From Epistles-Second Series of Volume 6 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda
(Translated from Bengali)
Salutation to Bhagavan Ramakrishna!
I have now got lots of newspapers etc., and you need not send any more. Let the movement now confine itself to India….
It isn’t much use getting up a sensation every day. But avail yourselves of this stir that is rife all over the country, and scatter yourselves in all quarters. In other words, try to start branches at different places. Let it not be an empty sound merely. You must join the Madrasis and start associations etc., at different places. What about the magazine which I heard was going to be started? Why are you nervous about conducting it? … Come? Do something heroic! Brother, what if you do not attain Mukti, what if you suffer damnation a few times? Is the saying untrue? —
— There are some saints who full of holiness in thought, word, and bleed, please the whole world by their numerous beneficent acts, and who develop their own hearts by magnifying an atom of virtue in others as if it were as great as a mountain” (Bhartrihari, Nitishataka).
What if you don’t get Mukti? What childish prattle! Lord! They say even the venom of a snake loses its power by firmly denying it. Isn’t it true? What queer humility is this to say, “I know nothing !” “I am nothing !” This is pseudo-renunciation and mock modesty, I tell you. Off with such a self-debasing spirit! “If I do not know, who on earth does!” What have you been doing so long if you now plead ignorance? These are the words of an atheist — the humility of a vagabond wretch. We can do everything, and will do everything! He who is fortunate enough will heroically join us, letting the worthless mew like cats from their corner. A saint writes, “Well, you have had enough of blazoning. Now come back home.” I would have called him a man if he could build a house and call me. Ten years’ experience of such things has made me wiser. I am no more to be duped by words. Let him who has courage in his mind and love in his heart come with me. I want none else. Through Mother’s grace, single-handed I am worth a hundred thousand now and will be worth two millions…. There is no certainty about my going back to India. I shall have to lead a wandering life there also, as I am doing here. But here one lives in the company of scholars, and there one must live among fools — there is this difference as of the poles. People of this country organise and work, while our undertakings all come to dust clashing against laziness — miscalled “renunciation,” — and jealousy, etc. — writes me big letters now and then, half of which I cannot decipher, which is a blessing to me. For a great part of the news is of the following description — that in such and such a place such and such a man was speaking ill of me, and that he, being unable to bear the same, had a quarrel with him, and so forth. Many thanks for his kind defence of me. But what seriously hinders me from listening to what particular people may be saying about me is — ”
An organised society is wanted. Let Shashi look to the household management, Sanyal take charge of money matters and marketing, and Sharat act as secretary, that is, carry on correspondence etc. Make a permanent centre — it is no use making random efforts as you are doing now. Do you see my point? I have quite a heap of newspapers, now I want you to do something. If you can build a Math, I shall say you are heroes; otherwise you are nothing. Consult the Madras people when you work. They have a great capacity for work. Celebrate this year’s Shri Ramakrishna festival with such éclat as to make it a record. The less the feeding propaganda is, the better. It is enough if you distribute Prasâda in earthen cups to the devotees standing in rows….
I am going to write a very short sketch of Shri Ramakrishna’s life in English, which I shall send you. Have it printed and translated into Bengali and sell it at the festival — people do not read books that are distributed free. Fix some nominal price. Have the festival done with great pomp. . . .
You must have an all-sided intellect to do efficient work. In any towns or villages you may visit, start an association wherever you find a number of people revering Shri Ramakrishna. Have you travelled through so many villages all for nothing? We must slowly absorb the Hari Sabhâs and such other associations. Well, I cannot tell you all — if I could but get another demon like me! The Lord will supply me everything in time…. If one has got power, one must manifest it in action. … Off with your ideas of Mukti and Bhakti! There is only one way in the world,
— “The good live for others alone”, “The wise man should sacrifice himself for others”. I can secure my own good only by doing you good. There is no other way, none whatsoever…. You are God, I am God, and man is God. It is this God manifested through humanity who is doing everything in this world. Is there a different God sitting high up somewhere? To work, therefore!
