Monday 14 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 33


...It was while he was in the Bombay Presidency that the Swami perfected his knowledge of Sanskrit, paying particular attention to pronunciation. He considered the accent of the Deccan particularly good. From there he wandered on from place to place, staying a night here, a few weeks there, until he finally reached Madras, where he met the band of devoted young men who hailed him as a true mahatma. These orthodox Brahmins accepted him as their guru, feeling that he was one with authority from on high, which placed him beyond the limitations of caste or any human restrictions. Poor as they were, they raised a sum of money which was to help towards his passage to America.

Filled with the message that he had to give and the work he had set himself, his mind had turned to America. There he hoped to find the solution. There, in the richest country in the world, he hoped to find help for his needy people. "You cannot expect people to be spiritual." he said, "when they are hungry." Although he went with the purpose of asking help, yet when he found himself there, this royal soul could only give. What did he give? A mendicant — what had he to give? He gave regally the most precious thing he possessed, the one priceless gift which India still has to offer the world — the teaching of the atman.

Alone, unheralded, he went to that distant continent. In telling of his experience at the Parliament of Religions, he said, "I had never given a lecture before. True, I had spoken to small groups of people sitting around me, but in an informal way, usually only answering questions. Moreover I had not written out my speech as the others had done. I called upon my Master, and upon Saraswati, giver of vak, and stood upon my feet. I began:'Sisters and Brothers of America' — but I got no further. I was stopped by thunders of applause." It seems the audience broke all bounds. He described the emotions which this amazing reception stirred in him — the thrill amounting to awe. He felt as never before the power behind him. From that time not a shadow of doubt assailed his mind as to his commission from on high. He was the pioneer, the first preacher of Vedanta. His spirituality caused astonishment. People began to ask, "Why send missionaries to a country which produces men like this?"

To be continued.... (Memoirs of  Sister Christine)

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