Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by S.E. Waldo
It was a fit beginning for a movement that has since grown to such grand proportions. In this unpretentious way did Swami Vivekananda inaugurate the work of teaching Vedanta philosophy in New York. The Swami gave his services free as air. The rent was paid by voluntary subscriptions, and when these were found insufficient, Swami hired a hall and gave secular lectures on India and devoted the proceeds to the maintenance of the classes. He said that Hindu teachers, of religion felt it to be their duty to support their classes and the students too, if they were unable to care for themselves; and the teachers would willingly make any sacrifice they possibly could to assist a needy disciple.
The classes began in February 1895, and lasted until June. But long before that time, they had outgrown their small beginnings and had removed downstairs to occupy an entire parlour floor and extension. The classes were held nearly every morning and on several evenings in each week. Some Sunday lectures were also given, and there were "question" classes to help those to whom the teaching was so new and strange that they were desirous to have an opportunity for more extended explanation.
In June, after four months of constant lecturing and teaching, Swami Vivekananda accepted the invitation of one of his friends and went to Percy, N.H., for a period of rest in the silence of the pine woods. Before he left New York, he promised to meet at Thousand Island Park any students who were sufficiently interested in Vedanta to follow him so far, and there give them more special instruction. One of the class members had a cottage there and had invited the Swami to be her guest for as long a period as he fell inclined to remain. Swami said that those students who were willing to put aside all other interests and devote themselves to studying Vedanta, travelling more than three hundred miles to a suitable spot, were the ones really in earnest, and he should recognize them as disciples. He did not expect many would lake so much trouble; but if any responded, he would do his share of helping them on the path.
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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