see in him their only guide to take them beyond the ocean of were those sweet words coming out of his holy with Swami Vivekananda are of one accord circle. They were taken down by Miss S. E. Waldo of New York, who from the early. The Web version of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda is under developing stage. .. But while Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of . The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is This is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas, and let us see how it is. ruthenpress.info - download Seeing Beyond the Circle (Western Works of Swami Vivekananda) book online at best prices in India on ruthenpress.info Read Seeing Beyond the.
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ruthenpress.info: ruthenpress.info vivekananda/ .. The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but The majority of us cannot see beyond a few years, just as. in "the intimacy of an inner circle. They were the thought of Swami Vivekananda flowed through her .. could take in all of humanity, seeing beyond their faults. There has always been an ongoing dispute between the realists and the idealists as to what is ultimate and fundamental. The realists see matter as absolute.
And then the bread was so hard, it made my mouth bleed to eat it. Literally, you can break your teeth on that bread. Then I would put it in a pot and pour over it water from the river. For months and months I existed that way—of course it was telling on the health.
Racism was still rampant; slavery had been abolished by presidential decree just thirty-one years earlier. India remained under the heel of British imperial rule, and most Americans of European descent still did not regard people of other ethnic groups as equals. This was twenty-seven years before women in America were granted the right to vote.
Many in India today view Swami Vivekananda primarily as an Indian cultural hero and as a revitalizer and reformer of ancient Hindu traditions. In the context of America, he was in the vanguard of progressive social thought, treating people of all races, and both men and women, as equals.
This was based on the Vedantic teaching he learned from his master, that God dwells in all beings. The significance of his opening words was not lost upon his audience, who roared their approval, forcing him to pause to let the applause die down before proceeding with the main body of his speech.
Even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone you shall be saved from death over again. Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name—heirs of immortal bliss—yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the Children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings.
Ye divinities on earth—sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter. After hearing him, we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation. A Brahmo Samaj representative, Pratap Majumdar, had been in America prior to Vivekananda, and also attended and spoke at the Parliament.
The Theosophists, and before them, the Transcendentalists, had produced a discourse that was ready for a direct infusion of Hindu thought and practice from the Subcontinent. Vivekananda was not the first, but he was the best received, becoming a celebrity figure whose travels and teachings were followed by all of the major newspapers of the day. The Vivekananda phenomenon was not without some resistance. Racism, as mentioned, remained rampant, and the United States was a deeply Christian nation.
There were those who sought to counter his influence. But there was also a deep vein of religious progressivism into which he successfully tapped. In he started the first Vedanta Society in New York. This organization then grew, becoming nationwide in its scope soon after Vivekananda returned to India and began dispatching his brother monks to lead the centers that sprouted up from Boston on the East Coast to San Francisco in the West. Nevertheless, he had tremendous influence on all phases of the movement.
Without the background of wide national consciousness, no freedom movement is possible. Just as Ramakrishna, in fact, without knowing any books, had been a living epitome of the Vedanta, so was Vivekananda of the national life. English education, vernacular literature, the Indian press, various reform movements and political associations, including the Congress, had come and spread their influence before him. In spite of all these, a pervading national consciousness was absent.
How did this miracle happen? In fact, 51 years and one week later, on February 20, , British Prime Minister Clement Attlee announced India would be given full self government. What is the psychological explanation? These forty millions put their wills together and that means infinite power, and you three hundred millions have a will each separate from the other. Therefore to make a great future India, the whole secret lies in organization, accumulation of power, coordination of wills.
Being of one mind is the secret of society. For mark you, the future India depends entirely upon that. That is the secret—accumulation of will power, coordination, bringing them all, as it were, into one focus.
So give up being a slave. For the next fifty years this alone shall be our keynote—this, our great Mother India. Both were greatly inspired by Vivekananda. Will you respond to the call of your nation? Each one of you has a glorious future if you dare believe me.
Have a tremendous faith in yourselves, like the faith I had when I was a child, and which I am working out now.
Have that faith, each one of you, in yourself—that eternal power is lodged in every soul—and you will revive the whole of India. Ay, we will then go to every country under the sun, and our ideas will before long be a component of the many forces that are working to make up every nation in the world.
We must enter into the life of every race in India and abroad; we shall have to work to bring this about. Now for that, I want young men. This is the time to decide your future—while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigor of youth. Work—this is the time; for the freshest, the untouched, and unsmelled flowers alone are to be laid at the feet of the Lord, and such He receives.
