Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Vol-9


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, p. 379.)

[From Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's notes of a lecture delivered in San Francisco, California, on March 11, 1900]

Everything progresses in waves. The march of civilization, the progression of worlds, is in waves. All human activities likewise progress in waves - art, literature, science, religion.

Great waves succeed each other, and between these great waves is a quiet, a calm, a period of rest, a period of recuperation.

All manifest life seems to require a period of sleep, of calm, in which to gain added strength, renewed vigour, for the next manifestation, or awakening to activity. Thus is the march of all progress, of all manifest life - in waves, successive waves, [of] activity and repose. Waves succeed each other in an endless chain of progression.

Religion, like everything else, progresses in waves; and at the summit of each great wave stands an illumined soul, a mighty spiritual leader and teacher of men. Such a one was Jesus of Nazareth.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 401-3. Cf. "Mohammed", Complete Works, I.)
[Excerpts of Ida Ansell's first transcript of Swami Vivekananda's San Francisco lecture delivered Sunday, March 25, 1900]


[After stating that he would "take Mohammed and bring out the particular work of the great Arabian prophet", Swami Vivekananda continued his lecture.]

Each great messenger not only creates a new order of things, but is himself the creation of a certain order of things. There is no such thing as an independent, active cause. All causes are cause and effect in turn. Father is father and son in turn. Mother is mother and daughter in turn. It is necessary to understand the surroundings and circumstances into which they [the great messengers] come. . . .

This is the peculiarity of civilization. One wave of a race will go from its birthplace to a distant land and make a wonderful civilization. The rest will be left in barbarism. The Hindus came into India and the tribes of Central Asia were left in barbarism. Others came to Asia Minor and Europe. Then, you remember the coming out of Egypt of the Israelites. Their home was the Arabian desert. Out of that springs a new work. . . . All civilizations grow that way. A certain race becomes civilized. Then comes a nomad race. Nomads are always ready to fight. They come and conquer a race. They bring better blood, stronger physiques. They take up the mind of the conquered race and add that to their body and push civilization still further. One race becomes cultured and civilized until the body is worn out. Then like a whirlwind comes a race strong in the physical, and they take up the arts and the sciences and the mind, and push civilization further. This must be. Otherwise the world would not be.

* * * *The moment a great man rises, they build a beautiful [mythology] around him. Science and truth is all the religion that exists. Truth is more beautiful than any mythology in the world. . . .

The old Greeks had disappeared already, the whole nation [lay] under the feet of the Romans who were learning their science and art. The Roman was a barbarian, a conquering man. He had no eye for poetry or art. He knew how to rule and how to get everything centralized into that system of Rome and to enjoy that. That was sweet. And that Roman Empire is gone, destroyed by all sorts of difficulties, luxury, a new foreign religion, and all that. Christianity had been already six hundred years in the Roman Empire. . . .

Whenever a new religion tries to force itself upon another race, it succeeds if the race is uncultured. If it [the race] is cultured, it will destroy the [religion]. . . . The Roman Empire was a case in point, and the Persian people saw that. Christianity was another thing with the barbarians in the north. [But] the Christianity of the Roman Empire was a mixture of everything, something from Persia, from the Jews, from India, from Greece, everything.

* * * *
The race is always killed by [war]. War takes away the best men, gets them killed, and the cowards are left at home. Thus comes the degeneration of the race. . . . Men became small. Why? All the great men became [warriors]. That is how war kills races, takes their best into the battlefields.

Then the monasteries. They all went to the desert, to the caves for meditation. The monasteries gradually became the centres of wealth and luxury. . . .

The Anglo-Saxon race would not be Anglo-Saxon but for these monasteries. Every weak man was worse than a slave... In that state of chaos these monasteries were centres of light and protection.

Where [cultures] differ very much they do not quarrel. All these warring, jarring elements [were originally] all one.

In the midst of all this chaos was born the prophet. . . .[This concluded the first part of the Swami's lecture. Vide "Mohammed", Complete Works, Vol. I, for the remainder of the lecture.]


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, p. 10.)

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's notes of a class delivered in San Francisco, California, on Monday, March 26, 1900]

The first point is the position. Sit with the spine perfectly free, with the weight resting on the hips. The next step is breathing. Breathe in the left nostril and out the right. Fill the lungs full and eject all the breath. Clear the lungs of all impure air. Breathe full and deep. The next thing is to think of the body as luminous, filled with light. The next thing is to concentrate on the base of the spine, not from the outside, but look down the spinal column inside to the base of the spine.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, pp. 175-76.)

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's notes of a Bhagavad-Gitâ class delivered Thursday, May 24, 1900, in San Francisco, California]

The Gitâ is the gist of the Vedas. It is not our Bible; the Upanishads are our Bible. It [the Gita] is the gist of the Upanishads and harmonizes the many contradictory parts of the Upanishads.

The Vedas are divided into two portions - the work portion and the knowledge portion. The work portion contains ceremonials, rules as to eating, living, doing charitable work, etc. The knowledge came afterwards and was enunciated by kings.

The work portion was exclusively in the hands of the priests and pertained entirely to the sense life. It taught to do good works that one might go to heaven and enjoy eternal happiness. Anything, in fact, that one might want could be provided for him by the work or ceremonials. It provided for all classes of people good and bad. Nothing could be obtained through the ceremonials except by the intercession of the priests. So if one wanted anything, even if it was to have an enemy killed, all he had to do was to pay the priest; and the priest through these ceremonials would procure the desired results. It was therefore in the interests of the priests that the ceremonial portion of the Vedas should be preserved. By it they had their living. They consequently did all in their power to preserve that portion intact. Many of these ceremonials were very complicated, and it took years to perform some of them.

The knowledge portion came afterwards and was promulgated exclusively by kings. It was called the Knowledge of Kings. The great kings had no use for the work portion with all its frauds and superstitions and did all in their power to destroy it. This knowledge consisted of a knowledge of God, the soul, the universe, etc. These kings had no use for the ceremonials of the priests, their magical works, etc. They pronounced it all humbug; and when the priests came to them for gifts, they questioned the priests about God, the soul, etc., and as the priests could not answer such questions they were sent away. The priests went back to their fathers to enquire about the things the kings asked them, but could learn nothing from them, so they came back again to the kings and became their disciples. Very little of the ceremonials are followed today. They have been mostly done away with, and only a few of the more simple ones are followed today.

Then in the Upanishads there is the doctrine of Karma. Karma is the law of causation applied to conduct. According to this doctrine we must work forever, and the only way to get rid of pain is to do good works and thus to enjoy the good effects; and after living a life of good works, die and go to heaven and live forever in happiness. Even in heaven we could not be free from Karma, only it would be good Karma, not bad.

