Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Devamata
"In all this close association with Swamiji," Miss Waldo said to me later, "it seems strange that the idea of renunciation never once occurred to me. Nor did I ever think seriously of following him to India. I seemed to belong in America. Yet there-was nothing I would not have done for him. When he first came to New York, he insisted on wearing his orange robe everywhere. It required no little courage to walk up Broadway beside that flaming coat. As the Swami strode along in lordly indifference, with me just behind, half out of breath trying to keep up with him, every eye was turned upon us, and on every lip was the question: "What are they?' Later I persuaded him to adopt more subdued clothing for the street."
One morning the Swami found Miss Waldo in tears, "What is the matter, Ellen?" he asked anxiously. "Has anything happened?" "I seem unable to please you", she replied. "Even when others annoy you, you scold me for it," The Swami said quickly. "I do not know those people well enough to scold them. I cannot rebuke them, so I come to you. Whom can I scold if I cannot scold my own?" Her tears dried at once, and after that she sought scoldings; they were a proof of nearness.
Miss Waldo herself told me of this experience as her own. Romain Rolland tells it of another disciple. Both can be true. The incident could easily repeat itself.
Miss Waldo had had wide experience in teachers. She had sat at the feet of many during her long pursuit of truth, but sooner or later they had all fallen short in some way. Now the fear was in her heart that this new Hindu Swami might prove wanting. She was always watching for a sign of weakness. It came. She and the Swami were together in a New York drawing-room. The New York Swami Vivekananda knew was very different from the New York of today. The streets then were lined with monotonous blocks of brown stone houses, one so completely like very other that a visiting artist of note once asked: "How do you know when you are at home? You could as well be in the house next door."
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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