Letters written from Los Angeles (including en route to LA) and Pasadena
(December 1899 to February 1900)
To Mrs. G. W. Hale
The California Limited
Santa Fe Route
1 December 1899
My dear Mother,
Excuse this scrawl as the train is dancing.
I passed a good night and hope to have a good time all through. With all love for the sisters and Mr. [Clarence] Woolley 144 and Bud and Father Pope.
THE CALIFORNIA LIMITED
SANTA FE ROUTE
December 2nd, 1899
MY DEAR MARGOT,
Two nights are passed — today the third will come. If it proves as pleasant and somnolent as the last two, I [shall] rejoice.
The scenery today I am passing through is much like the neighborhood of Delhi, the beginning of a big desert, bleak hills, scanty, thorny shrubs, very little water. The little streams are frozen, but during the middle of the day it is hot. Must be [illegible] I presume, in summer.
I send this to the care of Mrs. Adams, (Probably Mrs. Milward Adams.) as I don’t know your address. The Chicago work will not give you much, I am sure, except in education in the methods here, which I am sure will work out soon.
With all love and blessings,
6 December 1899
My dear Mother,
A few lines to say my safe arrival and am going to resume my usua l work of lecturing here.
I am much better than I was in Chicago and hope soon to become we ll again.
I cannot tell you how I enjoyed once more the little visit with m y American Mother and Sisters.
Harriet has scored a triumph really. I am charmed with Mr. Woolley–only hope Mary will be equally fortunate. It gives me a new lease of life to see people happy. May they all be happy.
Ever with love, your son,
6th Dec., 1899.
Your sixth has arrived, but with it yet no change in my fortune. Would change be any good, do you think? Some people are made that way, to love being miserable. If I did not break my heart over people I was born amongst, I would do it for somebody else. I am sure of that. This is the way of some, I am coming to see it. We are all after happiness, true, but that some are only happy in being unhappy — queer, is it not? There is no harm in it either, except that happiness and unhappiness are both infectious. Ingersoll said once that if he were God, he would make health catching, instead of disease, little dreaming that health is quite as catching as disease, if not more! That is the only danger. No harm in the world in my being happy, in being miserable, but others must not catch it. This is the great fact. No sooner a prophet feels miserable for the state of man than he sours his face, beats his breast, and calls upon everyone to drink tartaric acid, munch charcoal, sit upon a dung-heap covered with ashes, and speak only in groans and tears! — I find they all have been wanting. Yes, they have. If you are really ready to take the world’s burden, take it by all means. But do not let us hear your groans and curses. Do not frighten us with your sufferings, so that we came to feel we were better off with our own burdens. The man who really takes the burden blesses the world and goes his own way. He has not a word of condemnation, a word of criticism, not because there was no evil but that he has taken it on his own shoulders willingly, voluntarily. It is the Saviour who should “go his way rejoicing, and not the saved”.
This is the only light I have caught this morning. This is enough if it has come to live with me and permeate my life.
Come ye that are heavy laden and lay all your burden on me, and then do whatever you like and be happy and forget that I ever existed.
Ever with love,
921 West 21st Street,
9th December 1899.
My dear Christina,
After all, it is good for me, and good for those I love, that I should come here. Here at last in California! One of our poets says: “Where is Benares, where is Kashmir, where Khorasan, where Gujarat! O Tulsi! thus, man’s past Karma drags him on”. And I am here. After all it is best, isn’t it? Are you going to Boston? I am afraid you are not. I have not unsettled any of your plans, have I?–unnecessary expenses? Well, if any, I will make it up. Only the trouble is yours. I am ashamed of my eccentricities. Well, how are you? What are you doing? How are things going with you? Sleep if you can; it is better to sleep than get awakened. I pray that all good may come to thee–all peace, all strength to do and suffer. I have a great deal of strength to do, but very little to suffer.
