A foreigner of dignified position, a Brahmin priest, Swami Vive Kananda, is a guest in the city for a few days. He was one of the delegates to the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and arrived in Minneapolis Tuesday [November 21] to remain over Friday, when he is to give a lecture in the evening at the First Unitarian Church for the Peripatetic Literary Club. He is stopping with friends during his stay.
Vive Kananda is an oriental in everything but dress, and this he will be tomorrow evening when he will give his lecture in the native priest costume. He is a man of little more than 30 years, with dark brown skin, coal black hair and jetty eyes. He is of medium height, compactly built, and with a highly intelligent cast of countenance from which beams kindliness and interest when in pleasant conversation. When Vive Kananda was found by THE TRIBUNE yesterday afternoon he was smoking a cigar, and he blew the smoke in grateful enjoyment far above his head. He had just returned from a trip to Minnehaha, and his frequent lapses into silence were interrupted by the emphatic expression "Hiawatha." He had read Long -fellow's poem far over in his Indian home in Calcutta, and he was delighted to have visited the scene of the legend. Kananda is not merely a casual visitor to this part of the world. He comes with a purpose strong, deep and earnest. He comes in the guise of a benefactor to the masses of India, the lower class people who dwell in ignorance and poverty.
In his native land he is one of thousands of mendicant monks who travel from village to town preaching the Brahmin faith. As a priest Vive Kananda is above all caste, and, in his own words, "I am my own man. I have no church. I bow to no one." His official title, "Swami" a word of Sanscrit origin, designates his position as "master," or as rabbi in other nations. He uses the English language with happy ease, and his speech is slow and dignified, while he speaks in low musical tones. His mission to this country is to obtain funds by his lectures, to return to India and establish an institute of learning for the ignorant masses who swarm through the country. In this errand he is an evangel, for no one has ever yet endeavored to better the condition of the lower classes.
Told by Vive Kananda, the story of his mission and his, coming to America is pleasing to hear. "I am, as you know " he says, "a monk, who with thousands of others travels about the land speaking to the people. As I traveled I was called to do a work that no one else had even attempted. I was called to journey into the new world. The people of India are a depressed race, and there are two reasons for their condition their ignorance and political oppression. They can never relieve themselves of the second calamity until they have overcome the first. So I undertake a pilgrimage to interest distant people, and when the time comes I shall return to establish a school for the masses."
Pressed further for details of his plan and for the location of his school, Kananda smiled. "It is in my brain yet, and I do not know where it will be," he said.
"I shall have thousands of workers to help me in the cause. India has her universities, and one of them contains 20,000 students, but it is only the higher class people who reap their benefit. The poor people work in the fields and labor, but education and the practical things of life are not their reward. I wish to start a school, and this is how I shall do it. These brother missionaries who are traveling about the country I shall call upon them and they will help. When the people gather in the fields at night and sit smoking after the toil of the day, a missionary will join their number, and little by little they will learn some of the things it will be good for them to know. In this way my school will be started. Then I shall have a training college, where sons of farmers will learn to be missionaries, and soon they, too, shall teach and by and by there will be a group of schools and colleges."
Vive Kananda grew more earnest as he dwelt upon his plans, and when accused in a friendly way of being an apostle in his work, he replied: "Apostle or no apostle, I do the work and the people of my land will be aided to help themselves." Kananda turns to America when he cannot and will not look to England, and his stay in this country will be regulated by the sympathy with which he meets.
His lecture tomorrow evening will be on the subject, "Brahminism," and while the audience will be limited to members and friends of the Peripatetics, he will probably remain in the city for a few days, since both Rev. Mr. Simpsons and Dr. Tuttle are desirous that the people of their churches shall hear him speak. In his travels through this country he conforms himself to the customs of the people with whom he is, and at table, in dress or conversation he is an agreeable and interesting person to meet. With one phase of missionary work as conducted in foreign lands he is not in sympathy, since he believes that the men who are most frequently employed as foreign missionaries are not always the worthiest for the position and place they are called upon to fill.
From Minneapolis Tribune, Thursday, November 23, 1893 A PRIEST OF BRAHMA [Swami Vivekananda in The West - New Discoveries, Vol-1, p489]
No other nation applies so much machinery in their everyday work as do the people of this country.....
Nowhere on earth have women so many privileges as in America ...
No country on earth has so many laws, and in no country are they so little regarded...
My noble Prince, this life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive. One such high, noble-minded, and royal son of India as your Highness can do much towards raising India on her feet again and thus leave a name to posterity which shall be worshipped.
23 June 1900 : To Mary Hale on
I am determined to get rid of all sentimentalism, and emotionalism, and hang me if you ever find me emotional. I am the Advaitist; our goal is knowledge — no feelings, no love, as all that belongs to matter and superstition and bondage. I am only existence and knowledge.
.... "Mother" looks after me. She is bringing me fast out of the hell of emotionalism, and bringing me into the light of pure reason.