Monday, July 22, 2013


To Ms. Tannatt Woods. From CHICAGO. Oct. 10, 1893:
... I received your letter yesterday. Just now I am lecturing about Chicago — and am doing as I think very well; it is ranging from 30 to 80 dollars a lecture, and just now I have been so well advertised in Chicago gratis by the Parliament of Religions that it is not advisable to give up this field now. To which I am sure you will agree. However I may come soon to Boston, but when I cannot say. Yesterday I returned from Streator where I got 87 dollars for a lecture. I have engagements every day this week. And hope more will come by the end of the week. My love to Mr. Woods and compliments to all our friends. ...

To Alasinga (Madras devotee). From Chicago. Nov. 18, 1893.
... Lecturing is a very profitable occupation in this country and sometimes pays well.Mr. Ingersoll gets five to six hundred dollars a lecture. He is the most celebrated lecturer in this country. Do not publish this letter. After reading, send it to the Maharaja (of Khetri). I have sent him my photograph in America. ...

To Professor Wright. From Chicago. Oct. 26, 1893. ar
... He who has brought me hither and has not left me yet will not leave me ever I am here. You will be glad to know that I am doing well and expect to do very well in the way of getting money. Of course I am too green in the business but would soon learn my trade. I am very popular in Chicago. So I want to stay here a little more and get money. ...

To Mother Hale. From Minneapolis. Nov. 21, 1893.
I reached Madison safely, went to a hotel, and sent a message to Mr. Updike. He came to see me. He is a Congregational and so, of course, was not very friendly at first; but in the course of an hour or so became very kind to me, and took me over the whole place and the University. I had a fine audience and $100.
SwAmi vivEkAnanda wrote to DIWANJI SAHEB (Shri Haridas Viharidas Desai), from Chicago, on 15th Nov. 1894, one year after his arrival in USA, for attending the 1893 Chicago Parliament of Religions.
I am the same here as in India, only here in this highly cultural land there is an appreciation, a sympathy which our ignorant fools never dream of. There our people grudge us monks a crumb of bread, here they are ready to pay one thousand rupees a lecture and remain grateful for the instructions for ever.

I am appreciated by these strangers more than I was ever in India. I can, if I will, live here all my life in the greatest luxury; but I am a Sannyasin, and "India, with all thy faults I love thee still". So I am coming back after some months, and go on sowing the seeds of religion and progress from city to city as I was doing so long, although amongst a people who know not what appreciation and gratefulness are. ...

USA: highly cultural land. Appreciation. Sympathy. Ready to pay Rs. 1,000 (2013 prices a million Rupees) a lecture. They will also remain grateful forever.

India: ignorant fools. They do not know appreciation and sympathy. Indians grudge a crumb of bread to monks.

ybrao a donkey: So, we Indians are all ignorant fools who do not know what sympathy is.

To Ms. Hale Sisters. From Detroit. March 15, 1894.
The first lecture was not properly managed, the cost of the hall being 150 dollars. I have given up Holden. Here is another fellow cropped up; let me see if he does better. Mr. Palmer makes me laugh the whole day. Tomorrow there is going to be another dinner party. So far all is well; but I do not know — I have become very sad in my heart since I am here — do not know why.

Same letter.
Just now I got a letter from Flagg. He cannot help me in lecturing. He says, "First go to Boston." Well, I do not care for lecturing any more. It is too disgusting, this attempt to bring me to suit anybody's or any audience's fads. However, I shall come back to Chicago for a day or two at least before I go out of this country. Lord bless you all.