The philosophical portion denounces all work however good, and all pleasure, as loving and kissing wife, husband or children, as useless. According to this doctrine all good works and pleasures are nothing but foolishness and in their very nature impermanent. "All this must come to an end sometime, so end it now; it is vain." So says the philosophical portion of the Upanishads. It claims all the pain in the world is caused by ignorance, therefore the cure is knowledge.

This idea of one being held down fast by past Karma, or work, is all nonsense. No matter how dense one may be, or how bad, one ray of light will dissipate it all. A bale of cotton, however large, will be utterly destroyed by a spark. If a room has been dark for untold ages, a lamp will end it all. So with each soul, however benighted he may be, he is not absolutely bound down by his past Karma to work for ages to come. "One ray of Divine Light will free him, reveal to him his true nature."

Well, the Gita harmonizes all these conflicting doctrines. As to Krishna, whether or not he ever lived, I do not know. "A great many stories are told of him, but I do not believe them."

"I doubt very much that he ever lived and think it would be a good thing if he never did. There would have been one less god in the world."


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, pp. 205-7. Cf. Ida Ansell's notes of "The Gita I", Complete Works, I.)

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's notes of a Bhagavad-Gitâ lecture delivered Saturday, May 26, 1900, in San Francisco, California]

The Gitâ is to the Hindus what the New Testament is to the Christians. It is about five thousand years old, and the day of religious celebrations with the Hindus is the anniversary of the Battle of Kurukshetra about five thousand years ago. As I said, the Vedas are divided into two great divisions, the philosophical and the Karmakânda, or work portion.

Between the kings, who promulgated the philosophic portion, and the priests a great conflict arose. The priests had the people on their side because they had all the utility which appealed to the popular mind. The kings had all the spirituality and none of the economic element; but as they were powerful and the rulers of the nation, the struggle was a hard and bitter one. The kings gradually gained a little ground, but their ideas were too elevated for the masses, so the ceremonial, or work portion, always had the mass of the people.

Always remember this, that whenever a religious system gains ground with the people at large, it has a strong economic side to it. It is the economic side of a religion that finds lodgement with the people at large, and never its spiritual, or philosophic, side. If you should preach the grandest philosophy in the streets for a year, you would not have a handful of followers. But you could preach the most arrant nonsense, and if it had an economic element, you would have the whole people with you.

None knows by whom the Vedas were written; they are so ancient. According to the orthodox Hindus, the Vedas are not the written words at all, but they consist of the words themselves orally spoken with the exact enunciation and intonation. This vast mass of religion has been written and consists of thousands upon thousands of volumes. Anyone who knows the precise pronunciation and intonation knows the Vedas, and no one else. In ancient times certain royal families were the custodians of certain parts of the Vedas. The head of the family could repeat every word of every volume he had, without missing a word or an intonation. These men had giant intellects, wonderful memories.

The strictly orthodox believers in the Vedas, the Karmakanda, did not believe in God, the soul or anything of the sort, but that we as we are were the only beings in the universe, material or spiritual. When they were asked what the many allusions to God in the Vedas mean, they say that they mean nothing at all; that the words properly articulated have a magical power, a power to create certain results. Aside from that they have no meaning.

Whenever you suppress a thought, you simply press it down out of sight in a coil, like a spring, only to spring out again at a moment's notice with all the pent up force as the result of the suppression, and do in a few moments what it would have done in a much longer period.

Every ounce of pleasure brings its pound of pain. It is the same energy that at one time manifests itself as pleasure and at another time as pain. As soon as one set of sensations stops, another begins. But in some cases, in more advanced persons, one may have two, yes, or even a hundred different thoughts enter into active operation at the same time. When one thought is suppressed, it is merely coiled up ready to spring forth with pent up fury at any time.

"Mind is of its own nature. Mind activity means creation. The thought is followed by the word, and the word by the form. All of this creating will have to stop, both mental and physical, before the mind can reflect the soul."

"My old master (Shri Ramakrishna.) could not write his own name without making a mistake. He made three mistakes in spelling, in writing his own name."

"Yet that is the kind of man at whose feet I sat."

"You will break the law of nature but once, and it will be the last time. Nature will then be nothing to you."


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, pp. 213-16. Cf. Ida Ansell's notes of "The Gita III", Complete Works, I.)

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's notes of the Bhagavad-Gitâ lecture delivered Tuesday, May 29, 1900, in San Francisco, California]

1.  "If you know everything, disturb not the childlike faith of the innocent."
2.   "Religion is the realization of Spirit as Spirit. Not spirit as matter."
3.   "You are spirit. Realize yourselves as spirit. Do it any way you can."
4.  "Religion is a growth": each one must experience it himself.
5.   "Everyone thinks 'my method is the best'. That is so, but it is the best for you."
6.   "Spirit must stand revealed as spirit."
7.   "There never was a time when spirit could be identified with matter."
8.   "What is real in nature is the spirit."
9.   "Action is in nature."
10. "'In the beginning there was That Existence. He looked and everything was created.'"
11. "Everyone works according to his own nature."
12. "You are not bound by law. That is in your nature. The mind is in nature and is bound by law."
13. "If you want to be religious, keep out of religious arguments."
14. "Governments, societies, etc., are evils."
"All societies are based on bad generalizations."
"A law is that which cannot be broken."
15. "Better never love, if that love makes us hate others."
16. "The sign of death is weakness; the sign of life is strength."

[The following numbered paragraphs are correlated with the preceding numbered sentences.]

4.   The Christian believes that Jesus Christ died to save him. With you it is belief in a doctrine, and this belief constitutes your salvation. With us, doctrine has nothing whatever to do with salvation. Each one may believe in whatever doctrine he likes or in no doctrine. With us realization is religion, not doctrine. What difference does it make to you whether Jesus Christ lived at a certain time? What has it to do with you that Moses saw God in a burning bush? The fact that Moses saw God in the burning bush does not constitute your seeing Him, does it? If it does, then the fact that Moses ate is enough for you; you ought to stop eating. One is just as sensible as the other. Records of great spiritual men of the past do us no good whatever except that they urge us onward to do the same, to experience religion ourselves. Whatever Christ or Moses or anybody else did does not help us in the least except to urge us on.

5.   Each one has a special nature peculiar to himself which he must follow and through which he will find his way to freedom. Your teacher should be able to tell you what your particular path in nature is and to put you in it. He should know by your face where you belong and should be able to indicate it to you. We should never try to follow another's path for that is his way, not yours. When that path is found, you have nothing to do but fold your arms and the tide will carry you to freedom. Therefore when you find it, never swerve from it. Your way is the best for you, but that is no sign it is the best for another.

