindu Ideal of life is "Nivarti" [Nivritti].[3] Nivarti means subjugation and conquest of evil passions, of Tamasa nature of lust, revenge and avarice. It does not mean conquest of all desire. It means only the annihilation of gross desires. Every man is bound to love and sympathize with his fellow creatures. [A] Sanyasi is one who has vanquished all his selfish passions and vowed to devote his life for the good of others. He loves all. "Pravirti" [Pravritti] means love of God and all his creatures. Sanyasis ought to be fed. They are not like the Christian bishops and Archbishops who must be paid to do their work with thousands of pounds per annum; all whose earnings are spent upon their own luxury--their wife and children. [The] Sanyasi wants only a morsel of food, and then he places all his knowledge and services at the disposal of the public. He is a wandering missionary. Individuals and society have to work themselves up from "brute through man, into divine". Even the lowest of the Hindus, the Pariah, has less of the brute in him than a Briton in a similar social status. This is the result of an old and excellent religious civilization. This evolution to a higher spiritual state is possible only through discipline and education.

The Shradh [Shrâddha] Ceremony[4]

Every institution, caste, early marriage etc., that stands in the way of education, ought at once to be knocked on the head. Even "Shradh" may be given up, if the performance of it involves waste of time which might be better used for self education. But "Shradh" should not be given up. The meaning of the Mantras is very edifying. The Mantras depict the suffering and care undergone by our parents on our behalf. The performance of it is an honour paid to the memory of the sum total of the spirit of our forefathers, whose virtues we inherit. Shradh has nothing to do with one's salvation. Yet no Hindu who loves his religion, his country and his past great men should give up Shradh. The outward formalities and the feeding of the Brahmins are not essential. We have no Brahmins in these days worthy of being fed on Shradh days. The Brahmins fed ought not to be professional eaters, but Brahmins who feed disciples gratis, and teach them true Vedic doctrines. In these days, Shradh may be performed mentally.

Education of Women

The jealous guardianship of our women shows that we Hindus have declined in our national virtues, that we reverted to the "brutal state". Every man must so discipline his mind as to bring himself to regard all women as his sis ters or mothers. Women must have freedom to read, to receive as good an education as men. Individual development is impossible with ignorance and slavery.

Emancipation of the Hindus

Through the slavery of a thousand years, Hindus have at present degenerated. They have forgotten their own self respect. Every English boy is taught to feel his importance, he thinks that he is a member of a great race, the conquerors of the Earth. The Hindu feels from his boyhood just the reverse that he is born to slave. We can't become a great nation unless we love our religion and try to respect ourselves, and respect our country men and society. The Hindus of modern times are generally hypocrites. They must rise, and combine the faith in the true Vedic religion, with a knowledge of the political and scientific truths of the Europeans. The evils of caste seem to be more prevalent in the South than in Bengal. In Bengal a Brahmin uses the water touched by the Sudras, but here the Sudra is kept at a great distance by the Brahmin. There are no Brahmins in [the] Kali Yug[a]. The Pariahs, our fellow beings, ought to be educated by the higher castes, must [ . . . ] truths of Hindu religion and be [ . . . ] Brahmins. The first duty of a Brahmin is to love all. There must first be an amalgamation of the Brahmins, then of all the Dwijas,[5] and then of the Dwijas and Sudras.

THE PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS[6]

By H. R. Haweis
[The Indian Mirror (from The Daily Chronicle), November 28, 1893]

. . . Vivekananda, the popular Hindu monk, whose physiognomy bore the most striking resemblance to the classic face of the Buddha, denounced our commercial prosperity, our bloody wars, and our religious intolerance, declaring that at such a price the "mild Hindu" would have none of our vaunted civilisation. . . . "You come," he cried, with the Bible in one hand and the conqueror's sword in the other--you, with your religion of yesterday, to us, who were taught thousands of years ago by our Rishis precepts as noble and lives as holy as your Christ's. You trample on us and treat us like the dust beneath your feet. You destroy precious life in animals. You are carnivores. You degrade our people with drink. You insult our women. You scorn our religion--in many points like yours, only better, because more humane. And then you wonder why Christianity makes such slow progress in India. I tell you it is because you are not like your Christ, whom we could honour and reverence. Do you think, if you came to our doors like him, meek and lowly, with a message of love, living and working and suffering for others, as he did, we should turn a deaf ear? Oh no! We should receive him and listen to him, and as we have done our own inspired Rishis (teachers). . . .

PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS IN CHICAGO[7]

[The Indian Mirror, December 7, 1893]



Hindu Criticises Christianity



Mr. Vivekananda Says Religion of the Vedas Is Religion of Love



Vivekananda Says Christianity Is Intolerant

Dr. Noble presided at the afternoon session. The Hall of Colombus [Columbus] was badly crowded. . . . Dr. Noble then presented Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu monk, who was applauded loudly as he stepped forward to the centre of the platform. He wore an orange robe, bound with a scarlet sash, and a pale yellow turban. The customary smile was on his handsome face and his eyes shown with animation. Said he:

We who come from the East have sat here on the platform day after day, and have been told in a patronizing way that we ought to accept Christianity because Christian nations are the most prosperous. We look about us, and we see England, the most prosperous Christian nation in the world, with her foot on the neck of 250,000,000 of Asiatics. We look back into history, and see that the prosperity of Christian Europe began with Spain. Spain's prosperity began with the invasion of Mexico. Christianity wins its prosperity by cutting the throats of its fellowmen. At such a price the Hindu will not have prosperity. [8]

I have sat here to day, and I have heard the height of intolerance. I have heard the creed of the Moslem applauded, when to day the Moslem sword is carrying destruction into India. Blood and the sword are not for the Hindu, whose religion is based on the law of love. [9]

When the applause had ceased, Mr. Vivekananda went [on] to read his paper, a summary of which follows: [Vide "Paper on Hinduism", Complete Works, I: 6 20]. . . .

ON CHRISTIAN CONVERSION[10]

[The Indian Mirror, June 14, 1894]

There has been some lively correspondence between Swami Vivekanand and a retired Christian Missionary on the work and prospects of Christianity in India. Among other things, the

Swami is reported to have said that "the way of converting is absolutely absurd";

Missionary doctors do no good, because they are not in touch with the people. . . . They accomplish nothing in the way of converting, although they may have nice sociable times among themselves, &c.

The reverend gentleman took exception to the words, maintaining that speaking the vernaculars well, nobody of foreigners understands, and sympathises with Indians better than Missionaries. The Missionaries are undoubtedly good and well meaning people; but we think, the statement of the Swami that they are seldom in touch with the people, is not without foundation. With the revival of Hinduism, manifested in every part of the country, it is doubtful whether Christianity will have any sway over the Hindus. The present is a critical time for Christian Missions in India. The Swami thanked the Missionary for calling him his fellow countryman. "This is the first time," he wrote, any European foreigner, born in India though he be, has dared to call a detested Native by that name--Missionary or no Missionary. Would you dare call me the same in India?

THE CENTRAL IDEA OF THE VEDAS[11]

[The Indian Mirror, July 20, 1894]

Swami Vivekananda explained in America the central idea of the Vedas as follows:

I humbly beg to differ from those who see in monotheism, in the recognition of a personal God, apart from Nature, the acme of intellectual development. I believe, it is only a kind of anthropomorphism which the human mind stumbles upon in its first efforts to understand the unknown. The ultimate satisfaction of human reason and custom lies in the realisation of that universal essence which is the All. And I hold an irrefragable evidence that this idea is present in the Vedas, the numerous gods and their invocations notwithstanding. This idea of formless All, the Sat, i.e., esse or being, called Atman and Brahman in the Upanishads, and further explained in the Darsans, is the central idea of the Vedas, nay, the root idea of the Hindu religion in general. [12]

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA ON THE SEA VOYAGE MOVEMENT [13]

[The Bengalee, May 18, 1895]

There is not a Hindoo who is not proud of Vivekananda Swami--who would not honor him and his teachings. He has done honor to himself, to his race and his religion. If we are right in this view, it follows that the opinions of Vivekananda are entitled to the highest consideration. This is what he says with regard to the sea voyage movement:--

Expansion is life; contraction is death. Love is life, hatred is death. We began to die the day we began to contract--to hate other races--and nothing can prevent our death, until we come back to life, to expansion. We must mix, therefore, with all the races of the earth and every Hindoo that goes out to travel in foreign parts, does more benefit to his country than hundreds of those bundles of superstition and selfishness whose one aim in life is to be the dog in the manger. Those wonderful structures of national life which the Western nations have raised are supported by pillars of character--and until we can produce such by the hundred, it is useless to fret and fume against this power or that power. Does anyone deserve liberty who is not ready to give it to others? Let us calmly and in manly fashion go to work--instead of dissipating our energies in unnecessary frettings and fumings and I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything he really deserves. The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future in store is glorious still. [14]

