Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by S.E. Waldo
Swami Vivekananda lectured in Brooklyn for the first time on 30th December, 1894 and his success was immediate. A large and enthusiastic audience greeted his appearance at the Pouch Mansion, and a course of lectures there and at other places in Brooklyn soon followed. From this time his public work in America really began. He established himself in quarters of his own, where he held several classes a week and came into more intimate relations with his students. Earnest people flocked to hear him and to learn the ancient teachings of India on the all-embracing character of her philosophy that every soul must be saved, that all religions were true, being steps in the progress of man toward a higher and ever higher spiritual realization — and above all to hear the constant lessons of the Swami on a world-wide, universal religious toleration.
At this time the Swami was living very simply in New York; and his earliest classes were held in the small room he occupied, and in the beginning were attended by only three or four persons. They grew with astonishing rapidity, and, as the little room filled to overflowing, became very picturesque. The Swami himself always sat on the floor, and most of his audience likewise. The marble-topped dresser, the arms of the sofa, and even the corner washstand helped to furnish seats for the constantly increasing numbers. The door was left open, and the overflow filled the hall and sat on the stairs. And those first classes! How intensely interesting they were! Who that was privileged to attend them can ever forget them? The Swami so dignified yet so simple, so gravely earnest, so eloquent, and the close ranks of students, forgetting all inconveniences, hanging breathless on his every word!