Rouse yourselves, therefore, for life is short. There are greater works to be done than aspiring to become lawyers and picking quarrels and such things. A far greater work is this sacrifice of yourselves for the benefit of your race, for the welfare of humanity. What is in this life? You are Hindus, and there is the instinctive belief in you that life is eternal.
Life is short, but the soul is immortal and eternal, and one thing being certain, death, let us therefore take up a great ideal and give up our whole life to it. He exhorted his countrymen to accept new ideas and scientific knowledge that the modern machine age could offer. He showed the way for nation-building on a sound foundation. Do you feel?
Do you feel that millions and millions of the descendants of Gods and of sages have become next-door neighbors to brutes [e.
Do you feel that millions are starving today and millions have been starving for ages? Do you feel that ignorance has come over the land as a dark cloud? Does it make you restless? Does it make you sleepless? Has it made you almost mad? Are you seized with that one idea of the misery of ruin, and have you forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property, even your own bodies?
If so, that is the first step to becoming a patriot. Let us proclaim to every soul: Arise, arise, awake! Awake from this hypnotism of weakness.
None is really weak; the soul is infinite, omnipotent and omniscient. Stand up, assert yourself, proclaim the God within you, do not deny Him!
Here in India, no national uprising was possible without revitalizing Hinduism, the religion of the majority. Vivekananda did that, and at the same time made it clear that Hinduism and other religions could remain in harmony and feel themselves as belonging to one nation.
His primary role as a religious leader made him the undisputed spiritual father of the Indian freedom movement. His contributions towards Indian nationalism, militant nationalism in particular, included renewed self-esteem and self-confidence, dynamic spirit, dedication, a call for strength and struggle, love for the country and its people, equal rights, harmony of religions and an emphasis on social uplift and character building through mobilization of the young.
Vivekananda urged the Indians to do away with narrow nationalism and to place and judge all problems with an international perspective. He exhorted them to bring reform on national lines and fight for national integration. All these ideas spread widely throughout India, either directly through him, or through his books. Those writings took at times the shape of secret revolutionary literature, copied in hand and circulated amongst the students.
Those leaders, though conscious of the occasional lapses of the British rule, thought that on the whole it was beneficial to the people. But Vivekananda considered the British rule as nothing but Satanic, with merciless exploitation as its sole objective. But behind the name of the Lord Jesus, the Bible, the magnificent palaces, the heavy tramp of the feet of the armies The latter-day Congress accepted practically all his programs. Do you understand that? You must dream it, you must talk it, you must think it and you must work it out.
Till then there is no salvation for the race. The education that you are getting now has some good points, but it has a tremendous disadvantage which is so great that the good things are all weighed down. In the first place it is not a man-making education, it is merely and entirely a negative education. A negative education or any training that is based on negation, is worse than death. The child is taken to [an English-run] school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth that all the sacred books are lies!
By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless. And the result is that fifty years of such education has not produced one original man in the three Presidencies [states of South India]. Every man of originality that has been produced has been educated elsewhere, and not in this country, or they have gone to the old universities once more to cleanse themselves of superstitions.
Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. The ideal, therefore, is that we must have the whole education of our country, spiritual and secular, in our own hands, and it must be on national lines, through national methods as far as practical.
I do not mean this as any criticism. It is all good — this what you do; but our way is what we have been taught for ages. You never hear of a mother cursing the child; she is forgiving, always forgiving. There she is — the Hindu mother. The son's wife comes in as her daughter; just as the mother's own daughter married and went out, so her son married and brought in another daughter, and she has to fall in line under the government of the queen of queens, of his mother.
Even I, who never married, belonging to an Order that never marries, would be disgusted if my wife, supposing I had married, dared to displease my mother. I would be disgusted. Do I not worship my mother? Why should not her daughter-in-law?
Whom I worship, why not she? Who is she, then, that would try to ride over my head and govern my mother? She has to wait till her womanhood is fulfilled; and the one thing that fulfils womanhood, that is womanliness in woman, is motherhood. Wait till she becomes a mother; then she will have the same right. That, according to the Hindu mind, is the great mission of woman — to become a mother.
But oh, how different! Oh, how different! My father and mother fasted and prayed, for years and years, so that I would be born. They pray for every child before it is born. Says our great law-giver, Manu, giving the definition of an Aryan, "He is the Aryan, who is born through prayer". Every child not born through prayer is illegitimate, according to the great law-giver. The child must be prayed for. Those children that come with curses, that slip into the world, just in a moment of inadvertence, because that could not be prevented — what can we expect of such progeny?