6. The truly spiritual see spirit as spirit, not as matter. Spirit as such can never become matter, though matter is spirit at a low rate of vibration. It is spirit that makes nature move; it is the Reality in nature, so action is in nature but not in the spirit. Spirit is always the same, changeless, eternal. Spirit and matter are in reality the same, but spirit, as such, never becomes matter, and matter, as such, never becomes spirit. Matter, as such, never becomes spirit as such, for it is simply a mode of spirit, or spirit at a low rate of vibration. You take food and it becomes mind, and mind in turn becomes the body. Thus mind and body, spirit and matter are distinct though either may give place to the other; but they are not to be identified.

8. "What is real in nature is the Spirit." The spirit is the life in all action in nature. It is the spirit that gives nature its reality and power of action.

9. "Action is in nature." "The spirit never acts. Why should it?" It merely is, and that is sufficient. It is pure existence absolute and has no need of action.

12. All nature is bound by law, the law of its own action; and this law can never be broken. If you could break a law of nature, all nature would come to an end in an instant. There would be no more nature. He who attains freedom breaks the law of nature and for him nature fades away and has no more power over him. Each one will break the law but once and forever and that will end his trouble with nature. "You are not bound by law. That is in your nature. The mind is in nature and is bound by law."

14. The moment you form yourselves into an organization, you begin to hate everybody outside of that organization. When you join an organization you are putting bonds upon yourself, you are limiting your own freedom. Why should you form yourselves into an order having rules and regulations, thus limiting every one as to his independent action? If one breaks a law of an order or society he is hated by the rest. What right has anyone to lay down rules and laws governing others? Such laws are not laws at all. If it were a law it could not be broken. The fact that these so-called laws are broken shows clearly they are not laws.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, pp. 275-76.)

[Sister Nivedita's notes of a New York Bhagavad-Gitâ class, recorded in a June 16, 1900 letter to Miss Josephine MacLeod]

This morning the lesson on the Gitâ was grand. It began with a long talk on the fact that the highest ideals are not for all. Non-resistance is not for the man who thinks the replacing of the maggot in the wound by the leprous saint with "Eat, Brother!" disgusting and horrible. Non-resistance is practised by a mother's love towards an angry child. It is a travesty in the mouth of a coward, or in the face of a lion.

Let us be true. Nine-tenths of our life's energy is spent in trying to make people think us that which we are not. That energy would be more rightly spent in becoming that which we would like to be. And so it went - beginning with the salutation to an incarnation:

Salutation to thee - the Guru of the universe,
Whose footstool is worshipped by the gods.
Thou one unbroken Soul,
Physician of the world's diseases.
Guru of even the gods,
To thee our salutation.
Thee we salute. Thee we salute. Thee we salute.
In the Indian tones - by Swami himself.

There was an implication throughout the talk that Christ and Buddha were inferior to Krishna - in the grasp of problems - inasmuch as they preached the highest ethics as a world path, whereas Krishna saw the right of the whole, in all its parts - to its own differing ideals.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 6, pp. 209-10.)

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel's random lecture notes, most of which seem to pertain to chapter two of the Bhagavad-Gitâ]

"Spirituality can never be attained until materiality is gone."

The first discourse in the Gita can be taken allegorically.

"The Vedas only teach of things in nature, only teach of nature."

We are always letting sentiment usurp the place of duty, and flattering ourselves that we are acting in response to true love. We must get beyond emotionalism if we would be able to renounce. Emotion belongs to the animals. They are creatures of emotion entirely.

It is not sacrifice of a high order to die for one's young. The animals do that, and just as readily as any human mother ever did. It is no sign of real love to do that; merely blind emotion.

We are forever trying to make our weakness look like strength, our sentiment like love, our cowardice like courage, etc. Say to your soul in regard to vanities, weaknesses, etc., "This does not befit thee. This does not befit thee".

Writings: Prose and Poems
(Original and Translated)


This article first appeared anonymously in the February 1895 issue of the New York Medical Times, a prestigious monthly medical journal founded and edited by Dr. Egbert Guernsey.

Classification or grouping of phenomena by their similarities is the first step in scientific knowledge - perhaps it is all. An organized grouping, revealing to us a similarity running through the whole group, and a conviction that under similar circumstances the group will arrange itself in the same form - stretched over all time, past, present and future - is what we call law.

This finding of unity in variety is really what we call knowledge. These different groups of similars are stowed away in the pigeon-holes of the mind, and when a new fact comes before us we begin to search for a similar group already existing in one of the pigeon-holes of the mind. If we succeed in finding one ready-made, we take the newcomer in immediately. If not, we either reject the new fact, or wait till we find more of his kind, and form a new place for the group.

Facts which are extraordinary thus disturb us; but and when we find many like them, they cease to disturb, even when our knowledge about their cause remains the same as before.

The ordinary experiences of our lives are no less wonderful than any miracles recorded in any sacred book of the world; nor are we any more enlightened as to the cause of these ordinary experiences than of the so-called miracles. But the miraculous is "extraordinary", and the everyday experience is "ordinary". The "extraordinary" startles the mind, the "ordinary" satisfies.

The field of knowledge is so varied, and the more the difference is from the centre, the more widely the radii diverge.

At the start the different sciences were thought to have no connection whatever with each other; but as more and more knowledge comes in - that is, the more and more we come nearer the centre - the radii are converging more and more, and it seems that they are on the eve of finding a common centre. Will they ever find it?

The study of the mind was, above all, the science to which the sages of India and Greece had directed their attention. All religions are the outcome of the study of the inner man. Here we find the attempt at finding the unity, and in the science of religion, as taking its stand upon general and massive propositions, we find the boldest and the most vigorous manifestation of this tendency at finding the unity.

Some religions could not solve the problem beyond the finding of a duality of causes, one good, the other evil. Others went as far as finding an intelligent personal cause, a few went still further beyond intellect, beyond personality, and found an infinite being.

In those, and only those systems which dared to transcend beyond the personality of a limited human consciousness, we find also an attempt to resolve all physical phenomena into unity.

The result was the "Akâsha" of the Hindus and the "Ether" of the Greeks.

This "Akasha" was, after the mind, the first material manifestation, said the Hindu sages, and out of this "Akasha" all this has been evolved.

History repeats itself; and again during the latter part of the nineteenth century, the same theory is coming with more vigour and fuller light.

It is being proved more clearly than ever that as there is a co-relation of physical forces there is also a co-relation of different [branches of] knowledge, and that behind all these general groups there is a unity of knowledge.It was shown by Newton (Isaac Newton, 1642 – 1727.) that if light consisted of material particles projected from luminous bodies, they must move faster in solids and liquids than in air, in order that the laws of refraction might be satisfied.

