Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Vol-9


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 144-145.)

[Mrs. Ole Bull submitted to the Boston Evening Transcript the following report of Swami Vivekananda's public lecture at Greenacre, Maine, delivered Friday, August 3, 1894, of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Vide the notes from discourses given at Greenacre, Maine, entitled "The Religion of India", in this volume of the Complete Works.]

[Boston Evening Transcript, August 11, 1894]

A defense of Mahomet [sic] by a Hindu to a Christian audience; the lesson that all prophets are to be revered and their teachings studied reverently; that the followers of these teachers should not confound for us by their behavior the revelation made from God to man by prophecy - was the theme at Greenacre yesterday.

Clear thought and statement patiently corrected the crude and superficial adverse criticism and comment that had been made concerning the Eastern belief - reincarnation. The statement was masterful, because simple, and was brought home by illustrations familiar and commonplace. This was followed by a nobly eloquent plea for the judicial spirit in judging the history of the time and the faith of Mahomet himself and the service done the human race by the essentials of this faith as a prophet of God. Men and women present, many of whom fear the heathen, were moved as they tell us Wendell Phillips (American orator and reformer (1811-1884).) was wont to move the hard hearts to consider the sin of slavery.

Scorn, wit and intellect did noble service in all gentleness and dignity in this appeal that the defects, the horrors, of each and all religions should be put one side that the essentials common to all - the immortality of the soul, one God, the Father and his prophets sacred, each, to some division of the human family, and each having truth to give needful to all - should be recognized and reverenced to salvation.

The speaker, Swami Vivekananda, gave what only a great soul is capable of giving. It was an hour never to be forgotten. This man brought those present into the light of truth, whatever their prejudice and training, as Phillips Brooks united Unitarian and Episcopalianism, and all who love the good and true came to hold him for their bishop. So this Hindu, in his constructive thought, when he will give it, can make the power of the prophets known to us by his own presence.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 149-50 (Arena, October 1899, p. 499).)

[Swami Vivekananda's partial translation of the "Nirvânashatkam" by Shankara, recited at Greenacre, Maine, and reported in an 1894 issue of the Greenacre Voice]

(Vide the notes from discourses delivered at Greenacre, Maine, entitled "The Religion of India", in this volume of the Complete Works (pp. 267-71.)

Under the Swami's famous pine at Greenacre, Vivekananda said:

"I am neither body nor changes of the body; nor am I senses nor objects of the senses. I am Existence Absolute. Bliss Absolute. Knowledge Absolute. I am It. I am It.

"I am neither death nor fear of death; nor was I ever born, nor had I parents. I am Existence Absolute. Bliss Absolute. Knowledge Absolute. I am It. I am It.

"I am not misery nor have I misery. I am not enemy nor have I enemies. I am Existence Absolute. Bliss Absolute. Knowledge Absolute. I am It. I am It.

"I am without form, without limit, beyond space, beyond time; I am in everything, I am the basis of the universe - everywhere am I. I am Existence Absolute. Bliss Absolute. Knowledge Absolute. I am It. I am It."


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 154-155.)

[Boston Evening Transcript, August 15, 1894] A short résumé is given below of the last of the talks of Vivekananda under the pines at Eliot, (Of which no verbatim transcript is available. Vide "The Religion of India" - notes from discourses delivered at Greenacre, Maine - in this volume of the Complete Works (pp. 267-71).) in the temple of the gods, to paraphrase Bryant's (William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878).) line -

"The groves were God's first Temple."

What is the nation? What is law? We have laws only that we may become outlaws (above law).

There is the freedom of the soul; through this we know the freedom of law. I am of the nation of those who seek the liberty of the soul. I am of the nation of those who worship God.

The divine ones of God are all my Masters. I learn of your Christ in learning of Krishna, of Buddha, in learning of Mohamet. I worship God alone. "I am existence absolute, bliss absolute, Knowledge Absolute." I condemn nothing that I find in nation, state or religion, finding God in all. Our growth is not from evil to good, but from good to better, and so on and on. I learn from all that is called evil or good. The nation and all such nonsense may go. It is love, love, love God and my brother.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 191-192.)

[Baltimore American, October 13, 1894]



Swami Vivekananda, a Brahmin high priest of India, arrived in Baltimore last night, and is the guest of Rev. Walter Vrooman. . . .

To an American reporter last night Swami Vivekananda said:

I have been very favorably impressed with American institutions during my stay in this country. My time has been divided between four cities - Chicago, New York, Boston and Detroit. I never heard of Chicago when in India, but I had frequently heard of Baltimore. The main criticism I have to pass on America is that you have too little religion here. In India they have too much. I think the world would be better if some of India's surplus of religion could be sent over here, while it would be to India's profit if its people could have some of America's industrial advancement and civilization. I am a believer in all religions. I think there is truth in my religion; I think there is truth in your religion. It is the same truth in all religions applying itself through various channels to the same end. I think the great need of the world is less law, and more godly men and women. . . .


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 196-200.)

[Baltimore News, October 13, 1894]

A High Caste Hindoo Visiting in Baltimore



Swami Vivekananda, High Priest of the Hindoos, walked into the lobby of the Hotel Rennert this forenoon attired in a flaming red cloak and a gaudy yellow turban that made him the centre of all eyes. . . .

His Idea of Humor

Swami Vivekananda has the sense of humor about him. He was talking this morning about the Food Show, which he intends to visit. He says he doesn't know much about food except to swallow it, and that is a very representative specimen of the wit of Ormus (Hormuz, or Ormuz, an ancient Iranian town.) and of Ind.

Another time he spoke of women's rights and said laughingly that women had more rights the world over than they were credited with having. When he changed his black coat, before going to the Rennert, and put on the cardinal red garment with the yellow turban he came out of his room smiling, and said:

"A transformation!"

The High Priest can whistle and has enough music in his soul to start the tunes in class-meeting if he were Methodist instead of Hindoo. He whistled a couple of strains in his room this morning for a reporter of The News. It was not "Daisy Bell" nor yet "Sweet Marie," and must have been some sort of a heathen Hindoo jingle. . . .

Views on Topics of the Day

Swami is traveling around the country, as he says, lecturing and studying American institutions, but he seems not to have got much into the pith of American sociology, for he knows nothing of such questions as European immigration, divorce, the race problem, etc., which are worrying the economists of the land.

He is, however, posted on Oriental immigration, and says the United States has no right to bar out the Chinese. He says the law of love must prevail and force must yield. He predicts the downfall of any nation that uses force. He says also that the United States should open her doors to the world. He believes the Southern part of the continent should be filled with Hindoos and Chinese.