Mothers of America, think of that! Think in the heart of your hearts, are you ready to be women? Not any question of race or country, or that false sentiment of national pride. Who dares to be proud in this mortal life of ours, in this world of woes and miseries? What are we before this infinite force of God? But I ask you the question tonight: Do you all pray for the children to come? Are you thankful to be mothers, or not? Do you think that you are sanctified by motherhood, or not?
Ask that of your minds. If you do not, your marriage is a lie, your womanhood is false, your education is superstition, and your children, if they come without prayer, will prove a curse to humanity. See the different ideals now coming before us. From motherhood comes tremendous responsibility. There is the basis, start from that. Because our books teach that it is the pre- natal influence that gives the impetus to the child for good or evil.
Go to a hundred thousand colleges, read a million books, associate with all the learned men of the world — better off you are when born with the right stamp. You are born for good or evil.
The child is a born god or a born demon; that is what the books say. Education and all these things come afterwards — are a mere bagatelle. You are what you are born. Born unhealthful, how many drug stores, swallowed wholesale, will keep you well all through your life? How many people of good, healthy lives were born of weak parents, were born of sickly, blood-poisoned parents? How many?
None — none.
We come with a tremendous impetus for good or evil: Education or other things are a bagatelle. Thus say our books: Why should mother be worshipped? Because she made herself pure. She underwent harsh penances sometimes to keep herself as pure as purity can be. For, mind you, no woman in India thinks of giving up her body to any man; it is her own. The English, as a reform, have introduced at present what they call "Restitution of conjugal rights", but no Indian would take advantage of it.
When a man comes in physical contact with his wife, the circumstances she controls through what prayers and through what vows! For that which brings forth the child is the holiest symbol of God himself. It is the greatest prayer between man and wife, the prayer that is going to bring into the world another soul fraught with a tremendous power for good or for evil.
Is it a joke? Is it a simple nervous satisfaction? Is it a brute enjoyment of the body? Says the Hindu: But then, following that, there comes in another idea.
The idea we started with was that the ideal is the love for the mother — herself all-suffering, all- forbearing. The worship that is accorded to the mother has its fountain-head there. She was a saint to bring me into the world; she kept her body pure, her mind pure, her food pure, her clothes pure, her imagination pure, for years, because I would be born. Because she did that, she deserves worship. And what follows?
Linked with motherhood is wifehood. You Western people are individualistic. Because I like to. I want my own satisfaction, so I marry this woman. Because I like her. This woman marries me. Because she likes me. There it ends. She and I are the only two persons in the whole, infinite world; and I marry her and she marries me — nobody else is injured, nobody else responsible.
Your Johns and your Janes may go into the forest and there they may live their lives; but when they have to live in society, their marriage means a tremendous amount of good or evil to us. Their children may be veritable demons-burning, murdering, robbing, stealing, drinking, hideous, vile. So what is the basis of the Indian's social order? It is the caste law.
I am born for the caste, I live for the caste. I do not mean myself, because, having joined an Order, we are outside. I mean those that live in civil society.
Born in the caste, the whole life must be lived according to caste regulation. In other words, in the present-day language of your country, the Western man is born individualistic, while the Hindu is socialistic — entirely socialistic.
Now, then, the books say: You fall in love; the father of the woman was, perchance, a lunatic or a consumptive. The girl falls in love with the face of a man whose father was a roaring drunkard. What says the law then? The law lays down that all these marriages would be illegal. The children of drunkards, consumptives, lunatics, etc. The deformed, humpbacked, crazy, idiotic — no marriage for them, absolutely none, says the law.
But the Mohammedan comes from Arabia, and he has his own Arabian law; so the Arabian desert law has been forced upon us. The Englishman comes with his law; he forces it upon us, so far as he can.
We are conquered. He says, "Tomorrow I will marry your sister". What can we do? Our law says, those that are born of the same family, though a hundred degrees distant, must not marry, that is illegitimate, it would deteriorate or make the race sterile. That must not be, and there it stops. So I have no voice in my marriage, nor my sister. It is the caste that determines all that. We are married sometimes when children. Because the caste says: I do not care whether my sister is deformed, or good-looking, or bad-looking: So they will love each other.
You may say, "Oh! This is a sort of tame thing, loving each other like brothers and sisters, as though they have to. For the sake of one man's or woman's exquisite pleasure we do not want to load misery on hundreds of others.