Bimala has sent me a book written by Shashi (Sanyal). … From a perusal of that work Bimala has come to know that all the people of this world are impure and that they are by their very nature debarred from having a jot of religion; that only the handful of Brahmins that are in India have the sole right to it, and among these again, Shashi (Sanyal) and Bimala are the sun and moon, so to speak. Bravo! What a powerful religion indeed! In Bengal specially, that sort of religion is very easy to practice. There is no easier way than that. The whole truth about austerities and spiritual exercises is, in a nutshell, that I am pure and all the rest are impure! A beastly, demoniac, hellish religion this! If the American people are unfit for religion, if it is improper to preach religion here, why then ask their help? . . . What can remedy such a disease? Well, tell Shashi (Sanyal )to go to Malabar. The Raja there has taken his subjects’ land and offered it at the feet of Brahmins. There are big monasteries in every village where sumptuous dinners are given, supplemented by presents in cash. … There is no harm in touching the non-Brahmin classes when it serves one’s purpose; and when you have done with it, you bathe, for the non-Brahmins are as a class unholy and must never be touched on other occasions! Monks and Sannyasins and Brahmins of a certain type have thrown the country into ruin. Intent all the while on theft and wickedness, these pose as preachers of religion! They will take gifts from the people and at the same time cry, “Don’t touch me!” And what great things they have been doing! — “If a potato happens to touch a brinjal, how long will the universe last before it is deluged?” “If they do not apply earth a dozen times to clean their hands, will fourteen generations of ancestors go to hell, or twenty-four?” — For intricate problems like these they have been finding out scientific explanations for the last two thousand years — while one fourth of the people are starving. A girl of eight is married to a man of thirty, and the parents are jubilant over it…. And if anyone protests against it, the plea is put forward, “Our religion is being overturned.” What sort of religion have they who want to see their girls becoming mothers before they attain puberty even and offer scientific explanations for it? Many, again, lay the blame at the door of the Mohammedans. They are to blame, indeed! Just read the Grihya-Sutras through and see what is given as the marriageable age of a girl. … There it is expressly stated that a girl must be married before attaining puberty. The entire Grihya-Sutras enjoin this. And in the Vedic Ashvamedha sacrifice worse things would be done…. All the Brâhmanas mention them, and all the commentators admit them to be true. How can you deny them?
What I mean by mentioning all this is that there were many good things in the ancient times, but there were bad things too. The good things are to be retained, but the India that is to be, the future India. must be much greater than ancient India. From the day Shri Ramakrishna was born dates the growth of modern India and of the Golden Age. And you are the agents to bring about this Golden Age. To work, with this conviction at heart!
Hence, when you call Shri Ramakrishna an Incarnation and in the same breath plead your ignorance unhesitatingly, I say, “You are false to the backbone!” If Ramakrishna Paramahamsa be true, you also are true. But you must show it. … In you all there is tremendous power. The atheist has nothing but rubbish in him. Those who are believers are heroes. They will manifest tremendous power. The world will be swept before them. “Sympathy and help to the poor”; “Man is God, he is Nârâyana”; “In Atman there is no distinction of male or female, of Brahmin or Kshatriya, and the like”; “All is Narayana from the Creator down to a clump of grass.” The worm is less manifested, the Creator more manifested. Every action that helps a being manifest its divine nature more and more is good, every action that retards it is evil.
The only way of getting our divine nature manifested is by helping others to do the same.
If there is inequality in nature, still there must be equal chance for all — or if greater for some and for some less — the weaker should be given more chance than the strong.
In other words, a Brahmin is not so much in need of education as a Chandâla. If the son of a Brahmin needs one teacher, that of a Chandala needs ten. For greater help must be given to him whom nature has not endowed with an acute intellect from birth. It is a madman who carries coals to Newcastle. The poor, the downtrodden, the ignorant, let these be your God.
A dreadful slough is in front of you — take care; many fall into it and die. The slough is this, that the present religion of the Hindus is not in the Vedas, nor in the Puranas, nor in Bhakti, nor in Mukti — religion has entered into the cooking-pot. The present religion of the Hindus is neither the path of knowledge nor that of reason — it is “Don’t-touchism”. “Don’t touch me!” “Don’t touch me!” — that exhausts its description. See that you do not lose your lives in this dire irreligion of “Don’t-touchism”. Must the teaching, ” [071_rakhal_04.jpg] — Looking upon all beings as your own self” — be confined to books alone? How will they grant salvation who cannot feed a hungry mouth with a crumb of bread? How will those who become impure at the mere breath of others purify others? Don’t-touchism is a form of mental disease. Beware! All expansion is life, all contraction is death. All love is expansions all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love’s sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live. This is the secret of selfless love, selfless action and the rest. … Try to help Shashi (Sanyal) if you can, in any ways He is a very good and pious man, but of a narrow heart. It does not fall to the lot of all to feel for the misery of others. Good Lord! Of all Incarnations Lord Chaitanya was the greatest, but he was comparatively lacking in knowledge; in the Ramakrishna Incarnation there is knowledge, devotion and love — infinite knowledge, infinite love, infinite work, infinite compassion for all beings. You have not yet been able to understand him. ” [071_rakhal_05.jpg] — Even after hearing about Him, most people do not understand Him.” What the whole Hindu race has thought in ages, he lived in one life. His life is the living commentary to the Vedas of all nations. People will come to know him by degrees. My old watchword — struggle, struggle up to light! Onward!
Yours in service,