Saturday 11 February 2017

Swamiji in Chennai on 12 Feb 1897

On Friday morning, February 12, the pandal at the Castle was full to overflowing, when the Swami took his seat on the platform. There came a young European lady of high intelligence, who put to him various questions on Vedanta. The Swami's resources of knowledge and exposition were fully brought out to the wonder of all present. The lady thanked the Swami, told him that she would be leaving for London to resume her social work in its slums, and hoped that it would be her great privilege to meet him again. As she left, the Swami rose, advanced a few steps to see that a way was made for her, and remained standing while she bowed and retired. In the afternoon she returned with her father, who was engaged in Christian missionary work in Madras. She sought and obtained for him an interview which lasted nearly an hour. On being asked by Prof. Sundararama Iyer how he found the strength for such incessant activity, the Swami said, "Spiritual work never tires one in India."


           On the same day a Vaishnava pandit, speaking in Sanskrit, raised a difficult point in the Vedanta for discussion. The Swami patiently listened to the pandit, then turned to the audience and said in English that he did not care to waste time in fruitless wrangling over doctrinal details of no practical value. The pandit then asked the Swami to say clearly whether he was an Advaitin or a Dvaitin. The Swami replied in English: "Tell the pandit that so long as I have this body I am a Dualist, but not afterwards. This incarnation of mine is to help to put an end to useless and mischievous quarrels and puzzles which only distract the mind, and make men weary of life, and even turn them into skeptics and atheists." The pandit then said in Tamil, "The Swami's statement is really an avowal that he is an Advaitin." The Swami rejoined, "Let it be so." The matter was then dropped.


           In the afternoon of the day of which we are speaking, the 12th, about 4.30 p.m., the Swami and friends visited the Hindu Theological High School of Madras. First, two boys conversed with one another in Sanskrit on Arya Dharma. Then the President-founder, Brahmasri R. Sivasankara Pandiyaji, read an address on behalf of the trustees, teachers, and boys, of the school. The Swami congratulated the President-founder on his noble endeavours. He exhorted the public to encourage the school in every way, and wished for similar institutions to come up all over India. The Hindu Moral Association also presented an address.


           In the evening, the Swami presided at the annual meeting of the Madras Chennapuri Annadana Samajam, held in Pachaiyappa's Hall. After the usual proceedings the Swami spoke a few words on charity. The Hindu custom in the practice of charity, he said, was superior to the legislated methods of other nations. Charity should be done to everyone in need, without distinction of caste or creed. The receiver was for the time being the representative of God Himself, and he who gave was merely a worshipper.




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