"There is no such thing as divorce in India," he said;
our law does not allow it. Our women are more limited in their sphere than the women of America. Some of them are as highly educated. They are entering the medical profession to some extent now. I see no reason why American women should not vote.

He evaded a question as to the position of Hindoo women in their homes and their treatment by their husbands. It may be that he does not know much about it. He is not a married man. Priests of his caste do not marry.

He mentioned two things which he said had impressed him in America. One was the absence of poverty in the country at large, and the other was the unusual prevalence of ignorance in the South.

Likes the Elevator

When he went to the elevator at the Rennert he said:

There is an American institution which we do not have to any extent in India. I like it very much.A lady was just coming off the elevator. She was somewhat startled by the red and yellow costume of the priest, but his imperturbable countenance gave no sign of consciousness of the attention he attracted.

His address tomorrow night at the Lyceum will be mainly introductory of himself and explanatory of the Hindoo nation. He will speak briefly, but will remain in Baltimore and speak more at length a week from tomorrow night.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 200-202.)

[Baltimore Sunday Herald, October 14, 1894]


Visit of a Distinguished Hindoo Priest to This City



. . . . . .

. . . Mr. Vivecananda conversed with a Sunday Herald reporter, speaking English with ease and with an accent similar to that of an educated Italian. He displayed the greatest familiarity with the institutions of this country, religious, political and social.

Mr. Vivecananda came to Baltimore at the invitation of the Vrooman brothers, Hiram, Carl and Walter, and while in this city will be their guest. Rev. Hiram Vrooman was seen at his residence, 1122 North Calvert Street, yesterday, and talked freely in reference to the visit of the distinguished guest.

"Mr. Vivecananda," he said, "is one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. He came to this city at our invitation, and while here will confer with us in reference to the founding of the international university, which it is proposed to establish as an outcome of the World's Congress of Religions, which was such an interesting feature of the World's Fair. This university is one of Mr. Vivecananda's pet ideas, and has the full sympathy of myself and my brothers, and also a number of gentlemen of wealth and position, including several religions. Among its promoters are members of the Roman Catholic and Hebrew religions. The idea of the university is education in general religion. . . .

"One of Mr. Vivecananda's ideas in the establishing of the university is that it may serve to educate a superior kind of missionary for work in India. While he is steadfast to his own religious belief, he wishes that the present system of sending ignorant men as missionaries to India may be discontinued and men sent there who can teach the Christian religion from an elevated standpoint. In this wish he is animated only by a desire for the good of general religion. . . .

"Mr. Vivecananda told me that his father was a great believer in the Lord Jesus, as he called Him, and that when a boy he had read in the Gospel of St. John the thrilling description of the crucifixion of the Savior and wept over it. He will remain in this city for several weeks. To-morrow evening he will deliver a brief address at our meeting at the Lyceum, and on Sunday week will speak at length at our second meeting on the university plan."


(Ray and Wanda Ellis, "Swami Vivekananda in Washington D.C.", The Vedanta Kesari, 1991, pp. 370-73.)

Vive Kananda, a Brahmin Monk,
Preaches at the People's Church

[Washington Times, Monday, October 29, 1894]

Vive Kananda, the Brahmin monk, spoke to the congregation of the People's Church, No. 423 G Street northwest, at 11:00 a.m. yesterday. (On Sunday, October 28, 1894, Swami Vivekananda delivered two talks at the People's Church, of which there are no verbatim transcripts available. Cf. Complete Works, II: 497-99 for an interview with the Swami given after this morning sermon.) . . . Dr. Kent introduced the monk. . . .

Vive Kananda, coming forward, said as a boy at the university he studied comparative religion. In India are many religions. One-fifth are Mahomedans. A million are Christians. He studied all. He listened to a great Hindoo preacher, and when he had finished, said:

"My brother, have you seen God?"The preacher looked up in surprise."No.""How, then, do you know these things are true?""My father told me.""Who told your father?""His father," and so on through his ancestors to the clouds.

He heard a Christian preacher of great eloquence. This man told the seeker for truth that if he was not immersed in water at once he was in great danger to be roasted alive. Upon further questions this Christian also, through the records of his books, went back to his ancestors, and so back to the clouds.

The Student Not Satisfied

This did not satisfy the student. He set about praying. He prayed sometimes three days and nights with much weeping and without food. He finally found a man who knew no books, not even to write his own name. This sage was preaching his religion. When asked the old question, he replied:

"Yes, I see God now and I will teach you to see Him."

This man bore the stamp of God in his features. It was the same certificate that came to the man of Nazareth when the dove descended upon Him at Jordan. He made his hearer to believe that God lives and religion is not a mockery.

For twelve years Kananda sat at this man's feet. He was the master. He said one day, "Take up this book." Kananda took up the book and read. It was a calendar. He read in it where the rainfall was foretold. It said that within a certain time so many tons of rain would fall in a certain district. "Now," said the teacher, "close the book and press it." He did so. "Squeeze it very hard." He obeyed. "Did any water come from the book?" "None." So are all books. The true religion is here, at the heart.

The truth is people do not want God. Far from it. Religion is largely fashionable. My lady has a fine parlor, elegant furniture, a piano, beautiful jewelry, well-fitting, costly dresses, a hat that is the latest thing out. She cannot get along without a dash of religion to keep up with her set. There is much of this religion, but it is hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is the root of all evil. This sort of religion is not of God. It is only the shadow. People with such religion sometimes grow to be in earnest and talk about religious things as if they had some reality. So talking about religion without having it these people fall to quarreling and fighting. "Mine, mine," is the cry, never "thine, thine." "My religion is best." "No, mine," and so they fight as did the savage tribes about their rival gods, Mambo and Jumbo. Competition in religion, as in business, is the bane of all.

Love Abideth

Your own Paul says "all else shall perish, but love abideth." That is the great truth. That false doctrine that my nation shall be aggrandized at the cost of every other nation is not of God.

A youth went to his master and said, "I want to know God." The master paid little attention, but the youth persisted and would not be put off. Finally one day the master said: "Let us go down to the river and have a bath." So they went down and the youth plunged in. The master followed and falling upon him held him under. The youth struggled, but the master would not let him up. Finally, when he seemed to be almost dead he desisted, drew him from the water and revived him. "What did you most want when in the water?" the master asked. "Breath," was the answer. "Then you don't want God."

So it is with men, what do you want? You want breath, without it you cannot live; you want bread, without it you cannot live; you want a house, without it you cannot live. When you want God as you want these things, He manifests himself to you. It is a great thing to want God.