I am so selfish again, always thinking of my own sufferings and paying no heed to others. Pray for me; send strong thoughts that I may have strength to suffer. I know you will. Now, I mean to remain a few weeks in this city. After that, “Mother” knows. I am physically much better now than I have been for months. The weakness of the heart is nearly gone. The dyspepsia is also much better, and [there is] very little. I can walk miles now without feeling it in the heart. If this continues, I expect to have a ne w lease on life. I am so, so sorry of asking you to come to Bosto n and flying away. If you are there, I hope you will enjoy the place and the meetings. If you have given it up–well, did you ta ke leave and not go to Boston? My! what a bungle! Well, I ask a thousand pardons, if such is the case. Things must look brighter anyway, sooner or later. What of these little, few days of life!
How is Mrs. Funke? Loads of love for her. How long a leave [do] y ou get at Christmas? When does it begin? If you feel inclined and willing, write me a long note, will you? But don’t tell my friend s my whereabouts. I want to be off from the world for a time, if I can. Will you kindly send Mr. Freer’s address to Mrs. Bull? She needs it. I had a lecture here last night. The hall was not crowded, as there was very little ad[vertisement], but a fairly good-sized audience though. I hope they were pleased. If I feel better, I am going to have classes in this city soon. I am on the business path this time, you know. Want a few dollars quick, if I can.
Ever yours in the Lord,
9th December 1899
My dear Maple Sugar*
My blessings & congratulations on the new traveller.** May her path be always strewn with flowers.
*Maple Sugar was the Swami’s nickname for Mabel MacLeod
**Mabel had recently given birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Penn Hammond. She was to die of pneumonia at the age of two.
*not published in ‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda’ (published by ‘Vedanta Kesari’ March 2004, in an article by Linda Prugh)
12th Dec., 1899
My dear Mrs. Bull,
You are perfectly right; I am brutal, very indeed. But about the tenderness etc., that is my fault. I wish I had less, much less of that — that is my weakness — and alas! all my sufferings have come from that. Well, the municipality is trying to tax us out — good; that is my fault as I did not make the Math public property by a deed of trust. I am very sorry I use harsh language to my boys; but they also know I love them more than anybody else on earth. I may have had Divine help — true; but oh, the pound of blood every bit of Divine help has been to me !! I would be gladder and better man without that. The present looks very gloomy indeed; but I am a fighter and must die fighting, not give way — that is why I get crazy at the boys.
I don’t ask them; to fight, but not to hinder my fight.
I don’t grudge my fate. But oh, now I want a man, one of my boys, to stand by me and fight against all odds! Don’t you vex yourself; if anything is to be done in India, my presence is necessary; and I am much better in health; possible the sea will make me better. Anyway I did not do anything this time in America except bother my friends. Possibly Joe will help me out with the passage, and I have some money with Mr. Legget. I have hopes of collecting some money in India yet. I did not see any of my friends in different parts of India. I have hope of collecting the fifteen thousand that will make up the fifty thousand, and a deed of trust will bring down the municipal taxes. If I cannot collect that — it is better to struggle and die for it than vegetate here in America. My mistakes have been great; but everyone of them was from too much love. How I hate love! Would I never had any Bhakti! Indeed, I wish I could be an Advaitist, calm and heartless. Well, this life is done. I will try in the next. I am sorry, especially now, that I have done more injury to my friends than there have been blessings on them. The peace, the quiet I am seeking I, never found.
I went years ago to the Himalayas, never to come back; and my sister committed suicide, the news reached me there, and that weak heart flung me off from that prospect of peace! It is the weak heart that has driven me out of India to seek some help for those I love, and here I am! Peace have I sought, but the heart, that seat of Bhakti, would not allow me to find it. Struggle and torture, torture and struggle. Well, be it then, since it is my fate, and the quicker it is over, the better. They say I am impulsive, but look at the circumstances!!! I am sorry I have been the cause of pain to you, to you above all, who love me so much, who have been so, so kind. But it is done — was a fact. I am now going to cut the knot or die in the attempt.
Ever your son,
P.S: As Mother wants it, so let it be. I am going to beg of Joe as passage via San Francisco to India. If she gives it, I start immediately via Japan. It would take a month. In India, I think, I can raise some money to keep things straight or on a better footing — at least to have things where I get them all muddled. The end is getting very dark and very much muddled; well, I expected it so. Don’t think I give in in a moment. Lord bless you; if the Lord has made me His hack to work and die on the streets, let Him have it. I am more cheerful just now after your letter than I was for years — Wah Guru ki Fateh! Victory unto the Guru!! Yes, let the world come, the hells come, the gods come, let Mother come, I fight and do not give in. Ravana got his released in three births by fighting the Lord Himself! It is glorious to fight Mother.
