Friday 3 November 2023


Fortunate are the few that were destined in this life to sit, for even a few days at least, at the feet of the great Swami and to have listened to his soul-stirring teachings on our religion, history, social customs, etc., as contrasted with those of the West. In fact it is impossible to forget the quiet but the most enthusiastic meetings that used to be held between the numerous admiring friends and students of the college and the Swami in the bungalow (now known as Rahmut Bagh) on the beach near San Thome, Madras, which was occupied by the late Mr. Bhattacharjee, then Assistant Accountant-General, facing the broad expanse of the blue waters of the sea below and bluer sky above. It was in one of those meetings on an evening of March or April 1893, held in open air, a question was asked:—"Swamiji, why is Sri Krishna painted blue?" and Swamiji who was intently gazing towards the vast sheet of water, suddenly turned round and answered, "Because, blue is the colour of infinity. Look at space near you it is colourless, but look at the infinite sky above you it is blue; look at a handful of water of the sea, it is colourless, but the vast expanse of the sea is blue. Look at the earth about you, it is of some colour but a huge mountain at a distance looks blue, hence Sri Krishna, who is all-pervading and immanent in nature is painted blue and he is the symbol of Infinity." It is impossible to represent exactly the very words of the Swamiji, but the above is the substance of what he said that evening.

Then the talk turned upon eastern and western philosophers and many were the students who spoke highly of Spencer's philosophy. The Swami graciously acquiesced in the praises bestowed on the merits of Spencer's philosophy and even added "what is Spencer's unknowable? It is our Maya." But quickly retorted the Swami: "These western philosophers are afraid of the unknowable, whereas our philosophers have taken a big jump into the unknown and have conquered it. That is the difference between the tall talk of philosophy of the West and the realisation of the East. Your western philosophers are like vultures trying to soar high up in the sky above but all the while with their eyes fixed on the carrion below. They cannot cross the unknowable and therefore they fall back and can never give up the worship of the Almighty Dollar. The real spirit of renunciation is foreign to the western nations. Many do renounce and many do make tremendous sacrifices but all the while they do so with an expectation of Praise and Puja for attainment of a more refined and greater powers, but the real sacrifice of one's own complete self can only be seen in the lives of some of our greatest saints and Rishis. Many give up worldly powers, true! but it is with a view to obtain the more subtle so-called astral powers and Siddhis."

"What then are the essentials of the Hinduism? " asked one of the professors of a college and the Swami readily answered, "The three essentials of Hinduism are belief in God, in the Vedas as revelation and in the Doctrine of Karma and Rebirth."

To be continued 


(Vedanta Kesari - July 1914)

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