A majority of men and women in this world want the enjoyments of sense. They have been told that there is a God afar off and if they will send him a cartload of words he will help them get these good things of this world. But in every land there are a few persons who want God. They would be one with the essence of good and truth. Religion is not shopkeeping. Love asks no return; love begs not; love gives.

Religion is not an outgrowth of fear; religion is joyous. It is the spontaneous outburst of the songs of birds and the beautiful sight of the morning. It is an expression of the spirit. It is from within an expression of the free and noble spirit.

If misery is religion, what is hell? No man has a right to make himself miserable. To do so is a mistake; it is a sin. Every peal of laughter is a prayer sent to God.

To go back, what I have learned is this: Religion is not in books, not in forms, not in sects, not in nations; religion is in the human heart. It is engraved there. The proof of it is in ourselves.

I make two points. There are sects. Let them go on increasing in number till each is a sect by himself. None can see God exactly as another; each must believe in Him and serve Him as he sees Him. Then I want a harmonizing of the sects. Individuality is not in a fight with universality.

Let each for himself and all together fight evils. If you have a power of eight and I a power of four, and you come and destroy me, you have lost at least four. You have only four left to conquer evil. It is love alone that can conquer hatred. If there is power in hate there is infinitely more power in love.


(Ray and Wanda Ellis, "Swami Vivekananda in Washington D.C., The Vedanta Kesari, 1991, pp. 369-70.)

[Washington Times, November 2, 1894]

Vive Kananda Compares Religions and Talks of


(The untranscribed lecture advertised as "Karma and Reincarnation", delivered at the People's Church, Sunday, October 28, 1894.)

Optimism is the feature of the belief of the Aryas or Hindoos as distinguished from Western religions, according to the Brahman monk, Vive Kananda, who spoke to a fair-sized audience at Metzerott Hall last night. His subject was reincarnation. Much of his lecture was devoted to comparison of Hindoo with Christian doctrine.

To illustrate the tenet of reincarnation he compared the human body to a river. Each drop of water passes on and is replaced by another. The entire body of water, he observed, changes wholly in a few moments, but we call it the same river. In the same way the particles of the body are constantly replaced by others and no two days do we have the same body, yet we preserve our identity.

The spirit remains so, the Hindoos believe, that the person may have a different and more sudden and violent change in death and yet pass on in its existence to some other place in the universe, to some other planet or star, and then take on a body of flesh again or of some other kind.

He said there ought to be no talk of sin. The mistakes of the past ought to be used only for guidance in the future, never to be moaned over. When the lesson is learned from them they should be forgotten.

"Strike a light," he said, "sit not in darkness and sorrow. Do always better and be happy." . . .


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, p. 203.)

[Baltimore News, November 3, 1894]

Swami Vivekananda, Hindoo high priest, lectured last night at Harris' Academy of Music Concert Hall. His subject was "India and Its Religion." (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) He explained the belief of the various Eastern religions, including his own, which is Brahminism. He ridiculed the idea of sending missionaries of so many different faiths to heathen lands, and said that the various religions engaged in missionary work should be united. Mr. Vivekananda explained that the Hindoo religion is optimistic and not pessimistic. His main point was the doctrine of reincarnation, which means that all have existed before and will live again in other forms. The proceeds of the lecture will be applied to the work of founding an international college.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, p. 314.)

[Daily Eagle, April 8, 1895]

Then It will Come Out All Right,
Says Swami Vivekananda

The English people were given a raking over last night by Swami Vivekananda of India, who lectured to a throng at the Pouch mansion. (Of which no verbatim transcript is available. Cf. the newspaper report "Some Customs of the Hindus", Complete Works, II: 515-17, for a complementary report of the same lecture.) He said that the English used three B's - Bible, brandy and bayonets - in civilizing India. The preacher went ahead with the Bible to get the lay of the fortifications. The English, he said, had exaggerated the social conditions of India in their writings. They got their ideas from the Pariahs, who were a sort of human scavenger. No self-respecting Hindoo, he declared, would associate with an Englishman. The story about widows throwing themselves under the chariot of Juggernaut he declared to be a myth. Child marriage and caste he agreed were bad. Caste, he said, originated with the mechanics' guilds. What India needed was to be let alone, and it would come out all right.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 316-18. Abou Ben Adhem, the hero of Leigh Hunt's famous poem, asked a recording angel to list him as loving his fellowmen.)

[New York World, December 8, 1895]



To find an ascetic of the Highest Eastern type clad in a red and flowing Hindoo cloak over unmistakable American trousers is necessarily a surprise. But in other things besides dress is Swami Vivekananda astonishing. In the first place he declares that your religion or any one else's religion is just as good as his own, and if you should happen to be a Christian or Mussulman, Baptist or Brahmin, atheist, agnostic or Catholic, it will make no difference to him. All that he asks is that you act righteously according to your lights.

The Yogi, with his peculiar notions of dress and worship, arrived Friday on the Brittanic. He went to No. 228 West Thirty-ninth street. While in New York he will lecture upon metaphysics and psychology, and will also disseminate in a general way his ideas on the universal religion which asks no man to take another by the throat because his creed happens to be different. "Let me help my fellowman; that is all I seek," he says.

"There are four general types of men," he says,

the rational, the emotional, the mystical and the worker. For them we must have their proper worship. There comes the rational man, who says, "I care not for this form of worship. Give me the philosophical, the rational - that I can appreciate." So for the rational man is the rational, philosophic worship.

There comes the worker. He says: "I care not for the worship of the philosopher. Give me work to do for my fellow-men." So for him is made a worship, as for the mystical the emotional. In the religion for all these men are the elements of their faith.

"No," said the Swami, very softly, in answer to a question,

I do not believe in the occult. If a thing be unreal it is not. What is unreal does not exist. Strange things are natural phenomena. I know them to be matters of science. Then they are not occult to me. I do not believe in occult societies. They do no good, and can never do good.

In fact, the Swami belongs to no society, cult or creed. His is a religion which compasses all worship, all classes, all beliefs.

Swami, who is a very dark-featured and good-looking young fellow, explained his creed yesterday in remarkably pure English. One forgot when he spoke that an orthodox choker peered over the Bombay robe which in turn scantily concealed the American trousers. One saw instead a winning smile and a pair of deep, lustrous black eyes.

Swami believes in reincarnation. He believes that with the purification of the body the soul rises to a higher condition, and as the purification through matter continues the spirit rises, until released from further migration and is joined with the universal spirit.

