Saturday, 7 October 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Cornelia Conger : 5

Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Cornelia Conger

Swamiji was such a dynamic and attractive personality that many women were quite swept away by him and made every effort by flattery to gain his interest. He was still young and, in spite of his great spirituality and his brilliance of mind, seemed to be very unworldly. This used to trouble my grandmother who feared he might be put in a false or uncomfortable position, and she tried to caution him a little. Her concern touched and amused him, and he patted her hand and said. "Dear Mrs. Lyon, you dear American mother of mine, don't be afraid for me. It is true I often sleep under a banyan tree with a bowl of rice given me by a kindly peasant, but it is equally true that I also am sometimes the guest in the palace of a great Maharaja and a slave girl is appointed to wave a peacock feather fan over me all night long! I am used to temptation, and you need not fear for me!"

After having talked with Swami Shankarananda and been encouraged by him, I wished I had talked to my mother's younger sister, Katharine (Mrs. Robert W. Hamill) about her recollections of Swamiji. So when I reached home I asked her what she could add to my scattered memories. She was a bride and had her own home. So she was not at her mother's and father's so very much. She recalled Swamiji much as I did, but never heard him lecture. However, she and her husband were "young intellectuals" and had a group of young professors from our university, young newspaper men, etc. around them. One Sunday evening she was telling them how remarkable Swamiji was, and they said that modern scientists and psychologists could "show up" his religious beliefs in no time! She said. "If I can persuade him to come here next Sunday evening, will you all come back and meet him?" They agreed, and Swamiji met them all at an informal supper party. My aunt does not recall just what subjects were brought up, but that the entire evening was a lively and interesting debate on all sorts of ideas — Aunt Katharine said that Swamiji's great knowledge of the Bible and the Koran as well as the various Oriental religions, his grasp of science and of psychology were astounding. Before the evening was over, the "doubting Thomases" threw up their hands and admitted that Swamiji had held his own on every point and that they parted from him with warmest admiration and affection. —

When I was taken to meet Swami Shankarananda, I fell my memories were too childish and trivial to put down in black and white. I fell very humble and apologetic for taking up others' time. But the Swami said something infinitely kind and gracious which I shall never forget: That every great man is like a jewel with many facets. That each facet is important as it reflects a different aspect of his character. That I had come to him to offer a facet that was lacking in his records of Swamiji — of the weeks he had spent in our home when he first left India. So here is my very tiny "facet" offered in memory of someone I have loved for all these 62 years — not as a teacher, nor a great religious leader — but as a wonderful and vivid friend who lived in our home.

(Prabuddha Bharata, September 1956)

from.... (Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Cornelia Conger)



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The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji

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