We must mix with other nations and take from them whatever good they have to give us. It is our exclusiveness, our unwillingness to learn from foreign nations which is mainly responsible for our present degradation. We considered ourselves to be the elect of heaven, and superior to the nations of the earth in all respects. We regarded them as barbarians, their touch as pollution, their knowledge as worse than ignorance. We lived in a world of our own creation. We would teach the foreigner nothing--we would learn nothing from the foreigner. At last the disillusion came. The foreigner became our master-- the arbiter of our destinies. We eagerly took to his learning. We found that there was much in it that was novel, much that was highly useful. We found that so far as the material comforts of life were concerned the foreigner vastly out distanced us--that his control over the powers of nature was far greater than any we had dreamt of. He had annihilated time and space, and had subordinated the powers of nature to the convenience of man. He had many wonderful things to teach us. We learnt them eagerly. But still we don't visit his country. If we do, we lose caste. We are under a foreign Government. We eagerly study a foreign language and literature and admire all that is good and beautiful in it. We use foreign articles for dress and consumption. But still we dare not visit the country of our rulers, for fear of excommunication. Against this unmeaning prejudice, the great Swami, who is a Hindoo of Hindoos, indignantly raises his voice of protest. The objectors, in his expressive language, are like the dog in the manger. They will not travel to foreign

countries,--they will not allow others to travel. Yet the fact remains, says the Swami, that these travelled Hindoos do more benefit to their country than hundreds of those bundles of superstition and selfishness, whose one aim in life is to be like the dog in the manger. [15] . . . . . . If we had our Rishis in this age, as we had them in the ages that are gone by, we are sure they would have withdrawn the interdiction to sea voyage, if indeed any such interdiction has been laid in the past. Society is an organism which obeys the immutable law of progress; and change, judicious and cautious change, is necessary for the well being, and indeed the preservation of the social system. However that may be, it is something to know that so high an authority and so good a Hindoo as Swami Vivekananda supports travel to foreign countries. . . .

A SUMMARY OF "BUDDHISM, THE FULFILMENT OF HINDUISM"[16]

[The Indian Mirror, June 29, 1895]

Swami Vivekananda's speech, delivered in Chicago at the presentation of the Buddhists on September 26, 1893, is published in MacNeely's edition of the "History of the Parliament of Religions". The following were his concluding words:--

We cannot live without you, nor you without us. Then believe that separation has shown to us, that you cannot stand without the brain and the philosophy of the Brahman [sic], nor we without your heart. This separation between the Buddhist and the Brahman [Brahmin] is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the past 1000 years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahman [Brahmin] with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanising power of the Great Master. [17]

INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND WESTERN SOCIETY[18]

[The Indian Mirror, December 1, 1895]

At the weekly meeting of the Balloon Society, an address on "Man and Society in the Light of Vedanta"[19] was given by Swami Vivekananda. The Swami who wore the red robe of his sect, spoke with great fluency and in perfect English for more than an hour without the help of a single note. He said that religion was the most wonderful factor in the social organism. If knowledge was the highest gain that science could give, what could be greater than the knowledge of God, of the soul, of man's own nature which was given by the study of religion? It was not only impossible that there should be one religion for the whole world, but it would be dangerous. If the whole of religious thought was at the same level, it would be the death of religious thought; variety was its life. There were four types of religion--(1) the worker, (2) the emotional, (3) the mystical, and (4) the philosophical. Each man unfortunately became so wedded to his own type that he had no eyes to see what existed in the world. He struggled to make others of the same type. That religion would be perfect which gave scope to all the different characters. The Vedantic religion took in all, and each could choose in what his nature required. A discussion followed.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA IN AMERICA[20]

[The Indian Mirror (from the New York Herald), March 25, 1896]

Many well known persons are seeking to follow the teaching of Swami Vivekananda's Philosophy. . . . . . .

A Lecture by the Swami

Swami Vivekananda sat in the centre, clad in an ochre coloured robe. The Hindu had his audience divided on either side of him and there was between fifty and a hundred persons present. The class was in Karma Yoga, which has been described as the realisation of one's self as God through works and duty.

Its theme was:--
"That which ye sow ye reap", whether of good or evil.