Such a man as the Jew-baiter [Hermann?] Ahlwardt, who has just arrived in this country, the Swami cannot understand. "You say," he said,

that he comes here to preach hate against his fellow-men. Is he not of wrong mind? Is he allowed to spread this hate? The doctors should examine his brain to find out the wrong.

The peculiar name of the Yogi signifies, literally, "The bliss of discrimination." He is the first Indian Yogi who ever came to this country. He comes from Bombay.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 340-41.)

[New York Herald, January 19, 1896]

The following is a brief sketch of the Swami's fundamental teachings: (A summary of the Swami's teachings taken from what appears to be a written statement.)

Every man must develop according to his own nature. As every science has its methods so has every religion. Methods of attaining the end of our religion are called Yoga, and the different forms of Yoga that we teach are adapted to the different natures and temperaments of men. We classify them in the following way, under four heads:
(1) Karma Yoga - The manner in which a man realizes his own divinity through works and duty.
(2) Bhakti Yoga - The realization of a divinity through devotion to and love of a personal God.
(3) Rajah Yoga - The realization of divinity through control of mind.
(4) Gnana Yoga - The realization of man's own divinity through knowledge.

These are all different roads leading to the same center - God. Indeed, the varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage man to religious life. The more sects there are the more opportunities there are for making successful appeals to the divine instinct in all men.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 475-79.)

Vivekananda's Lecture on the Creeds of the World

[Hartford Daily Times, February 1, 1896]

A fair house greeted the Hindu monk, Vivekananda, last night. . . . He was introduced by Mr. C. B. Patterson, in some fitting remarks. . . . His subject last night was "The Ideal, or Universal Religion". ("The Ideal of a Universal Religion" was delivered January 31, 1896, of which there is no verbatim transcript available.)

Throughout the universe there are two forces constantly at work, the centrifugal and centripetal, positive and negative, action and reaction, attraction and repulsion. We find love and hatred, good and evil. What plane is stronger than the spiritual plane, the plane of religion? The world furnishes no hate stronger than that engendered by religion, and no love stronger. No teachings have brought more unhappiness into the world, nor more happiness. The beautiful teachings of Buddha have been carried across the Himalayas, at a height of 20,000 feet, by his disciples. Five hundred years later came the teachings of your beautiful Christ, and these have been carried on the wings of the wind. On the other hand, look at your beautiful earth deluged in blood in the interest of propagandism and religion. As soon as a man comes into the company of those who do not believe as he does, his very nature changes. It is his own opinions he fights for, not religion. He becomes the very embodiment of cruelty and fanaticism. His religion is all right, but when he starts out to fight for his own selfish opinions he is all wrong. People are up in arms about the Armenian and the Turkish butcheries, but their consciences don't say a word when the butcheries are committed in the interest of their own religion. In human beings we find a curious mixture of God, man, and devil, and religion stirs up the latter more than anything else. When we all think alike, the God side of our nature comes out; but let there be a clash of opinions, and presto, change! the devil has the floor. This has been so from time immemorial, and will be so always. In India we know what fanaticism means, for that country for the last thousand years has been the especial field of missionaries. But above the clash of opinions, and the fight for religions, there comes the voice of peace. For 3,000 years efforts have been made to bring the different religions into harmony. But we know how this effort has failed. And it always will fail, and it ought to fail. We have a network of words about love, peace, and universal brotherhood, which were meant all right originally, but we repeat them like parrots, and to us they mean nothing. Is there a universal philosophy for the world? Not yet. Each religion has its own creeds and dogmas and insists upon propagating them. You can't make one religion for the whole world. That must not be. The Armenians say it will be all right if you will all become Armenians. And the Pope of Rome says: "O yea, it is a very easy thing. If you will all become Roman Catholics, it will be all right." And so with the Greek church, and the Protestant church, and all the rest. There can never be one religion only, it would be death to all other religions. If every one thought alike there would be no more thought to think. If everybody looked alike, what monotony! Look alike and think alike - what could we do but sit down and die in despair? We can't live like a row of chipmunks; variation belongs to human life. One God, one religion is an old sing-song, but there's danger in it. But, thank God, it can never be. Start out with your long purse, and your guns and cannon, to push your propagandism. And suppose you succeed for a while? In ten years your so-called unity would be split into fragments. That is why there are so many sects. Take the largest religion, the Buddhist. They try to help the world to be better. Next come the Christians, with [a] good many things to teach. They have three Gods in one, and one in three, and one of the three took on the sins of the world and was killed. Whoever doesn't believe in him, goes to a very hot place. And Mohammed, whoever doesn't believe in him will have his skin burnt off, and then a fresh one will be furnished to be burnt, that he may know that Allah is the all-powerful. All religions came originally from the Orient. These great teachers or incarnations come in different forms. The Hindus have ten incarnations; the first was a fish, and so on, down to the fifth, and from there, they were all men. The Buddhists say: "We don't care to have so many incarnations; we want only one." The Christians say: "We will have only one, and this is Christ." And they say he is the only one. But the Buddhist says they have the start in time; their great teacher came five hundred years earlier. And the Mohammedans say theirs came last, and therefore is the best. Each one loves his own, just as a mother loves her own child. The Buddhist never sees any fault in Buddha; the Christian never sees any fault in Christ, and the Mohammedan never sees any fault in Mohammed. The Christian says their God took the form of a dove and came down, and that they say is not mythology, but history. The Hindu says his god is manifested in a cow and that he says is not superstition, but history. The Jew thinks his Holy of Holies can be contained in a box or chest, with an angel on guard on either side. But the Christian's God in the form of a beautiful man or woman, is a horrible idol. "Break it down!" they say. One man's prophet did such and such wonderful things, while others call it only superstition. So where's your unity? Then there are your rituals. The Roman Catholic puts on his robe, as I have mine. He has his bells and candles and holy water, and says these are good and necessary, but what you do, he says is only superstition. We can never upset all this and have but one religion for the very life of thought is the differentiation of thought. We must learn to love those who think exactly opposite to us. We have humanity for the background, but each must have his own individuality and his own thought. Push the sects forward and forward till each man and woman are sects unto themselves. We must learn to love the man who differs from us in opinion. We must learn that differentiation is the life of thought. We have one common goal, and that is the perfection of the human soul, the god within us. Religion is the great force to help unfold the god within man. But we have to unfold in our own way. We can't all assimilate the same kind of food. Let your aspirations be of the highest, and your inspirations will be in harmony with reason and all known laws, and the Lord will always be with you.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, p. 20.)

