Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Vol-9
American Newspaper Reports
To preserve the historical authenticity of these newspaper reports, their original spelling, grammar and punctuation have been retained. For the sake of clarity, Swami Vivekananda's original words have been placed in block quotations and titles supplied by the Publisher have been marked with asterisks. Whenever possible, the original news typescripts have been selected, rather than their belated foreign reprints.
RESPONSE TO WELCOME*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 83-84.)
[Editorial synthesis of four Chicago newspaper reports from:
Herald, Inter Ocean, Tribune, and Record,
ca. September 11, 1893]
(Cf. "Response to Welcome", Complete Works I: 3-4, for a somewhat different version.)
[Sisters and Brothers of America,]
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the grand words of welcome given to us by you. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks the world has ever seen, of which Gautama was only a member. I thank you in the name of the Mother of religions, of which Buddhism and Jainism are but branches; and I thank you, finally, in the name of the millions and millions of Hindoo people of all castes and sects. My thanks also to some of the speakers on the platform who have told you that these different men from far-off nations will bear to the different lands the idea of toleration which they may see here. My thanks to them for this idea. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions to be true. I am proud to tell you that I belong to a religion in whose sacred language, the Sanskrit, the word exclusion is untranslatable. (Applause) I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, a remnant of which came to southern India and took refuge with us in the very years in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brothers, a few lines from a hymn which every Hindoo child repeats every day. I feel that the very spirit of this hymn, which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions and millions of men in India, has at last come to be realized. "As the different streams, having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea; O Lord, so the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself an indication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form I reach him, all are struggling through paths that in the end always lead to me." Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant fanaticism, have possessed long this beautiful earth. It has filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human gore, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations into despair. But its time has come, and I fervently believe that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of the representatives of the different religions of the earth, in this parliament assembled, is the death-knell to all fanaticism (applause), that it is the death-knell to all persecution with the sword or the pen, and to all uncharitable feelings between brethren wending their way to the same goal, but through different ways.
[Chicago Record, September 11, 1893]
Four leaders of religious thought were sitting in Dr. Barrow's [Barrows's] parlor - the Jain, George Condin [Candlin], the missionary who has passed sixteen years in China, Swami Vivekananda, the learned Brahman (The Swami was a Kshatriya, not a Brahmin.) Hindoo, and Dr. John H. Barrows, the Chicago Presbyterian. These four talked as if they were brothers of one faith.
The Hindoo is of smooth countenance. His rather fleshy face is bright and intelligent. He wears an orange turban and a robe of the same color. His English is very good. "I have no home," said he.
I travel about from one college to another in India, lecturing to the students. Before starting for America I had been for some time in Madras. Since arriving in this country I have been treated with utmost courtesy and kindness. It is very gratifying to us to be recognized in this Parliament, which may have such an important bearing on the religious history of the world. We expect to learn much and take back some great truths to our 15,000,000 faithful Brahmins.
RELIGION NOT THE CRYING NEED OF INDIA*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 123-26.)
[A verbatim transcript of the address, delivered at the Parliament of Religions, September 20, 1893]
(Cf. "Religion Not the Crying Need of India", Complete Works, I: 20, for select quotations from the full address.)
[Chicago Inter Ocean, September 21, 1893]
At the close of the reading of Mr. Headland's paper on "Religion in Peking" Dr. Momerie announced that the other speakers bulletined for the evening had failed to appear. It was but 9 o'clock, and the main auditorium and galleries were well filled. There was an outburst of applause as they caught sight of the Hindoo monk, Vivekananda, sitting in his orange robe and scarlet turban upon the platform.
This popular Hindoo responded to the generous applause by saying that he did not come to speak to-night. He took occasion, however, to criticise many of the statements made in the paper by Mr. Headland. Referring to the poverty which prevails in China, he said that the missionaries would do better to work in appeasing hunger than in endeavoring to persuade the Chinese to renounce their faith of centuries and embrace Christianity at [as] the price of food. And then the Hindu stepped back on the platform and whispered to Bishop Keane, of the Catholic church, a moment.
He then resumed his address by saying that Bishop Keane had told him that Americans would not be offended at honest criticism. He said he had heard of all the terrible things and horrible conditions which prevail in China but he had not heard that any asylums had been erected by Christians for remedying all these difficulties. He said:
Christian brethren of America, you are so fond of sending out missionaries to save the souls of heathens. I ask you what have you done and are doing to save their bodies from starvation? (Applause). In India, there are 300,000,000 men and women living on an average of a little more than 50 cents a month. I have seen them living for years upon wild flowers. Whenever there was a little famine hundreds of thousands died of starvation. Christian missionaries come and offer life but only on condition that the Hindoos become Christians, abandoning the faith of their fathers and forefathers. Is it right? There are hundreds of asylums, but if the Mohammedans or the Hindoos go there they would be kicked out. There are thousands of asylums erected by Hindoos where anybody would be received. There are hundreds of churches that have been erected with the assistance of the Hindoos, but no Hindoo temples for which a Christian has given a penny.
What the East Needs
Brethren of America, the crying evil of the East is not religion. We have more than religion enough; what they want is bread, but they are given a stone. (Applause). It is an insult to a suffering man dying of hunger to preach to him metaphysics. Therefore, if you wish to illustrate the meaning of "brotherhood" treat the Hindoo more kindly, even though he be a Hindoo and is faithful to his religion. Send missionaries to them to teach them how better to earn a better piece of bread and not to teach them metaphysical nonsense. (Great applause).
And then the monk said he was in ill health today and wished to be excused. But there were thunders of applause and cries of "Go on" and Mr. Vivekananda continued.
The paper just read says something about the miserable and ignorant priest. The same may be said of India. I am one of those monks who have been described as beggarly. That is the pride of my life. (Applause). I am proud in that sense to be Christ-like. I eat what I have today and think not of tomorrow. "Behold the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin." The Hindoo carries that out literally. Many gentlemen present in Chicago sitting on this platform can testify that for the last twelve years I never knew whence my next meal was coming. I am proud to be a beggar for the sake of the Lord. The idea in the east is [that] to preach or teach anything for the sake of money is low and vulgar, but to teach the name of the Lord for pay is such a degradation as would cause the priest to lose caste and be spat upon. There is one suggestion in the paper that is true: If the priests of China and India were organized there is an enormous amount of potential energy which could be used for regeneration of society and humanity. I endeavored to organize it in India, but failed for lack of money. It may be I shall get the help I want in America. But we know it is very hard for a heathen to get any help from "Christian people". (Great applause). I have heard so much of this land of freedom, of liberty and freedom of thought that I am not discouraged. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
And then the popular visitor bowed gracefully and sought to retire with a graceful smile, but the audience cried to him to proceed. Mr. Vivekananda, fairly bubbling with an expression of good nature, then explained the Hindoo theory of [re]incarnation. At the close of the address Dr. Momerie [a delegate from England] said that he now understood why the newspapers had well called this parliament an approach to the millennium. . . .
THE CHICAGO LETTER
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 162-63.)
