Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Influence of Swami Vivekananda

वीरेश्वराय विद्महे विवेकानन्दाय धीमहि । तन्नो वीर: प्रचोदयात् ।

Describing the Swami's personality, Helen Huntington wrote on March 2, 1896, to the Brahmavadin, from Brooklyn: taking as his subject "The Hindu Conception of God: the Atman".

 .... But it has pleased God to send to us out of India a spiritual guide -- a teacher whose sublime philosophy is slowly and surely permeating the ethical atmosphere of our country; a man of extraordinary power and purity, who has demonstrated to us a very high plane of spiritual living, a religion of universal, unfailing charity, self-renunciation, and the purest sentiments conceivable by the human intellect. The Swami Vivekananda has preached to us a religion that knows no bonds of creeds and dogmas, is uplifting, purifying, infinitely comforting, and altogether without blemish -- based on the love of God and man and on absolute chastity....

     Swami Vivekananda has made many friends outside the circle of his followers; he has met all phases of society on equal terms of friendship and brotherhood; his classes and lectures have been attended by the most intellectual people and advanced thinkers of our cities; and his influence has already grown into a deep, strong undercurrent of spiritual awakening. No praise or blame has moved him to either approbation or expostulation; neither money nor position has influenced or prejudiced him. Towards demonstrations of undue favouritism, he has invariably maintained a priestly attitude of inattention, checking foolish advances with a dignity impossible to resist, blaming not any but wrong-doers and evil-thinkers, exhorting only to purity and right living. He is altogether such a man as "kings delight to honour".

 In a letter dated February 19, 1896, to the Brahmavadin, Swami Kripananda described the influence exercised by the Swami during this period as follows:

     Since my last letter (of January 31) an immense amount of work has been accomplished by our beloved teacher in the furtherance of our great cause. The wide interest awakened by his teaching is shown in the ever-increasing number of those who attend the class lessons and the large crowds that come to hear his public Sunday lectures....

     ... The strong current of religious thought sent out in his lectures and writings, the powerful impetus given by his teachings to the pursuit of truth without regard to inherited superstitions and prejudices, though working silently and unconsciously, is exercising a beneficial and lasting effect on the popular mind and so becoming an important factor in the spiritual uplifting of society. Its most palpable manifestation is shown in the growing demand for Vedantic literature and the frequent use of Sanskrit terms by people from whom one would least expect to hear them. Atman, Purusha, Prakriti, Moksha, and similar expressions have acquired full citizenship, and the names of Shankaracharya and Ramanuja are becoming with many almost as familiar as Huxley and Spencer. The public libraries are running after everything that has reference to India; the books of Max Müller, Colebrooke, Deussen, Burnouf, and of all the authors that have ever written in English on Hindu philosophy, find a ready sale; and even the dry and tiresome Schopenhauer, on account of his Vedantic background, is being studied with great eagerness.

People are quick to appreciate the grandeur and beauty of a system which, equally as a philosophy and a religion, appeals to the heart as well as to the reason, and satisfies all the religious cravings of human nature; especially so, when it is being expounded by one who, like our teacher with his wonderful oratory, is able to rouse at will the dormant love of the divinely sublime in the human soul, and with his sharp and irrefutable logic to easily convince the most stubborn mind of the most scientific matter-of-fact man. No wonder, therefore, that this interest in Hindu thought is to be met with among an classes of society....