(Translated from Bengali )
[Place: The Math, Belur. Year: 1901.]
At the time Belur Math was established, many among the orthodox Hindus were wont to make sharp criticism of the ways of life in the Math. Hearing the report of such criticism from the disciple, Swamiji would say (in the words of the couplet of Tulasidas), “The elephant passes in the market-place, and a thousand curs begin barking after him; so the Sadhus have no ill-feeling when worldly people slander then.” Or again he would say, “Without persecution no beneficent idea can enter into the heart of a society.” He would exhort everybody, “Go on working without an eye to results. One day you are sure to reap the fruits of it.” Again, on the lips of Swamiji were very often heard the words of the Gita, “A doer of good never comes to grief, my son.”
In May or June, 1901, seeing the disciple at the Math Swamiji said, “Bring me a copy of Ashtâvimshati-tattva (Twenty-eight Categories) of Raghunandan at an early date.”
Disciple: Yes, sir, but what will you do with the Raghunandan Smriti, which the present educated India calls a heap of superstition?
Swamiji: Why? Raghunandan was a wonderful scholar of his time. Collecting the ancient Smritis, he codified the customs and observances of the Hindus, adapting them to the needs of the changed times and circumstances. All Bengal is following the rules laid down by him. But in the iron grip of his rules regulating the life of a Hindu from conception to death, the Hindu society was much oppressed. In matters of eating and sleeping, in even the ordinary functions of life, not to speak of the important ones, he tried to regulate every one by rules. In the altered circumstances of the times, that did not last long. At all times in all countries the Karma-kânda, comprising the social customs and observances, changes form. Only the Jnâna-kânda endures. Even in the Vedic age you find that the rituals gradually changed in form. But the philosophic portion of the Upanishads has remained unchanged up till now — only there have been many interpreters, that is all.
Disciple: What will do you with the Smriti of Raghunandan?
Swamiji: This time I have a desire to celebrate the Durgâ Puja (worship of goddess Durga). If the expenses are forthcoming, I shall worship the Mahâmâyâ. Therefore I have a mind to read the ceremonial forms of that worship. When you come to the Math next Sunday, you must bring a copy of the book with you.
Disciple: All right, sir.
Next Saturday the disciple brought a copy of the book, and Swamiji was much pleased to get it. Meeting the disciple a week after this he said, “I have finished the Raghunandan Smriti presented by you. If possible, I shall celebrate the Puja of the Divine Mother.”
* * *
The Durga Puja took place with great éclat at the proper time.
Shortly after this Swamiji performed a Homa before the Mother Kali at Kalighat. Referring this incident he spoke to the disciple, “Well, I was glad to see that there was yet a liberality of view at Kalighat. The temple authorities did not object in the least to my entering the temple, though they knew that I was a man who had returned from the West. On the contrary, they very cordially took me into the holy precincts and helped me to worship the Mother to my heart’s content.”