Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by S.E. Waldo
As the days and weeks passed by, we began to really understand and grasp the meaning of what we heard, and we gladly accepted the teaching. Every one of the students there, received initiation at the hands of the Swami, thus becoming disciples, the Swami assuming towards them the position of guru, or spiritual father, as is done in India, where the tie uniting guru and disciple is the closest one known, outranking that of parent and child, or even husband and wife. It was purely a coincidence that there were just twelve of us!
The ceremony of initiation was impressive from its extreme simplicity. A small altar fire, beautiful flowers, and the earnest words of the Teacher alone marked it as different from our daily lessons. It took place at sunrise of a beautiful summer day, and the scene still lives fresh in our memories. Of those who became Brahmacharinis at Thousand Island Park, two are dead, and one is now in India helping to carry on the work nearest to Swami Vivekananda's heart, the uplifting of his fellow-countrymen. Most of the others have rendered faithful service in the cause of Vedanta during the ten years that have passed since then. (A more detailed description of the events at Thousand Island Park is available in the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda as Inspired Talks.)