The wife comes home with her husband; that is called the second marriage. Marriage at an early age is considered the first marriage, and they grow up separately with women and with their parents.
When they are grown, there is a second ceremony performed, called a second marriage. And then they live together, but under the same roof with his mother and father. When she becomes a mother, she takes her place in turn as queen of the family group. Now comes another peculiar Indian institution. I have just told you that in the first two or three castes the widows are not allowed to marry.
They cannot, even if they would. Of course, it is a hardship on many. There is no denying that not all the widows like it very much, because non-marrying entails upon them the life of a student. That is to say, a student must not eat meat or fish, nor drink wine, nor dress except in white clothes, and so on; there are many regulations.
We are a nation of monks — always making penance, and we like it. Now, you see, a woman never drinks wine or eats meat. It was a hardship on us when we were students, but not on the girls. Our women would feel degraded at the idea of eating meat. Men eat meat sometimes in some castes; women never.
Still, not being allowed to marry must be a hardship to many; I am sure of that. But we must go back to the idea; they are intensely socialistic. In the higher castes of every country you will find the statistics show that the number of women is always much larger than the number of men. Because in the higher castes, for generation after generation, the women lead an easy life. They "neither toil nor spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of them".
And the poor boys, they die like flies. The girl has a cat's nine lives, they say in India. You will read in the statistics that they outnumber the boys in a very short time, except now when they are taking to work quite as hard as the boys. The number of girls in the higher castes is much larger than in the lower.
Conditions are quite opposite in the lower castes.
There they all work hard; women a little harder, sometimes, because they have to do the domestic work. But, mind you, I never would have thought of that, but one of your American travellers, Mark Twain, writes this about India: I saw no woman or girl at work in the fields in India. On both sides and ahead of the railway train brown-bodied naked men and boys are ploughing in the fields. But not a woman. In these two hours I have not seen a woman or a girl working in the fields.
In India, even the lowest caste never does any hard work. They generally have an easy lot compared to the same class in other nations; and as to ploughing, they never do it. Among the lower classes the number of men is larger than the number of women; and what would you naturally expect?
A woman gets more chances of marriage, the number of men being larger. Relative to such questions as to widows not marrying: Either you have a non-marriageable widow problem and misery, or the non-husband-getting young lady problem.
To face the widow problem, or the old maid problem? There you are; either of the two. Now, go back again to the idea that the Indian mind is socialistic. It says, "Now look here! If they have lost their chance, at any rate they have had one. Sit down, be quiet, and consider these poor girls-they have not had one chance of marriage. I remember once in Oxford Street, it was after ten o'clock, and all those ladies coming there, hundreds and thousands of them shopping; and some man, an American, looks around, and he says, "My Lord!
For, mind you, our religion teaches that marriage is something bad, it is only for the weak. The very spiritual man or woman would not marry at all. So the religious woman says, "Well, the Lord has given me a better chance. What is the use of marrying?
Thank God, worship God, what is the use of my loving man? Some find it simply impossible. They have to suffer; but the other poor people, they should not suffer for them. Now I leave this to your judgment; but that is their idea in India. Next we come to woman as daughter.
The great difficulty in the Indian household is the daughter. The daughter and caste combined ruin the poor Hindu, because, you see, she must marry in the same caste, and even inside the caste exactly in the same order; and so the poor man sometimes has to make himself a beggar to get his daughter married.
The father of the boy demands a very high price for his son, and this poor man sometimes has to sell everything just to get a husband for his daughter. The great difficulty of the Hindu's life is the daughter. The real derivation is that, in ancient times, the daughter of the family was accustomed to milk the cows, and so the word "duhita" comes from "duh", to milk; and the word "daughter" really means a milkmaid.
Later on, they found a new meaning to that word "duhita", the milkmaid — she who milks away all the milk of the family. That is the second meaning. These are the different relations held by our Indian women. As I have told you, the mother is the greatest in position, the wife is next, and the daughter comes after them. It is a most intricate and complicated series of gradation. No foreigner can understand it, even if he lives there for years. For instance, we have three forms of the personal pronoun; they are a sort of verbs in our language.
One is very respectful, one is middling, and the lowest is just like thou and thee. To children and servants the last is addressed. The middling one is used with equals. You see, these are to be applied in all the intricate relations of life.
She should not, even by mistake, say apani to me, because that would mean a curse. Love, the love toward those that are superior, should always be expressed in that form of language. That is the custom. Similarly I would never dare address my elder sister or elder brother, much less my mother or father, as tu or tum or tumi.