[New York Critic, November 11, 1893]
. . .It was an outgrowth of the Parliament of Religions, which opened our eyes to the fact that the philosophy of the ancient creeds contains much beauty for the moderns. When we had once clearly perceived this, our interest in their exponents quickened, and with characteristic eagerness we set out in pursuit of knowledge. The most available means of obtaining it, after the close of the Parliament, was through the addresses and lectures of Suami Vivekananda, who is still in this city. His original purpose in coming to this country was to interest Americans in the starting of new industries among the Hindoos, but he has abandoned this for the present, because he finds that, as "the Americans are the most charitable people in the world," every man with a purpose comes here for assistance in carrying it out. When asked about the relative condition of the poor here and in India, he replied that our poor would be princes there, and that he had been taken through the worst quarter of the city only to find it, from the standpoint of his knowledge, comfortable and even pleasant.
A Brahmin of the Brahmins, Vivekananda gave up his rank to join the brotherhood of monks, where all pride of caste is voluntarily relinquished. And yet he bears the mark of race upon his person. His culture, his eloquence, and his fascinating personality have given us a new idea of Hindoo civilization. He is an interesting figure, his fine, intelligent, mobile face in its setting of yellows, and his deep, musical voice prepossessing one at once in his favor. (The Swami quoted this passage in his letter to Shri Haridas Viharidas Desai, written November 15, 1893 (Vide Complete Works, VIII: 327).) So it is not strange that he has been taken up by the literary clubs, has preached and lectured in churches, until the life of Buddha and the doctrines of his faith have grown familiar to us. He speaks without notes, presenting his facts and his conclusions with the greatest art, the most convincing sincerity; and rising at times to a rich, inspiring eloquence. As learned and cultivated, apparently, as the most accomplished Jesuit, he has also something Jesuitical in the character of his mind; but though the little sarcasms thrown into his discourses are as keen as a rapier, they are so delicate as to be lost on many of his hearers. Nevertheless his courtesy is unfailing, for these thrusts are never pointed so directly at our customs as to be rude. At present he contents himself with enlightening us in regard to his religion and the words of its philosophers. He looks forward to the time when we shall pass beyond idolatry - now necessary in his opinion to the ignorant classes, - beyond worship, even, to a knowledge of the presence of God in nature, of the divinity and responsibility of man. "Work out your own salvation," he says with the dying Buddha; "I cannot help you. No man can help you. Help yourself."
RELIGIONS OF INDIA
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 191.)
Viva Kananda, the Hindoo Orator Delivers an Interesting Lecture
(Of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. Complete Works, III: 481 for a less comprehensive report of the same lecture.)
[Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin at Madison, November 21, 1893]
A crowded house greeted Viva Kananda at the Congregational Church last evening. The speaker was attired in native costume, which consisted of a cream turban, with yellow gown and cardinal sash.
The first part of the lecture was devoted to illustrating the many resemblances of Sanscrit [sic], the language of the Hindoos, to that of English. They have no word in their language which means salvation; to them it is freedom from bondage. They believe that man's real nature is perfect, and that cause and effect controls all except God. Religion was aptly illustrated by the story of the blind men who each felt of a portion of a huge elephant, and each thought the animal like the particular part he felt of it; so with religion each of the various sects have a part of the whole truth, while truth itself is infinite and no man can say "I have seen it all."
The Hindoo belief was shown to be one of the most charitable of beliefs. Persecution is something unknown in India; there is no such word in their language. The lecturer challenged the world to show an instance in Hindoo progress, of a Christian missionary being persecuted. A Greek historian, writing of them said: "No Hindoo man is dishonest, no Hindoo woman unchaste."Viva Kananda came to this country from India in the interest of the world's congress of religions, and his lecture last evening on the "Religions of India," was an inspiration to all who heard him. He has a pleasant, clear-cut, dusky face, and a decidedly impressive manner and bearing. His voice is low and pleasant, with a secret something which rivets your attention at the start.
ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE
SUCH IS THE MESSAGE BROUGHT FROM INDIA
BY A HINDU MONK
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 200-202.)
[Daily Iowa Capitol, November 28, 1893]
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA TELLS OF ANCIENT FAITH
SPEAKS AGAIN TONIGHT
(The lecture was "The Hindu Religion", delivered November 27, 1893, of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. Complete Works, III: 482-84 for different highlights of the same lecture.)
It was a rare as well as an odd treat which the people of Des Moines enjoyed last evening at the Central Church of Christ. A monk, of the ancient faith of Brahma, made a happy presentation of that faith, not so much of its peculiarities as of its underlying principles. The audience was a good sized one, perhaps 500 or 600 persons being present. The main floor being well filled and there were perhaps a couple of hundred in the gallery. The speaker opened by saying that all religious systems were an attempt to answer the question What am I? This and the kindred ones, Whence Come I? and Whither Am I Going? are constantly recurring. Without following the speaker throughout the entire lecture, suffice it to say, that underlying the Hindu religion according to the speaker is the belief that "We are all divine". In each is a conscious spirit that survives the body and the mind and is a part of the absolute. The speaker very ably defended religion against the attacks of science. The latter can use only the five senses, and unless a thing can be proven to be by these senses [it] is disposed to doubt its existence. But does science know that there are only five senses? The speaker contended for the existence of a super sensuous sense; through which man obtains revelations of spiritual truths. The Hindu word for revelation is "Veda". Hence the "Vedas" are the revelations. These writings are not confined to those of the Hindus, but include those of all peoples; because said the speaker, all religions are true.
When "revelations" undertake to tell of material things they enter upon a domain which belongs to science and are not to be accepted. There was an ancient superstition that because Moses gave a revelation of the will of God, therefore everything Moses wrote must be true. There is a modern superstition that, because there are mistakes in the writings of Moses, therefore nothing Moses wrote is true. When Moses wrote the tables of the law he was inspired. When he told of the creation what he said was merely the speculations of Moses the Jew.
The speaker was not favorably impressed with the efforts to make Hindu converts - perverts he calls them - to Christianity, nor the converse. All religions being true, such perversions serve no good end. The Hindu religion the speaker claimed is not disposed to antagonize any belief; it absorbs them. As for tolerating different beliefs, the language of the Hindu has no word corresponding with the English word "intolerance". That language had a word for religion and one for sect. The former embraced all beliefs. The conception of the latter the speaker illustrated by telling the story of the frog, who had no idea there was any world outside the well in which he had always lived.
The speaker urged his hearers to cultivate the divine within them and to discard the "nonsense" of sects.
The lecturer is an able, dignified and forcible speaker. His mastery of English is perfect, there being only the faintest indications of a foreign accent. The lecturer was followed with closest attention by the audience. After the lecture, the speaker consented to answer questions to a portion of the audience that remained for that purpose. In the course of the answers he said that the Hindus were altogether opposed to the destruction of the life of any animal. He admitted the worship of the sacred cow. He said further that the Hindus had nothing answering to our church organizations. He was his own priest, bishop and pope. . . .
A MESSAGE FROM INDIA
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 204-6.)