[Tribune, March 5, 1896]

He Would Have Many Kinds of Religion

Vivekananda, the Hindoo missionary, lectured at the Hotel Richelieu last night.  The parlors of the private hotel were filled to overflowing with a crowd of ladies. When Vivekananda arrived at the hotel it was with difficulty he worked his way in. He went upstairs and very shortly came down again robed in a purple gown, caught about the waist with a purple cord.

Vivekananda in his talk said that there were various religions and each believer thought his religion the only true religion. It was a mistake, he said, to suppose that all should have the same religion.

"If all were of the same religious opinion," said he,

there would be no religion. No sooner does a religion start than it breaks into pieces. The process is for the religion to go on dividing until each man has his own religion, until each man has thought out his own thoughts and carved out for himself his own religion.

Vivekananda will remain in Detroit about two weeks and will give classes every morning at 11 o'clock and every evening at 8 o'clock at the hotel. . . .


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, p. 41.)

[News Tribune, March 16, 1896]



Spoke on the Ideal of a Universal Religion

He Will Probably Leave Tuesday

Temple Beth El was crowded to the doors last night when Swami Vivekananda delivered his address upon "The Ideal of a universal religion." (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) The time announced for the service was 8 o'clock, but the congregation began to assemble at the temple early in the evening so that the doors had to be opened at 6:25 p.m. They were closed at 7 o'clock and the hundreds that arrived after that time had to be turned away.

We all hear about universal brotherhood, and how societies stand up and want to preach this. But to what does it amount? As soon as you make a sect you protest against equality, and thus it is no more,

said Swami.

Unity in variety is the plan of the universe. Just as we are all men, yet we are all separate. We find then, that if by the idea of a universal religion is meant one set of doctrines should be believed by all mankind, it is impossible, it can never be, any more than there will be a time when all faces will be the same. We must not seek that all of us should think alike, like Egyptian mummies in a museum, looking at each other without thought to think. It is this difference of thought, this differentiation, losing of the balance of thought, which is the very soul of our progress, the soul of thought.

Swami will probably leave Tuesday [March 17]. At the close of his address last night he thanked the people of Detroit for the kind reception tendered him and his philosophy.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp. 56-58.)

[Boston Evening Transcript, March 21, 1896]




The Swami Vivekananda, who will be remembered as the Hindu delegate to the World's Parliament of Religions, is in the city as the March class lecturer at the Procopeia, 45 St. Botolph street. (There are no verbatim transcripts available of these classes.) The Swami has been doing some most valuable and successful work in systematic class lecturing in New York, with constantly increasing audiences, during the past two winters, and comes to Boston at a most opportune time.

The Swami gives the following description of his work. In explanation of the term sannyasin, he said, [Vide "The Sannyasin", Complete Works, V: 260].

In giving some idea of his work and its methods, the Swami says he left the world because he had a deep interest in religion and philosophy from his childhood, and Indian books teach renunciation as the highest ideal to which a man can aspire.

The Swami['s] teaching, as he expresses it, is my own interpretation of our ancient books in the light which my master (a celebrated Hindu sage) shed upon them. I claim no supernatural authority. Whatever in my teachings may appeal to the highest intelligence and be accepted by thinking men, the adoption of that will be my reward. All religions have for their object the teaching of devotion, or knowledge, or activity, in a concrete form. Now, the philosophy of Vedanta is the abstract science which embraces all these methods, and this is what I teach, leaving each one to apply it to his own concrete form. I refer each individual to his own experience, and where reference is made to books, the latter are procurable, and may be studied for each one by himself.

The Swami teaches no authority from hidden beings, through visible objects, any more than he claims learning from hidden books or MSS. He believes no good can come from secret societies.

Truth stands on its own authority, and truth can bear the light of day.

He teaches only the Self, hidden in the heart of every individual, and common to all. A handful of strong men, knowing that Self, and living in its light, would revolutionize the world, even today, as has been the case of single strong men before, each in his day.

His attitude towards Western religions is briefly this. He propounds a philosophy which can serve as a basis to every possible religious system in the world, and his attitude towards all of them is one of extreme sympathy. His teaching is antagonistic to none. He directs his attention to the individual, to make him strong, to teach him that he himself is divine, and he calls upon men to make themselves conscious of divinity within. His hope is to imbue individuals with the teachings to which he has referred, and to encourage them to express these to others in their own way; let them modify them as they will; he does not teach them as dogmas; truth, at length, must inevitably prevail. . . .


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp. 60-62.)

[Boston Daily Globe, March 24, 1896]


Message Brought by the Swami Vivekananda -
in His Country the Gods Are "Bright Ones" That Help

The Swami Vivekananda is enjoying as great a degree of popularity on his present visit to Boston as he did when society, fashionable, intellectual and faddist, went wild over him on his former visit. . . .

. . . A New York paper published an interview with the Swami, in which he is reported to have expressed the opinion that in Boston "the women are all faddists, all fickle, merely bent on following something new and strange." (Cf. Complete Works, V: 413.) But Swami Vivekananda says that this is an exaggerated and distorted presentation of a criticism which he made upon all American women, that they were too superficial and too prone to follow the sensational and to change from one thing to another. This he says his observation has forced upon him. The American women are intellectual, but they are not steady, serious and sincere.

The first of the Swami's lectures was delivered before an audience of 400 people in the Allen gymnasium, Saturday evening on "The Science of Work," and the second one of the course on "Devotion"  was given in the same place, the hall being filled and a number turned away unable to gain admittance.

The lecture was exceedingly interesting and the speaker's manner was very magnetic. In his country, said the Swami, the gods were the "bright ones" who gave help to men and received help from them. The gods are only human beings who are somewhat elevated after death, but God, the highest, is never prayed to or asked for help. He is given only love and worship without anything being asked in return. There are two phases of this God, the one, the abstract God behind the substance of the universe, and the other the personal God who is seen through human intellect and given attributes by it.

The love which is given to God never takes, but always gives, and it does not depend on anything. The worshiper does not pray for health, money or any other thing, but is content with the lot apportioned to him.

People who ask about religion from mere motives of curiosity become faddists, they are always looking for some-thing new and their brains degenerate until they become old rags. It is a religious dissipation with them.

It is not the place that makes heaven or hell, but the mind. Love knows no fear, there can be no love where it is. In love of any sort external objects are only suggested by something within - it is one's own ideal projected, and God is the highest ideal that can be conceived of.
Hatred of the world does not drive good men from it, but the world slips away from the great and saintly. The world, the family and social life, are all training grounds, that is all.

When one realizes that God is love, it does not matter what his other attributes are, that is the only essential.

The more a man throws himself away, the more God comes in, hence self-abnegation, which is the secret of all religion and morality.

