Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Devamata
MY first contact with the Ramakrishna movement was through Swami Vivekananda. It occurred before the Mission had taken definite form, when all there was to tell of the far-spread work to be done later was a band of wandering sannyasins, waiting for the call, yet half unaware that they were waiting. One of the band said to me years after: "If we had dreamed of the labours that day before us, we would not have spent our strength in severe austerities or taxed our bodies by privations and long wanderings. All that was asked of us, we thought, was a simple life of renunciation, obeying in humble spirit what our Master had taught us."
The first hint of anything beyond this, I learnt from the same source, was a quiet voice heard only by Swami Vivekananda as he lay at the point of death in a Himalayan glade under a rude thatch of dry branches. It said: "You will not die. You have a great work to do in the world." He told it to two fellow disciples with him, and one of them told it to me. But the voice came without a form to give it substance. How could they know that the words spoken were prophecy?
Time proved them to be such. Their fulfilment had just begun, when all unexpectedly I touched the Swami's orbit, now circling a world. My mother, sister, and I had spent the month of June at the Great Fair of 1893 in Chicago, and we were planning lo return for the Congress of Religions in the autumn on our way to Japan and the Orient. A death in the family brought our journey to a halt in a little town in Ohio. Soon after our arrival there the Swedenborgian minister, as a courtesy to strangers, invited us to dine with him. We went. The minister himself met us at the door, his face aglow with enthusiasm. He had just returned from the Congress of Religions and he could talk of nothing else.
He described at length the various sessions of the Congress, dwelling with emphasis on this delegate or that. "But", he continued, "there was one speaker who stood out above all others, because of his learning, his eloquence, and his impressive personality. No other could compare with him except two or three Roman Catholic prelates, and they had sent their best mea." He paused, leaving his brilliant figure without name or nationality. "Who was he?" I asked eagerly. The minister replied quietly: "A Hindu — Swami Vivekananda."
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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