As to calling our mother and father by name, why, we would never do that. Before I knew the customs of this country, I received such a shock when the son, in a very refined family, got up and called the mother by name! However, I got used to that. That is the custom of the country.
But with us, we never pronounce the name of our parents when they are present. It is always in the third person plural, even before them. Thus we see the most complicated mesh-work in the social life of our men and our women and in our degree of relationship.
We do not speak to our wives before our elders; it is only when we are alone or when inferiors are present. If I were married, I would speak to my wife before my younger sister, my nephews or nieces; but not before my elder sister or parents. I cannot talk to my sisters about their husbands at all. The idea is, we are a monastic race. The whole social organisation has that one idea before it. Marriage is thought of as something impure, something lower.
Therefore the subject of love would never be talked of. I cannot read a novel before my sister, or my brothers, or my mother, or even before others. I close the book. Then again, eating and drinking is all in the same category.
We do not eat before superiors. Our women never eat before men, except they be the children or inferiors. The wife would die rather than, as she says, "munch" before her husband. Sometimes, for instance, brothers and sisters may eat together; and if I and my sister are eating, and the husband comes to the door, my sister stops, and the poor husband flies out.
These are the customs peculiar to the country. A few of these I note in different countries also. As I never married myself, I am not perfect in all my knowledge about the wife. Mother, sisters — I know what they are; and other people's wives I saw; from that I gather what I have told you. As to education and culture, it all depends upon the man.
Now, from the oldest times, you know, the primary education, according to the old Hindu customs, belongs to the village system. All the land from time immemorial was nationalised, as you say — belonged to the Government. There never is any private right in land. The revenue in India comes from the land, because every man holds so much land from the Government. This land is held in common by a community, it may be five, ten, twenty, or a hundred families.
They govern the whole of the land, pay a certain amount of revenue to the Government, maintain a physician, a village schoolmaster, and so on. Those of you who have read Herbert Spencer remember what he calls the "monastery system" of education that was tried in Europe and which in some parts proved a success; that is, there is one schoolmaster, whom the village keeps.
These primary schools are very rudimentary, because our methods are so simple. Each boy brings a little mat; and his paper, to begin with, is palm leaves. Palm leaves first, paper is too costly. Each boy spreads his little mat and sits upon it, brings out his inkstand and his books and begins to write. A little arithmetic, some Sanskrit grammar, a little of language and accounts — these are taught in the primary school.
A little book on ethics, taught by an old man, we learnt by heart, and I remember one of the lessons: We get them by heart, and they are explained by teacher and pupil. These things we learn, both boys and girls together. Later on, the education differs. The old Sanskrit universities are mainly composed of boys. The girls very rarely go up to those universities; but there are a few exceptions.
Of course, there are some people in India who do not want it, but those who do want it carried the day. It is a strange fact that Oxford and Cambridge are closed to women today, so are Harvard and Yale; but Calcutta University opened its doors to women more than twenty years ago. I remember that the year I graduated, several girls came out and graduated — the same standard, the same course, the same in everything as the boys; and they did very well indeed.
And our religion does not prevent a woman being educated at all. In this way the girl should be educated; even thus she should be trained; and in the old books we find that the universities were equally resorted to by both girls and boys, but later the education of the whole nation was neglected. What can you expect under foreign rule?
The foreign conqueror is not there to do good to us; he wants his money. Would you believe it? It is actually a fact. So these educational institutions of foreigners are simply to get a lot of useful, practical slaves for a little money — to turn out a host of clerks, postmasters, telegraph operators, and so on.
There it is. As a result, education for both boys and girls is neglected, entirely neglected. There are a great many things that should be done in that land; but you must always remember, if you will kindly excuse me and permit me to use one of your own proverbs, "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. They are all weeping salt tears. But who are the little girls married to?
Some one, when told that they are all married to old men, asked, "And what do the young men do?
The ideal of the Indian race is freedom of the soul. This world is nothing. It is a vision, a dream. This life is one of many millions like it. The whole of this nature is Maya, is phantasm, a pest house of phantasms. That is the philosophy. Babies smile at life and think it so beautiful and good, but in a few years they will have to revert to where they began.
They began life crying, and they will leave it crying. Nations in the vigour of their youth think that they can do anything and everything: They have a charter to rob, murder, kill; God has given them this, and they do that because they are only babes.