Huyghens, (Christian Huyghens, 1629 – 1695.) on the other hand, showed that to account for the same laws on the supposition that light consisted in the undulating motion of an elastic medium, it must move more slowly in solids and fluids than in gases. Fizeau (Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau, 1819 – 1896.) and Foucault (Jean Bernard Léon Foucault, 1819 – 1868.) found Huyghens's predictions correct.

Light, then, consists in the vibrating motion of a medium, which must, of course, fill all space. This is called the ether.

In the fact that the theory of a cosmic ether explains fully all the phenomena of radiation, refraction, diffraction and polarization of light is the strongest argument in favour of the theory.

Of late, gravitation, molecular action, magnetic, electric, and electro-dynamic attractions and repulsions have thus been explained.

Sensible and latent heat, electricity and magnetism themselves have been of late almost satisfactorily explained by the theory of the all-pervading ether.

Zöllner, (Johann K. F. Zöllner, 1834 – 1882.) however, basing his calculations upon the data supplied by the researches of Wilhelm Weber (Wilhelm Eduard Weber, 1804 – 1891.), thinks that the transmission of life force between the heavenly bodies is effected both ways, by the undulation of a medium and by the actual evidence of particles.

Weber found that the molecules, the smallest particles of bodies, were composed of yet smaller particles, which he called the electric particles, and which in the molecules are in a constant circular motion. These electric particles are partly positive, partly negative. Those of the same electricity repulse those of different electricity; attracting each other, each molecule contains the same amount of electric particles, with a small surplus of either positive or negative quickly changing the balance.

Upon this Zöllner builds these propositions:

(1) The molecules are composed of a very great number of particles - the so-called electric particles, which are in constant circular motion around each other within the molecule.

(2) If the inner motion of a molecule increases over a certain limit, then electric particles are emitted. They then travel from one heavenly body through space until they reach another heavenly body, where they are either reflected or absorbed by other molecules.

(3) The electric particles thus traversing space are the ether of the physicist.

(4) These ether particles have a twofold motion: first, their proper motion; second, an undulatory motion, for which they receive the impulse from the ether particles rotating in the molecules.

(5) The motion of the smallest particles corresponds to that of the heavenly bodies.

The corollary is:

The law of attraction which holds good for the heavenly bodies also holds good for the smallest particles.

Under these suppositions, that which we call space is really filled with electric particles, or ether.

Zöllner also found the following interesting calculation for the electric atoms:

Velocity: 50,143 geographical miles per second.

Amount of ether particles in a water molecule: 42,000 million.

Distance from each other: 0.0032 millimeter.

So far as it goes, then, the theory of a universal cosmic ether is the best at hand to explain the various phenomena of nature. As far as it goes, the theory that this ether consists of particles, electric or otherwise, is also very valuable. But on all suppositions, there must be space between two particles of ether, however small; and what fills this inter-ethereal space? If particles still finer, we require still more fine ethereal particles to fill up the vacuum between every two of them, and so on.

Thus the theory of ether, or material particles in space, though accounting for the phenomena in space, cannot account for space itself.

And thus we are forced to find that the ether which comprehends the molecules explains the molecular phenomena, but itself cannot explain space because we cannot but think of ether as in space. And, therefore, if there is anything which will explain this space, it must be something that comprehends in its infinite being the infinite space itself. And what is there that can comprehend even the infinite space but the Infinite Mind?


(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 440-41.)

[An undated and untitled, one-page manuscript in Swami Vivekananda's own handwriting]

My nerves act on my brain - the brain sends back a reaction which, on the mental side, is this world.

Something - x - acts on the brain through the nerves, the reaction is this world.

Why not the x be also in the body - why outside?

Because we find the already created outside world (as the result of a previous reaction of the brain) acts on us calling on a further reaction.

Thus inside becomes outside and creates another action, which interior action created another reaction, which again becomes outside and again acts inside.

The only way of reconciling idealism and realism is to hold that one brain can be affected by the world created as reaction by another brain from inside, i.e., the mixture x + mind which one brain throws out can affect another, to which it's similarly external.

Therefore as soon as we come within the influence of this hypnotic circle, or influence, created by hundreds of preceding brains we begin to feel this world as they see it.

Mind is only a phase of matter, i.e., of the ever-changing phenomena of which matter and mind are different states or views. There must be something in whose presence this eternal, phenomenal net is spread - that is the Substance, the Brahman.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 4, pp. 213-14.)

Probably at the turn of the century, Miss Ellen Waldo gave these undated notes in Swami Vivekananda's handwriting to her friend Sister Devamata, a member of the Boston Vedanta Centre, where they were later made available for publication.

Man will need a religion so long as he is constituted as at present.
The forms will change from time to time
The dissatisfaction with the senses.
The yearning beyond.
There were encroachments of religion on the domains of physical science - these [encroachments] religion is giving up every day.
Yet there is a vast field covered by religion where physical science[s] are mute.
The [vain?] attempt to keep man strictly within the limits of the senses -
Because - there are men who catch a glimpse now and then of the infinite beyond.
The types of men.
The worker - the mystic the emotional  the intellectual.
Each type is necessary for the well - being of society. The dangers of each -
A mixture minimizes the danger
The East is too full of mystics and meditative the West of workers -
An exchange will be for the good of both.

The necessity of religion -
The four types of men
that come to religion -
the basis of Unity - the Divinity
in man. Why use this term?
the western Society has work
and intellectual philosophy -
But work must not be destructive
of others.
Philosophy - must not be only dry intellectuality


(The Life of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. I. p. 250.)

After his experience of the macrocosm within the microcosm while absorbed in meditation under the peepul tree at Kakrighat, in 1890, Swami Vivekananda jotted down in Bengali fragments of his realization in his notebook.

In the beginning was the Word etc.

The microcosm and the macrocosm are built on the same plan. Just as the individual soul is encased in the living body, so is the universal Soul in the Living Prakriti [Nature] - the objective universe. Shivâ [i.e. Kâli] is embracing Shiva: this is not a fancy. This covering of the one [Soul] by the other [Nature] is analogous to the relation between an idea and the word expressing it: they are one and the same; and it is only by a mental abstraction that one can distinguish them. Thought is impossible without words. Therefore, in the beginning was the Word etc.

This dual aspect of the Universal Soul is eternal. So what we perceive or feel is this combination of the Eternally Formed and the Eternally Formless.

(Prabuddha Bharata, September 1982, pp. 390-93.)

In 1889, Swami Vivekananda translated into Bengali selections from Book I, chapters 1-6 of Thomas à Kempis's The Imitation of Christ. They were published along with a preface in a now-defunct Bengali monthly magazine, Sâhitya Kalpadruma. The Swami's preface and Bengali translation, entitled "Ishânusharana",  were later published in the Bengali Complete Works (first edition), VI, pp. 16-28. However, only the preface to The Imitation of Christ was published in the English edition of the Complete Works, VIII.

