Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 62

KANHERI


While he (Swami Vivekananda) was at Thousand Islands he made plans for future, not only for his disciples in India and the work there, but also for those of his followers in America, who were hoping some time to go to India, At that time we thought these plans only day-dreams. One day he said. "We shall have a beautiful place in India, on an island with the ocean on three sides. There will be small caves which will accommodate two each, and between each cave there will be a pool of water for bathing, and pipes carrying drinking water will run up to each one. There will be a great hall with carved pillars for the Assembly Hall, and a more elaborate Chaitya Hall for worship. Oh! it will be luxury." It seemed as if he were building castles in the air. None of us dreamed that this was something which could ever be realized.

Of all that group I was the one who was privileged to go to India, though it was not until several years later. After I had been in India two or three years, I found myself alone in Bombay with two or three days at my disposal. For some time. I had had a desire to visit Kanheri,* which I knew was not far from Bombay. I knew nothing of this place except that there were some caves there, one of them a Chaitya Hall, which Fergusson in his History of Indian and Eastern Architecture has described as a bad imitation of the one at Karli. Surely there was nothing in this to attract one! I wondered at the intensity of my desire, the more so as there were other groups of caves within easy reach of Bombay, but which I had no special desire to see. I wondered at it.

No one seemed able to direct me. Those whom I asked had never heard of Kanheri. After a whole day of inquiry, some one said, "I think, if you take the train tomorrow morning at seven and go to a place called Borivali, you will find some one who can tell you where Kanheri is." This I did. I found that Borivali is only twenty-two miles from Bombay. I did not know any Hindustani at that time, but I remembered that the word for cave is guha. There were three bullock-carts at the station, one of them in charge of a lad of seventeen or so, whose looks I liked. I went up to him and said, "Guha"; he shook his head, I repeated "Guha, guha" He kept on shaking his head. Then a brilliant idea struck me and I said. "Kanheri, Kanheri!" This time he nodded vigorously. Then I said. "Kitna (How much)?" and he held up three fingers saying. "Tin rupiya (Three rupees)." I was delighted and climbed into his cart.