All blessings on you and yours. You have done for me more, much more, than I deserved ever.
Love to Christine and Turiyananda.
[Swami Vivekananda sent the following cablegram to his brother-monk.]
[Postmarked: December 13, 1899]
Perfectly cured. Bless all. Vivekananda.
22nd December, 1899.
My Dear Dhira Mata,
I have a letter from Calcutta today, from which I learn your cheques have arrived; a great many thanks and grateful words also came.
Miss Souter of London sends me a printed New Year’s greetings. I think she must have got the accounts you sent her by this time.
Kindly send Saradananda’s letters that have come to your care.
As for me, I had a slight relapse of late, for which the healer has rubbed several inches of my skin off.
Just now I am feeling it, the smart. I had a very hopeful note from Margo. I am grinding on in Pasadena; hope some result will come out of my work here. Some people here are very enthusiastic; the Raja-Yoga book did indeed great services on this coast. I am mentally very well; indeed I never really was so calm as of late. The lectures for one thing do not disturb my sleep, that is some gain. I am doing some writing too. The lectures here were taken down by a stenographer, the people here want to print them.
I learn they are well and doing good work at the Math–from Swami Saradananda’s letter to Joe. Slowly as usual plans are working; but Mother knows, as I say. May She give me release and find other workers for Her plans. By the by, I have made a discovery as to the mental method of really practising what the Gita teaches, of working without an eye to results. I have seen much light on concentration and attention and control of concentration, which if practised will take us out of all anxiety and worry. It is really the science of bottling up our minds whenever we like. Now what about yourself, poor Dhira Mata! This is the result of motherhood and its penalties; we all think of ourselves, and never of the Mother. How are you? How are things going on with you? What about your daughter? about Mrs. Briggs?
I hope Turiyananda is completely recovered now and working. Poor man, suffering is the lot! Never mind; there is a pleasure in suffering even, when it is for others, is there not? Mrs. Leggett is doing well; so is Joe; I–they say–I too am. May be they are right. I work anyway and want to die in harness; if that be what Mother wants, I am quite content.
Ever your son,
921, 21ST STREET, LOS ANGELES,
23rd December, 1899.
MY DEAR MARGOT,
Yes, I am really getting well under the manipulations of magnetic healing! At any rate I am all right. There was, never anything serious with my organs — it was nerves and dyspepsia.
Now I walk miles every day, at any time — before or after meals. I am perfectly well — and am going to remain so, I am sure.
The wheel is turning up, Mother is working it up. She cannot let me go before Her work is done — and that is the secret.
See, how England is working up. After this blood-letting, (Swamiji refers to the Boer war.) people will then have time of thinking better and higher things than “war”, “war”, “war”. That is our opportunity. We run in quick, get hold of them by the dozens and then set the Indian work in full swing.
I pray that England will lose Cape Colony, so that she will be able to concentrate her energy on India. These capes and promontories never are of any use to England except in puffing up a false pride and costing her hordes in money and blood.
Things are looking up. So get ready. With all love to the four sisters and to you,
921 West 21st Street,
27th December 1899.
So you are awake and can’t go to sleep any more. Good! Keep awake, wide awake. It was good I came here. For, in the first place, I am cured. What do you think of this–able to walk, and every day walk three miles after a heavy dinner! Good! Isn’t it?
I am making money fast–twenty-five dollars a day now. Soon I will work more and get fifty dollars a day. In San Francisco I hope to do still better–where I go in two or three weeks. Good again–better, say I–as I am going to keep the money all to myself and not squander it any more. And then I will buy a little place in the Himalayas–a whole hill–about say, six thousand feet high with a grand view of the eternal snows. There must be springs and a tiny lake. Cedars–the Himalayan cedar forests–and flowers, flowers everywhere. I will have a little cottage; in the middle, my vegetable gardens, which I will work myself–and–and–and–my books–and see the face of man only once in a great while. And the world may go to ruin round about my ears, I would not care. I will have done with all my work–secular or spiritual–and retire. My! how restless I have been all my life! Born nomad. I don’t know; this is the present vision. The future is to come yet. Curious–all my dreams about my own happiness are, as it were, bound to come to nothing; but about others’ well-being–
they as a rule prove true.