Following the lecture or instruction the Swami held an informal reception, and the magnetism of the man was shown by the eager manner in which those who had been listening to him hastened to shake hands or begged for the favour of an introduction. But concerning himself the Swami will not say more than is absolutely necessary. Contrary to the claim made by some of his pupils he declares that he has come to this country alone and not so officially representing any order of Hindu monks. He belongs to the Sanyasis he will say; and is hence free to travel without losing his caste. When it is pointed out to him that Hinduism is not a proselytising religion, he says he has a message to the West as Buddha had a message to the East.[21] When questioned concerning the Hindu religion, and asked whether he intends to introduce its practices and ritual into [t]his country, he declares that he is preaching simply philosophy.

ON EDUCATION[22]

[The Indian Mirror, June 19, 1896]

Swami Saradananda in a letter from London written to the Editor of the Brahmavadin says:--

Swami Vivekananda has made a very good beginning here. A large number of the people attend his classes regularly, and the lectures are most interesting. Canon Haweis, one of the leaders of the Anglican Church, came the other day, and was much interested. He saw the Swami before, in the Chicago fairs, and loved him from that time. On Tuesday last, the Swami lectured on "Education" at the Sesame Club. It is a respectable club got up by women for diffusing female education. In this he dealt with the old educational system of India, pointed out clearly and impressively that, the sole aim of the system was "man making" and not cramming and compared it with the present system. He held that, the mind of the man is an infinite reservoir of knowledge, and all knowledge, present, past or future, is within man, manifested or non manifested, and the object of every system of education should be to help the mind to manifest it. For instance, the law of gravitation was within man, and the fall of the apple helped Newton to think upon it, and bring it out from within his mind. His class days have been arranged as follows:--

Tuesdays, morning and evening; Thursdays, morning and evening; Friday, evening question classes. So the Swami has to do four lectures, and one class on questions every week. In the class lecture, he has begun with Gnan [Jnâna ]Yoga. A short hand report of these lectures is being taken down by Mr. Goodwin, who is a great admirer of the Swami, and these lectures will be published later on.

THE SWAMI VIVEKANANDA IN ENGLAND [23]

[The Brahmavadin, July 18, 1896]

Sir,

I feel sure you will be glad to have an idea of the progress of the Swami's work in England, as a supplement to the letter which the Swami Saradananda sent you a few weeks ago. At that time a series of Sunday lectures was being arranged, and three of these have now been given. They are held in one of the galleries of the Royal Institute of Painters in water colours, 191 Piccadilly, and have been so far remarkably successful in attaining their object, that of reaching people who, from one reason or another, cannot attend the class talks. The first of the series was "The Necessity of Religion".[24] The Swami claimed that religion is and has been the greatest force in moulding the destinies of the human race. Concerning its origin he said that either of the two theories, (1) Spirit origin, (2) Search after the infinite, will meet the case, and, to his mind, neither contradicts the other, because the search after the departed of the Egyptians and Babylonians, and the attempt to peep behind the veil of the dawn, the evening, the thunderstorm, or other natural phenomena, of the Aryans, can both be included as a search after the super sensuous, and therefore the unlimited. This unlimited, in the course of time became abstracted, first as a person, then as a presence, and lastly as the essence of all existence. To his mind the dream state is the first suggestion of religious inquiry, and inasmuch as the awakened state has always been, and always will be accompanied by the dream state, a suggestion of existence finer than that of the awakened state yet vanishing during it, the human mind will always be predisposed in favour of spiritual existence and a future life. It is in our dream state that we really find, in a sense, our immortality. Later on, as dreams are found to be only milder manifestations of the awakened state, the search for still deeper planes of the mind begin[s], the super conscious state of the mind. All religions claim to be founded on facts discovered in this state. The two important points to consider in this connection are, that all facts discovered in this way are, in the highest sense, abstractions, and secondly, that there is a constant struggle in the race to come up to this ideal, and everything which thwarts our progress towards that we feel as a limitation. This struggle soon ends in the discovery that to find infinite happiness, or power, or knowledge, or any other infinity, through the senses, is impossible, and then the struggle for other channels of expansion begins, and we find the necessity of religion. The second lecture was upon the subject "A Universal Religion",[25] when the Swami gave, in substance, the lecture which most of your readers have seen in print as it was delivered in New York. As this lecture may be termed the Swami's "plan of campaign" we always await its delivery with very great interest, and it is most encouraging to note that the impression made here in London was equally as good as was the case when the lecture was delivered in the Hardman Hall, New York. The third of the series brought us up to Sunday last, June 21st, when "The Real and the Apparent Man"[26] was the subject under discussion. In this the Swami, link by link, glanced over the thread of thought which has gradually advanced from the consideration of men as separate entities from God and the rest of the universe, up to the point at which we concede the impossibility of more than one Infinity, and the necessary consequence that which we now regard as men, as animals, as the universe of matter, cannot be the real unity; that the real must be something which is indivisible, and unchangeable; and when reason forces us to the conclusion that this phenomenal world can only be an illusion, through which we, as entities in the illusion, have to pass to discover our real nature, "That which exists is one; sages call it variously". But the Swami did not stop with the theory; he showed what would be the practical effect of such a theory, the gradual elimination from society of class distinctions, and distinctions between man and man, by greater unselfishness in the matters of money and power. Answering the objection that such a religion means loss of individuality, he argued that that which is changeful cannot be the real individuality, and that the gradual discovery of the reality behind us would mean the assumption of individuality and not its destruction.

