Monday, 16 October 2017

Swami Vivekananda - S.E. Waldo : 1

Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by S.E. Waldo

WHEN Swami Vivekananda's Madras disciples decided to raise a sum of money sufficient to send him to represent Hinduism at the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893, they were in ignorance of the exact date of the opening of the Parliament of Religions. Consequently the Swami reached Chicago in the spring, several months before the time set for the delegates to meet. At first, he was much disturbed when he learnt how long he would have to wait, because his funds, none too extensive to start with, were running low. They had been greatly depleted by the bad management of his travelling companions to whom he had entrusted them. It became a problem to him how to maintain himself in a strange land until the time should come for him to fulfil his mission in America. He found his way to Boston and nearly resolved to return at once to India; but his charming personality soon won him friends, and his confidence returned.

He was most hospitably entertained in the family of a Professor of Harvard College, who persuaded him to adhere to his original plan to speak at the approaching Religious Congress.* By the advice of this kind friend Swami Vivekananda returned to Chicago, and his brilliant success at the Parliament of Religions is still fresh in the minds of all who heard him there. His very first words in his melodious voice aroused a perfect storm of applause. It is doubtful if any one of the thousands who listened to those first eloquent utterances had the least idea that never before in his life had he stood before an audience. So ready was his speech, so excellent his mastery of English, so finished his language, so flashing his wit and repartee that every one supposed he was an experienced public speaker. Surely the spirit and power of his Master spoke through him that day!