To Mr. Hale. From Detroit. On 20th Feb. 1894.
... However, they are very gentlemanly men and, strange to say, an Episcopal clergyman and a Jewish rabbi take great interest in me and eulogize me. Now the man who got up the lectures here got at least a thousand dollars. So in every place. And this is Slayton's duty to do for me. Instead, he, the liar, had told me often that he has agents everywhere and would advertise and do all that for me. And this is what he is doing. His will be done. I am going home. Seeing the liking the American people have for me, I could have, by this time, got a pretty large sum. But Jimmy Mills and Slayton were sent by the Lord to stand in the way. His ways are inscrutable. However, this is a secret. President Palmer has gone to Chicago to try to get me loose from this liar of a Slayton. Pray that he may succeed. Several judges here have seen my contract, and they say it is a shameful fraud and can be broken any moment; but I am a monk--no self-defence. Therefore, I had better throw up the whole thing and go to India. ...

To Ms. Isabelle. From Detroit. On April 26, 1894.
... I made a hundred dollars at Lynn which I do not send because I have to make my new gown and other nonsense. Do not expect to make any money at Boston. Still I must touch the brain of America and stir it up if I can. ...

To Ms. Isabelle. From New York. May 1-2/1894.
By the by, your New York people are very good — only more money than brains. I am going to speak to the students of the Harvard University. Three lectures at Boston, three at Harvard — all arranged by Mrs. Breed. They are arranging something here too, so that I will, on my way to Chicago, come to New York once more — give them a few hard raps and pocket the boodle and fly to Chicago.

To alasinga (Madras disciple). From New York. July 11, 1894.
... In the Detroit lecture I got $900, i.e. Rs. 2,700. In other lectures, I earned in one, $2,500, i.e. Rs. 7,500 in one hour, but got only 200 dollars! I was cheated by a roguish Lecture Bureau. I have given them up. I spent a good deal here; only about $3,000 remains. ...

To Ms. Ole Bull. From Annisquam. Sept. 5, 1894.
... Herewith I send you an autograph letter of H.H. the Maha-raja of Mysore, the chief Hindu king in India. You may see on the map [that] his territory occupies a very large portion of southern India. I am very glad that he is slowly being gained over to my side. If he wills, he can set all my plans to work in five days. He has an income of $150 million dollars; think of that. ...

Now, compare and contrast:

swAmIjI wrote to Ms. Isabelle Mckindley from New York on March 27, 1895:
"...This is a wonderful country for cheating, and 99.9 per cent have some motive in the background to take advantage of others. If any one just but closes his eyes for a moment, he is gone!! ..."

ybrao a donkey: I am unable to resist making a funny deduction from the above two expressions. DEDUCTIVE LOGIC is a beautiful subject, which used to be in the syllabus for Chartered Accountants (ACA) Course in India.

ybrao a donkey: If America is a WONDERFUL COUNTRY for cheating and 99.9% of Americans have some motive in the background to take advantage of others, how about the remaining 0.10%? Being the remainder or balance, they must be the people willing to be cheated, by paying Rupees 1,000 per lecture and remaining grateful throughout their lives.

Now, further compare and contrast: Jan 17, 1900 to Mother Ole:
"...They come in crowds when there is a free lecture and very few when there is something to pay...

Further. SwAmIjI wrote to Ms. Hale, from New York, on June 22 1895, i.e. nearly one and a half year after his arrival to the Chicago Parliament of Religions.
...This year I could hardly keep my head up, and I did not go about lecturing. The three great commentaries on the Vedanta philosophy belonging to the three great sects of dualists, qualified dualists, and monists are being sent to me from India. Hope they will arrive safe. Then I will have an intellectual feast indeed. I intend to write a book this summer on the Vedanta philosophy. This world will always be a mixture of good and evil, of happiness and misery; this wheel will ever go up and come down; dissolution and resolution is the inevitable law. Blessed are those who struggle to go beyond. Well, I am glad all the babies are doing well but sorry there was no "catch" even this winter, and every winter the chances are dwindling down. Here near my lodgings is the Waldorf-Hotel, the rendezvous of lots of titled but penniless Europeans on show for "Yankee" heiresses to buy. You may have any selection here, the stock is so full and varied. There is the man who talks no English; there are others who lisp a few words which no one can understand; and others are there who talk nice English, but their chance is not so great as that of the dumb ones — the girls do not think them enough foreign who talk plain English fluently.