Vive Kananda, the Famous Hindoo Monk and Scholar,
Appears in Des Moines
[Iowa State Register, November 28, 1893]
A YOUNG MAN OF THIRTY YEARSAND A BIG, ACTIVE BRAIN AND TRUE HEART
The people of Des Moines had a glimpse of Oriental life and thought at its best yesterday, from the lips of the famous Hindoo monk, Swami Vive Kananda. A central figure in the great Parliament of Religions at Chicago this summer, where he coped with some of the greatest minds of the country with honor to himself and his people, he gave those who heard him, and especially those who met him at Dr. Breeden's, something new to think about. It was a message from over the sea, from another people of wholly different surroundings, training, customs and traditions, but as the monk says, the basic principles are the same in all religions. It is his doctrine that there is good in all religions and he preaches it with great power. . . .
Yesterday afternoon he met a large number of the brightest women in Des Moines, members of the various literary clubs, at the invitation of Mrs. H. O. Breeden, at her home, 1318 Woodland avenue, (An informal talk of which there is no verbatim transcript available.) and he talked to them for two or three hours about his religion, his view of Christianity, in which he heartily concurs, and of the manners and customs of his people. The thing which Vive Kananda most strongly insists upon is that the Hindoo religion is not to be blamed for all that is bad in India any more than Christianity is to be blamed for all that is bad in America. And he insists that it is absurd to give Christianity credit for all the marvelous undertakings and achievements of the people who cherish it. He joins in the praise of the sublime things in the bible [sic], but says that when Moses undertook to speak of the creation of the world, he was merely Moses, the Jew and nothing more.
This view from the other side, and a sympathetic side at that, is a most helpful and instructive and intensely interesting one. Vive Kananda uses the purest English, for he was well educated in the English university, Calcutta.
He praises the American women most enthusiastically.
I do not know what would have become of me if it had not been for your women,
he said to a reporter for The Register last night.
They took me up and took care of me and made all necessary arrangements for me. They are the best women in the world. They have been so kind to me,
[the Swami said] with a grateful smile.
. . . . . .
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 206-7.)
[Daily Iowa Capitol, November 29, 1893]
Swami Vivekananda last night talked of reincarnation. (Of which there is no verbatim transcript available.) It is based, he contended, on the fact that there never has been a new creation; that creation has existed coevally with God from all eternity. Departed souls find bodies to inhabit either better or worse than their former tenement, according as they made them fit for one or the other. The lecturer will speak again on Thanksgiving evening at the same place on the manners and customs of India.
AN INTELLECTUAL FEAST
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 208.)
[Iowa State Register, November 30, 1893]
The remarkable discussions started by the famous Hindu monk, Vive Kananda, were the topic of interest in intellectual circles yesterday. Especially so was his comment on the work of American missionaries in India, and his strong defense of his own people and morals and religion. His position is that the people of India do not need any more religion, but training in the practical things of life that will enable them to cope with the English who have occupied India. Vive Kananda was the guest of Mr. F. W. Lehman and Mr. O. H. Perkins yesterday and in their company visited the state house, which he very much admired. He took a special interest in the portraits of the American Indians that he saw there. . . .
A PRAYER MEETING*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 207.)
[Des Moines Daily News, November 30, 1893]
Vivekananda attended a prayer meeting Wednesday evening and witnessed the baptism of two young women. The service impressed him very much. He said:
I see. The sentiment is ennobling and the ceremony beautiful. It is the more impressive that the minister is honest, earnest and believes what he says.
ON AMERICAN WOMEN*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 208.)
[Daily Iowa Capitol, November 30, 1893]
The now celebrated Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda will lecture for the last time in Des Moines tonight. He will speak on "Life in India" ["Manners and Customs of India"] a most interesting theme. The renowned Hindu is a brilliant man about 30 years old. He says American women are lovely, but American men are entirely too practical.
ON THE BRAHMO SAMAJ*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 215.)
[Iowa State Register, December 1, 1893]
Before he left the city [Des Moines, Iowa], Vive Kananda took occasion to say a warm word of praise for the Bramo-Somaj [sic], the work it is doing in India, especially for the women, and of its representative in this country. The visit of Vive Kananda, stirring as it did the intellectual centers of the city to their depths and starting a lively religious discussion, prepared the way for the present visitor [Nagarkar] from the Orient and heightened public interest in whatever he might have to say.
A WITTY HINDU
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 216-17.)
[Minneapolis Journal, December 15, 1893]
ENTERTAINS ANOTHER LARGE AUDIENCE
A large number of people assembled at the Unitarian church last evening for the purpose of listening to Swami Vivekananda of India. The customs and manners of the people of that country were described, (The lecture was "The Manners and Customs of India", of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. the following American newspaper report, "The Manners and Customs of India", for other highlights of the lecture.) and during his lecture the Brahmin took occasion to show up some of the rough points of America. He is of the humorist order and his quick replies and witty sallies rarely failed to evoke applause. He would not admit that his people were wrong in everything, but there were a great many things peculiar to India which the Americans did not approve of and yet which might be all right. He had never seen husband and wife go before a magistrate to tell their troubles. They grew up with the idea that they were to be married and they loved each other as brothers and sisters.
He described the customs of his country, the temples, the art of the juggler and all of the other peculiarities of oriental countries in a manner that was charming. Following the address a number of questions were asked by persons in the audience.
THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF INDIA*
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 217-19.)
[Minneapolis Tribune, December 15, 1893]
Swami Vive Kananda, the Brahmin priest, was greeted by a packed house last evening at the First Unitarian Church, when he appeared before his second Minneapolis audience. Vive Kananda is a bright, quick witted talker, ready at all points to attack or defend, and inserts a humor into his speeches that is not lost upon his auditors. He spoke last evening under the auspices of the Kappa Kappa Gammas of the University, and the audience embraced a large number of earnest thinking men and women, pleased to be enlightened upon the "Manners and Customs of India," which was his chosen subject. (Of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. the preceding American newspaper report, "A witty Hindu", for other highlights of the lecture.)
Robed in his native garb, with his hands for the most part clasped behind his back, Kananda paces back and forth the narrow platform, talking as he paces, with long pauses between his sentences, as if willing that his words should sink into the deepest soil. His talk is not so weighty that the frivolous mind may not appreciate some of his sayings, but he also speaks a philosophy that carries gravest truth. He tells of the manners and customs of India, of the divided life between the male and female, of the reverence for and holiness of women, and again of their degeneracy; of the calm and peaceful life, that yet is not true life because it is not liberty; he speaks of the Mohammedans, who form one-fifth of the Indian population, and that 65,000,000, equal to the entire population of the United States. He describes the magnificence of the temples, the art of the jugglers, who are the gypsies of the Indian race, and he touches upon the superstitions of the people, of how they fill the water jars and stand them in the doorway before starting on a journey; he speaks of the metaphysical knowledge of the plowman, who yet only knows that he "pays taxes to the government"; he admits the reverence of the Hindu for the river Ganges, and his ever lingering wish that he shall die on its banks; he tells all these things in a quiet, half supercilious voice that presently leads to some remark on the American way of doing things, and then his audience is in a ripple of laughter, and a tremor of clapping expresses amused acknowledgement of his sarcasm. . . .