The three lectures thus given have been so favorably received, and there have been so many wishes expressed for their continuation that three further lectures are to be given. . . .

63, St. George's Rd.Sincerely yours

London, S. W. A DISCIPLE [27]

June 23, 1896(Correspondence)

ON THE SWISS ALPS[28]

[The Indian Mirror, September 22, 1896]

Swami Vivekananda writes from Lake Luzern [Lucerne] Switzerland, under date the 23rd of August last.[29] He has been walking over several parts of the Cis Alpine country, enjoying the pleasing views of nature there. He says that the scenery is in no respect less grand than that of the Himalayas. Still, he makes out two points of difference between the two mountainous regions. In the former the rapid and thick colonization has been marring the beauty of the place. In the latter, there has not yet been any such marked tendency. The former has become a resort mainly for the sanatorists and summer residents; and the latter mainly for the pilgrims and devotees. The Swami is shortly going to visit Germany, where an interview will take place with Prof. Deussen, after which, by the 24th of September, he will go back to England. To India, most likely, as he says, he is returning by the next winter. He intends to reside in the Himalayas.

"THE IDEAL OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION" [30]

[The Journal of the Maha Bodhi Society, November 1896]

We have been presented with a copy of a booklet entitled the "Ideal of Universal Religion", published by the Brahmavadin Publishing Company, Madras. It is a lecture by Swami Vivekananda, delivered in America. The lecture is highly interesting and instructive. It is an attempt at a reconciliation between the diversity of religions. We hail the booklet as the symptom of the times, for it is evident for obvious reasons that men are beginning to awaken to the importance of this problem of religious harmony. Recently, in these countries leaders of different religious sects have attempted in their own way to reconcile this religious diversity, and have failed; they have aspired to defend their dogmas on the ground of distorted views of sectarianism. Swami Vivekananda has propounded a philosophical and at the same time a most practical solution of this problem of religious harmony. According to him, Vedanta is the bond between the ever conflicting religious differences. In the internal world, like the external world, there is also the centripetal and centrifugal action. We repel something, we attract something. Today we are attracted by some, to morrow we are repelled by some. The same law cannot be applied at all times and in all cases. "Religion is the highest place of human thought and life, and herein the workings of these two forces have been most marked." At the outset, it apparently appears that there cannot reign unbroken harmony in this plane of mighty struggle. In every religion there are three parts, namely, philosophy, mythology and rituals. Every recognised religion [has] all these three things. But there can be no universal philosophy, mythology and rituals for the whole world. Where then the universal- ity? How is it possible then to have a universal form of religion? "We all hear," says Swami Vivekananda, about universal brotherhood, and how societies stand up practically to preach this, Universal brotherhood, that is, we shout like drunken men we are all equal, therefore, let us make a sect. As soon as you make a sect you protest against equality, and thus it is no more. [31]

Mahomedans talk of universal brotherhood, but what comes out of them in reality? Nobody who is not a Mahomedan will be admitted into the brotherhood, he will have his throat cut. We think we cannot do better than quote his own words, wherein he with his wonderful lucidity and depth of views and in a remarkably catholic mind propounds forcibly the philosophy of the uni versal religion [Vide Complete Works, II: 375 96]. . . .