I read somewhere in a funny book that an American vessel was being foundered in the sea; the men were desperate and as a last solace wanted some religious service being done. There was "Uncle Josh" on board who was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. They all began to entreat, "Do something religious, Uncle Josh! We are all going to die." Uncle Joseph took his hat in his hand and took up a collection on the spot!

That is all of religion he knew. And that is more or less characteristic of the majority of such people. Collections are about all the religion they know or will ever know. Lord bless them. Good-bye for present. I am going to eat something; I feel very hungry. ...

DEDUCTIONS From Jan 1895 to June 1895, Swamiji was sitting idle, without going about lecturing. Locale seems to be a New York Hotel. How was he maintaining himself in New York which was a pretty expensive city, without doing anything except watching the disembarking Europeans from ships?

swAmIjI was full of disdain for the Christian preachers. In his view, they knew nothing about religion except taking hat in hand and collecting on the spot.

Now, compare: To Christina on 9th Dec. 1899 from Los Angeles:
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, Vivekananda.

Further. to Christina. From Los Angeles, 27th Dec. 1899.
... 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. ...

Further to Mrs. Ole Bull. From Los Angeles. 17th Jan. 1900.
...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. ...

To Ms. Macleod. From San Francisco. March 2, 1900.
... Financially, I have got $300 in Los Angeles. About Mrs. Bowler,* she has about a hundred odd dollars in cash. Mrs. Hendrick and she have not paid up as yet. That money — $300 in all — is with her. She will send it to me whenever I write. Rev. Benjamin Fay Mills,* a very popular Unitarian preacher in Oakland, invited me from here and paid the fare to San Francisco. I have spoken twice in Oakland to 1500 people each time. Last time I got from collection $30. I am going to have classes at 50 cents admission each. It paid its expenses. This Monday [Sunday?] I am going to speak free — after that a class.

To Ms. Ole Bull. From San Francisco. march 7, 1900.
Your letter, enclosing one from Saradananda only and the accounts, came. I am very much reassured by all the news I since received from India. As for the accounts and the disposal of the Rs. 30,000, do just what you please. I have given over the management to you, the Master will show you what is best to do. The money is Rs. 35,000; the Rs. 5,000, for building the cottage on the Ganga, I wrote to Saradananda not to use just now. I have already taken Rs. 5,000 of that money. I am not going to take more. I had paid back Rs. 2,000 or more of that Rs. 5,000 in India. But it seems, Brahmananda, wanting to show as much of the Rs. 35,000 intact as he could, drew upon my Rs. 2,000; so I owe them Rs. 5,000 still on that score. Anyway, I thought I could make money here in California and pay them up quietly. Now I have entirely failed in California financially. It is worse here than in Los Angeles. They come in crowds when there is a free lecture and very few when there is something to pay. I have some hopes yet in England. It is necessary for me to reach England in May. There is not the least use in breaking my health in San Francisco for nothing. Moreover, with all Joe's enthusiasm, I have not yet found any real benefit from the magnetic healer, except a few red patches on my chest from scratching! Platform work is nigh gone for me, and forcing it is only hastening the end. I leave here very soon, as soon as I can make money for a passage. I have 300 dollars in hand, made in Los Angeles. I will lecture here next week and then I stop. As for the Math and the money, the sooner I am released of that burden the better. I am ready to do whatever you advise me to do. You have been a real mother to me. You have taken up one of my great burdens on yourself--I mean my poor cousin. I feel quite satisfied. As for my mother, I am going back to her--for my last days and hers. The thousand dollars I have in New York will bring Rs. 9 a month; then I bought for her a bit of land which will bring about Rs. 6; and her old house--that will bring, say, Rs. 6. I leave the house under litigation out of consideration, as I have not got it. Myself, my mother, my grandmother, and my brother will live on Rs. 20 a month easy. I would start just now, if I could make money for a passage to India, without touching the 1,000 dollars in New York. Anyhow I will scrape three or four hundred dollars--400 dollars will be enough for a second class passage and for a few weeks' stay in London. I do not ask you to do anything more for me; I do not want it. What you have done is more, ever so much more than I deserve. I have given my place solemnly to you in Shri Ramakrishna's work. I am out of it. All my life I have been a torture to my poor mother. Her whole life has been one of continuous misery. If it be possible, my last attempt should be to make her a little happy. I have planned it all out. I have served the Mother all my life. It is done; I refuse now to grind Her axe. Let Her find other workers--I strike.