I am so glad you are happy and peaceful under Mrs. Bull’s hospitable roof. She is a great, great woman–one whom to see is a pilgrimage.
No snow here–exactly like northern India in winter. Some days, even warmer–cool in the morning and evening, in the middle of the day, warm, in the sun, hot. The roses are about us, gardens everywhere, and the beautiful palms. But I like the snow: crisp, crackling under the feet, white, white, white–all round white!
I don’t think I have anything with the kidneys or the heart. The whole thing was about indigestion and it is now nearly cured. A month more, and I will be strong like a lion and hardy like a mule. The poor English are getting it hot from the Boers. Mourning in every home in England and still the war goes on. Such is human folly. How long will it take for man to become civilized! Will wars ever cease? Mother knows! The New Year is sure to bring about a great change. Pray some good may come to India. I send you all joy, all love, all success for the New Year and many, many more to come.
So you did well, you think, by coming to Mrs. Bull. I am glad. I wanted you to know Mrs. Bull thoroughly. Remain there as long as you can. It will do you good, I am sure. Take heart and be of cheer, for next year is sure to bring many joys and a hundred blessings.
921 W. 21st Street,
27th December, 1899.
Beloved Dhira Mata,
An eventful and happy New Year to you and many such returns!
I am much better in health–able enough to work once more. I have started work already and have sent to Saradananda some money–Rs. 1,300 already–as expenses for the law suit. I shall send more, if they need it. I had a very bad dream this morning and had not any news of Saradananda for three weeks. Poor boys! How hard I am on them at times. Well, they know, in spite of all that, I am their best friend.
Mr. Leggett has got a little over £ 500 I had with Sturdy on account of Raja-Yoga and the Maharaja of Khetri. I have now about a thousand dollars with Mr. Leggett. If I die, kindly send that money to my mother. I wired to the boys three weeks ago that I was perfectly cured. If I don’t get any worse, this much health as I have now will do well enough. Do not worry at all on my account; I am up and working with a will.
I am sorry I could not write any more of the stories. I have written some other things and mean to write something almost every day.
I am very much more peaceful and find that the only way to keep my peace is to teach others. Work is my only safety valve.
I only want some clear business head to take care of the details as I push onwards and work on. I am afraid it will be a long time to find such in India, and if there are any, they ought to be educated by somebody from the West.
Again, I can only work when thrown completely on my own feet. I am at my best when I am alone. Mother seems to arrange so. Joe believes great things are brewing–in Mother’s cup; hope it is so.
Joe and Margot have developed into actual prophets, it seems. I can only say, every blow I had in this life, every pang, will only become joyful sacrifice if Mother becomes propitious to India once more.
Miss Greenstidel writes a beautiful letter to me, about you most of it. She thinks a lot about Turiyananda too. Give Turiyananda my love. I am sure he will work well. He has the pluck and stamina.
I am going soon to work in California; when I leave I shall send for Turiyananda and make him work on the Pacific coast. I am sure here is a great field. The Raja-Yoga book seems to be very well known here. Miss Greenstidel had found great peace under your roof and is very happy. I am so glad it is so. May things go a little better with her every day. She has a good business head and practical sense.
Joe has unearthed a magnetic healing woman. We are both under her treatment. Joe thinks she is pulling me up splendidly. On her has been worked a miracle, she claims. Whether it is magnetic healing, California ozone, or the end of the present spell of bad Karma, I am improving. It is a great thing to be able to walk three miles, even after a heavy dinner.
All love and blessings to Olea. My love to Dr. Janes and other Boston friends.
Ever your son,
C/O MRS. BLODGETT,
921, WEST 21ST ST.,
27th December, 1899.
MY DEAR MARY,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and many, many glorious returns of such for your birthday. All these wishes, prayers, greetings in one breath. I am cured, you will be glad to know. It was only indigestion and no heart or kidney affection, quoth the healers; nothing more. And I am walking three miles a day — after a heavy dinner.