Too many people bring down their ideals. They want a comfortable religion, but there is none such. It is all self-surrender and upward striving.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp.64-65.)

[Boston Evening Transcript, March 27, 1896]

Swami Vivekananda told the large audience that crowded the Allen Gymnasium to hear him speak on the "Ideal of a Universal Religion," last night, (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) that the recent Parliament of Religions at Chicago proved, to that date, that universal religion was impossible. "Nature," he said,

is wiser than we have thought her to be. It is competition of ideas, the clash of thought, that keeps thought alive. Sects have always been antithetical, and always will be splitting into little varieties of themselves. And the way to get out of this fight of religions is to let the sects go on subdividing.

There is no unity in the three elements of religion - philosophy [theology?], mythology and ceremony. Each theologian wants unity, but his idea of unity is the adjustment of all other creeds to his own. I agree with the old prophets as long as they agree with me. But there is an element of religion that towers above all; that is, philosophy. The philosopher seeks truth, which is one and the same always. And it is acceptable to the four sides of every religious nature - the emotional, mystical, active and philosophical. And he who dares to seek the truth for truth's sake is greatest among men.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp. 81-86.)

[Boston Evening Transcript, March 30, 1896]


The Swami Vivekananda has, during the past few days, conducted a most successful work in connection with the Procopeia. During this time he has given four class lectures for the club itself, with constant audiences of between four and five hundred people, at the Allen Gymnasium, 44, St. Botolph street, two at the house of Mrs. Ole Bull in Cambridge, and one before the professors and graduate students of the philosophical department of Harvard University.

The idea, which brought the Swami to America three years ago as Hindu delegate to the Parliament of Religions, and has been the guiding motive of all his subsequent work, both in America and England, is one which appeals strongly to the people whose creation the parliament was, but the methods which he proposes are peculiarly his own. One of his lectures during the week has been "The Ideal of a Universal Religion," (Though this was one of Swami Vivekananda's recurring subjects, there is no available verbatim transcript of this March 26, 1896 lecture. Cf. Complete Works, II: 375-96.) but a "harmonious religion" would, perhaps, equally meet the case, if, indeed, it would not more adequately express that for which he is striving. The Swami is not a preacher of theory. If there is any one feature of the Vedanta philosophy, which he propounds, which appears especially refreshing, it is its intense capability of practical demonstration. We have become almost wedded to the idea that religion is a sublime theory which can be brought into practice and made tangible for us only in another life, but the Swami shows us the folly of this. In preaching the Divinity of Man he inculcates a spirit of strength into us which will have none of those barriers between this life and actual realization of the sublime that, to the ordinary man, appear as insurmountable.

In discussing the general lines on which it appears to him universal religion can alone be established, he claims for his plan no super-authority. As he says:

I have also my little plan. I do not know whether it will work or not, and I want to present it to you for discussion. In the first place, I would ask mankind to recognize this maxim: "Do not destroy." Iconoclastic reformers do no good to the world. Help, if you can; if you cannot, fold your hands, stand by, and see things go on. Therefore say not a word against any man's convictions, so far as they are sincere. Secondly, take man where he stands, and from thence give him a lift. (Cf. Complete Works, II: 384.)

Unity in variety is the plan of the universe. Just as we are all men, yet we are all separate. As humanity, I am one with you; as Mr. So-and-so, I am different from you. As a man you are separate from woman, but as human beings you are all one; as a living being you are one with animals and all that lives, but as man you are separate. That existence is God, the ultimate unity in this universe. In Him we are all one. We find, then, that if by the idea of a universal religion is meant that one set of doctrines should be believed by all mankind, it is impossible, it can never be, any more than all faces will be the same. Again, if we expect that there will be one universal mythology, that is also impossible; it cannot be. Neither can there be a universal ritual. When this time comes the world will be destroyed, because variety is the first principle of life. What makes us formed beings? Differentiation. Perfect balance will be destruction. (Cf. Complete Works, II: 381-82.)

What then do I mean by the ideal of a universal religion? I do not mean a universal philosophy, or a universal mythology, or a universal ritual, but I mean that this world must go on, wheel within wheel. What can we do? We can make it run smoothly, we can lessen friction, we can grease the wheels, as it were. By what? By recognizing variation. Just as we have recognized unity, by our very nature so we must also recognize variation. We must learn that truth may be expressed in a thousand ways, and each one yet be true. We must learn that the same thing can be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and yet be the same thing. (Cf. Complete Works, II: 382-83.)

In society we see so many various natures of mankind. A practical generalization will be impossible, but for my purpose I have simply characterized them into four. First, the active man; then the emotional man; then the mystical man, and lastly the philosopher.

To be universal, religion must provide possibility of realizing truth through means suitable to any one of these minds, and a religion which says that through one alone all men must struggle, whether these minds are capable of the struggle or not, must end in agnosticism.

In his lecture on Karma Yoga,  Swami dealt with the science of work. The lecture for the most part analyzed the motives men have in work, and particularly the motive of heaven as a reward for good work on earth. This, said the Swami, is shopkeeping religion. Work alone reaches its highest when it is done absolutely without hope of reward, work for work's sake, and without regard to the consequences.

In discussing Bhakti Yoga,  Devotion, the Swami explained the rationale of a Personal God. This idea of devotion and worship of some being who has to be loved, and who can reflect back the love to man, is universal. The lowest stage of the manifestation of this love and devotion is ritualism, when man wants things that are concrete, and abstract ideas are almost impossible. Throughout the history of the world we find man is trying to grasp the abstract through thought forms, or symbols, and the external manifestations of religion. Bells, music, rituals, books, images come under that head. Man can only think with form and word. Immediately thought comes, form and name flash into the mind with them, so that when we think of God, whether as the Personal God with human shape, or as the Divine Principle, or in any other aspect, we are always thinking of our own highest ideal with some or other form, generally human, because the form of man is the highest of which man can conceive. But, while recognizing this as a necessity of human weakness, and while making proportionate use of rituals, symbols, books and churches, we must always remember that it is very good to be born in a church, but it is very bad to die in a church. If a man dies within the bounds of these forms, it shows that he has not grown, that there has been no uncovering of the real, the Divinity, within him.

True love can be regarded as a triangle. The first angle is, love knows no bargain. So when a man is praying to God, "give me this, and give me that," it is not love. How can it be? "I give you my little prayer, and you give me something in return"; that is mere shopkeeping. The second angle is, love knows no fear. So long as God is regarded as a rewarder or a punisher there can be no love for him. The third angle, the apex, is, love is always the highest ideal. When we have reached the point where we can worship the ideal as the ideal, all arguments and doubts have vanished forever. The ideal can never escape, because it is part of our own nature.