Swami Vivekananda's partial Bengali translation of The Imitation of Christ includes as footnotes quotations from Hindu scriptures that parallel à Kempis's ideas, comments or commentary. For the sake of clarity, these footnotes (numbered 1 through 17) have been appended to their respective verses in The Imitation of Christ (indicated in parentheses), arranged under their appropriate chapter headings in the book, and reproduced here in bold.

Many of the Sanskrit footnotes to the Bengali translation were later rendered into English during the course of Swami Vivekananda's lecturing or writing. For the sake of interest, these English translations have also been added to the Swami's restored footnote text. Otherwise, Sanskrit verses have been translated by the Publisher for the convenience of the reader.

- Publisher



Of the Imitation of Christ and Contempt of all the Vanities of the World

1. "He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness", saith the Lord [John 8.12]. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)
दैवी ह्येषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया।
मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते॥

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: This My Mâyâ is divine, made up of qualities and very difficult to cross. Yet those who come unto Me, cross the river of life. (Vide "Maya and Freedom", Complete Works, II.)

2. Let therefore our chief endeavour be to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

ध्यात्वैवमात्मानमहर्निशं मुनि:।
तिष्ठेत्सदा मुक्तसमस्तबन्धन:॥

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: Thus meditating upon the Self day and night, let the sage abide free from all bondage.

3. The doctrine of Christ exceedeth all the doctrines of holy men; and he that hath the Spirit will find therein the hidden manna. (The Imitation of Christ V.2.)

When the Israelites were afflicted by want of food in a desert, God showered on them a kind of "manna".

4. But it falleth out, that many who often hear the Gospel of Christ, are yet but little affected, because they are void of the Spirit of Christ. But whosoever would fully and feelingly understand the words of Christ, must endeavour to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ. (The Imitation of Christ V.2.)

श्रुत्वाप्येनं वेद न चैव कश्चित् ॥

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: Others, hearing of It, do not understand. (Vide "The Gita II", Complete Works, I.)

न गच्छति विना पानं व्याधिरौषथशब्दत:।
विनाऽपरोक्षानुभवं ब्रह्मशब्दैर्न मुच्यते॥

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: A disease does not leave the body by simply repeating the name of the medicine; one must take the medicine. Similarly, liberation does not come by merely saying the word Brahman. Brahman must be experienced.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S FOOTNOTE (C): MAHABHARATA (critical edition) 12.309.91
श्रुतेन किं येन न धर्ममाचरेत्।

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: Of what avail is reading the Vedas without practising religion?

5. What will it avail thee to dispute profoundly of the Trinity if thou be void of humility and art thereby displeasing to the Trinity? (The Imitation of Christ V.3.)

According to the Christians, God the Father, Holy Ghost, and God the Son are One in three and Three in One.

6. Surely great words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God. (The Imitation of Christ V.3.)

वाग्वैखरी शब्दझरी शास्त्रव्याख्यानकौशलम्।
वैदुष्यं विदुषां तद्वद् भुक्तये न तु मुक्तये॥

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: Wonderful methods of joining words, rhetorical powers, and explaining texts of the books in various ways - these are only for the enjoyment of the learned, and not religion. (Vide "Realization", Complete Works, II.)

7. If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it profit thee without the love of God and without grace? (The Imitation of Christ V.3.)


-I Corinthians 13.2.

8. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Eccles.) except to love God and to serve Him only. (The Imitation of Christ V.3.)

के सन्ति सन्तोऽखिलवीतरागा:।
अपास्तमोहा: शिवतत्त्वनिष्ठा:॥

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: They alone are holy men (Sâdhus) who are devoid of any longing for worldly objects, free from delusion and are devoted to the truth of Shiva.

9. Call often to mind that proverb "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing". (The Imitation of Christ V.5.)


-Eccles. 1.8.

10. Endeavour, therefore, to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things and to turn thyself to the invisible. For they that follow their lusts stain their own consciences and lose the grace of God. (The Imitation of Christ V.5.)

न जातु काम: कामानामुपभोगेन शाम्यति।
हविषा कृष्णवर्त्मेव भूय एवाभिवर्धते॥

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: Desire is never satisfied by the enjoyment of desires; it only increases the more, as fire when butter is poured upon it. (Vide "Maya and Illusion", Complete Works, II.)


Of the Doctrine of Truth

11. What availeth it to cavil and dispute much about dark and hidden things; for ignorance of which we shall not be reproved at the day of judgement? (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

According to the Christian view, God will judge all beings on the last day (the day of the dissolution of the world), and will award heaven or hell according to the virtues or vices of different individuals.

12. He to whom the Eternal Word speaketh is delivered from many an opinion. (The Imitation of Christ V.2.)

This Word is somewhat similar to the Maya of the Vedantists. This Itself was manifested in the form of Christ.


Of the Reading of Holy Scriptures

13. Truth, not eloquence, is to be sought for in Holy Scripture. Each part of the Scripture is to be read with the same Spirit wherewith it was written. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

नैषा तर्केण मतिरापनेया।

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: Neither is the mind to be disturbed by vain arguments, for it is no more a question of argument; it is a question of fact. (Vide "Realization", Complete Works, II.)

14. Let not the authority of the writer offend thee, whether he be of great or small learning; but let the love of pure truth draw thee to read. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

आददीत शुभां विद्यां प्रयत्नादवरादपि।

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: Learn supreme knowledge with service even from the man of low birth. (Vide "The Common Bases of Hinduism", Complete Works, III.)


Of Inordinate Affections

15. Whensoever a man desireth anything inordinately, he becometh presently disquieted in himself. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते।
तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि॥

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S TRANSLATION: For the mind which follows in the wake of the wandering senses carries away his discrimination as a wind (carries away from its course) a boat on the waters.

16. The proud and covetous can never rest. The poor and humble in spirit live together in all peace.

The man that is not yet perfectly dead to himself, is quickly tempted and overcome in small and trifling things. (The Imitation of Christ V.1.)

ध्यायतो विषयान्पुंस: सङ्गस्तेषुपजायते।
सङ्गात्सञ्जायते काम: कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते॥
क्रोधाद्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात्स्मृतिविभ्रमः।
स्मृतिभ्रंशाद् बुद्धिनाशो बुद्धिनाशात्प्रणश्यति॥

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: By thinking about sense objects, attachment to them is formed. From attachment comes longing, and longing breeds anger. From anger comes delusion, and from delusion, confused memory. From confused memory comes the ruin of discrimination; and from the ruin of discrimination, a man perishes.