Say — the person healing me insisted on my smoking! So I am having my pipe nicely and am all the better for it. In plain English the nervousness etc. was all due to dyspepsia and nothing more.
. . . I am at work too; working, working, not hard; but I don’t care, and I want to make money this time. Tell this to Margot, especially the pipe business. You know who is healing me? No physician, no Christian Science healer, but a magnetic healing woman who skins me every time she treats me. Wonders — she performs operations by rubbing — internal operations too, her patients tell me.
It is getting late in the night. I have to give up writing separate letters to Margot, Harriet, Isabelle, and Mother Church. Wish is half the work. They all know how I love them dearly,passionately; so you become the medium for my spirit for the time, and carry them my New Year’s messages.
It is exactly like Northern Indian winter here, only some days a little warmer; the roses are here and the beautiful palms. Barley is in the fields, roses and many other flowers round about the cottage where I live. Mrs. Blodgett, my host, is a Chicago lady — fat, old, and extremely witty. She heard me in Chicago and is very motherly.
I am so sorry, the English have caught a Tartar in South Africa. A soldier on duty outside a camp bawled out that he had caught a Tartar. “Bring him in”, was the order from inside the tent. “He will not come”, replied the sentry. “Then you come yourself”, rang the order again. “He will not let me come either”. Hence the phrase “to catch a Tartar”. Don’t you catch any.
I am happy just now and hope to remain so for all the rest of my life. Just now I am Christian Science — no evil, and “love is a drawing card”.
I shall be very happy if I can make a lot of money. I am making some. Tell Margot, I am going to make a lot of money and go home by way of Japan, Honolulu, China, and Java. This is a nice place to make money quick in; and San Francisco is better, I hear. Has she made any?
You could not get the millionaire. Why don’t you start for half or one-fourth million? Something is better than nothing. We want money; he may go into Lake Michigan, we have not the least objection. We had a bit of an earthquake here the other day. I hope it has gone to Chicago and raised Isabelle’s mud-puddle up. It is getting late. I am yawning, so here I quit.
Good-bye; all blessings, all love,
17th January, 1900.
My Dear Dhira Mata,
I received yours with the enclosures for Saradananda; and there was some good news. I hope to get some more news this week. You did not write anything about your plans. I had a letter from Miss Greenstidel expressing her deep gratitude for your kindness–and who does not? Turiyananda is getting well by this time, I hope.
I have been able to remit Rs. 2,000 to Saradananda, with the help of Miss MacLeod and Mrs. Leggett. Of course they contributed the best part. The rest was got by lectures. I do not expect anything much here or anywhere by lecturing. I can scarcely make expenses. No, not even that; whenever it comes to paying, the people are nowhere. The field of lecturing in this country has been overworked; the people have outgrown that.
I am decidedly better in health. The healer thinks I am now at liberty to go anywhere I choose, the process will go on, and I shall completely recover in a few months. She insists on this, that I am cured already; only nature will have to work out the rest.
Well, I came here principally for health. I have got it; in addition I got Rs. 2,000, to defray the law expenses. Good.
Now it occurs to me that my mission from the platform is finished, and I need not break my health again by that sort of work.
It is becoming clearer to me that I lay down all the concerns of the Math and for a time go back to my mother. She has suffered much through me. I must try to smooth her last days. Do you know, this was just exactly what the great Shankaracharya himself had to do! He had to go back to his mother in the last few days of her life! I accept it, I am resigned. I am calmer than ever. The only difficulty is the financial part. Well, the Indian people owe something. I will try Madras and a few other friends in India. Anyhow, I must try, as I have forebodings that my mother has not very many years to live. Then again, this is coming to me as the greatest of all sacrifices to make, the sacrifice of ambition, of leadership, of fame. I am resigned and must do the penance. The one thousand dollars with Mr. Leggett and if a little more is collected, will be enough to fall back upon in case of need. Will you send me back to India? I am ready any time. Don’t go to France without seeing me. I have become practical at least compared to the visionary dreams of Joe and Margot. Let them work their dreams out for me–they are not more than dreams. I want to make out a trust-deed of the Math in the names of Saradananda, Brahmananda, and yourself. I will do it as soon as I get the papers from Saradananda. Then I am quits. I want rest, a meal, a few books, and I want to do some scholarly work. Mother shows this light vividly now. Of course you were the one to whom She showed it first. I would not believe it then. But then, it is now shown that–leaving my mother was a great renunciation in 1884–it is a greater renunciation to go back to my mother now . Probably Mother wants me to undergo the same that She made the great Acharya undergo in old days. Is it? I am surer of your guidance than of my own. Joe and Margot are great souls, but to you Mother is now sending the light for my guidance. Do you see light? What do you advise? At least do not go out of this country without sending me home.
