Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Josephine MacLeod : 8

Swamiji then sent for Swami Saradananda to come and travel with us, to show us the sights of India — Lahore, Delhi, Agra, Kurukshetra, and so on, Swami going straight down to Calcutta. By the time we got down there, he had already founded the monastery in our little cottage at Belur, As we would not go back there, we took a small house about two miles up at Bally and stayed there until we left for the West.

Mrs. Ole Bull had given several thousand dollars to found the monastery. I having very little, it took me some years to have eight hundred dollars. One day I said to Swamiji. "Here is a little money you may be able to use." He said. "What? What?" I said, "Yes," "How much?" he asked. And I said. "Eight hundred dollars." Instantly he turned to Swami Trigunatita and said, 'There, go and buy your press." He bought the press which started the Udbodhan, the Bengali magazine published by the Ramakrishna Mission.

In July 1899 Swami came to England again with Sister Nivedita, where Sister Christine and Mrs. Funke met him. From there he came to America and he came to us at Ridgely Manor in September of that year where we gave him his own cottage with two of his monks, Turiyananda and Abhedananda. Sister Nivedita was also there, and Mrs. Ole Bull. It was quite a community of people who loved and honoured the Swami, He used to call my Sister, Mrs. Leggett. "Mother", and always sat beside her at table. He particularly liked chocolate ice cream, because, "I too am chocolate and I like it," he would say. One day we were having strawberries, and someone said to him. "Swami, do you like strawberries?" He answered, "I never tasted them." "You never tasted them, why you eat them every day!" He said, "You have cream on them — pebbles with cream would be good."

In the evening, sitting around the great fire in the hall of Ridgely Manor, he would talk, and once after he came out with some of his thoughts a lady said. "Swami, I don't agree with you there." "No? Then it is not for you," he answered. Someone else said. "O, but that is where I find you true." "Ah, then it was for you." he said showing that utter respect for the other man's views. One evening he was so eloquent, about a dozen people listening, his voice becoming so soft and seemingly far away; when the evening was over, we all separated without even saying goodnight to each other. Such a holy quality pervaded. My sister, Mrs. Leggett, had occasion to go to one of the rooms afterward. There she found one of the guests, an agnostic, weeping. "What do you mean?" my sister asked, and the lady said, "The man has given me eternal life. I never wish to hear him again."

To be continued.... (Memoirs of  Josephine MacLeod)