17. There is then no peace in the heart of a carnal man, nor in him that is addicted to outward things, but in the spiritual and devout man. (The Imitation of Christ V.2.)

यततो ह्यपि कौन्तेय पुरुषस्य विपश्चित:।
इन्द्रियाणि प्रमाथीनि हरन्ति प्रसभं मन:॥

PUBLISHER'S TRANSLATION: The turbulent senses, O son of Kunti, violently carry away the mind of even a wise man striving after perfection.


Om Salutations to Bhagavan Shri Ramakrishna

Brothers of Calcutta!

1. We feel happy when you are happy, and we suffer when you suffer. Therefore, during these days of extreme adversity, we are striving and ceaselessly praying for your welfare and an easy way to save you from disease and the fear of an epidemic.

2. If that grave disease - fearing which both the high and the low, the rich and the poor are all fleeing the city - ever really comes in our midst, then even if we perish while serving and nursing you, we will consider ourselves fortunate because you are all embodiments of God. He who thinks otherwise - out of vanity, superstition or ignorance - offends God and incurs great sin. There is not the slightest doubt about it.

3. We humbly pray to you - please do not panic due to unfounded fear. Depend upon God and calmly try to find the best means to solve the problem. Otherwise, join hands with those who are doing that very thing.

4. What is there to fear? The terror that has entered people's hearts due to the occurrence of the plague has no real ground. Through God's will, nothing of the terrible form that plague takes, as seen in other places, has occurred in Calcutta. The government authorities have also been particularly helpful to us. So what is there to fear?

5. Come, let us give up this false fear and, having faith in the infinite compassion of God, gird our loins and enter the field of action. Let us live pure and clean lives. Disease, fear of an epidemic, etc., will vanish into thin air by His grace.

6. (a) Always keep the house and its premises, the rooms, clothes, bed, drain, etc., clean.

(b) Do not eat stale, spoiled food; take fresh and nutritious food instead. A weak body is more susceptible to disease.

(c) Always keep the mind cheerful. Everyone will die once. Cowards suffer the pangs of death again and again, solely due to the fear in their own minds.

(d) Fear never leaves those who earn their livelihoods by unethical means or who cause harm to others. Therefore, at this time when we face the great fear of death, desist from all such behaviour.

(e) During the period of epidemic, abstain from anger and from lust - even if you are householders.

(f) Do not pay any heed to rumours.

(g) The British government will not vaccinate anyone by force. Only those who are willing will be vaccinated.

(h) There will be no lack of effort in treating the afflicted patients in our hospital under our special care and supervision, paying full respect to religion, caste and the modesty (Purdah) of women. Let the wealthy run away! But we are poor; we understand the heartache of the poor. The Mother of the Universe is Herself the support of the helpless. The Mother is assuring us: "Fear not! Fear not!"

7. Brother, if there is no one to help you, then send information immediately to the servants of Shri Bhagavan Ramakrishna at Belur Math. There will be no dearth of help that is physically possible. By the grace of the Mother, monetary help will also be possible.

- N. B. In order to remove the fear of the epidemic, you should sing Nâma Sankirtanam [the name of the Lord] every evening and in every locality.

[A fragmentary poem composed at Ridgely Manor, in 1899]

One circle more the spiral path of life ascends
And time's restless shuttle - running back and fro
Through maze of warp and woof
of shining
threads of life - spins out a stronger piece. (Cf. a slightly different version of the first three lines of this poem which appeared in Swami Vivekananda's own handwriting on the left-hand side of the folded letter paper containing the original draft (Vide the facsimile): One circle more the spiral path of life ascends
And Time's restless shuttle running
back and fro
through maze of warp and woof spins out a
stronger piece.)

Hand in hand they stand - and try to
fathom depths whence
springs eternal love, each in other's eyes; And find
No hold o'er that age but brings the youth anew -
And time - the good, the pure, the true.


One circle more the spiral path of life ascends
And Time's restless shuttle running
back and fro
through maze of warp and woof spins out a
stronger piece.


(Complete Works (Bengali edition), VI, p. 256.)
वेदान्ताख्यैः सुविहितमखोद्भिन्नमोहान्धकारै:
स्तुतो गीतो य इह सततं नं भजे रामकृष्णम्॥

He who was praised by the Brâhmanas, those knowers of the Vedas who made the sky reverberate with the sacred sounds of the sacrifice and caused the darkness of delusion to vanish through well-performed rituals and the knowledge known as Vedanta - he whose greatness was sung in the sweet chants of the Sâma-Veda etc., with voices thundering like clouds (In Indian mythology clouds can cause both thunder and lightning.) - to that Shri Ramakrishna, I offer my eternal worship.


(New Discoveries, Vol. 3. p. 490. This undated poem is preserved in the archives of the Vedanta Centre, Cohasset, Massachusetts. Cf. "My Play is Done", Complete Works, VI.)

From life to life I am waiting here at the gates - they
open not.
My tongue is parched with ceaseless prayers and dim
my eyes have grown
With constant straining through the gloom to catch
one ray long sought;
My heart is seized with dark despair, all hope well-
nigh has flown.


And standing on life's narrow ridge, beneath the
chasm I see -
Strife and sorrow, darkness deep of whirling life and
Of mad commotion, struggles vain, of folly roaming
On one side this dark abyss - I shudder to see it even -
On the other this wall . . .


This is Swami Vivekananda's free translation of verses from Bhartrihari's Sanskrit poem Vairâgya Shatakam.

The Swami's translation is from Sister Nivedita's Unpublished Notes of Some Wanderings with the Swami Vivekananda - selected verses recorded almost verbatim, but not necessarily in Bhartrihari's order, by Sister Nivedita as Swami Vivekananda translated them orally for some of his Western disciples during a Himalayan pilgrimage in 1898.

For the researcher's benefit, verses 14-15, 18, 24-26, 31, and 33 have been footnoted as corresponding verses taken from Swami Vivekananda's original handwritten translation, which was given to the Vedanta Society of Southern California by Miss Josephine MacLeod, shortly before her passing away in 1948. This footnoted handwritten version was first published in the collection of poetry entitled In Search of God and Other Poems (Mayavati: Advaita Ashrama, 1968).

Stylistic differences in Swami Vivekananda's overall translation of Bhartrihari's poem are due to those variations inherent in the two aforementioned sources. Obvious typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected. The verse numbers, as available, correspond to Bhartrihari's numbering.