I am but a child; what work have I to do? My powers I passed over to you. I see it. I cannot any more tell from the platform. Don’t tell it to anyone–not even to Joe. I am glad. I want rest; not that I am tired, but the next phase will be the miraculous touch and not the tongue –like Ramakrishna’s. The word has gone to you and the voice to Margo. No more it is in me. I am glad. I am resigned. Only get me out to India, won’t you? Mother will make you do it. I am sure.
Ever your son,
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,
24th Jan., 1900.
I am afraid that the rest and peace I seek for will never come. But Mother does good to others through me, at least some to my native land, and it is easier to be reconciled to one’s fate as a sacrifice. We are all sacrifices — each in his own way. The great work is going on — no one can see its meaning except that it is a great sacrifice. Those that are willing escape a lot of pain. Those who resist are broken into submission and suffer more. I am now determined to be a willing one.
[Early February 1900]
DEAR MARGO [MARGOT],
You have the Gopâla. Add the Sâvitri story to that. I send you four more herewith. They ought to make a nice volume. Work on them a bit, will you. If you get a publisher in Chicago, all right; if not, Mr. Leggett promised to publish them sometime ago.
P.S. The preliminary parts should be struck off.
15th February, 1900.
Dear Dhira Mata,
Before this reaches you, I am off to San Francisco. You already know all about the work. I have not done much work, but my heart is growing stronger every day, physically and mentally. Some days I feel I can bear everything and suffer everything. There was nothing of note inside the bundle of papers sent by Miss Muller. I did not write her, not knowing her address. Then again, I am afraid.
I can always work better alone, and am physically and mentally best when entirely alone! I scarcely had a day’s illness during my eight years of lone life away from my brethren. Now I am again getting up, being alone. Strange, but that is what Mother wants me to be. “Wandering alone like the rhinoceros”, as Joe likes it. I think the conferences are ended. Poor Turiyananda suffered so much and never let me know; he is so strong and good. Poor Niranjan, I learn from Mrs. Sevier, is so seriously ill in Calcutta that I don’t know whether he has passed away or not. Well, good and evil both love company; queer, they come in strings. I had a letter from my cousin telling me her daughter (the adopted little child) was dead. Suffering seems to be the lot of India! Good. I am getting rather callous, rather stilted, of late. Good. Mother knows. I am so ashamed of myself–of this display of weakness for the last two years! Glad it is ended.
Ever your loving son,
C/O MISS MEAD,
447 DOUGLAS BUILDING,
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,
15th Feb., 1900.
MY DEAR NIVEDITA,
Yours of the — reached me today at Pasadena. I see Joe has missed you at Chicago — although I have not heard anything from them yet from New York.
There was a bundle of English newspapers from England with a line on the envelope expressing good wishes for me and signed, F.H.M. Nothing important was in those, however. I would have written a letter to Miss Müller, but I do not know the address; then I was afraid to frighten her.
In the meanwhile, Mrs. Leggett started a plan of a $100 subscription each a year for ten years to help me, and headed the list with her $100 for 1900, and got 2 others here to do the same. Then she went on writing letters to all my friends asking each to join in it. When she went on writing to Mrs. Miller I was rather shy — but she did it before I knew. A very polite but cold letter came to her in reply from Mrs. Hale, written by Mary, expressing their inability and assuring her of their love for me. I am afraid Mrs. Hale and Mary are displeased. But it was not my fault at all!!
