Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Devamata
The silence of an empty hall recalled me to myself. Everyone was gone except the Swami and two others standing near the platform. I learnt later that they were Mr. and Mrs. Goodyear, ardent disciples of the Swami. Mr. Goodyear made the announcements at the meetings. After that I attended all the classes and lectures during the Swami's two seasons in New York, but I never came in close personal touch with him. There seemed to be an intangible barrier. Was it created by shyness or a sense of strangeness, or by my elder sister's prejudice? She had no sympathy with my Oriental studies and often said she wished I "could get salvation nearer home".
The meetings began in an upper room; then because of their increasing size they were transferred to the floor below. Later they moved to another house — one in a long monotonous row of dingy boarding houses. It was a heterogeneous gathering at the classes in those shabby lodgings — old and young, rich and poor, wise and foolish; stingy ones who dropped a button in the collection basket, and more generous ones who gave a dollar bill or even two. We all met day after day and became friends without words or association. Some of us never missed a meeting. We followed the course on bhakti-yoga and the course on jnana-yoga. We walked simultaneously along the paths of raja-yoga and karma-yoga. We were almost sorry that there were only four yogas. We would have liked to have six or eight, that the number of classes might be multiplied.
We were insatiable knowledge-seekers. We did not limit ourselves to any one doctrine or scripture. We went to one lecture in the morning, a second one in the afternoon, and sometimes to a third in the evening. Philosophy, metaphysics, astrology, each had its turn. Yet although we seemed to scatter our interest, our real loyalty belonged to the Swami. We recognized in him a power that no other teacher possessed. It was he alone who was shaping our thought and conviction. Even my dog — an Irish setter — felt this. He would stand perfectly still and a quiver would run through his body whenever Swamiji would lay his hand on his head and tell him he was a true yogi.
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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