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Sunday, April 23rd 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
1894
 
[Letter to His disciples in Madras]
C/o GEORGE W. HALE ESQ.,
541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
CHICAGO,
 
24th January, 1894.
 
DEAR FRIENDS,
 
     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 bathe thoroughly.
 
     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 our motto.
 
     Onward, brave lads!
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
 
     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.
 
V.
 
 
 
 
 
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Saturday, April 22nd 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
[Letter to Haripada Mitra]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
C/o GEORGE W. HALE ESQ.,
541 DEARBORN AVENUE,
CHICAGO,
 
28th December, 1893.
 
DEAR HARIPADA,
 
     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 now.
 
     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 are.
 
     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,
 
Yours,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
 
 
 
 
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Friday, April 21st 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
CHICAGO,
 
2nd November,
1893.
 
DEAR ALASINGA,
 
     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 Brāhmo Samāj, 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 society.
 
     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 to Europe...
 
     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 Brāhmana 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.
 
Yours with blessings,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
     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.
 
     Dharmapāla 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.
 
V
 
 
 
 
 
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Thursday, April 20th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
BREEZY MEADOWS,
METCALF, MASS.,
 
20th August, 1893.
 
DEAR ALASINGA,
 
     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 me. ...
 
     The expense I am bound to run into here is awful.  You remember, you gave me £170 in notes and £9 in cash.  It has come down to £130 in all!  On an average it costs me £1 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 £1 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 it.
 
     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 Kadāpi 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 equality.
 
     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 Pāramārthika and Vyāvahārika.
 
     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 Pārthasārathi,^ 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 Pārthasārathi is ready to be our Sārathi---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 Ramābāi. 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 £70 of £60.  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 Chicago.
 
     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 too expensive.
 
     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 Ramābāi 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!  !
 
Yours,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
 
 
 
 
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Wednesday, April 19th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
1893

ORIENTAL HOTEL
YOKOHAMA.

10th July, 1893.

DEAR ALASINGA, 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 clement 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 else.

     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 art 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 population.

     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 Japanese engineer.

     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?

Yours etc.,

VIVEKANANDA.

PS.  Calm and silent and steady work, and no newspaper humbug, no name-making, you must always remember.
 
 







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Tuesday, April 18th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
1890
 
[Letter to Shri Yajneshwar Bhattacharya]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
ALLAHABAD
 
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.
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
 
 
 ==================================================
 
 
 
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.
 
Yours,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
 
 
 
 ===================================================
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1892
 
[Letter to Pandit Shankarlal of Khetri]
 
BOMBAY,
 
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?
 
Yours,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
^with whom he read the Maha-Bhâshya on Panini.
 
 
 
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Monday, April 17th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
THE MATH,
 
21st April, 1902.
 
DEAR JOE,
 
     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 disappeared.
 
     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 for ever.
 
     How did you like Mayavati?  Write me a line about it.
 
With everlasting love,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
 
===============================================
 
 
THE MATH,
BELUR, HOWRAH,
 
15th May, 1902.
 
DEAR JOE,
 
     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 of begging.
 
     All blessings attend you, Joe; you have been a good angel to me.
 
With everlasting love,
 
VIVEKANANDA,
 
 
===============================================
 
 
 
[Letter to Mrs. Ole Bull]
 
THE MATH,
 
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 that." ...
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
 
 
 
 
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Sunday, April 16th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
[Letter to Swami Brahmananda]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
BENARES(VARANASI) CANTONMENT,
 
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.
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
     PS.  All the boys here send you their respectful salutations.
 
^Baburam - Swami Premananda.
 
^Gopal Dada - Swami Advsitananda.
 
 
======================================================
 
 
 
[Letter to Swami Brahmananda]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
BENARES(VARANASI) CANTONMENT,
 
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! ...
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
 
 
 
 
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Saturday, April 15th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
[Letter to Swami Brahmananda]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
BENARES(VARANASI) CANTONMENT,
 
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 to all.
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
 
      ^Ram Chandra Datta, a disciple of Shri Ramakrishna.
 
 
 
 
 
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Friday, April 14th 2017

12:05 AM

Daily Reading

 
                          
[Letter to Sister Nivedita]
 
BENARES(VARANASI),
 
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!
 
VIVEKANANDA.
 
 
============================================
 
 
 
[Letter to Swami Brahmananda]
[Translated from Bengali]
 
GOPAL LAL VILLA,
BENARES(VARANASI) CANTONMENT
 
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.
 
Yours affectionately,
 
VIVEKANANDA
 
^Mâdhukari- Cooked 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
 
 
 
 
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