I get news from Mrs. Sevier that Niranjan is seriously ill in Calcutta. I do not know if he has passed away. Well — but I am strong now, Margo, stronger than ever I was mentally. I was mentally getting a sort of ironing over my heart. I am getting nearer a Sannyasin’s life now. I have not had any news from Saradananda for two weeks. I am glad you got the stories; rewrite them if you think so — get them published if you find anybody to do it and take the proceeds, if any, for your work. I do not want any I have got a few hundred dollars here. Going to San Francisco next week, and hope to do better there. Tell Mary when you see her next that I had nothing whatsoever to do with the proposal of $100 a year subscription to Mrs. Hale. I am so grateful to them.
Well, money will come for your school, never fear — it has got to come; if it does not come, who cares? One road is quite as good as the other. Mother knows best. I don’t know whether I am very soon going to the East or not. If I have an opportunity, of course I will go to Indiana.
The international scheme is a good one and by all mean join it, and be the medium of getting some Indian women’s clubs to join it through you, which is better. . . .
Things shall look up for us, never mind. As soon as the war is finished we go to England and try to do a big work there. What do you think? Shall I write to Mother Superior? If so, send her whereabouts. Has she written to you? Sturdies and “Shakies” will all come round — hold on.
You are learning your lessons — that is all I want. So am I; the moment we are fit, money and men must flow towards us. Between my nerves and your emotion we may make a mess of everything just now. So Mother is curing my nerves and drilling you into level-headedness — and then we go. This time good is coming in chunks, I am sure. We will make the foundations of the old land shake this time.
. . . I am getting cool as a cucumber — let anything come, I am ready. The next move — any blow shall tell — not one miss — such is the next chapter.
With all love,
20th February, 1900.
MY DEAR MARY,
Your letter bearing the sad news of Mr. Hale’s passing away reached me yesterday. I am sorry, because in spite of monastic training, the heart lives on; and then Mr. Hale was one of the best souls I met in life. Of course you are sorry, miserable, and so are Mother Church and Harriet and the rest, especially as this is the first grief of its kind you have met, is it not? I have lost many, suffered much, and the most curious cause of suffering when somebody goes off is the feeling that I was not good enough to that person. When my father died, it was a pang for months, and I had been so disobedient. You have been very dutiful; if you feel anything like that, it is only a form of sorrow.
Just now I am afraid life begins for you, Mary, in earnest. We may read books, hear lectures, and talk miles, but experience is the one teacher, the one eye-opener. It is best as it is. We learn, through smiles and tears we learn. We don’t know why, but we see it is so; and that is enough. Of course Mother Church has the solace of her religion. I wish we could all dream undisturbed good dreams.
You have had shelter all your life. I was in the glare, burning and panting all the time. Now for a moment you have caught a glimpse of the other side. My life is made up of continuous blows like that, and hundred times worse, because of poverty, treachery, and my own foolishness! Pessimism! You will understand it, how it comes. Well, well, what shall I say to you, Mary? You know all the talks; only I say this and it is true — if it were possible to exchange grief, and had I a cheerful mind, I would exchange mine for your grief ever and always. Mother knows best.
Your ever faithful brother,
(Original in Bengali)
21st February, 1900.
MY DEAR AKHANDANANDA,
I am very glad to receive your letter and go through the details of news. Learning and wisdom are supersfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power. It is not in the brain but in the heart that the Atman, possessed of knowledge, power, and activity, has Its seat. “ — The nerves of the heart are a hundred and one” etc. The chief nerve-centre near the heart, called the sympathetic ganglia, is where the Atman has Its citadel. The more heart you will be able to manifest, the greater will be the victory you achieve. It is only a few that understand the language of the brain, but everyone from the Creator down to a clump of grass, understands the language that comes from the heart. But then, in our country, it is a case of rousing men that are, as it were, dead. It will take time, but if you have infinite patience and perseverance, success is bound to come. No mistake in that.
How are the English officials to blame? Is the family, of whose unnatural cruelty you have written, an isolated one in India? Or, are there plenty of such? It is the same story all over the country. But then, it is not as a result of pure wickedness that the selfishness commonly met with in our country has come. This bestial selfishness is the outcome of centuries of failure and repression. It is not real selfishness, but deep-rooted despair. It will be cored at the first inkling of success. It is only this that the English officials are noticing all round, so how can they have faith at the very outset? But tell me, do they not sympathise with any real work that they meet with? . . .