In society there are various natures of men. Some are active working men, there is the emotional man, then there is the mystic man and lastly there is the philosopher. Vivekananda strikes the key note of his whole philosophy when he declares that the attempt to help mankind to become beautifully balanced in all these four directions, is his ideal of religion and this religion is called in India, Yoga. The worker is called the Karma yogin; who seeks union through love is called Bhakti yogin; he who seeks through mysticism is called Raja yogin; and he who seeks it through philosophy is called Jnan[a] yogin. The religion which has a place for men of all these natures and a religion which satisf[ies] the thirst of men of different inclination, may be the universal religion, and that religion is Vedanta. Most cordially we recommend this admirable little book to our readers. For it contains some clear and definite expressions of views on the most vital problem that is engaging the serious attention of theologians. The price of the book is As. 3, and may be had at the Brahmavadin Office, Triplicane, Madras.

THE BANQUET FOR RANJIT SINJHI[32]

[The Indian Mirror, December 16, 1896]

On the 21st of this month [November], the Cambridge "Indian Majlis" gave a complimentary dinner at the University Arms Hotel [in Cambridge] to Prince Ranjit sinhji and Mr. Atul Chandra Chatterjee. Mr. Hafiz G. Sarwir of St. John's College, took the chair. There were about fifty Indians present and a few Englishmen. . . . Swami Vivekananda rose next to respond [to the toast of India] amidst loud and deafening cheers.[33] The Swami began by saying that he did not know exactly why he should be chosen to respond to the toast unless it be for the reason that he in physical bulk bore a striking resemblance to the national animal of India (laughter). He desired to congratulate the guest of the evening and he took the statement which the Chairman had made that Mr. Chatterjee was going to correct the mistake of past historians of India, to be literally true. For out of the past the future must come and he knew no greater and more permanent foundation for the future than a true knowledge of what had preceded before. The present is the effect of the infinity of causes which represent the past. They had many things to learn from the Europeans but their past, the glory of India which had passed away, should constitute even a still greater source of inspiration and instruction. Things rise and things decay, there is rise and fall everywhere in the world. . . . [Vide the block quotation on the following page for the remaining text of this report.]

THE MAJLIS IN CAMBRIDGE [34]

[The Amrita Bazar Patrika, January 8, 1897]
. . . The gathering was a unique one, for the Indians met together to talk (in the Majlis they all talk), about the successes of Ranjit Sing[h] and Atul Chandra Chatterjee. It is a pity the name of Professor Bose was not associated with the above two; and we think, Swami Vivekananda, who was present on the occasion, also deserved a recognition. We shall, however, not commit the mistake of omitting the last two in noticing to show what the Indians have been able to achieve in the West.

What the Swamiji did was to remove the impression from the minds of the Americans that the Indians were barbarians, superstitious in their beliefs, and addicted to monstrous cruelties. The advent of the Swamiji in the West has done this service, that it has created an impression in many quarters that the Indians are not an inferior race as Sir Charles Elliot called them, and that they can, in such subjects as religion and philosophy say things which are not known even to the West. The advent of the Swamiji in the West has undoubtedly enhanced the character of the Indians in the West. . . .

Said Swami Vivekananda:--

And though India is fallen to day she will assuredly rise again. There was a time when India produced great philosophers and still greater prophets and preachers. The memory of those days ought to fill them with hope and confidence. This was not the first time in the history of India that they were so low. Periods of depression and degradation had occurred before this but India had always triumphed in the long run and so would she once again in the future.[35] . . . . . .

VIVEKANANDA IN THE WEST[36]

[The Amrita Bazar Patrika, January 20, 1897]

Swami Vivekananda has received the ovation of a conquering hero, returning home. The last we heard of him in England was when he got a farewell address from his English disciples, who expressed their undying love for India. . . .

No one has any accurate knowledge of what Swami Vivekananda was doing in the West. We hear that he has made some impression in America and also in England. . . .

The Swami is, however, well aware of the nature of the mission before him. He says that Vedantism teaches the truth, which is that man is a divine being and that the highest and the lowest are the manifestations of the same Lord. He does not, however, admit that knowledge alone is sufficient for the salvation of man. Says he:--

But his knowledge ought not to be a theory, but life. Religion is a realization, not talk, not doctrines, nor theories, however beautiful all these may be. Religion is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging. It is not an intellectual assent; but one's whole nature becoming changed into it. Such is religion. By an intellectual assent we can come to a hundred sort of foolish things, and change the next day, but this being and becoming is what is religion.

In the above noble sentiments, the Swami shews [shows] that he understands the situation pretty well. That which produces the rebirth of a man is religion. Under the influence of religion a man becomes a quite different being from what he was before. Unless that is the result of his religion, his religion is a myth.