So empire after empire has arisen — glorious, resplendent — now vanished away — gone, nobody knows where; it may have been stupendous in its ruin. As a drop of water upon a lotus leaf tumbles about and falls in a moment, even so is this mortal life. Everywhere we turn are ruins. Where the forest stands today was once the mighty empire with huge cities. That is the dominant idea, the tone, the colour of the Indian mind.
We know, you Western people have the youthful blood coursing through your veins. We know that nations, like men, have their day. Where is Greece? Where is Rome? Where that mighty Spaniard of the other day? Who knows through it all what becomes of India? Thus they are born, and thus they die; they rise and fall.
The Hindu as a child knows of the Mogul invader whose cohorts no power on earth could stop, who has left in your language the terrible word "Tartar". The Hindu has learnt his lesson. He does not want to prattle, like the babes of today. Western people, say what you have to say. This is your day.
Onward, go on, babes; have your prattle out. This is the day of the babies, to prattle. We have learnt our lesson and are quiet. You have a little wealth today, and you look down upon us.
Well, this is your day. Prattle, babes, prattle — this is the Hindu's attitude. The Lord of Lords is not to be attained by much frothy speech. The Lord of Lords is not to be attained even by the powers of the intellect.
He is not gained by much power of conquest. That man who knows the secret source of things and that everything else is evanescent, unto him He, the Lord, comes; unto none else. India has learnt her lesson through ages and ages of experience.
She has turned her face towards Him. She has made many mistakes; loads and loads of rubbish are heaped upon the race. Never mind; what of that? What is the clearing of rubbish, the cleaning of cities, and all that? Does that give life? Those that have fine institutions, they die. And what of institutions, those tinplate Western institutions, made in five days and broken on the sixth? One of these little handful nations cannot keep alive for two centuries together.
And our institutions have stood the test of ages. Just as your ideal is, so shall you be. If your ideal is mortal, if your ideal is of this earth, so shalt thou be.
If your ideal is matter, matter shalt thou be. Our ideal is the Spirit. That alone exists, nothing else exists; and like Him, we live for ever. That subject itself is interesting, but rather dry and very vast. Meanwhile, I have been asked by your president and some of the ladies and gentlemen here to tell them something about my work and what I have been doing. It may be interesting to some here, but not so much so to me.
In fact, I do not quite know how to tell it to you, for this will have been the first time in my life that I have spoken on that subject. Now, to understand what I have been trying to do, in my small way, I will take you, in imagination, to India. We have not time to go into all the details and all the ramifications of the subject; nor is it possible for you to understand all the complexities in a foreign race in this short time. Suffice it to say, I will at least try to give you a little picture of what India is like.
It is like a gigantic building all tumbled down in ruins. At first sight, then, there is little hope. It is a nation gone and ruined. But you wait and study, then you see something beyond that. The truth is that so long as the principle, the ideal, of which the outer man is the expression, is not hurt or destroyed, the man lives, and there is hope for that man. If your coat is stolen twenty times, that is no reason why you should be destroyed.
You can get a new coat. The coat is unessential. The fact that a rich man is robbed does not hurt the vitality of the man, does not mean death. The man will survive. Standing on this principle, we look in and we see — what? India is no longer a political power; it is an enslaved race.
Indians have no say, no voice in their own government; they are three hundred millions of slaves — nothing more! The average income of a man in India is two shillings a month. A little famine means death. So there, too, when I look on that side of India, I see ruin-hopeless ruin. But we find that the Indian race never stood for wealth. Although they acquired immense wealth, perhaps more than any other nation ever acquired, yet the nation did not stand for wealth.
It was a powerful race for ages, yet we find that that nation never stood for power, never went out of the country to conquer. Quite content within their own boundaries, they never fought anybody. The Indian nation never stood for imperial glory. Wealth and power, then, were not the ideals of the race. What then? Whether they were wrong or right — that is not the question we discuss — that nation, among all the children of men, has believed, and believed intensely, that this life is not real.
The real is God; and they must cling unto that God through thick and thin. In the midst of their degradation, religion came first. The Hindu man drinks religiously, sleeps religiously, walks religiously, marries religiously, robs religiously.
Did you ever see such a country? If you want to get up a gang of robbers, the leader will have to preach some sort of religion, then formulate some bogus metaphysics, and say that this method is the clearest and quickest way to get God. Then he finds a following, otherwise not. That shows that the vitality of the race, the mission of the race is religion; and because that has not been touched, therefore that race lives. See Rome. Rome's mission was imperial power, expansion. And so soon as that was touched, Rome fell to pieces, passed out.
