Sunday, 6 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 25

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S WANDER-YEARS

And now began years of wandering for them. From Dakshineswar to the Himalayas, from the Himalayas to Rameswaram, they travelled: by foot, by bullock cart, by camel, by elephant, by train, these children of Shri Ramakrishna would wander. Some went into Tibet, some lived in caves in the Himalayas. The palaces of Rajas knew them as well as the huts of peasants. It was not until many years had passed that they were all gathered together again, in the monastery on the other side of the Ganga from Dakshineswar. Vivekananda too became a wanderer, driven by an overwhelming desire to find some means of help for his country. It was not strange that he went first to Bodh Gaya to worship under the Bodhi-tree where 2500 years ago the "Enlightened One" in this jungle of the world had found the way out.

What Buddha meant to Swamiji, it would not be easy to say. The very name stirred profound depths. For days together this would be his theme. With his dramatic genius, he was able to bring before us the story with such intimacy that we not only saw it, but re-lived it as scene after scene was depicted. It seemed as if it had happened to us — and that only yesterday. We saw the young prince, his palaces, his pleasure gardens, the beautiful Yashodhara with her wistful intuition — "Coming events cast their shadows before!" Then the birth of the child, and with it the hope that was born in her heart. Surely this son would hold him to the world and to her! But when Siddhartha named him Rahula, the fetter, what a sinking of the heart there must have been! Even this could not hold him, and the old fear came over her again. The shadow of the fear came over us too. We suffered as she suffered. Not until long afterwards did we remember that in the telling of this story never once did Swamiji suggest a struggle in Siddhartha's mind between his duty to father, kingdom, wife, and child and the ideal that was calling him.

Never did he say to himself, "I am my father's only son. Who will succeed when he lays down the body?" Never once did such a thought seem to enter his mind. Did he not know that he was heir to a greater kingdom? Did he not know that he belonged to a race infinitely greater than the Shakyas? He knew — but they did not, and he had great compassion. In listening, one felt the pain of that compassion and through it all the unwavering resolution. And so he went forth, and Yashodhara, left behind, followed as she could. She too slept on the ground, wore the coarsest cloth, and ate only once a day. Siddhartha knew how great she was. Was she not the wife of the future Buddha? Was it not she who had walked the long, long road with him?

To be continued.... (Memoirs of  Sister Christine)