From Epistles-Second Series of Volume 6 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
(Translated from Bengali)
Salutations to Bhagavan Shri Ramakrishna!
DEAR BROTHERS, (Brother-disciples of Swamiji.)
Before this I wrote to you a letter which for want of time was very incomplete. Rakhal (Brahmananda) and Hari (Turiyananda) wrote in a letter from Lucknow that Hindu newspapers were praising me, and that they were very glad that twenty thousand people had partaken of food at Shri Ramakrishna’s anniversary. I could do much more work but for the Brahmos and missionaries who have been opposing me unceasingly, and the Hindus of India too did nothing for me. I mean, if the Hindus of Calcutta or Madras had held a meeting and passed a resolution recognising me as their representative, and thanking the American people for receiving me with kindness, things would have progressed appreciably. But it is over a year, and nothing done. Of course I never relied on the Bengalis, but the Madrasis couldn’t do anything either. …
There is no hope for our nation. Not one original idea crosses anyone’s brains, all fighting over the same old, threadbare rug — that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was such and such — and cock-and-bull stories — stories having neither head nor tail. My God! Won’t you do something to show that you are in any way removed from the common run of men! — Only indulging in madness! … Today you have your bell, tomorrow you add a horn, and follow suit with a chowry the day after; or you introduce a cot today, and tomorrow you have its legs silver-mounted, and people help themselves to a rice-porridge, and you spin out two thousand cock-and-bull stories — in short, nothing but external ceremonials. This is called in English imbecility. Those into whose heads nothing but that sort of silliness enters are called imbecile. Those whose heads have a tendency to be troubled day and night over such questions as whether the bell should ring on the right or on the left, whether the sandal-paste mark should be put on the head or anywhere else, whether the light should be waved twice or four times — simply deserve the name of wretches, and it is owing to that sort of notion that we are the outcasts of Fortune, kicked and spurned at, while the people of the West are masters of the whole world. … There is an ocean of difference between idleness and renunciation.
If you want any good to come, just throw your ceremonials overboard and worship the Living God, the Man-God — every being that wears a human form — God in His universal as well as individual aspect. The universal aspect of God means this world, and worshipping it means serving it — this indeed is work, not indulging in ceremonials. Neither is it work to cogitate as to whether the rice-plate should be placed in front of the God for ten minutes or for half an hour — that is called lunacy. Millions of rupees have been spent only that the templedoors at Varanasi or Vrindaban may play at opening and shutting all day long! Now the Lord is having His toilet, now He is taking His meals, now He is busy on something else we know not what. … And all this, while the Living God is dying for want of food, for want of education! The banias of Bombay are erecting hospitals for bugs — while they would do nothing for men even if they die! You have not the brain to understand this simple thing — that it is a plague with our country, and lunatic asylums are rife all over. … Let some of you spread like fire, and preach this worship of the universal aspect of the Godhead — a thing that was never undertaken before in our country. No quarrelling with people, we must be friends with all. …
Spread ideas — go from village to village, from door to door — then only there will be real work. Otherwise, lying complacently on the bed and ringing the bell now and then is a sort of disease, pure and simple. … Be independent, learn to form independent judgments. — That such and such a chapter of such and such a Tantra has prescribed a standard length for the handle of a bell, — what matters it to me? Through the Lord’s will, out of your lips shall come millions of Vedas and Tantras and Purânas. … If now you can show this in practice, if you can make three or four hundred thousand disciples in India within a year, then only I may have some hope. …
By the bye, you know the boy who had his head shaven and went with Brother Tarak from Bombay to Rameswaram? He calls himself a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa! Let Brother Tarak initiate him. … He had never even met Shri Ramakrishna in his life, and yet a disciple! — What impudence! Without an unbroken chain of discipleship — Guruparampara — nothing can be done. Is it a child’s play? To have no connection whatsoever and call oneself a disciple! The idiot! If that boy refuses to go on in the right way, turn him out. Nothing, I say, can be done without the chain of discipleship, that is, the power that is transmitted from the Guru to the disciple, and from him to his disciple, and so on. Here he comes and proclaims himself a disciple of Ramakrishna — is it tomfoolery? Jagamohan told me of somebody calling himself a brother-disciple of mine. I have now a suspicion that it is that boy. To pose as a brother-disciple! He feels humiliated to call himself a disciple, I dare say, and would fain turn a Guru straightway! Turn him out if he does not follow the established procedure.
Talking of the restlessness of Tulasi (Nirmalananda) and Subodh (Subodhananda) it all means that they have got no work to do. … Go from village to village, do good to humanity and to the world at large. Go to hell yourself to buy salvation for others. There is no Mukti on earth to call my own. Whenever you think of yourself, you are bound to feel restless. What business have you to do with peace, my boy? You have renounced everything. Come! Now is the turn for you to banish the desire for peace, and that for Mukti too! Don’t worry in the least; heaven or hell, or Bhakti or Mukti — don’t care for anything, but go, my boy, and spread the name of the Lord from door to door! It is only by doing good to others that one attains to one’s own good, and it is by leading others to Bhakti and Mukti that one attains them oneself. Take that up, forget -your own self for it, be mad over the idea. As Shri Ramakrishna used to love you, as I love you, come, love the world like that. Bring all together. Where is Gunanidhi? You must have him with you. My infinite love to him. Where is Gupta (Sadananda)? Let him join if he likes. Call him in my name. Remember these few points:
- We are Sannyasins, who have given up everything — Bhakti, and Mukti, and enjoyment, and all.
- To do the highest good to the world, everyone down to the lowest — this is our vow. Welcome Mukti or hell, whichever comes of it.
- Ramakrishna Paramahamsa came for the good of the world. Call him a man, or God, or an Incarnation, just as you please. Accept him each in your own light.
- He who will bow before him will be converted into purest gold that very moment. Go with this message from door to door, if you can, my boy, and all your disquietude will be at an end. Never fear — where’s the room for fear? — Caring for nothing whatsoever is a part of your life. You have so long spread his name and your character all around, well and good. Now spread them in an organised way. The Lord is with you. Take heart!
Whether I live or die, whether I go back to India or not, you go on spreading love, love that knows no bounds. Put Gupta too to this task. But remember one needs weapons to overcome others. ” [045_brothers_01.jpg] — When death is so certain, it is better to die for a good cause.”
PS. Remember my previous letter — we want both men and women. There is no distinction of sex in the soul. It won’t do merely to call Shri Ramakrishna an Incarnation, you must manifest power. Where are Gour-Mâ, Yogin-Mâ, and Golap-Mâ? Tell them to spread these ideas. We want thousands of men and thousands of women who will spread like wild fire from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, from the North Pole to the South Pole — all over the world. It is no use indulging in child’s play — neither is there time for it. Let those who have come for child’s play be off now, while there is time, or they will surely come to grief. We want an organisation. Off with laziness. Spread! Spread! Run like fire to all places. Do not depend upon me. Whether I live or die, go on spreading, yourselves.