All of this one sensed more or less dimly in that first unforgettable hour while our minds were lifted into his own radiant atmosphere. Later, slowly and sometimes painfully. after much effort and devotion, some of us found that our very minds were transformed. Great is the guru!
Those who came to the first lecture at the Unitarian Church came to the second and to the third, bringing others with them. "Come," they said, "hear this wonderful man. He is like no one we have ever heard", and they came until there was no place to hold them. They filled the room, stood in the aisles, peered in at the windows. Again and again he gave his message, now in this form, now in that, now illustrated with stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, now from the puranas and folklore. From the Upanishads he quoted constantly, first chanting in the original Sanskrit, then giving a free poetic translation. Great as was the impression which his spoken words made, the chanting produced an even greater effect. Unplumbed deeps were stirred; and as the rhythm fell upon the ear, the audience sat rapt and breathless. Our love for India came to birth. I think, when we first heard him say the word, "India", in that marvellous voice of his. It seems incredible that so much could have been put into one small word of five letters. There was love, passion, pride, longing, adoration, tragedy, chivalry, heimweh, and again love. Whole volumes could not have produced such a feeling in others. It had the magic power of creating love in those who heard it. Ever after, India became the land of heart's desire. Everything concerning her became of interest — became living — her people, her history, architecture, her manners and customs, her rivers, mountains, plains, her culture, her great spiritual concepts, her scriptures. And so began a new life, a life of study, of meditation. The centre of interest was shifted.
After the Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekananda was induced to place himself under the direction of Pond's Lecture Bureau* and make a lecture tour of the United States. As is the custom, the committee at each new place was offered the choice of several lectures — "The Divinity of Man", "Manners and Customs of India", "The Women of India", "Our Heritage" ... .Invariably, when the place was a mining town, with no intellectual life whatever, the most abstruse subjects were selected. He told us the difficulty of speaking to an audience when he could see no ray of intelligence in response. After some weeks of this, lecturing every evening and travelling all night, the bondage became too irksome to bear any longer. In Detroit he had friends who had known him in Chicago and who loved and admired him. To them he went, and begged, "Make me free! Make me free!" Being influential they were able to get him released from his contract, though at a financial loss which seemed unfair. He had hoped to begin his work in India with the money earned in this way, but this was not the only reason for engaging in this public work. The impulse which was urging him on and which was never entirely absent from his mind was the mission with which his Master had entrusted him. He had a work to do, a message to give. It was a sacred message. How was he to give it? By the time he reached Detroit, he knew that a lecture tour was not the way, and not an hour longer would he waste his time on what did not lead towards his object. For six weeks he remained in Detroit, his mind intent upon his purpose, and he would give an occasional lecture. We missed no opportunity of hearing him. Again and again we hard the "wondrous Evangel of the Self". Again and again we heard the story of India, now from this angle, now from that. We knew we had found our Teacher. The word guru we did not know then. Nor did we meet him personally. but what matter? It would take years to assimilate what we had already learnt. And then the Master would somehow, somewhere, teach us again!
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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