The mission of Greece was intellect, as soon as that was touched, why, Greece passed out. So in modern times, Spain and all these modern countries. Each nation has a mission for the world. So long as that mission is not hurt, that nation lives, despite every difficulty.
But as soon as its mission is destroyed, the nation collapses. Now, that vitality of India has not been touched yet. They have not given up that, and it is still strong — in spite of all their superstitions. Hideous superstitions are there, most revolting some of them. Never mind. The national life — current is still there — the mission of the race. The Indian nation never will be a powerful conquering people — never.
They will never be a great political power; that is not their business, that is not the note India has to play in the great harmony of nations. But what has she to play? God, and God alone. She clings unto that like grim death. Still there is hope there. So, then, after your analysis, you come to the conclusion that all these things, all this poverty and misery, are of no consequence — the man is living still, and therefore there is hope.
You see religious activities going on all through the country. I do not recall a year that has not given birth to several new sects in India. The stronger the current, the more the whirlpools and eddies.
Sects are not signs of decay, they are a sign of life. Let sects multiply, till the time comes when every one of us is a sect, each individual. We need not quarrel about that. Now, take your country. I do not mean any criticism. Here the social laws, the political formation — everything is made to facilitate man's journey in this life. He may live very happily so long as he is on this earth. Look at your streets — how clean!
Your beautiful cities! And in how many ways a man can make money! How many channels to get enjoyment in this life!
But, if a man here should say, "Now look here, I shall sit down under this tree and meditate; I do not want to work", why, he would have to go to jail. There would be no chance for him at all. A man can live in this society only if he falls in line. He has to join in this rush for the enjoyment of good in this life, or he dies. Now let us go back to India. There, if a man says, "I shall go and sit on the top of that mountain and look at the tip of my nose all the rest of my days", everybody says, "Go, and Godspeed to you!
Somebody brings him a little cloth, and he is all right. But if a man says, "Behold, I am going to enjoy a little of this life", every door is closed to him. I say that the ideas of both countries are unjust. I see no reason why a man here should not sit down and look at the tip of his nose if he likes. Why should everybody here do just what the majority does? I see no reason.
Nor why, in India, a man should not have the goods of this life and make money. But you see how those vast millions are forced to accept the opposite point of view by tyranny. This is the tyranny of the sages. This is the tyranny of the great, tyranny of the spiritual, tyranny of the intellectual, tyranny of the wise.
And the tyranny of the wise, mind you, is much more powerful than the tyranny of the ignorant. The wise, the intellectual, when they take to forcing their opinions upon others, know a hundred thousand ways to make bonds and barriers which it is not in the power of the ignorant to break. Now, I say that this thing has got to stop. There is no use in sacrificing millions and millions of people to produce one spiritual giant. If it is possible to make a society where the spiritual giant will be produced and all the rest of the people will be happy as well, that is good; but if the millions have to be ground down, that is unjust.
Better that the one great man should suffer for the salvation of the world. In every nation you will have to work through their methods. To every man you will have to speak in his own language.
Now, in England or in America, if you want to preach religion to them, you will have to work through political methods — make organisations, societies, with voting, balloting, a president, and so on, because that is the language, the method of the Western race.
On the other hand, if you want to speak of politics in India, you must speak through the language of religion.
You will have to tell them something like this: It is a question of language. The thing done is the same. But with every race, you will have to speak their language in order to reach their hearts.
And that is quite just. We need not fret about that. The word means "a man who has renounced". This is a very, very, very ancient Order. Even Buddha, who was years before Christ, belonged to that Order. He was one of the reformers of his Order. That was all. So ancient! You find it mentioned away back in the Vedas, the oldest book in the world. This was to get ready for the great event — death. So old people used to become Sannyasins in those early days. Later on, young people began to give up the world.
And young people are active. They could not sit down under a tree and think all the time of their own death, so they went about preaching and starting sects, and so on. Thus, Buddha, being young, started that great reform. Had he been an old man, he would have looked at the tip of his nose and died quietly. The Order is not a church, and the people who join the Order are not priests. There is an absolute difference between the priests and the Sannyasins.
In India, priesthood, like every other business in a social life, is a hereditary profession. A priest's son will become a priest, just as a carpenter's son will be a carpenter, or a blacksmith's son a blacksmith.
The priest must always be married. The Hindu does not think a man is complete unless he has a wife. An unmarried man has no right to perform religious ceremonies. The Sannyasins do not possess property, and they do not marry.
