Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Devamata
I was prepared to be keenly interested, for the spiritual teachings of India were not unfamiliar to me, Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia had acquainted me with the exalted beauty of Lord Buddha's life and doctrine; I had read and reread Mohini Chatterji's translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, looking up all his references to parallel passages in the Bible; and long hours had been devoted through the previous winter to the study of Max Muller's English version of the Upanishads. I still have the copy, worn and marked, that I used at that time. Thus a gradual orientation had taken place in my mind.
Autumn brought our return to New York. Winter set in with its busy routine, but the memory of the conversation with the Swedenborgian minister still remained vivid. One day, as I was walking up Madison Avenue, I saw in the window of the Hall of the Universal Brotherhood a modest sign saying: "Next Sunday at 3 p.m. Swami Vivekananda will speak here on 'What is Vedanta?' and the following Sunday on 'What is yoga?". I reached the hall twenty minutes before the hour. It was already over half full. It was not large, however — a long, narrow room with a single aisle and benches reaching from it to the wall; a low platform holding reading-desk and chair at the far end; and a flight of stairs at the back. The hall was on the second storey and these stairs gave the only way of access to it — audience and speaker both had to make use of them. By the time three o'clock had arrived, hall, stairs, window-sills, and railings, all were crowded to their utmost capacity. Many even were standing below, hoping to catch a faint echo of the words spoken in the hall above.
A sudden hush, a quiet step on the stairs, and Swami Vivekananda passed in stately erectness up the aisle to the platform. He began to speak; and memory, time, place, people, all melted away. Nothing was left but a voice ringing through the void. It was as if a gate had swung open and I had passed out on a road leading to limitless attainment. The end of it was not visible; but the promise of what it would be shone through the thought and flashed through the personality of the one who gave it. He stood there — prophet of infinitude.
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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