- Publisher

[A translation of verses from Bhartrihari's Sanskrit poem Vairagya Shatakam]

I have travelled in many countries, hard to travel in,
And got no result;
Giving up pride of birth and position,
I have served all.
Like a crow stealing into a kitchen,
With fear I have eaten the bread of others in their homes,
Yet thou, Desire, who leadest to evil deeds,
Leavest me not!
(Verse 2)

I have crossed oceans to find wealth.
I have blasted mountains to get jewels.
I have spent whole nights in graveyards
repeating Mantras
And have obtained - not the broken cowrie
of blessedness
Ah, Desire, give me up now.
(Verse 3)

I have borne the wicked words of the wicked;
To please fools, when my heart is weeping,
my lips ever laughed.
Stopping my judgment, I have with folded hands
Stood before unworthy persons.
Even now, my Desire, why do you make me dance
like a fool?
(Verse 4)

For this life, which is like a drop of water
on a lotus leaf,
We have not enjoyed, but enjoyments have enjoyed us.
We did not penance, but penances burnt us up.
Time did not fly, yet we are gone.
We become decrepit with age, but not so Desire.
Infirmity assails us, the skin wrinkles,
The hair whitens, the body becomes crooked,
Old age comes on.
Desire alone grows younger every day.
(Verses 5-8)

Hope is the name of this river, whose water is Desire,
And Thirst the waves thereof.
Passion is the crocodile living in that water,
Vain resolves are the birds that reside
In the tree of virtue on the shores and kill it.
But there are the whirlpools of Delusion
And Despondence, the high banks.
The great Yogis are blissful because they,
With their pure minds, never crossed this river.
(Verse 10)

Blessed are they that, living even in the
caves of mountains,
Meditate on the supreme Light.
Even the birds will fearlessly drink of the
tears of pleasure
That flow from their eyes.
Alas, (Here Swami Vivekananda's handwritten translation begins.) our minds grow familiar, even in imagination,
With palaces and pleasure - gardens,
And thus our lives fleet by.
(Verse 14)

Even when the only food is gained by begging,
and that is tasteless;
One's bed, the dry earth;
One's whole family, his own body;
His only clothing, a ragged bit of cloth -
Alas, alas, the desire for enjoyment does not leave a man.
(Verse 15)

Not knowing the power of flame, the insect falls into it.
The fish swallows the bait, not knowing the hook inside.
That, well aware of the vanity and dangers of the world,
We cannot give it up -
Such is the power of Delusion.
(Verse 18)

Have such places in the Himalayas become extinct
That a man should go begging at others' doors?
Have the roots in the mountain forests all disappeared?
Are the springs all dry?
Are the trees all withered that bear sweet fruits
And bark for garments
That a man should look with fear on the face of a fool,
Whose head is turned by a little wealth?
(Lit., "Whose eyebrows are dancing with the wind of the
pride of a little wealth".)
(Verses 24-25)

Arise! Let us go into the forest
Where pure roots and fruits will be our food,
Pure water our only drink,
Pure leaves our bed,
And where the little-minded, the thoughtless,
And those whose hearts are cramped with wealth
Do not exist.
(Verse 26)

In enjoyment is the fear of disease;
In high birth, the fear of losing caste;
In wealth, the fear of tyrants;
In honour, the fear of losing her;
In strength, the fear of enemies;
In beauty, the fear of the other sex; 
In knowledge, the fear of defeat;
In virtue, the fear of scandal;
In the body, the fear of death. In this life, all is fraught with fear.
Renunciation alone is fearless.
(Verse 31)

The root of health has always round about it
A thousand worms in the form of dangers and disease.
Where fortune falls, open a hundred gates of danger.
Whosoever is born, him death will surely swallow.
Say, where is that Providence who ever created
Anything that died not?
(Verse 33)

Life is like a wave upon the waters,
Youth only remains a few days.
Wealth is like a fancy of the mind,
It immediately vanishes.
Enjoyment is like a flash of lightning
amongst dark clouds.
Our most beloved one is only for a moment.
Knowing this, O man, give your heart unto Brahman
To cross this ocean of life.
(Verse 36)

. . . Living in whom gods like Indra, Brahmâ
and others appear like a blade of grass,
Whose anger can destroy the worlds in a moment.
O sage, know Him, that One Supreme
Who dies not,
And give not your mind to false enjoyment.
(Verse 40)

Ah, where is happiness in this life?
(At best it lasts but a hundred years, of which half is spent in sleep; of the other half, half in decrepitude; of what remains - one half goes in childhood and, of the rest, still half in serving others!)
O man, in this futile, wave-like life
Where is happiness?
(Verse 49)

Now you appear as child
And now as a youth, whose whole occupation is love.
This moment poor, another wealthy,
Now a babe, and again a decrepit old man.
O actor man, at last you vanish from the stage
When death beckons you behind the scenes!
(Verse 50)

You are a king, but we have served Gurus,
Who are great in knowledge.
You are known by your wealth as a king,
We for our knowledge.
There is infinite difference between us and you,
Therefore we are not the persons to wait upon you,
O Kings!
(Verse 51)

Oh, when will that day come,
When in a forest, saying "Shiva", "Shiva",
My days shall pass?
A serpent and a garland the same,
The strong foe and the friend the same,
The flower-bed and the stone-bed the same,
A beautiful woman and a blade of grass the same!
(Verses 85, 90)

O Shiva, when shall I be able to cut
To the very roots of my Karma,
By becoming solitary, desireless, quiet -
My hands my only plate, and the cardinal points
my clothing?
(Verse 99)

The fruits are sufficient food,
The waters of the mountain sufficient dinner,
The earth a sufficient bed,
And bark a sufficient garment -
These are all welcome.
Only I cannot bear the proud words of fools,
Whose organs are all disordered by the drink
Of the wine of new wealth!
(Verse 54)

What if you have got the wealth that fulfils every desire?
If your foot is on the heads of your foes,
What of that?
If you have made all your love wealthy,
If your body remains a Kalpa (A periodic cycle of creation and dissolution.) - what of that?
The only thing to be desired is Renunciation
Which gives all love to Shiva.
(Verse 67)

Fear only life, that brings Birth and Death,
Have no love of friends, no lust, no attachment.
Alone, living alone in a forest,
What is more to be longed for than this Renunciation.
(Verse 68)

Going searching in the lower regions,
Going into the skies,
Travelling through all the worlds,
This is but the fickleness of the mind.
Ah, friend, you never remember the Lord
Who resides within you!
How can you get happiness?
(Verse 70)

What is there in the reading of Vedas,
The Shrutis, the Purânas and doing sacrifices?
Freedom alone takes off the weight
of this dreadful world,
And manifests Self-blessedness.
Here is the truth: the rest is all shop-keeping.
(Verse 71)

When the body is still healthy and diseaseless,
When old age has not yet attacked it,
When the organs have not yet lost their power,
And life is still full and undiminished,
Now, now, struggle on, rendering great help to yourself!
My friend, it is useless to try to dig a well
In a house that is already on fire!
(Verse 75)