When someone at the close of his lecture asked him "What class of people are reached and converted by the missionaries?" he quickly replied, "You know as much about that, the American sees the reports, we never do", he has turned the query into a cause for smiling, and while the house regains its composure he paces quietly to and fro. The address was followed with the closest attention and was supplemented by several questions and answers among the audience, from whom he invited interrogation.
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 366-69.)
[Detroit Tribune, February 18, 1894]
ITS RECENT EXPRESSION BY VIVE KANANDA.
HIS MISSION WORTHY THE SERIOUS ATTENTIONOF AMERICANS.
THE TWO REMARKABLE THINGS IN THE UNITED STATES
WHICH GRATIFIES THE DISTINGUISHED PAGAN - WHAT
ENVIRONMENT WILL DO FOR ANY PEOPLE - RAP AT
There has seldom been such a sensation in cultured circles in Detroit, as that created by the advent of Swami Vive Kananda, the learned Hindu monk, whose exceptional command of our own language has enabled us to receive impressions concerning ourselves from an oriental standpoint and to acquire knowledge of a people of whose peculiar civilization and philosophy we have heard so much.
Both in public and private the Hindu brother has talked freely and frankly. He acknowledges that the masses in India are very poor, very ignorant and are divided into a diversity of sects, with forms of worship varying from downright idolatry to the broadest and most liberal form of divine conception based on the brotherhood of man and the oneness of God. His mission, he says, is not to proselyte us - to try and make us think as he does - but to get means to start a college in India for the education of teachers who are to go among the common people and work a reform of existing evils, of which there are many. He states that India is priest-ridden to a harrowing degree. It is priest-craft that distorts truth and perpetuates ignorance. It is priest-craft that substitutes its own crude and narrow interpretations for truth, which perverts the people and prevents their moral progression. The Swami regards all sects and creeds from a broad basis. He even sees good in idolatry. It is an ideal, he thinks, for the ignorant whose mental capacity is insufficient to grasp abstract ideas, and who require a direct personification in some material form. He frankly states that we of the occident are also retarded in our progression by too much priest-craft, and that we are not free from idolatrous practices, in that some of our sects worship shrines, figures and pictures and even the sanctity with which the rostrum and pulpit of a modern church is regarded is an ideal idolatry.
Two Remarkable Things in This Country
The Swami notes two most remarkable things in this country, when asked his frank opinion of us: First, the superiority of our women, as regards influence in position and intellect. Second, in our charities and treatment of the poor, he says, we have almost solved the problem as to what shall be done with them. Not only in this, in the direction of hospitals and charitable institutions, but in our tremendous development of labor-saving machinery. He has no admiration for our material progress, as it does not make man better, nor for our boasted civilization, as we only ape and imitate the customs and manners of the English - sometimes to a very ridiculous extent. We are yet too young, to have a distinctive civilization; we have yet to assimilate the human sewerage of Europe we have allowed to be poured upon us, before we produce a distinct American type.
[The writer goes on to say that the Swami's Indian background makes it difficult for him to understand that Western competitiveness is not undesirable but a primal law of nature itself - the survival of the fittest - and that inasmuch as "the dreamy and sentimental philosophy of the Hindoos" accounts for their poverty, degradation, and domination by a "mere handful of Englishmen," the Swami would do well neither to ignore nor to despise the materialism of the West. Having thus editorialized, he continues:]
His Criticism of Missionaries
If what he states is true about the results accomplished by foreign missions in India, the various boards of these various organizations would do well to consult him and follow his advice. It is for the betterment of his people he is here. But he says missionary work does no good; only adds additional sects and creeds to an already sect-ridden country; that the teachings of the Vedas, with which every Hindoo is familiar, is identical with the teachings of Christ. He makes the reasonable plea that foreign creeds and dogmas are not consonant with their inherited proclivities or civilization, and are consequently difficult to propagate.
The mission of Kananda is, however, one that should commend it[self] to every lover of humanity. He hopes to see the best of our material philosophy and progress infused into Hindoo civilization, and that, also, we may take lessons from them, until we shall all become, as we once were in ages past, brother Aryans, possessing a common civilization - the exalted philosophy of non-self, being alike without sect or creed in oneness with God.
FRED H. SEYMOUR.
A GOD EVERY DAY
[Detroit Tribune, February 19, 1894]
RABBIGROSSMAN IS REFRESHED BY SWAMI VIVE KANANDA
. . . "I take your Jesus," Kananda said last Saturday evening [February 17]. (Vide "The Divinity of Man" (Complete Works, III: 496-501) and "Is India a Benighted Country?" (Complete Works, IV: 198-202 ).)
I take him to my heart as I take all the great and good of all lands and of all times. But you, will you take my Krishna to your heart? No - you cannot, you dare not - still you are the cultured and I am the heathen. . . .
VIVE KANANDA LEAVES
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 380.)
[Detroit Journal, February 23, 1894]
HE TELLS SOMETHING
ABOUT THE CONDITIONS OF HINDOO LABORERS.
Swami Vive Kananda repaid the admiration of his lady acquaintances by writing verses, at the same time religious and semi-sentimental, yesterday afternoon. He departed this morning for Ada, O. [Ohio].
In a conversation concerning the material condition of the Hindu workingmen, the learned monk said that the poor lived on porridge alone. The laborer ate a breakfast of porridge, went off to his daily toil and returned in the evening to another breakfast of porridge and called it dinner. In most of the provinces the farmers were so poor that they could not afford to eat any of the wheat raised. A day laborer on a farm received only 12 pence a day, but a dollar in India brought 10 times as much as it would in this country. Cotton was raised, but its fiber was so short it had to be woven by hand, and even then it was necessary to import American and Egyptian cotton to mix with it.
CULTURE AT HOME
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 365.)
[Detroit Evening News, February 25, 1894]
ANECDOTES OF SWAMI VIVE KANANDA'S VISIT TO DETROIT.
Anecdotes of Swami Vive Kananda's visit are numerous and amusing - at least they must have been amusing to him, although a little humiliating to the American self-love. One lady said:
"I really was ashamed at the contrast between the knowledge possessed by him and by some of our Detroit men who consider themselves gentlemen of culture. At one dinner party a gentleman asked Kananda what books he would advise him to read on chemistry, whereupon the Hindu monk responded with a long list of English works on this science, which one would naturally expect an American to know more about than a Hindu. Another gentleman followed by a request as to books on astronomy, to which Kananda obligingly answered with another equally good list of English astronomical works. But his growing astonishment reached its climax when a lady spoke of 'The Christ,' and said, 'What do those words mean?' He again furnished the desired information, but in a tone growing slightly sarcastic."
Probably the choicest example of nineteenth century civilization and culture was given by a lady, who asked Kananda if he liked the English. He very naturally responded that he did not. Then she continued, with fine tact, to pursue the subject still further by touching references to that pleasant event, the Sepoy rebellion. As the Hindu grew excited she smiled at him ironically and said:
"I thought I could disturb your philosophical Eastern calm."