BHAKTI[37]

[The Indian Mirror, February 24, 1898]

Swami Vivekananda has been urging on the people of Lahore and Sialkote the need of practical work.[38] The starving millions, he urged, cannot live on metaphysical speculation; they require bread; and in a lecture he gave at Lahore on Bhakti, he suggested as the best religion for to day that everyman should, according to his means, go out into the street and search for hungry Narayans, take them into their houses, feed them and clothe them. The giver should give to man, remembering that he is the highest temple of God. He had seen charity in many countries, and the reason of its failure was the spirit, in which it was carried out. "Here take this and go away". Charity belied its name so long as it was given to gain reputation or applause of the world.

OUR MISSION IN AMERICA [39]

[The Indian Mirror, April 24, 1898]

Swami Vivekananda, in introducing the lecturer Swami Saradananda, said:

Ladies and Gentlemen,--The speaker of tonight just comes from America. As you all know here that America is for your country, although our countrymen, specially Swami Dayananda Saraswati, used to call this country as Patal, inhabited by Laplands, Rakshas and Asurs, &c. (Laughter and loud cheers). Well, Gentlemen, whether it is Patal or not you ought to decide that by seeing those few ladies pres- ent here, who have come from the country of your so called Patal, whether they are Naga Kanyas or not. (Cheers). Now, America is perfectly a new country. It was discovered by Columbus, the Italian, and before that a prior claim is put forward by the Norwegians who say, that they have discovered the northern part of it, and then before that there is another prior claim of the Chinese, who at one time preached the noble doctrine of Buddhism in all parts of the world, and it is said that Buddhist Missionaries were also sent from India to America, and specially in Washington, where some sort[s] of records are still to be traced by any traveller going there. Well, the table has now been turned at last for a century or more and instead of America being discovered, she discovers persons that go over to her. (Loud applause). It is a phenomenon that we observe every day there, multitudes of persons coming over from every part of the country [world?] and getting themselves discovered in the United States. It is a fact, well known to you here all that several of our own countrymen have been discovered in that way. (Cheers). To day, here I present before you one of your Calcutta boys, that has been similarly discovered by the Americans. (Cheers).

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA [on education] AT BELUR [40]

[The Indian Mirror, February 15, 1901]

A correspondent writes:--"The following is an epitome of Swami Vivekananda's speech made in Belur M.E. School on the prize distribution day held on the 22nd instant, Sunday, when the Swami was invited to preside. The audience was composed chiefly of the boys of the school and some elderly gentlemen of Belur."

The modern student is not practical. He is quite helpless. What our students want is not so much muscularity of body as hardihood. They are wanting in self help. They are not accustomed to use their eyes and hands. No handicraft is taught. The present system of English education is entirely literary. The student must be made to think for himself and work for himself. Suppose there is a fire. He is the first to come forward and put on [out] the fire who is accustomed to use his eyes and hands. There is much truth in the criticism of Europeans touching the laziness of the Bengali, the slipshod way of his doing things. This can be soon remedied if the students be made to learn some handicraft apart from its utilitarian aspect, it is an education in itself.

Secondly, how many thousands of students I know who live upon the worst food possible, and live amidst the most horrible surroundings, what wonder that there are so many idiots, imbeciles and cowards among them. They die like flies. The education that is given is onesided, weakening, it is killing by inches. The children are made to cram too much of useless matter, and are incarcerated in school rooms fifty or seventy in each, five hours together. They are given bad food. It is forgotten that the future health of the man is in the child. It is forgotten that nature can never be cheated and things cannot be pushed too early. In giving education to a child the law of growth has to be obeyed. And we must learn to wait. Nothing is more important than that the child must have a strong and healthy body. The body is the first thing to attain to virtue. I know we are the poorest nation in the world, and we cannot afford to do much. We can only work on the lines of least resistance. We should see at least that our children are well fed. The machine of the child's body should never be exhausted. In Europe and America a man with crores of rupees sends his son if sickly, to the farmers, to till the ground. After three years he returns to the father healthy, rosy and strong. Then he is fit to be sent to school. We ought not for these reasons push the present system of education any further.

Thirdly, our character has disappeared. Our English education has destroyed everything and left nothing in its place.

