Saturday 3 June 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Memories of Maud Stumm - 3

Then one very warm day, in the morning-room, we asked him to show us how he wound his turban and he did, adding several other methods employed by different castes and tribes. When he arranged it as the desert people do, to keep the neck from the great heat, I asked him to pose, and he did, talking all the time. That was the day he talked to us of purity and truth. There are many memories connected with those days at Ridgely. Nearly every day Swami was wonderful in a new way! and now it would be music that he dwelt upon, now art, and once he burst into the morning-room, declaring for "Liberty". "What do I care if Mohammed was a good man, or Buddha! Does that alter my own goodness or evil? Let us be good for our own sake on our own responsibility! Not because somebody way back there was good!" Another time he tried to teach me an ancient Indian love song:

     And the flower says, nodding, nodding,
Come gather me, and make of me a garland
        For the neck of thy beloved!

I could learn the words, but the air was quite beyond me, so full of little half-tones, and curious runs and turns.

Soon after this, a very large and elaborate dinner was given at Ridgely — the flowers and lights on the table were wonderful and the ladies all in their loveliest gowns and jewels. At a moment when the talk and gaiety had reached its height, and I was observing it all without at that instant taking part, thinking of the good fortune that made such a thing possible and wondering if they all were as merry as they seemed, Swami was seated just obliquely opposite to me and all at once I heard his deep even tones, as if right at my ear, and through all the noise of other talk, "Don't let it fool you. Baby." And I saw he had been observing me, over the flowers and lights. ("Baby" was his nickname for me; why I do not know.)

"You never can hide your heart behind those eyes," he told me once. "for they speak before your lips." And then he added, "Don't try to. Keep the shell of pretence that everybody goes encased in off yourself; don't let it form. You will suffer, but you will feel more and do better work. Nearly all the world goes in a thick casing of convention and hypocrisy — like the two men in the fable, greeting each other with cheek pressed to cheek, each looking over the other's shoulder, meanwhile winking at the rest of the world."

One of the greatest things about Swami was his human side. Like a big lovable boy, he thoroughly enjoyed the things he liked: ice cream, for example. How many times I have seen him rise from the table after salad, excusing himself to smoke or walk, when a very quick word from Lady Betty (Mrs. Francis H. Leggett) that she believed there was to be ice cream would turn him back instantly, and he would sink into his place with a smile of expectancy and pure delight seldom seen on the face of anybody over sixteen. He just loved it, and he had all he wanted too.

To be continued.....(Memoirs of Maud Stumm)

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

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra :
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