From Epistles – Third Series of Volume 7 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Translated from Bengali)
2nd October, 1893.
DEAR ADHYAPAKJI (Prof. John Henry Wright),
I do not know what you are thinking of my long silence. In the first place I dropped in on the Congress in the eleventh hour, and quite unprepared; and that kept me very very busy for some time. Secondly, I was speaking almost every day in the Congress and had no time to write; and last and greatest of all — my kind friend, I owe so much to you that it would have been an insult to your ahetuka (unselfish) friendship to have written you business-like letters in a hurry. The Congress is now over.
Dear brother, I was so so afraid to stand before that great assembly of fine speakers and thinkers from all over the world and speak; but the Lord gave me strength, and I almost every day heroically (?) faced the platform and the audience. If I have done well, He gave me the strength for it; if I have miserably failed — I knew that beforehand — for I am hopelessly ignorant.
Your friend Prof. Bradley was very kind to me and he always cheered me on. And oh! everybody is so kind here to me who am nothing — that it is beyond my power of expression. Glory unto Him in the highest in whose sight the poor ignorant monk from India is the same as the learned divines of this mighty land. And how the Lord is helping me every day of my life, brother — I sometimes wish for a life of [a] million million ages to serve Him through the work, dressed in rags and fed by charity.
Oh, how I wished that you were here to see some of our sweet ones from India — the tender-hearted Buddhist Dharmapala, the orator Mazoomdar — and realise that in that far-off and poor India there are hearts that beat in sympathy to yours, born and brought up in this mighty and great country.
My eternal respects to your holy wife; and to your sweet children my eternal love and blessings.
Col. Higginson, a very broad man, told me that your daughter had written to his daughter about me; and he was very sympathetic to me. I am going to Evanston tomorrow and hope to see Prof. Bradley there.
May He make us all more and more pure and holy so that we may live a perfect spiritual life even before throwing off this earthly body.
[The letter continues on a separate sheet of paper:]
I am now going to be reconciled to my life here. All my life I have been taking every circumstance as coming from Him and calmly adapting myself to it. At first in America I was almost out of my water. I was afraid I would have to give up the accustomed way of being guided by the Lord and cater for myself — and what a horrid piece of mischief and ingratitude was that. I now clearly see that He who was guiding me on the snow tops of the Himalayas and the burning plains of India is here to help me and guide me. Glory unto Him in the highest. So I have calmly fallen into my old ways. Somebody or other gives me a shelter and food, somebody or other comes to ask me to speak about Him, and I know He sends them and mine is to obey. And then He is supplying my necessities, and His will be done!
“He who rests [in] Me and gives up all other self-assertion and struggles I carry to him whatever he needs” (Gitâ).
So it is in Asia. So in Europe. So in America. So in the deserts of India. So in the rush of business in America. For is He not here also? And if He does not, I only would take for granted that He wants that I should lay aside this three minutes’ body of clay — and hope to lay it down gladly.
We may or may not meet, brother. He knows. You are great, learned, and holy. I dare not preach to you or your wife; but to your children I quote these passages from the Vedas —
“The four Vedas, sciences, languages, philosophy, and all other learnings are only ornamental. The real learning, the true knowledge is that which enables us to reach Him who is unchangeable in His love.”
“How real, how tangible, how visible is He through whom the skin touches, the eyes see, and the world gets its reality!”
“Hearing Him nothing remains to be heard,
Seeing Him nothing remains to be seen,
Attaining Him nothing remains to be attained.”
“He is the eye of our eyes, the ear of our ears, the Soul of our souls.”
He is nearer to you, my dears, than even your father and mother. You are innocent and pure as flowers. Remain so, and He will reveal Himself unto you. Dear Austin, when you are playing, there is another playmate playing with you who loves you more than anybody else; and Oh, He is so full of fun. He is always playing — sometimes with great big balls which we call the sun and earth, sometimes with little children like you and laughing and playing with you. How funny it would be to see Him and play with Him! My dear, think of it.
Dear Adhyapakji, I am moving about just now. Only when I come to Chicago, I always go to see Mr. and Mrs. Lyons, one of the noblest couples I have seen here. If you would be kind enough to write to me, kindly address it to the care of Mr. John B. Lyon, 262 Michigan Ave., Chicago.
“He who gets hold of the One in this world of many — the one constant existence in a world of flitting shadows — the one life in a world of death — he alone crosses this sea of misery and struggle. None else, none else” (Vedas).
“He who is the Brahman of the Vedântins, Ishvara of the Naiyâyikas, Purusha of the Sânkhyas, cause of the Mimâmsakas, law of the Buddhists, absolute zero of the Atheists, and love infinite unto those that love, may [He] take us all under His merciful protection”: Udayanâchârya — a great philosopher of the Nyâya or Dualistic school. And this is the Benediction pronounced at the very beginning of his wonderful book Kusumânjali (A handful of flowers), in which he attempts to establish the existence of a personal creator and moral ruler of infinite love independently of revelation.
Your ever grateful friend,