In these days of dire famine, flood, disease, and pestilence, tell me where your Congressmen are. Will it do merely to say, “Hand the government of the country over to us”? And who is there to listen to them? If a man does work, has he to open his mouth to ask for anything? If there be two thousand people like you working in several districts, won’t it be the turn of the English themselves to consult you in matters of political moment? “
— The wise man should achieve his object.” . . . A— was not allowed to open a centre, but what of that! Has not Kishengarh allowed it?— Let him work on without ever opening his lips; there is no use of either telling anything to anybody, or quarrelling with any. Whoever will assist in this work of the Divine Mother of the universe, will have Her grace, and whoever will oppose it will not only be “
— raising a deadly enemy for nothing”, but also laying the axe to his own prospects.
— all in good time. Many a little makes a mickle. When a great work is being done, when the foundations are laid or a road constructed, when superhuman energy is needed — it is one or two extraordinary men who silently and noiselessly work through a world of obstacles and difficulties. When thousands of people are benefited, there is a great tomtoming, and the whole country is loud in notes of praise. But then the machine has already been set agoing, and even a boy can work it, or a fool add to it some impetus. Grasp this that, that benefit done to a village or two, that orphanage with its twenty orphans, those ten or twenty workers — all these are enough; they form the nucleus, never to be destroyed. From these, hundreds of thousands of people will be benefited in time. Now we want half a dozen lions, then excellent work will be turned out by even hundreds of jackals. . .
If orphan girls happen to come to your hands for shelter, you must take them in above all else. Otherwise, Christian missionaries will take them, poor things, away! What matters it that you have no particular arrangements for them? Through the Divine Mother’s will, they will be provided for. When you get a horse, never you worry about the whip. … Get together whomsoever you can lay your hands on, no picking and choosing now — everything will be set right in course of time. In every attempt there are many obstacles to cope with, but gradually the path becomes smooth.
Convey to the European officer many thanks from me. Work on fearlessly — there is a hero! Bravo! Thrice well done! The starting of a centre at Bhagalpur that you have written about is no doubt a good idea — enlightening the schoolboys and things of that sort. But our mission is for the destitute, the poor, and the illiterate peasantry and labouring classes, and if, after everything has been done for them first, there is spare time, then only for the gentry. Those peasants and labouring people will be won over by love. Afterwards it will be they who will collect small sums and start missions at their own villages, and gradually, from among those very men, teachers will spring.
Teach some boys and girls of the peasant classes the rudiments of learning and infuse a number of ideas into their brains. Afterwards the peasants of each village will collect funds and have one of these in their village. “
— One must raise oneself by one’s own exertions” — this holds good in all spheres. We help them to help themselves. That they are supplying you with your daily bread is a real bit of work done. The moment they will come to understand their own condition and feel the necessity of help and improvement, know that your work is taking effect and is in the right direction, while the little good that the moneyed classes, out of pity, do to the poor, does not last, and ultimately it does nothing but harm to both parties. The peasants and labouring classes are in a moribund condition, so what is needed is that the moneyed people will only help them to regain their vitality, and nothing more. Then leave the peasants and labourers to look to their own problem, to grapple with and solve it. But then you must rake care not to set up class-strife between the poor peasants, the labouring people, and wealthy classes. Make it a point not to abuse the moneyed classes. “
— The wise man should achieve his own object.”
Victory to the Guru! Victory to the Mother of the Universe! What fear! Opportunity, remedy, and its application will present themselves. I do not care about the result, well or ill. I shall be happy if only you do this much of work. Wordy warfares, texts and scriptures, doctrines and dogmas — all these I am coming to loathe as poison in this my advanced age. Know this for certain that he who will work will be the crown on my head. Useless bandying of words and making noise is taking away our time, is consuming our life-energy, without pushing the cause of humanitarianism a step further. — Away with fear! Bravo! There is a hero indeed! May the blessed Guru be enthroned in your heart, and the Divine Mother guide your hands.