Beyond that there is no organisation. The only bond that is there is the bond between the teacher and the taught — and that is peculiar to India.
The teacher is not a man who comes just to teach me, and I pay him so much, and there it ends. In India it is really like an adoption. The teacher is more than my own father, and I am truly his child, his son in every respect. I owe him obedience and reverence first, before my own father even; because, they say, the father gave me this body, but he showed me the way to salvation, he is greater than father.
And we carry this love, this respect for our teacher all our lives. And that is the only organisation that exists. I adopt my disciples. Sometimes the teacher will be a young man and the disciple a very old man. But never mind, he is the son, and he calls me "Father", and I have to address him as my son, my daughter, and so on. Now, I happened to get an old man to teach me, and he was very peculiar.
He did not go much for intellectual scholarship, scarcely studied books; but when he was a boy he was seized with the tremendous idea of getting truth direct. First he tried by studying his own religion. Then he got the idea that he must get the truth of other religions; and with that idea he joined all the sects, one after another.
After a few years he would go to another sect. When he had gone through with all that, he came to the conclusion that they were all good. He had no criticism to offer to any one; they are all so many paths leading to the same goal.
And then he said, "That is a glorious thing, that there should be so many paths, because if there were only one path, perhaps it would suit only an individual man. The more the number of paths, the more the chance for every one of us to know the truth. If I cannot be taught in one language, I will try another, and so on". Thus his benediction was for every religion. Now, all the ideas that I preach are only an attempt to echo his ideas.
Nothing is mine originally except the wicked ones, everything I say which is false and wicked. But every word that I have ever uttered which is true and good is simply an attempt to echo his voice. Read his life by Prof. Max Muller. His Life and Sayings, first published in London in Reprinted in by Advaita Ashrama. Well, there at his feet I conceived these ideas — there with some other young men. I was just a boy. I went there when I was about sixteen. Some of the other boys were still younger, some a little older — about a dozen or more.
And together we conceived that this ideal had to be spread. And not only spread, but made practical. That is to say, we must show the spirituality of the Hindus, the mercifulness of the Buddhists, the activity of the Christians, the brotherhood of the Mohammedans, by our practical lives.
Our teacher was an old man who would never touch a coin with his hands. He took just the little food offered, just so many yards of cotton cloth, no more. He could never be induced to take any other gift. With all these marvellous ideas, he was strict, because that made him free. The monk in India is the friend of the prince today, dines with him; and tomorrow he is with the beggar, sleeps under a tree. He must come into contact with everyone, must always move about. As the saying is, "The rolling stone gathers no moss".
The last fourteen years of my life, I have never been for three months at a time in any one place — continually rolling. So do we all. Now, this handful of boys got hold of these ideas, and all the practical results that sprang out of these ideas. Universal religion, great sympathy for the poor, and all that are very good in theory, but one must practise. Then came the sad day when our old teacher died.
We nursed him the best we could. We had no friends. Who would listen to a few boys, with their crank notions? At least, in India, boys are nobodies. Just think of it — a dozen boys, telling people vast, big ideas, saying they are determined to work these ideas out in life. Why, everybody laughed. From laughter it became serious; it became persecution. Why, the parents of the boys came to feel like spanking every one of us. And the more we were derided, the more determined we became. Then came a terrible time — for me personally and for all the other boys as well.
But to me came such misfortune! On the one side was my mother, my brothers. My father died at that time, and we were left poor. Oh, very poor, almost starving all the time!
I was the only hope of the family, the only one who could do anything to help them. I had to stand between my two worlds. On the one hand, I would have to see my mother and brothers starve unto death; on the other, I had believed that this man's ideas were for the good of India and the world, and had to be preached and worked out. And so the fight went on in my mind for days and months. Sometimes I would pray for five or six days and nights together without stopping.
Oh, the agony of those days! I was living in hell! The natural affections of my boy's heart drawing me to my family — I could not bear to see those who were the nearest and dearest to me suffering. On the other hand, nobody to sympathise with me. Who would sympathise with the imaginations of a boy — imaginations that caused so much suffering to others? Who would sympathise with me? None — except one.
That one's sympathy brought blessing and hope. She was a woman. Our teacher, this great monk, was married when he was a boy and she a mere child. When he became a young man, and all this religious zeal was upon him, she came to see him. Although they had been married for long, they had not seen very much of each other until they were grown up.
Then he said to his wife, "Behold, I am your husband; you have a right to this body.