Saturday, 20 May 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Memories of Kamakhya Nath Mitra - 2

From this time onward I read the reports of all the speeches he delivered at different places in India. I felt that it was the spirit of India herself that breathed through his utterances. Such force, such fire was beyond the utmost stretch of my imagination. Several speeches of Keshab Chandra Sen I had read before. I had great admiration for his style, eloquence, and religious fervour. But here was a new atmosphere altogether, a new accent, a new emphasis, a new outlook at once national and universal. Here was Hinduism in all its phases, but how different from the Hinduism of the hide-bound Sanatanists, pseudo-revivalists, the Scribes and Pharisees of India! I was under a spell. The two speeches that impressed me most were his Calcutta Town-hall speech and his Lahore address on Vedanta. When I read the Lahore address, I was a B.A. student at Calcutta.

I eagerly waited for an opportunity to see the man. The opportunity came, as I have said, in 1897. I went to see Swami Vivekananda in the Calcutta residence of the late Babu Balaram Bose in company with a class-fellow of mine, Babu Narendra Kumar Bose.

We entered a hall which was full to overflowing. The people assembled there were for the most part students of the Calcutta colleges. They were all seated cross-legged on the floor covered with duree and pharas (floor matting covered with cotton sheets) In the centre was the seat meant for Swamiji. I managed somehow to occupy a place in the hall, and we all eagerly waited for the arrival of Swamiji. Perfect silence prevailed. A few minutes passed and the Swami stepped in. His gait was leonine and the dignity of his bearing simply royal. His frame was athletic and robust. He had a gairic alkhalla (ochre cloak) on, his feet were bare and his head, chin and lips clean shaven — altogether a striking personality. He had the look of a man born to command. He was soon seated, and then he looked at us. His large eyes beamed with genius and spiritual fire. He spoke in Bengali interlarded with English. Words flowed from his lips, and we heard him with rapt attention. Each word of his was like a spark of fire. His manner was impassioned. It was clear to all that here was a man with a message. His awakening power was wonderful. We heard him and felt aroused. A new spirit was breathed into us. Here was a man of faith in an age of doubt, sincere to the backbone, a dynamo of supernal force. To have seen him was education. To have heard him was inspiration. It was the most memorable day in my life, and it is impossible for me ever to lose its recollection.

To be continued...(Memoirs of Kamakhya Nath Mitra)