Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Sister Nivedita : Book review : Introduction to Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Sister Nivedita has done book review of  Swami Vivekananda's book on Introuduction to  RAJA YOGA. Here we find her way of placing the fact about the book in a very interesting manner......


Visitors to India quickly become familiar with the Sadhus and Fakirs or religious beggars, who form so picturesque an element of Indian crowds. Most of these, whether Hindu or Mohammedan, are wanderers and some of them belong to floating orders of great prestige and antiquity. All alike wear as their badge, the Gerrua, or earth stained cloth, of salmon-pink colour, and some are further distinguished by the carrying of large rosaries, sacred staffs or tridents, the smearing of face and body with mud or ashes, and the wearing of the hair in matted locks piled high on the head. Some of these varied brotherhoods of 'Yogis, Nagas, Oodassies', and what not, are famous for their Sanskrit learning; and of none is this more true than of the clean-shaved Sannyasins of the Puri and other Paramahamsa Orders, founded by Shankaracharya—himself a Sannyasin of 2,000 years of spiritual descent—about the year a.d. 800 and to whose number the Swami Vivekananda— writer of the present book in the original English—belonged.

Born and educated in Bengal, he became a Sannyasin in his youth, and as such was the first religious teacher of modern times in India, to break through the barriers raised by Hindu orthodoxy, and cross the seas, for the purpose of preaching in the West. His first journey was made to the United States, via China and Japan, in order to represent the religious ideas of the Hindu peoples at that Parliament of Religions which will be remembered as a feature of the Chicago Exhibition of the year 1893. He was deeply conscious of the significance of the step he was taking. Hinduism had not then thought of itself as a missionary faith. "I go," a friend reports him as saying, at the moment of leaving his mother-country, "to preach a religion of which Buddhism is but a rebel child, and Christianity, with all its idealisms, a far-fetched imitation." 

The Swami's success as a preacher, at Chicago, was followed by some years of work and travel in America, and in the years 1895 and 1896, by two visits to England and to the continent of Europe. On his return to India, early in 1897, he was accorded an ovation, by his countrymen, which may be termed historic. From Colombo, where he landed, to Madras, from which he had originally been sent forth and again in the various visits which he was called upon to make, after reaching his monastery in Calcutta, to the cities, provinces, and feudatory princes of the north, his journeys formed a veritable triumphal progress. And in the south, where the Hindu consciousness has been least impaired by the proximity of Islamic Communities, his rulings on controverted points of faith and doctrine were by common consent, from that time forward, placed on the footing of a final authority on Hinduism. India thus ratified by acclamation the mission and the utterances of the yellow-clad begging-friar who had gone forth from her shores four years earlier, in her name. It may serve to give some idea of the extent to which ancient culture is still living in India, when it is said that for fourteen days in Madras, noonday sittings were held daily by the Swami, in which scholars and Brahmins of distinction brought to him philosophical and other questions, to be answered by him, 'first in Sanskrit and then in English.' Sanskrit is by no means a dead language in its own country.