Our children have lost their politeness. To talk nicely is degrading. To be reverential to one's elders is degrading. Irreverence has been the sign of liberty. It is high time that we go back to our old politeness. The reformers have nothing to give in place of what they have taken away. Yet in spite of the most adverse surrounding of climate, etc., we have been able to do much, we have to do much more. I am proud of my race, I do not despair, I am seeing daily a glorious and wonderful future in my menial [mental] visions. Take greatest care of these young ones on whom our future depends.

HINDU WIDOWS[41]

[The Indian Social Reformer, June 16, 1901]

A question having arisen in America as to the Swami Vivekananda's attitude towards social questions, a lady writes to an American paper as follows: "In one of his lectures at the Pouch Mansion,[42] he spoke of the Hindu widows, declaring it unjust to state that they were generally subjected to cruelty or oppression in the Indians [sic] homes. He admitted that the prejudice against remarriage, and the custom which makes the widow a member of the husband's family instead of that of her own parents inflicted some hardships upon widows in India, and favoured wise efforts for their education which would render them self supporting and in this way alleviate their condition. He emphasised his desire for the education and elevation of the women of his country, including the widows, by volunteering to give the entire proceeds of one of his lectures in support of the school of Babu Sasipada Banerjee, at Baranagar, near Calcutta, the institution of which preceded that of the Pandita Ramabai, at Poona, and where, if I am not mistaken, the Pandita herself ob - tained the first inspiration of her work. This lecture was given, and the proceeds were forwarded to Babu Sasipada Banerjee, and duly acknowledged."

References[edit]

  1. Basu, Sri Sankari Prasad, "Swami Vivekananda in Madras: 1892 1893 --Some New Findings", Prabuddha Bharata, 1974, pp. 296 98.
  2. The only verbatim report of Swami Vivekananda's ideas at this period in his life.
  3. Nivritti and Pravritti are key concepts in Hindu philosophy, and Swami Vivekananda has frequently interpreted and elaborated on them (e.g., see Karma Yoga, Ch. VI) in their traditional connotations. But the interpretation of the terms here ascribed to him by the Indian Social Reformer's reporter is not in accord with what the Swami has said elsewhere.
  4. A religious ceremony in which food and drink are offered to deceased relatives or ancestors.
  5. Lit., "twice born"--applicable to the three higher castes in Hindu society by virtue of the investiture of the sacred thread, signifying spiritual rebirth.
  6. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 4.
  7. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 5 6.
  8. Vide "Cantakerous Remarks", Complete Works, III: 474.
  9. This last paragraph is a heretofore unpublished extract.
  10. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 25.
  11. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 30.
  12. Unidentified source.
  13. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 260 62.
  14. Vide Complete Works, IV: 366.
  15. Vide Complete Works, IV: 366.
  16. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 73.
  17. Vide "Buddhism, the Fulfilment of Hinduism", Complete Works, I: 21 23, for a somewhat different summary paragraph.
  18. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 85 86.
  19. According to Swami Vivekananda, the topic was "Indian Philosophy and Western Society", of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Vide New Discoveries, Vol. 3, p. 262.
  20. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 89 90.
  21. Vide Complete Works, V: 314.
  22. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 101
  23. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 493 95.
  24. Cf. Mr. J. J. Goodwin's published transcript "The Necessity of Religion", Complete Works, II: 57 69.
  25. No verbatim transcript available.
  26. Cf. Mr. J. J. Goodwin's published transcript "The Real Nature of Man", Complete Works, II: 70 87.
  27. Probably Mr. E. T. Sturdy.
  28. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 117.
  29. Evidently an unpublished extract from one of the three letters the Swami wrote from Lucerne (Vide "Epistles", Complete Works, V and VI).
  30. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 331 33.
  31. Cf. the American lecture, delivered January 12, 1896 (Complete Works, II, pp. 379 80).
  32. New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp. 479 80.
  33. There is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. the following January 8, 1897 Indian newspaper report, "The Majlis in Cambridge", p. 542.
  34. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 310 11.
  35. At this time, there is no complete verbatim transcript available. Cf. the preceding December 16, 1896 Indian newspaper report, "The Banquet to Ranjit Sinjhi", p. 541.
  36. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 312.
  37. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, pp. 203 4.
  38. Cf. "Bhakti" (a report from The Tribune), Complete Works, III: 391, for a somewhat different paraphrased passage.
  39. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 208.
  40. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 215.
  41. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 458.
  42. Probably "India's Gift to the World", delivered February 25, 1895, of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. two American newspaper articles published in Complete Works, II: 510 14 for somewhat different reports of this issue.