In Shiva, who is the Lord of this Universe,
Or Vishnu, its soul, I see no difference,
But still, my love is for Him
Who has the young moon on His forehead.
(Verse 84)

Oh when will that time come,
When in a beautiful full-moon night,
Sitting on the banks of some river,
And in a calm, yet high notes repeating
"Shiva! Shiva! Shiva!"
All my feelings will come out through the eyes
In the form of tears?
(Verse 85)

When, wearing only the Kaupina, (Loincloth.)
Lying on the sands of the holy Ganges in Benares,
When shall I weep aloud, "O Lord of ghouls",
Saying this, and whole days shall pass like moments?
(Verse 87)

When, bathing in the pure Ganges water,
Worshipping Thee, Omnipresent, with holy fruits
and flowers,
Stretching myself on stones in a stony cave,
My whole soul shall go into meditation,
And according to the voice of my Guru,
I shall avoid all misery, and purify
The mind defiled with serving the rich.
(Verse 88)

This whole wide earth my bed,
My beautiful pillows my own two arms,
My wonderful canopy the blue sky,
And the cool evening air to fan me,
The moon and the stars my lamps,
And my beautiful wife, Renunciation, by my side,
What king is there who can sleep like me in pleasure?
(Verse 94)

This Universe is only a little circle.
What is there to desire in it?
Will the ocean go into waves
By the jumping of a little [fish?]?
(Verse 92)

There was a time when I could see nothing but Women
in this world:
And now that my eyes are opened,
I can see nothing but Brahman. Beautiful are the rays of the moon,
Beautiful are the lawns in the forest,
Beautiful is the meeting of the good,
Beautiful is poetry, and
Beautiful is the face of the beloved.
But to me none of these are beautiful,
Knowing that they are evanescent.
(Verse 79)

Oh mother earth, father wind,
Friend light, sweetheart water,
Brother sky,
Here take my last salutation
With folded hands!
For today I am melting away into Brahman,
Because my heart became pure,
And all delusion vanished
Thro' the power of your good company.
(Verse 100)

Old age watches us, roaring like a tigress.
Disease, like enemies, is striking us often.
Life is flowing out like water from a broken jar.
Curious still how men do evil deeds in this world!
(Verse 38)

Those beautiful cities.
Those mighty monarchs.
Those powerful nobles.
Those learned assemblies.
Those moon-faced women.
Those proud princes.
And those that sang their praises -
They have all been swept away from the memory
of man.
My salutation, therefore, is to Time who works
all these!
(Verse 41)

The sun by his coming and going every hour
is lessening the life of man.
Time flies without our knowledge,
Crushed as we are by the load of many works.
Seeing the evils of Birth, Old Age, Danger, and Death
We are not afraid.
Ah me, drinking the wine of delusion,
The world has become mad.
(Verse 43)

I have not learnt that knowledge which defeats all
Nor have been able, at the point of the sword,
Which can cut thro' an elephant's back,
To send our glory even unto the skies;
Nor, under the light of the full moon,
Drunk the nectar of the budding lips of the Beloved.
My youth is gone fruitless
Like a lamp in an empty house.
(Verse 46)

Conversations and Interviews

(New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 484-86.)

[The story of the first meeting of Swami Vivekananda and Madame Emma Calvé, as told in Calvé's autobiography, My Life]

. . . [Swami Vivekananda] was lecturing in Chicago one year when I was there; and as I was at that time greatly depressed in mind and body, I decided to go to him.

. . . Before going I had been told not to speak until he addressed me. When I entered the room, I stood before him in silence for a moment. He was seated in a noble attitude of meditation, his robe of saffron yellow falling in straight lines to the floor, his head swathed in a turban bent forward, his eyes on the ground. After a pause he spoke without looking up.

"My child", he said, "what a troubled atmosphere you have about you. Be calm. It is essential".

Then in a quiet voice, untroubled and aloof, this man who did not even know my name talked to me of my secret problems and anxieties. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown even to my nearest friends. It seemed miraculous, supernatural.

"How do you know all this?" I asked at last. "Who has talked of me to you?"

He looked at me with his quiet smile as though I were a child who had asked a foolish question.

"No one has talked to me", he answered gently. "Do you think that it is necessary? I read in you as in an open book."

Finally it was time for me to leave.

"You must forget", he said as I rose. "Become gay and happy again. Build up your health. Do not dwell in silence upon your sorrows. Transmute your emotions into some form of external expression. Your spiritual health requires it. Your art demands it."

I left him deeply impressed by his words and his personality. He seemed to have emptied my brain of all its feverish complexities and placed there instead his clear and calming thoughts. I became once again vivacious and cheerful, thanks to the effect of his powerful will. He did not use any of the hypnotic or mesmeric influences. It was the strength of his character, the purity and intensity of his purpose that carried conviction. It seemed to me, when I came to know him better, that he lulled one's chaotic thoughts into a state of peaceful acquiescence, so that one could give complete and undivided attention to his words.

(An excerpt from Madame Verdier's journal quoted in the New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 487-88.)
[As told by Madame Emma Calvé‚ to Madame Drinette Verdier]

Mr. X, in whose home Swamiji was staying in Chicago, was a partner or an associate in some business with John D. Rockefeller. Many times John D. heard his friends talking about this extraordinary and wonderful Hindu monk who was staying with them, and many times he had been invited to meet Swamiji but, for one reason or another, always refused. At that time Rockefeller was not yet at the peak of his fortune, but was already powerful and strong-willed, very difficult to handle and a hard man to advise.

But one day, although he did not want to meet Swamiji, he was pushed to it by an impulse and went directly to the house of his friends, brushing aside the butler who opened the door and saying that he wanted to see the Hindu monk.

The butler ushered him into the living room, and, not waiting to be announced, Rockefeller entered into Swamiji's adjoining study and was much surprised, I presume, to see Swamiji behind his writing table not even lifting his eyes to see who had entered.

After a while, as with Calvé, Swamiji told Rockefeller much of his past that was not known to any but himself, and made him understand that the money he had already accumulated was not his, that he was only a channel and that his duty was to do good to the world - that God had given him all his wealth in order that he might have an opportunity to help and do good to people.

Rockefeller was annoyed that anyone dared to talk to him that way and tell him what to do. He left the room in irritation, not even saying goodbye. But about a week after, again without being announced, he entered Swamiji's study and, finding him the same as before, threw on his desk a paper which told of his plans to donate an enormous sum of money toward the financing of a public institution.

"Well, there you are", he said. "You must be satisfied now, and you can thank me for it."

Swamiji didn't even lift his eyes, did not move. Then taking the paper, he quietly read it, saying: "It is for you to thank me". That was all. This was Rockefeller's first large donation to the public welfare.