[Letter to An American Lady]
13th December, 1896.
We have only to grasp the idea of gradation of morality and everything becomes clear.
Renunciation—non-resistance—non-destructiveness— are 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,
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 you.
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 welfare,