Saturday, 15 April 2017

Swami Vivekananda in the memory of Roxanne Blodgett

In a letter to Miss MacLeod by Mrs. Roxanne Blodgett in July of 1902,  first published in Vedanta and the West of November-December 1953, Roxanne Blodgett recalls when Swami Vivekananda stayed at her house in December 1899.

"I am ever recalling those swift, bright days in that never to be forgotten winter, lived in simple freedom and kindliness, We could not choose but to be happy and good.... I knew him personally but a short time, yet in that time I could but see in a hundred ways the child side of Swamiji's character which was a constant appeal to the Mother quality in all good women. He depended on those near him in a way which brought him very near one's heart. Possessing as he did an almost inexhaustible knowledge of things old as the world, a sage and philosopher, he yet appeared to me utterly to lack the commercial knowledge which so distinguish men of the Western world! You were constantly rendering him some apparently trifling service in the everyday homely happenings of life, he in some small way requiring to be set right..

One day busy with my work and Swamiji absorbed with his curries and chapatties, I spoke to him of you when he said: "Ah yes! Joe is the sweetest spirit of us all."... Ah, those pleasant "tea party" days, as you used to call them. How we used to laugh! Do you remember the time he was showing me how he wound his turban about his head and you were begging him to hasten as he was already due at a lecture. I said, "Swamiji, don't hurry. Like the man on his way to be hung and the crowd jostling each other to reach the place of execution who called out, `Don't hurry, there will be nothing interesting till I get there!'-I assure you, Swami, there will be nothing interesting till you get there!" This so pleased him that often afterwards he would say: "There will be nothing interesting till I get there"-and laugh like a boy.

Just now I recall a morning when quite an audience had gathered at our house to listen to the learned Hindu who was sitting with downcast eyes and impenetrable face while his audience waited. His meditation over, he raised his eyes to Mrs. Leggett's and asked like a simple child: "What shall I say?" This gifted man possessing the subtle power of delighting an intellectual audience of cultured men and women asking for a theme! And there appeared to me in the question an exquisite touch of confidence in her judgment. An interesting portion of the day you lost in the early mornings when you and your sister were sleeping. He would come in for his morning plunge in the bath and soon his deep voice would be heard in solemn chant. Though Sanskrit is an unknown tongue to me I caught the spirit of it all, and these morning devotions are among my sweetest recollections of the great Hindu. In the homely old-fashioned kitchen you and I have seen Swamiji at his best.

I heard very few of Swamiji's public lectures; my age and household duties gave me no choice but like Martha to sit in the house. Were you present at a lecture when one of those ladies who love to make themselves conspicuous by some ill-timed remark asked: "Swami, who is it that supports the monks in your country? There are so many of them, you know." Like a flash Swami replied: "The same who support the clergy in your country, Madam -the women!" The audience laughed and Swamiji proceeded with his  lecture.  ...

"He would come home from a lecture where he was compelled to break away from his audience, so eagerly would they gather around him, and rush into the kitchen like a boy released from school with `Now we will cook!' Presently Joe would appear and discover the culprit among the pots and pans in his fine dress who was by thriftily watchful Joe admonished to change to his home garments."

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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
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