To Mrs. G. W. Hale
23 August 1894
The photographs reached safely yesterday. I cannot tell exactly whether Harrison ought to give me more or not. They had sent only two to me at Fishkill1 — not the pose I ordered, though.
Narasimha has perhaps got his passage by this time. He will get it soon, whether his family gives him the money or not. I have written to my friends in Madras to look to it, and they write me they will.
I would be very glad if he becomes a Christian or Mohammedan or any religion that suits him; but I am afraid for some time to come none will suit our friend. Only if he becomes a Christian he will have a chance to marry again, even in India — the Christians there permitting it. I am so sorry to learn that it is the “bondage of heathen India” that, after all, was the cause of all this mischief. We learn as we live. So we were all this time ignorantly and blindly blaming our much suffering, persecuted, saintly friend Narasimha, while all the fault was really owing to the “bondage of heathen India”!!!!
But to give the devil his due, this heathen India has been supplying him with money to go on a spree again and again. And this time too “heathen India” will [take] or already has taken our “enlightened” and persecuted friend from out of his present scrape, and not “Christian America”!! Mrs. Smith’s plan is not bad after all — to turn Narasimha into a missionary of Christ. But unfortunately for the world, many and many a time the flag of Christ has been entrusted to such hands. But I would beg to add that he will then be only a missionary of Smithian American Christianity, not Christ’s. Arrant humbug! That thing to preach Lord Jesus!!! Is He in want of men to uphold His banner? Pooh! the very idea is revolting. Do good to India indeed! Thank your charity and call back your dog — as the tramp said. Keep such good workers for America. The Hindus will have a quarantine against all such [outcasting] to protect their society. I heartily advise Narasimha to become a Christian — I beg your pardon, a convert to Americanism — because I am sure such a jewel is unsaleable in poor India. He is welcome to anything that will fetch a price. I know the gentleman whom you name perfectly well, and you may give him any information about me you like. I do not care for sending scraps2 and getting a boom for me. And these friends from India bother me enough for newspaper nonsense. They are very devoted, faithful and holy friends. I have not much of these scraps now. After a long search I found a bit in a Boston Transcript. I send it over to you.3 This public life is such a botheration. I am nearly daft.
Where to fly? In India I have become horribly public — crowds will follow me and take my life out. I got an Indian letter from Landsberg. Every ounce of fame can only be bought at the cost of a pound of peace and holiness. I never thought of that before. I have become entirely disgusted with this blazoning. I am disgusted with myself. Lord will show me the way to peace and purity. Why, Mother, I confess to you: no man can live in an atmosphere of public life, even in religion, without the devil of competition now and then thrusting his head into the serenity of his heart. Those who are trained to preach a doctrine never feel it, for they never knew religion. But those that are after God, and not after the world, feel at once that every bit of name and fame is at the cost of their purity. It is so much gone from that ideal of perfect unselfishness, perfect disregard of gain or name or fame. Lord help me. Pray for me, Mother. I am very much disgusted with myself. Oh, why the world be so that one cannot do anything without putting himself to the front; why cannot one act hidden and unseen and unnoticed? The world has not gone one step beyond idolatry yet. They cannot act from ideas, they cannot be led by ideas. But they want the person, the man. And any man that wants to do something must pay the penalty — no hope. This nonsense of the world. Shiva, Shiva, Shiva.
By the by, I have got such a beautiful edition of Thomas à Kempis. How I love that old monk. He caught a wonderful glimpse of the “behind the veil” — few ever got such. My, that is religion. No humbug of the world. No shilly-shallying, tall talk, conjecture — I presume, I believe, I think. How I would like to go out of this piece of painted humbug they call the beautiful world with Thomas à Kempis — beyond, beyond, which can only be felt, never expressed.
That is religion. Mother, there is God. There all the saints, prophets and incarnations meet. Beyond the Babel of Bibles and Vedas, creeds and crafts, dupes and doctrines — where is all light, all love, where the miasma of this earth can never reach. Ah! who will take me thither? Do you sympathize with me, Mother? My soul is groaning now under the hundred sorts of bondage I am placing on it. Whose India? Who cares? Everything is His. What are we? Is He dead? Is He sleeping? He, without whose command a leaf does not fall, a heart does not beat, who is nearer to me than my own self. It is bosh and nonsense — to do good or do bad or do fuzz. We do nothing. We are not. The world is not. He is, He is. Only He is. None else is. He is.
Om, the one without a second. He in me, I in Him. I am like a bit of glass in an ocean of light. I am not, I am not. He is, He is, He is.
Om, the one without a second.
Yours ever affectionately,
- ^Fishkill Landing, a resort in New York State where the Swami had spent some days with his friends Dr. and Mrs. Guernsey of New York City.
- ^Apparently Swami Vivekananda meant newspaper clippings providing proof of Hindu India’s approval and support of his work in America.
- ^Two newspaper clippings — neither one from the Boston Transcript —were enclosed with this letter and are given below.
(From the Indian Mirror, July 14, 1894): “There has been some lively correspondence between Swami Vivekananda and a retired Christian Missionary on the work and prospects of Christianity in India. Among other things, the Swami is reported to have said that ‘the way of converting is absolutely absurd’; ‘Missionary doctors do no good, because they are not in touch with the people.’ ‘They accomplish nothing in the way of converting, although they may have nice sociable times among themselves, etc.’ The revered gentleman took exception to the words, maintaining that, speaking the vernaculars well, nobody of foreigners understands and sympathises with Indians better than Missionaries. The Missionaries are undoubtedly good and well-meaning people; but we think the statement of the Swami that they are seldom in touch with the people is not without foundation. With the revival of Hinduism, manifested in every part of the country, it is doubtful whether Christianity will have any sway over the Hindus. The present is a critical time for Christian Missions in India. The Swami thanked the Missionary for calling him his fellow-countryman. ‘This is the first time,’ he wrote, ‘any European foreigner, born in India though he may be, has dared to call a detested Native by that name — Missionary or no Missionary. Would you dare to call me the same in India?’ Would he, indeed?”. (From the Amrita Bazar Patrika, August 24, 1894): “The insinuation that Swami Vivekananda is not an ‘orthodox’ Hindu owes its origin to missionary influence. It is simply impossible for the missionaries to love Vivekananda, and it is therefore natural that they should try to bring him down. And why is Vivekananda not an orthodox Hindu? It is because, say they, he has crossed the ocean and eaten un-Hindu food. But the restriction which Hinduism imposes on its members has no forces upon the liberated — the Sannyasis, to which class the Swami belongs. The Hindu who has cut off his connection with the world has liberty to take anything and to go anywhere he pleases. Vivekananda deserves well of the world. The world is now governed by the West. In the West, especially in America, every man is a monarch. To make any impression in such a country is beyond the means of the ablest of our species. Vivekananda’s work in America is a miracle, and he is no doubt an instrument in the hands of God.”