Tuesday 26 September 2023

Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda - Viraja Devi - 2

After living in Turk Street for a month, Swamiji went to Alameda and stayed at the "Home of Truth", It was quite a large house and was surrounded by a beautiful garden, where the Swamiji used to walk about in smoking. There was quite a large porch on the house on which Swamiji sat sometimes talking to the few of us who gathered around him. The Easter Sunday night was the full moon, the nisteria was in full bloom and draped the porch like a curtain. Swamiji sat on the porch smoking and telling funny stories, then he told of how his feet hurt him when he wore shoes in Chicago, and of his experience with a lady doctor who had undertaken to doctor his toe. He said. "Oh my toe, my toe! Whenever I think of that lady doctor, my toe hurts. "Then one of the party asked him to talk on "Renunciation". "Renunciation?" said Swamiji, "Babies, what do you know of renunciation?" "Are we too young even to hear of it?" was asked. Swamiji was silent for a while and then gave a most illuminating and inspiring talk. He spoke of discipleship and of entire resignation to the guru, which was quite a new teaching to the Western world. While in Alameda Swamiji used to cook Hindu dishes for himself on Sunday afternoons, and I again had the privilege of being with him and partaking of his dishes; and although I attended all Swamiji's public lectures both in San Francisco and Alameda, it was this close contact with the Swamiji that I most deeply cherish. Once after being quiet for some time Swamiji said, "Madame, be broad-minded, always see two ways. When I am on the Heights I say 'I am He', and when I have a stomach-ache, I say "Mother, have mercy on me'. Always see two ways." On another occasion he said, "Learn to be the witness. If there are two dogs fighting on the street and I go out there, I get mixed up in the fight but if I stay quietly in my room. I witness the fight from the window. So learn to be the witness." While in Alameda Swamiji gave public lectures in Tucker Hall. He gave one wonderful lecture. "The Ultimate Destiny of Man" and Finished by placing his hand on his chest and saying "I am God". A most awed silence fell upon the audience, and many people thought it blasphemy for Swamiji to say such a thing.

Once he did something in rather an unconventional way. and I was a little shocked at him. He said. "O Madame, you always want this little outside to be so nice. It is not the outside that matters, it is the inside."

How little we understood the Swamiji? We had no knowledge of what he really was. Sometimes he would tell me things, and I in the abundance of my ignorance, would tell him I did not think that way, and he would laugh and say, "Don't you?" His love and toleration was wonderful. Swamiji was not in good health — much lecturing told upon him. He used to say he did not like platform work, "Public lecturing is killing. At eight o'clock I am to speak on'Love'. At eight o'clock I do not feel like love!"

After he finished lecturing in Alameda, the Swami went to Camp Taylor and a tittle later started for the East and we in California never saw him again. Yet we who were blessed by his presence cannot feel he is entirely gone from us. He lives in our memories and in the teachings he gave us. Before he left, he told me if I ever got into psychic difficulty again to call on him and he would hear me wherever he was, even though hundreds of miles away, and it may be he can hear even now.

(Vedanta Kesari, September 1924)


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

विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
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