Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Memories of T.J. Desai - 1

ABOUT this time (1895) I had an invitation from Miss Muller to attend the two public lectures delivered by Swami Vivekananda. I heard the first lecture at St. James' Hall with Mrs. Ingall. That was the first time I saw the commanding figure of the great Swami. He looked more like an Indian Prince than a sadhu (holy man). He had a bhagva patka (ochre coloured turban) on his head. He electrified the audience by his grand and powerful oratory. The next day the report appeared in the papers that he was the next Indian after Keshab Chandra Sen, who had surprised the English audience by his magnificent oratory. He spoke on the Vedanta. His large eyes were rolling like anything, and there was such an animation about him that it passeth description. After the meeting was over, the Swami took off his turban and put on a huge and deep Kashmiri cap looking like a big Persian hat.

The next time I heard him was at the Balloon Society. He spoke there for some time but not with his former fire. A clergyman got up after the lecture and attacked the Swami, and said that it would have been better if the Swami had taken the trouble of writing out his lecture at home and of reading it there, etc. The Swami got up to reply, and he was now on his mettle. He made such a fiery speech that the clergyman was nowhere. He said that some people had crude notions that the Vedanta could be learnt in a few days. The Swami further said that he had to devote about twelve long years of his life to the study of the Vedanta. He replied to the objections of the clergyman categorically one by one, recited the sonorous Vedic hymn beginning with "Supurnam" (Taittiriya Aranyaka, III. xi.1.) and ended with a triumphant peroration that still rings in my ears.

To be continued.....(Memoirs of T.J. Desai)