In his lecture at Harvard University, (Cf. "The Vedanta Philosophy", Complete Works, I: 357-65, in which there may be some omissions.) the Swami traced the history, so far as is known, of the Vedanta philosophy, and showed to what extent the Vedas (the Hindu scriptures) are accepted as authoritative; merely as the foundation for the philosophy in so far as they appeal to the reason. He compared the three schools, the Dualists, who acknowledge a supreme being, and a lesser being manifesting in men, but eternally separate from men. Next he described the philosophy of the Qualified nondualists, whose particular idea is that there is a God and there is nature, but that the soul and nature is simply the expansion, or the body of God, just as the body of man is to man's soul. They claim, in support of this theory, that the effect is never different from the cause, but that it is the cause reproduced in another form, and as God, therefore, is the cause of this universe, he is also the effect. The Monists . . . declare that if there is a God, that God must be both the material and the efficient cause of the universe. Not only is he the Creator; but he is also the created. He himself is this universe, apparently; but, in reality, this universe does not exist - it is mere hypnotisation. Differentiation is in name and form only. There is but one soul in the universe, not two, because that which is immaterial cannot be bounded, must be infinite; and there cannot be two infinities, because one would limit the other. The soul is pure, and the appearance of evil is just as a piece of crystal, which is pure in itself, but appears to be variously colored when flowers are placed before it.

In discussing Raja Yoga,  the psychological way to union with God, the Swami expanded upon the power to which the mind can attain through concentration, both in reference to the physical and the spiritual world. It is the one method that we have in all knowledge. From the lowest to the highest, from the smallest worm to the highest sage, they have to use this one method. The astronomer uses it in order to discover the mysteries of the skies, the chemist in his laboratory, the professor in his chair. This is the one call, the one knock, which opens the gates of nature and lets out the floods of light. This is the one key, the only power - concentration. In the present state of our bodies we are so much distracted, the mind is frittering away its energies upon a hundred sorts of things. By scientific control of the forces which work the body this can be done, and its ultimate effect is realization. Religion cannot consist of talk. It only becomes religion when it becomes tangible, and until we strive to feel that of which we talk so much, we are no better than agnostics, for the latter are sincere and we are not.

The Twentieth Century Club had the Swami as their guest Saturday [March 28], and heard an address from him on the "Practical Side of the Vedanta Philosophy." (Vide Complete Works, I: 387-92 and  V: 310-11, respectively, for the lecture and the discussion that followed.) He leaves Boston today, and will, within a few days, sail for England, en route for India.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 184-86.)

Lectures on Hindoo Religion and Philosophy

[Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1899]

. . . . . .
. . . The well-known expositor of the Hindoo philosophy, dressed in the yellow robe of the Brahmin caste, spoke in part as follows: 

I come before you, ladies and gentlemen, to bring no new religion. I desire simply to tell you a few points that bind together all religions. I shall touch upon some things in the thought of eastern civilization that will appear strange to you and on others that I hope will appeal to you. All the religions of the world have a backbone of unity. This is the principle of philosophy and of toleration.

Very few people in this country understand what India is. It is a country half as large as the United States and containing 300,000,000 people, speaking a number of different tongues, but all bound together by the ideas of a common religion. By these ideas the Hindoos have made their influence felt through the ages, working gently, silently, patiently, while western civilization has been conquering by force of arms. The future will show which is the more powerful - physical force or the power of ideas. The arts and sciences of the Hindoos have found their way over all the earth - their numerals, their mathematical thought, their ethics. Was it not in India, there and there alone, that the doctrine of love was first preached, and not alone the doctrine of love of one's fellow-men, but of love of every living thing, yea, even of the meanest worm that crawls under our feet. When you begin to study the arts and institutions of India, you become magnetized, fascinated. You cannot get away.

In India, as elsewhere, we find the earliest condition one of division into little tribes. These different tribes had each its different god, its different ceremonial. But in coming in contact with one another, the tribes did not follow the course that western civilization has taken - they did not persecute each other because of these differences, but endeavored to find the germs of common ideas in all the religions. And from this endeavor arose the habit of toleration which is the keynote of the Indian religion. Truth is one, can be but one, though it may be expressed in different language.

Another great difference between eastern and western religion lies in the reception of a philosophical and scientific view of the universe. In the West, agnosticism has been growing in late years, and with the loss of a hope in individual immortality, which the westerner is always desiring and seeking, a note of despair has crept into western thought. Ages ago, the Hindoo realized that the universe was one of law, and that, under law, all change. Therefore, an imperishable individuality is an impossibility. But this thought is not one of despair to the Hindoo. On the contrary - and this is what the westerner can least understand of eastern thought - he longs for freedom, for release from the thralldom of the senses, from the thralldom of pain and the thralldom of pleasure.

Western civilization has sought a personal God and despaired at the loss of belief in such. The Hindoo, too, has sought. But God cannot be known to the external senses. The Infinite, the Absolute, cannot be grasped. Yet although it eludes us, we may not infer its non-existence. It exists. What is it that cannot be seen by the outward eye? The eye itself. It may behold all other things, but itself it cannot mirror. This, then, is the solution. If God may not be found by the outer senses, turn your eye inward and find, in yourself, the soul of all souls. Man himself is the All. I cannot know the fundamental reality, because I am that fundamental reality. There is no duality. This is the solution of all questions of metaphysics and ethics. Western civilization has in vain endeavored to find a reason for altruism. Here it is. I am my brother, and his pain is mine. I cannot injure him without injuring myself, or do ill to other beings without bringing that ill upon my own soul. When I have realized that I myself am the Absolute, for me there is no more death nor life nor pain nor pleasure, nor caste nor sex. How can that which is absolute die or be born? The pages of nature are turned before us like the pages of a book, and we think that we ourselves are turning, while in reality we remain ever the same.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 194-95.)



[Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1899]

Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu philosopher, addressed the regular monthly meeting of the Southern California Academy of Sciences at Unity Church last evening. (Cf. the following December 13, 1899 Los Angeles Herald newspaper report on the same lecture (pp. 502-4).) The audience was large and appreciative, and at the end of the lecture a number of questions were asked by members of the audience and answered by the lecturer. . . .

The speaker began with a reference to the mythological tales of the Hindus in which they attempted to explain the origin of the universe, and he told also of the endeavors of the ancients to explain the mysteries which surrounded them.

