Saturday 17 June 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Constance Towne 2

Dr. Guernsey accordingly arranged to give a Sunday afternoon dinner party at which every guest should represent a different religious creed, he himself holding the view-point of Robert Ingersoll, who was absent from the city. His Grace the Cardinal was interested but declined to dine or to appoint a substitute from among his clergy. So it happened that I, being a Catholic and trained by the noted Jesuit Priest, William O'Brien Pardow, S.J., had the privilege of being a guest at that famous Sunday dinner. Dr. Guernsey, who was my physician, sent for me to uphold Catholicism. Dr. Parkhurst was there, and Minnie Maddern Fiske, the famous American actress, who was staying with the Guernseys at the time. I remember that there were fourteen at table.

There was, of course, a tacit understanding that everyone should he polite about his or her religious differences with the Swami and his so-called non-Christian ("Pagan" is a hard word!) attitude. Alas! as the dinner progressed, the most heated dispute was not with the Swami at all. All of the differences were confined to the Evangelical brethren!

I was seated beside the Swami. We looked on in amused silence at the almost comical intolerance of the Creeds. Now and again our host would adroitly make some wise or humorous remark that kept the conversation on a plane not actually injurious to the function of digestion. The Swami would make from time to time a little speech apparently in explanation of his native land and the customs of its people, so different from our own, but always to gain his point in philosophy and religion. A more broad-minded and tolerant man surely could not have been found anywhere in India to carry out the mission of founding Vedanta Centres in America.

To be continued.... (Memoirs of Constance Towne)

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