Friday, 6 October 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Cornelia Conger : 4

Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Cornelia Conger

Once he said to my grandmother that he had had the greatest temptation of his life in America. She liked to tease him a bit and said, "Who is she, Swami?" He burst out laughing and said, "Oh, it is not a lady, it is Organization!" He explained how the followers of Ramakrishna had all gone out alone and when they reached a village, would just quietly sit under a tree and wait for those in trouble to come to consult them. But in the States he saw how much could be accomplished by organizing work. Yet he was doubtful about just what type of organization would be acceptable to the Indian character, and he gave a great deal of thought and study how to adapt what seemed good to him in our Western World to the best advantage of his own people. I can see that Belur Math and his many charities are the result of this period in his life. I spoke earlier of his delightful slight Irish brogue. I recall that this came as a surprise to Swami Shankarananda. My grandfather used to joke him about it. But Swami said it was probably because his favourite professor was an Irish gentleman, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin.

After Swami left us, my mother was eager to do some studying along the lines of Oriental philosophy, as she realized she had not enough background to understand his teachings as fully as she wished. A Mrs. Peake held some classes in Chicago that following winter and, in the course of them, mother discovered much to her surprise that if she held a letter torn up into fine bits between her hands, she received a brief but vivid impression of the writer, both physically and mentally. When Swamiji returned to Chicago a year or so later to give lectures, mother asked him about this strange gift, and he said he had it also, and that when he was young, he used to have fun doing it to show off, but that Ramakrishna had wrapped his knuckles and said, "Don't use this great gift except for the good of mankind. Hands that receive these impressions can also bring relief from pain. Use this gift to bring healing."

On this second visit, he only stayed with us for a short time. He knew he could teach better if he lived in his own regime of food and of many hours for meditation. It also left him free to receive many who came to him for help. So my grandmother helped him find a simple but comfortable little, flat, bur I do not recall that I ever saw it.


To be continued.... (Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Cornelia Conger)
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