KANANDA, THE PAGAN
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 410-16.)
[Detroit Tribune, March 11, 1894]
ATTACKED CHRISTIAN MISSIONS IN LAST NIGHT'S LECTURE.
AND HIS WORDS WERE WARMLY APPLAUDED
BY THE AUDIENCE.
CHRISTIAN NATIONS KILL AND MURDER, HE SAID, AND IMPORT
DISEASE INTO FOREIGN COUNTRIES, THEN ADD INSULT TO
INJURY BY PREACHING OF A CRUCIFIED CHRIST.
Swami Vive Kananda lectured to a very large audience at the Detroit Opera House last night on "Christian Missions in India.", (Cf. "Christianity in India", Complete Works, VIII: 214-9, for a somewhat less comprehensive report of the same lecture.) One could believe that the lecture was intended as an answer to the many statements of missionaries which have been aimed at Kananda during the past two weeks in this city.
Kananda was introduced by Honorable Thomas W. Palmer last night, who recited a fable by way of preface. "Two knights of honor once met on the field," he said, "and seeing a shield hanging on a tree they halted. One said: 'What a very fine silver shield.' The other replied that it was not silver but copper. Each disputed the other's statement until at last they got off their horses, tied them to the tree, and drawing their swords fought for several hours. After they were both well spent by the loss of blood they staggered against each other and fell on the opposite sides from where they had been fighting. Then one glanced up at the pendant shield and said: 'You were right, my friend. The shield is copper.' The other looked up and said: 'It is I who was mistaken. The shield is silver.' If they had looked at both sides of the shield in the first place it would have saved the loss of much blood. I think that if we looked at both sides of every question there would be less argument and fighting.
"We have with us tonight a gentleman who, from the christian standpoint is, I suppose, a pagan. But he belongs to a religion which was old long before ours was thought of by men. I am sure that it will be pleasant to hear from the copper side of the shield. We have looked at it only from the silver side. Ladies and Gentlemen, Swami Vive Kananda."
Kananda, who had remained seated on the stage during Mr. Palmer's remarks, stepped to the front, clad in the orange robe and unique turban of the Brahman [sic] priest, bowed in acknowledgement of the welcoming applause, and launched at once into his subject.
What India Is
[The Swami said:]
I do not know about the efforts of christian missionaries in China and Japan except through reading the books and literature on the subject, but I can speak about the efforts of christianizing India. But before I go into this I want to place before you an idea of what India is.
Then he explained in detail how the 300,000,000 inhabitants of India are divided into castes, between which there can be no affiliation, how the natives of the south cannot understand the language of the ones of the north, and vice versa. He told how the lower caste lived on the flesh of dead animals, and never bathed their bodies, and how impossible it would be for the higher class to mingle with them, although they were granted the protection of the same laws.
He referred to the first appearance of the christians in an attempt to evangelize the followers of Buddah [Buddha]. They were Spaniards, he said, and they discovered a temple near Ceylon, in which was presented a tooth of Buddah as a sacred relic. "The Spaniard christians thought that their God commanded them to go and fight and kill and murder," he said,
and so they seized the tooth of Buddah and destroyed it. By the way, it was not a tooth of Buddah at all, but a relic manufactured by the priests - it was a foot long. (Laughter)
Every religion has its miracles; you needn't laugh because the tooth was a foot long. Well, after the Spaniards took away the tooth they converted a few hundred and killed a few thousands; and there Spain stops in the history of missionary efforts among the Buddhists.
The Portugese [sic] christians, he said, discovered the great temple at Bombay, built in the form of a body with three heads, in representation of the trinity as the Hindoo believes in a trinity.
"The Portugese saw it and couldn't explain it," said Kananda, with a sarcastic ring in his voice, and so they concluded that it was of the devil, and gathered their forces and knocked off the three heads of the temple. The devil is such a handy man. I am sorry to see him so fast disappearing.
Then Kananda outlined the various stages of christian evangelization in India, and paid very high tribute to two or three missionaries, who, he said, had been great exceptions to the rule, and lived among the people to uplift and minister to their needs.
Antagonize Native Interests
The Hindoo priest told how as soon as the land came into possession of the English people every village had its white colony, which huddled itself together and withdrew from all association with the natives. Then when the missionaries reached the country, he said, they would naturally go at once among the English people, who sympathized with them and with whom they could converse. The missionaries know nothing of the native language, he says, and so they cannot dwell with the people. Most of them are married and for the sake of getting their wives into the English society they identify themselves with all their interests, and in doing so directly antagonize the interests of the natives, and make it impossible to get in touch with them.
"We sometimes have famines in India," he said.
And so the young missionaries will hang about the fag end of a famine and give a starving native 5 shillings, and there you have him, a ready-made christian; take him. That was probably a baptist missionary, and so when a methodist missionary comes along he gives the same native 5 shillings, and his name is again registered as a convert. The only band of converts around each missionary is composed of those dependent upon him for a living. They have to be christians or starve. And they are dwindling as the money supply decreases. I am glad if you want to make christians in India by giving work and bread to the poor. God speed you to do that. There is one benefit that must be credited to the missionary movement. It makes education cheap. The missionaries bring some money with them from the people who send them, and the Indian government appropriates some, so that there are some very good colleges and schools available to the natives through missionaries. But I will be frank with you. There are no conversions from the schools to the christian religion. The Hindoo boy is very clever. He takes the bait, but never gets the hook.
The speaker said that the lady missionary goes into certain houses, gets four shillings a month, reads the Bible, while the native girls give indifferent attention, and teaches them to knit while they pay very keen attention. The girls, like the boys, he said are always alert to learn practical things, but they will give little heed to the christian religion, although they will espouse it if necessary to get the other advantages.
Most Missionaries Incompetent
"The most of the men whom you send us as missionaries are incompetent," he said.
I have never known of a single man who has studied Sanscrit [sic] before going to India as a missionary and yet all our books and literature are printed in it. He suggested as an explanation of the visits of the missionaries that "perhaps the atheism and scepticism at home is pushing the missionaries out all over the world." When in India he said he had thought the sole business of christianity [was] to send all people to the fires of hell, but since coming to America he has found that there are a great many liberal men. He referred to the parliament of religions, and told how a certain editor of a presbyterian paper had written an article at the close of the parliament entitled "The Lying Hindoo," in which he had scored him very severely.
In the article the editor said that "while in the parliament he was here as our guest, but now that it is over we ought to make an enthusiastic attack against him and his false doctrines."