According to their belief, he said, man's first idea is of himself. His will moves all his members. A child's idea of power is in its will. All movement of the universe has a will behind it. The Hindus believe, said the speaker, that there is but one God, and he a person like the rest of them, but infinitely greater. Their mind is philosophical enough not to admit the existence of two gods, one bad and one good. With them nature is a unit, unity in all existence is the universe, and God is the same as nature.

"There is not a system of philosophy," said the speaker,

from that of the ancient Egyptians down to that of the Roman Catholic Church, which does not show traces of the same thought. All forces that exist in the mental and physical world have been resolved, in India, into the one word "Father" ["Prâna"?]. Whatever is, has been projected by Him.

In closing, the philosopher said that the ancient voice of India had found an echo in the 19th century in the writings of Herbert Spencer.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 192-94.)

[Los Angeles Herald, December 13, 1899]


Swami Vivekananda's lecture before the Academy of Sciences


Unity church was filled last evening with a large audience to hear the Swami Vivekananda, a native of India, lecture on the kosmos, or the Veda conception of the universe (This was Swami Vivekananda's second lecture in California, entitled "The Cosmos, or the Veda Conception of the Universe", of which there is no verbatim transcript available. Cf. the Swami's two New York lectures on the Cosmos delivered in 1896 in Complete Works, II ("The Cosmos: The Macrocosm" and "The Cosmos: The Microcosm").) under the auspices of the Southern California Academy of Sciences. . . .

In introducing his subject the speaker reviewed the mythology of the flood, which among the Babylonians, Egyptians, Assyrians and other races is similar to the story of the Hebrew scriptures, showing that all held a similar belief concerning the creation of the universe.

In the worship of the sun and the forces of nature, we see the attempts of ancient peoples to explain the mysteries surrounding them. Man's first idea of force was himself. When a stone fell he saw no force in it but the will behind it, and he conceived the idea that the whole universe was moved by force of wills. Gradually these wills became one, and science begins to rise. Gods begin to vanish, and in their place comes oneness, and now God is in danger of being dethroned by modern science. Science wants to explain things by their own nature and make the universe self-sufficient.

Wills gradually began to disappear, and in their place comes will. This was the process of development in all the nations of the world, and so it was in India. Their ideas and gods were pretty much the same as those of other lands, only in India they did not stop there. They learned that life alone can produce life, and that death can never produce life. In our speculations about God we have got to monotheism. Everywhere else speculation stops there; we make it the be all and end all of everything, but in India it does not stop there. A gigantic will can not explain all this phenomena we see around us. Even in man there is something back of the will. In so common sense a thing as the circulation of the blood, we find will is not the motive power.

We have conceived God as a person like ourselves, only infinitely greater, and because there is goodness and mercy and happiness in the world there must be a being possessing these attributes, but there is also evil. The Hindu mind is too philosophical to admit the existence of two gods, one good and one bad. India remained true to the idea of unity. What is evil to me may be good to someone else; what is good to me may be evil to others. We are all links in a chain. Hence comes the speculation of the Upanishads, the religion of 300,000,000 of the human race. Nature is a unit; unity is in all existence, and God is the same as nature. This is one of the Indian speculations known to all the world outside of India.

There is not a system of religion or philosophy in the world that does not show the influence of India's speculation, even to the Catholic church. The conservation of energy, considered a new discovery, has been known there by the name of father [Prâna?]. Whatever is comes from the father. Brahma [Prana?] must energize on something, and that they say is an invisible ether. Brahma [Prana?] vibrating on ether, the solid, the liquid, the luminous, it is all the same ether. The potentiality of everything is there. In the beginning of the next period Brahma [Prana?] will begin to vibrate more and more.

Thus this speculation of India's scriptures is very similar to modern science. The same idea is taken up by modern evolution. Even our bodies, different only in dignity, are links in the same chain. In one individual the possibilities of every other individual are there. The living entity contains the possibility of all life, but can only express that which environment demands. The most wonderful speculations are formed in modern science. The one that interests me as a preacher of religion is the oneness of all religions [life?]. When Herbert Spencer's voice says that the same life welling up in the plant is the life welling up in the individual, the Indian religion has found a voice in the nineteenth century.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 227-29.)

[Los Angeles Herald, January 3, 1900]

Lecture last night at Blanchard Hall by

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda, member of an ancient order of Hindu monks, who is giving a series of lessons and lectures in this city, addressed an audience last night at Blanchard hall upon the "History of India" ["The People of India"]. (Of which no verbatim transcript is available.) The Swami appeared before his audience in American dress, losing to a great degree the peculiar and characteristic personality given him by the aesthetic silken robes and the turban worn by his order.

The speaker said India was not a country, but a continent containing a huge mass of races united by religion. India was of ancient date. It was inhabited, when through a desire to reach it by a shorter passage, Columbus discovered America, and its production of cotton, sugar, indigo and spices have enriched the world. This country inhabited by 200,000,000 of people, is full of little villages that extend through all the valleys and up the mountains thousands of feet above the sea level. The immense fertility of the soil owes much to the tremendous rainfall, which is often 1,800 inches [sic] in a season, averaging perhaps 600 inches. Many of the people, however, in spite of the abundant productions, live wholly on millet, a kind of cereal; no animal food is eaten; no meat, eggs or fish.

The country from most ancient times has kept its own customs, its own languages and its castes. It has by its religion saved itself while it has seen other sections [nations] rise and decay. The Babylonian civilization was not new, but India dates long before its rise and fall. The most ancient language, Sanskrit, is spoken by the priests, and was spoken once by all the different races. The speaker gave examples of many of our common English words coming from Sanskrit roots, and traced the old religious ideas and even mythology to the ancient Aryan races.

Many of the customs of the country were sketched, and further it was shown how this country was the seat of civilization, the center of arts, the sciences, the philosophical thought of the world.

The people of India have saved themselves by making a wall around themselves by making the castes absolute. An emperor in India is glad to trace his descent from a priest, who is the highest caste. The castes do not exist as they did once, but they are divided into many divisions and sub-divisions. There are hundreds of them. No people of different castes eat together, or cook together. Marriage is not legal if made outside of one's caste. The intricacy of the laws of caste is very great and branch out into the minutest detail. The poorest beggar or the viceroy of India may belong to the same caste.

Shoes are not allowed to be worn, as they are made from the skin of an animal. The women pay even more attention to these details than the men. All these customs have their philosophy. This is the true democracy, it is the socialistic idea, the development of the masses, not the individual.

The speaker closed with comparing the position of women in India with that of this country. In India the whole idea of womanhood is the mother. The mother is reverenced. She is the giver of life, the founder of the race.