Wednesday, January 30, 2008

#000D REPLIES TO COMMENTS of Shri Somdatta Bhattacharya

Reply to the following line of comment by Shri Somdatta Bhattacharya

"... And mind you, despite all this he lost none of his powers, for it was possibly around the same time that he demonstrated the incredible feat of memorizing the first 11 volumes of the Britannica. ..."


1. Where are the powers? Did Vivekananda really possess such superhuman powers?
2. Swamiji wrote to Mrs. Ole Bull from Los Angeles on 17.1.1900:

" ... 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. ..."

In this paragraph, Swamiji said that he passed on his powers to Mrs. Ole Bull. Either he must have genuinely believed that he had such miraculous powers. Or he must have been trying to convince her that he had some powers which were transferred to her. Then he is appealing to her for secrecy. What for was the secrecy? Then he was promising to use his miraculous touch instead of the tongue. Did he possess powers to do something using his touch? In using the words "like Ramakrishna's" , he attributed that he and his Guru had powers of mircaculous touch. Are these powers transferable?

In all fairness to Swami Vivekananda, we must admit that he did not claim anywhere that he memorised the Encyclopaedia Britannica, all the 11 volumes. This power of supreme memory seems to have been inducted by his biographers into his biography, may be under a genuine belief that he had memorized. Then beliefs stand on a footing different fro facts.

Some people may have extra-ordinary memory of things they read. Of these extra-ordinary people, Swamiji may be one. But for using this memory, a person has to read all the 11 volumes of Britannica first. His stay at Belur Math after return from the second visit of USA was from Second half of Dec. 1900 to July 4, 1902. It works out to about 18 months approx. Of this we have to deduct the period he spent on his visit to Bangla Desh (East Bengal), Shillong etc. It is also not clear whether he travelled to Rameswaram to take his mother on pilgrimage, though he planned. Then his nagging illnesses of Asthma, diabetes, etc. are to be taken into account. He had to spend time on meditation, looking at photos, writing letters, meeting visitors, preaching disciples, catching-killing-cooking-and eating turtles-shad fish etc. He had to allot time for rearing goats, ducks etc.*(See below). It is difficult to estimate whether he could have fully read all the eleven volumes of the Britannica or not.

We must greatly appreciate his interest in buying the volumes of the Britannica.

*Swamiji wrote to Ms. Christina from Belur Math on Sept. 2, 1901:
I have a lot of cows, goats, a few sheep, dogs, geese, ducks, one tame gazelle, and very soon I am going to have some milk buffaloes.

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