In referring to the medical missionaries in India Kananda said:
India requires health, but it must be health for people. And how can you help our people if you do not get in touch with them? When you come to us as missionaries you ought to throw over all idea of nationality. Jesus didn't go about among the English officials attending champagne suppers. He didn't care to have his wife get into high European society. If your missionary does not follow Christ what right has he to call himself a christian? We want missionaries of Christ. Let such come to India by the hundreds and thousands. Bring Christ's life to us and let it permeate the very core of society. Let Him be preached in every village and corner of India. But don't have your missionaries choose their profession as a means of livelihood. Let them have the call of Christ. Let them feel within that they were born for that work. As far as converting India to christianity is concerned, there is no hope. If it were possible it ought not to be done. It would be dangerous; it would mark the destruction of all religions. If the whole universe should come to have the same temperament, physical or mental, destruction would immediately result. Why couldn't you convert the Jew? Why couldn't you make the Persians christians? Why is it that to every African who becomes a christian 100 become followers of Mohammed? Why can't you make an impression on India and China, and Japan? Because oneness of mental temperament all over the world would be death. Nature is too wise to allow such things.
Filled the World with Bloodshed
[The Swami said:] The christian nations have filled the world with bloodshed and tyranny. It is their day now. You kill and murder and bring drunkenness and disease in our country, and then add insult to injury by preaching Christ and Him crucified. What christian voice goes through the land protesting against such horrors? I have never heard any. You drink the idea in your mothers' milk that you are angels and we are devils. It is not enough that there be sunlight; you must have the eyes to see it. It is not only necessary that there be goodness in people; you must have the appreciation of goodness within yourselves in order to distinguish it. This is in every heart until it has been murdered by superstition and hideous blasphemy.
Then Kananda drew a very beautiful simile to illustrate that the essential truths of all religions are [the] same, and all else is but incidental and unimportant environment. He told how the savage man might find a few jewels, and prizing them, tie them with a rude thong and string them about his neck. As he became slightly civilized he would perhaps exchange the thong for a string. Becoming still more enlightened he would fasten his jewels with a silken cord; and when possessed of a high civilization he would make an elaborate gold setting for his treasures. But throughout all the changes in settings the jewels - the essentials -would remain the same.
If the Hindoo wishes to criticize the christian religion he talks of the fables and miracles, and all the nonsense of the Bible, but he does not say one word in disparagement of the sermon on the mount, or of the beautiful life of Jesus. And so when the christian criticizes the Hindoo religion he talks about the dogmas and the temples, but he says nothing [should say nothing] against the morality and philosophy of the Hindoo. Help the Jew and let him help you. Help the Hindoo and let him help you. I deny that any human being has the faculty of seeing good at all who cannot see it in all places. There is the same beauty in the character of Christ and the character of Buddah. It is not an assimilation that we want, but adjustment and harmony. I ask the preachers to give up, first, the idea of nationality; and second, the idea of sects. God's children have no sects.
Much has been said about the ladies of India, and of their faults and condition. There are faults; God help us to make them right. We are thankful for your criticism of our women. But while you are speaking of them I will say that I should be glad to see a dozen spiritual women in America. Nice dress, wealth, brilliant society, operas, novels - . Even intellectuality is not all that there is for a man or woman. There should be also spirituality, but that side is entirely absent from christian countries. They live in India.
Vive Kananda's large audience listened very respectfully to his remarks last night, and once or twice applauded heartily.
AS THE WAVE FOLLOWS WAVE
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 441-43.)
[Detroit Tribune, March 20, 1894]
SO SOUL FOLLOWS SOUL, ACCORDING TO KANANDA.
Vive Kananda lectured to an audience of about 150 [according to the Journal, 500] at the Auditorium last night upon "Buddhism, the Religion of the Light of Asia." (Of which there is no verbatim report available.) Honorable Don M. Dickinson introduced him to the audience.
"Who shall say that this system of religion is divine and that doomed?" asked Mr. Dickinson in his introductory remarks. "Who shall draw the mystic line?"
He also said that at one time the followers of Buddha were the unwilling allies of the christian religion. Kananda appeared in a robe of orange yellow with a sash-like cord about the waist, and a turban draped out of some eastern cloth of silken texture, the flowing end of which was brought in front over one shoulder.
Vive Kananda reviewed at length the early religions of India. He told of the great slaughter of animals on the altar of sacrifice; of Buddha's birth and life; of his puzzling questions to himself over the causes of creation and the reasons for existence; of the earnest struggle of Buddha to find the solution of creation and life; of the final result.
Buddha, he said, stood head and shoulders above all other men. He was one, he said, [of] whom his friends or enemies could never say that he drew a breath or ate a crumb of bread but for the good of all.
"He never preached transmigration of the soul," said Kananda,
except he believed one soul was to its successor like the wave of the ocean that grew and died away, leaving naught to the succeeding wave but its force. He never preached that there was a God, nor did he deny there was a God.
"Why should we be good?" his disciples asked of him.
"Because," he said, "you inherited good. Let you in your turn leave some heritage of good to your successors. Let us all help the onward march of accumulated goodness, for goodness' sake."
He was the first prophet. He never abused any one or arrogated anything to himself. He believed in our working out our own salvation in religion.
"I can't tell you," he said, on his death bed, "nor any one. Depend not on any one. Work out your own religion [salvation]."
He protested against the inequality of man and man, or of man and beast. All life was equal, he preached. He was the first man to uphold the doctrine of prohibition in liquors. "Be good and do good," he said. "If there is a God you have him by being good. If there is no God, being good is good. He is to be blamed for all he suffers. He is to be praised for all his good."
He was the first who brought the missionaries into existence. He came as a savior to the downtrodden millions of India. They could not understand his philosophy, but they saw the man and his teachings and they followed him.
In conclusion Kananda said that Buddhism was the foundation of the christian religion; that the catholic church came from Buddhism.
(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, p. 436.)
[Detroit Evening News, March 21, 1894]
Curiosity, says our Hindoo visitor, is the most conspicuous trait of the American people, but he added that it is the way to knowledge. This has long been the European estimate of the American, or more strictly the Yankee character, and perhaps the Hindoo's comment was an echo of what he had heard the Englishmen in India say of the "Yankee."
A HINDOO MONK
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 6-7. Cf. "Swami Vivekananda on India", (Complete Works, II: 479-81.)
[Bay City Times Press, March 21, 1894]
He gave an interesting lecture at the Opera House last evening. It is rarely that Bay City people have the opportunity of listening to a lecture similar to the one given last evening by Swami Vive Kananda. The gentleman is a native of India, having been born at Calcutta about 30 years ago. The lower floor of the Opera house was about half filled when the speaker was introduced by Dr. C. T. Newkirk. During his discourse, he scored the people of this country for their worship of the almighty dollar. It is true that there is caste in India. There, a murderer can never reach the top. Here, if he gets a million dollars he is as good as any one. In India, if a man is a criminal once, he is degraded forever. One of the great factors in the Hindoo religion is its tolerance of other religions and beliefs. Missionaries are much more severe on the religions of India than upon that of other Oriental countries, because the Hindoos allow them to be, thus carrying out one of their cardinal beliefs, that of toleration. Kananda is a highly educated and polished gentleman. It is said that he was asked in Detroit if the Hindoos throw their children into the river. Whereupon, he replied that they do not, neither do they burn witches at the stake. The speaker lectures in Saginaw tonight.
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, p. 11.)