Same letter.
The thousand dollars I have in New York will bring Rs. 9 a month; then I bought for her a bit of land which will bring about Rs. 6; and her old house--that will bring, say, Rs. 6. I leave the house under litigation out of consideration, as I have not got it. Myself, my mother, my grandmother, and my brother will live on Rs. 20 a month easy. I would start just now, if I could make money for a passage to India, without touching the 1,000 dollars in New York.

To Ms. Mary Hale. From Los Angeles. June 17, 1900.
... Well, now about me. You must persuade Harriet to give me a few dollars every month, and I will have some other friends do the same. If I succeed, I fly off to India. I am dead tired of the platform work for a living. It does not please me any more. I retire and do some writing if I can do some scholarly work. ...

ybrao a donkey's personal feeling: Swamiji returned to India in Dec. 1900. During the 18 months from Dec. 1900 to July 4, 1902 (date of his passing away), presumably he did not write great scholarly things. Probably time went on, comparing Indian turtles and American turtles, relishing shad fish, overtaxed nerves making him outrageous, asking for photos, wondering about whether the girl Ms. Christina had put up some fat in one year, probably some pages of encyclopaedia britannica, rearing some cows, goats, ducks and regretting that he could not rear chicken (seems to a taboo in Bengal of those days), and finally sacrficing a goat and lighting fireworks.

I have nothing against swAmi viVEkananda personally, because he belonged to 19th Century and we now belong to 20/21st Centuries. I have nothing against his lifestyle of eating fish, turtles, beef or chicken or consuming liquor or using harsh language, praising and cursing Americans alternately, preaching inebriated aristocratic wealthy women, pretending to produce trances, and letting down Indians as rogues and rotten corpses. He would be fairly entitled to his own share of fun. What is abominable is, this has been done, wearing the yellow-orange robes of monks and chanting mantras, and claiming to possess powers.

Resisting conversion of illiterate-poor Hindus into Christianity is one thing, which Indians may have to do any way, for protecting their mother land. This work can be done even without deifying vivEkAnanda and rAmakrishNa, who might have been slightly above average Indians, but definitely not super-human or divine.

Weaving stories around persons, building monstrous memorials on hills driving away fishermen, spending millions on celebrating birthdays, treating them as representatives of one's own religion, and finally trying to win elections placing them on election daises, all these will lead to big businesses and frauds, while emotionally charging people with unrealistic superiority complexes.

One disputable deduction I wish to make from this studies of Complete Works of swAmi vivEkAnanda and the Indian History between 1882 and 2013 is this: I am afraid that vivEkAnanda did not contribute to the unity of Indian Nation, but he contributed to religious divide of India. Here also, there is a caveat. We cannot blame vivEkAnanda alone. There were others who made great contributions, both positively and negatively at the same time. lOkmAnya bAla gangAdhar tilak, mahAtma gAndhi, veer sAvarkar, nEtAji subAs chandra bOse, ShyAm prasAd mukherji, deen dayal upadhyaya, aTal bihAri vAjpayee, L.K. advAni, Mohammed Ali jinna, Mother Teresa, et al. Now, we shall have to add narEndra mODi to this list.

I am too small to comment on such greatly haloed personalities, in spite of so many shadows lurking behind some.

I hope this will be my last post at this blog.

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