[Saginaw Evening News, March 21, 1894]
Swami Vive Kananda, the Hindu Monk, arrived this afternoon from Bay City and is registered at the Vincent. He dresses like a well-to-do American and speaks excellent English. He is slightly above the medium height, is stoutly built and his complexion resembles that of an Indian. In answer to a question by a NEWS representative, he said he learned English from private tutors, and by contact with Europeans, who visited Hindustan. He further stated that his talk tonight would be explanatory of the religion of the Hindoo and to show that they are not heathen but believe in a future state.
THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF INDIA
(The Vedanta Kesari, 1987 Annual Issue, pp. 445-46 and New Discoveries, Vol. 2. pp. 37-39.)
[The Lynn Daily Evening Item, (date?)]
NORTH SHORE CLUB
The Meeting, Tuesday Afternoon, Addressed by Suami Vive Kananda, a Learned Monk from India - Description of the Manners and Customs of His Country
(Delivered April 17, 1894, of which there is no verbatim transcript available.)
At the meeting of the North Shore Club, Tuesday afternoon, the audience was a large and brilliant one, representing the highest culture, and including many distinguished guests. Suami Vive Kananda, from India, a learned monk, who speaks English with ease and fluency, gave an intensely interesting description of the manners and customs of his country. Suami Vive Kananda, who wore the yellow robe and turban of his order, began by saying that India is divided into two parts, the northern and the southern. In each the language and customs are so different that the speaker who was from the northern portion on meeting a fellow countryman at the Parliament of Religions from the southern, was obliged to converse with him in English, neither being able to understand the other's native language. Throughout the entire country there are nine languages and 100 dialects spoken.
There is some uniformity of religion, yet each sect is a religion and a law unto itself. Many erroneous descriptions have been written about India, based on imperfect knowledge from which inferences have been drawn that have been most prejudicial. With the Hindoo everything is subservient to religion and he gives up all that is antagonistic to it, his creed being that he is not to enjoy life but to conquer it and gain a supreme mastery over self, which is the highest type of civilization. Caste distinctions which are being obliterated are simply the Aryans and the un-Aryans - the Brahmins and the Sudras. The Brahmin, who is the child of a thousand years' culture, must lead a life of rigid discipline; but the Sudra, who is ignorant, is allowed great latitude.
Woman in the position of mother is accorded universal reverence in India. When a son who has become a monk returns to his home, his father, when greeting him, must kneel and touch his forehead to the earth; but the monk must kneel before his mother. Women in India do not throw their children into the rivers to be devoured by crocodiles. Widows are not burned on the funeral pyre of their husband unless it is a voluntary act of self-immolation.
There is no divorce allowed for the high class; a woman who leaves her husband, even if she be most degraded, holds still an interest in his property. Suami Vive Kananda recited a beautiful passage from the Legend of the Ramayana, one of the grandest poems of India, which showed what the love of a wife for her husband should be. The love of Sita for Rama. He added, "Much is said in these days of the 'survival of the fittest,'" and western nations use it as an argument against India, reasoning that their own wealth, prosperity and power show them to be greater and their religion higher and purer.
But India has seen mighty nations rise and fall whose aim has been only the power of conquest and the glory of this life. India has been repeatedly despoiled, has worn the yoke of the conqueror and borne the burden of oppression with indomitable patience and has shown tolerance to all, because she has possessed the knowledge that her people hold fast to a religion that stands securely on a high spirituality and not on the shifting sand of present enjoyment.
A LECTURE ON "INDIA AND HINDUISM"
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, p. 42.)
[New York Daily Tribune, April 25, 1894] Swami Vivekananda lectured before Mrs. Arthur Smith's conversation circle last evening at the Waldorf on "India and Hinduism." (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) Miss Sara Humbert, contralto, and Miss Annie Wilson, soprano, sang several selections. The lecturer wore an orange-colored coat and the accompanying yellow turban, which is called a beggar's suit. This is worn when a Buddhist has given up "everything for God and humanity." The theory of reincarnation was discussed. The speaker said that many clergymen who were more aggressive than learned asked: "Why one is unconscious of a former life if such a thing had been?" The reply was that "It would be childish to lay a foundation for consciousness, as man is unconscious of his birth in this life, and also of much that has transpired."
The speaker said that "no such thing" as "a Judgment Day" existed in his religion, and that his god neither punished nor rewarded. If wrong was done in any way, the natural punishment was immediate. The soul, he added, passed from one body to another, until it had become a perfect spirit, able to do without the limitations of a body. . . .
AT SMITH COLLEGE, NORTHAMPTON,
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 36-37.)
[Smith College Monthly, May 1894] On Sunday, April 15, Swami Vivekananda, the Hindoo monk whose scholarly exposition of Brahmanism caused such favorable comment at the Congress of Religions, spoke at Vespers. (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) - We say much of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, but few understand the meaning of these words. True brotherhood is possible only when the soul draws so near to the All-Father that jealousies and petty claims of superiority must vanish because we are so much above them. We must take care lest we become like the frog of the well in the old Hindoo story, who, having lived for a long time in a small place, at last denied the existence of a larger space.
A LECTURE ON INDIA AND REINCARNATION
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, p. 45.)
[New York Daily Tribune, May 3, 1894]
Swami Virekanmda [sic] lectured on "India and Reincarnation" last evening at the home of Miss Mary Phillips, No. 19 West Thirty-eighth-st. (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) He mentioned among other salient points regarding Hindooism, or Brahminism, that their religion bore no distinctive name; that it was considered that a belief in the truth of all creeds was religion, and that the belief that one certain dogma was the real and only religion was sect. The Karmic law of cause and effect was explained, also the external and internal natures in their close relations to each other. The actions in this world, as governed by a previous life and the change to still another life, were dwelt upon in detail.
. . .
LECTURE BY HINDOO MONK
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 65-68.)
Swami Vivekananda Tells About the Religion of High Caste Indians
(Of which no verbatim transcript is available.)
[Lawrence, Massachusetts, Evening Tribune, May 16, 1894]
Liberty hall was comfortably filled last evening, on the occasion of the lecture by Swami Vivekananda, the noted Brahmin monk, who was a prominent personality at the world's parliament of religions at Chicago last summer, and who is spending some time in this country, studying its manners and customs. The lecture was under the auspices of the woman's club, and was a novel and interesting occasion. The noted Hindu was pleasantly introduced by the president of the club, Miss Wetherbee, who alluded to the great antiquity of India, its wonderful history and the high intellectual qualities of the Hindu race.
The speaker of the evening was attired in native costume, namely, a bright scarlet robe, confined at the waist by a long scarf of the same color, and wore a picturesque white silk turban wound round his head. At the first glance one saw the swarthy complexion, the dark and dreamy eyes and introspective manner of a high caste Brahmin, whose life is devoted to religion and who is also a celibate. That he is a finely educated person, appeared in his wonderful command of English and his power of argument, while an occasional quotation from Milton and Dickens, showed that he was appreciative of the great English classics.
He first spoke of that striking peculiarity of the social condition of the Hindu's caste, affirming that it is not now as strict an institution as in the past, although even now everything goes by heredity. Mixture of castes, though not absolutely forbidden, entails disadvantage on the children. The Brahmin or high caste person devotes the first part of his life to the study of the Vedas or sacred books and the latter part to meditating on the divinity, being supposed to have overcome the human in himself, and to be only a soul.
The speaker did not hesitate to criticise adversely some western customs, especially some connected with the position of woman. He affirmed that we worship women in the wife, while all women to the Hindu represent the mother element. In America when a woman ceases to be young and beautiful, she has a hard time of it, but in India kings must step aside for an aged woman to pass, so great is the respect in which they are held. He affirmed that some of the most beautiful portions of the Vedas, the Hindu bible, were written by women, but that there was no other bible in this world in which they had any part.
Considerable time was given to refuting the statement, which he characterized as untrue, in regard to the cruelty practised to widows in India, the speaker referring in the course of his remarks to the zenana widows, who have been for some time the objective point of Christian missionaries from other countries. Marriage is an institution very safely guarded and, in addition to the law that a Brahmin must not marry a relative, none are allowed to marry who are known to have such a disease as consumption or any incurable physical ill. The strict rules of caste which prevent a person from drinking from the same glass as another, and other kindred regulations, although [not] part of the religion, were excellent in their result on the physical condition of a country, numbering 285 millions, in the prevention of the spread of contagious diseases. The speaker was horrified, as he might well be, at the promiscuous water drinking seen in railroad trains and stations in this country. The children are, first of all, taught kindness to all living beings and so thoroughly is this training that the smallest child instinctively turns aside from stepping on a worm. A strange thought that among these so called heathen there is no need of the society with the long name which often fails in its mission in Christian lands. The guest of a house, that is, a man who comes to the door and says, "I am hungry," is God's own image to the Hindu and is treated with the utmost kindness and consideration, being fed before the master and mistress of the establishment.
The speaker alluded sadly to the poverty of his country, for, while the upper caste live in comfort, there are millions whose only food is dried flowers, and who are so low in the scale of existence that they have hardly an identity, and are pitiful objects in the plane of existence. He hinted quite forcibly that food and education would be better than the sermons which Christians and Mohammedans had been throwing at them for the last hundred years. Many of the simple and primitive customs of this peculiar people were told with naivete and innocence that was refreshing in this age when words are used to conceal thoughts. He said there was no flirting or coquetting between their young men and maids, and that the latter did not strut forth into public places with all their bravery [finery?] on for the purpose of securing a husband, all of which made the inhabitants of this great and glorious republic wonder if something were not slightly rotten in the state of Denmark. It is well to see both sides of the shield in order to be able to decide with an unprejudiced eye, and many of the listeners went away quite puzzled in mind at hearing some of their pet American customs arraigned by a Hindu and a heathen.
The address was a most interesting one and was listened to with deep attention by all present. At the close many [questions] were presented to the thoughtful monk, who wasted very few words in social flourishes or unmeaning talk. He seemed much interested in Dr. Bowker, the only one in the audience who had ever visited the strange land which was centuries old before this republic was born.
THE BRAHMAN MONK
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 68-71.)
Swami Vivekananda the Guest of the Woman's Club
(Of which no verbatim transcript is available Cf. the preceding American newspaper report, "Lecture by Hindoo monk" of the Lawrence Evening Tribune (pp. 463-66), for other highlights of the same lecture.)
[Lawrence American and Andover Advertiser, May 18, 1894]
HE POINTS OUT THE BETTER PHASES OF BRAHMANISM.
AND DELIVERS A POINTED MESSAGE TO CHRISTIANS.
Swami Vivekananda, the Brahman monk addressed a most interested audience Tuesday night in Library Hall under the auspices of the Lawrence Woman's Club.
Miss Wetherbee introduced the speaker and prepared the way for a cordial reception which American courtesy rarely fails to give a distinguished visitor from another nation.
Miss Wetherbee wisely referred to him as a prominent personality at the World's Parliament of Religions, also to the strong impression made by him at the World's fair. . . .
. . . In his own country, in his own class, he addresses all women as mother. The Brahmin is educated thus to think of women as mother and a man may not marry his mother. In that country the mother instinct is developed in woman; in this he thought the wife instinct was cultivated, and the most beautiful thing in his lecture was his tribute to the mother, and not unnoticed was the reference to the kindness of heart of the little Hindoo child which would instinctively cause him to turn aside from his path rather than crush a worm.
The Subject of Marriage
formed a large part of his lecture. Among the high classes, called Aryans, women think of marriage as indecent [?]. A widow is not expected to ever marry again. A man who never marries, is highly praised, and indeed worshipped, but should he marry then in the minutes all would be changed. He who does not marry is looked upon as high-minded, as holy and spiritual.
Among the Aryans no money is paid in marriage [?], and as female children are largely in the majority it is one of most difficult things for a father to marry his daughter, and from the time of her birth he racks his brains to find her a husband.
With the two lower classes the rules in regard to marriage are all different. Widows marry again and wives and husbands if desirous become divorced. When a child is born an astrologer comes and casts a horoscope of the child, he delineates the future character of the boy or girl - it is decided whether he is manly or a devilish child; if devilish - he is married to one next in caste, and thus is obtained a minute chance of bettering the condition of the devilish child.
The matter of marriage is not left to the decision of the child as in that case he might marry because [he was] in love with a good nose or good eyes and so in having his own way would spoil the whole thing. The fact was emphasised that only the higher classes think of a
True Spiritual Life
and of worshiping God instead of thinking of marriage. He spoke of the pitiful condition of the lower classes, their poverty and their ignorance. Millions and millions are [un]able to write their name and yet he said:
We are all preaching sermons into them, when their hands are reaching out for bread. Poverty is so extreme in the lower classes that fifty cents a month is the average income of a Hindoo. Millions live on one poor meal a day and millions subsist on wild flowers for food.
He spoke of the idea being prevalent that there were no scholars among the women of India and stated that this was an error as many women of the Brahmins were married but became scholars, and with evident pride he referred to the fact that in no nation could one line be found
In Any Bible
that had been written by a woman excepting his own country alone where many beautiful things in their Bible had been written by women.
Swami Vivekananda did not fail to inform the audience in English words which could not be misunderstood, that the effort to raise his people by teaching them the Christian religion was a thankless task. He said:
We have seen the Greek and the Persian come to us - we have seen the Spaniard with guns come to make us Christians, still we are Hindoos and thus we shall remain.
Had Vivekananda used all the power of his flashing eyes and his expressive voice it would have been a most dramatic speech when he said:
I dare here in America to say that we of India shall stand by our religion.
He said our customs were good for us and we were welcome to them. He stood before us as he has before many a cultured American audience - he, the learned exponent of the Brahman religion, the only Hindoo who has ever come to this country to tell us - as forcibly as he dared and as politely as he could and yet be forcible, - to say no more to the poor Hindoo but to be so very kind as to mind our own business.
After the lecture many of the audience gladly availed themselves of the opportunity offered by Mr. and Mrs. Young to meet Vivekananda at their residence where he has been entertained and has proven himself to be a most delightful guest.