From ‘Epistles – Fourth Series’-chapter -V of Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.
11th October, 1897.
MY DEAR RAKHAL,
I feel I have been working as if under an irresistible impulse for the last ten days, beginning from Kashmir. It may be either a physical or a mental disease. Now I have come to the conclusion that I am unfit for further work. . . . I now understand that I have been very harsh to all of you. But I knew, however, that you would bear with all my shortcomings; in the Math there is no one else who will do so. I have been increasingly harsh to you. Whatever has happened is now past — it is all the result of past Karma. What is the good of my repentance? I do not believe in it. It is all Karma. Whatever of Mother’s work was to be accomplished through me, She made me do, and has now flung me aside breaking down my body and mind. Her will be done!
Now I retire from all this work. In a day or two I shall give up everything and wander out alone; I shall spend the rest of my life quietly in some place or other. Forgive me if you all will, or do what you like.
Mrs. Bull has given much of the money. She has implicit confidence in Sharat. Do the work of the Math with Sharat’s advice; or do as you will.
But I have all along been like a hero — I want my work to be quick like lightning, and firm as adamant. Likewise shall I die also. Therefore kindly do my work for me — no question of success or defeat enters here at all. I have never retreated in a fight — shall I now . . . ? There is success and failure in every work. But I am inclined to believe that one who is a coward will be born after death as an insect or a worm, that there is no salvation for a coward even after millions of years of penance. Well, shall I after all be born as a worm? . . . In my eyes this world is mere play — and it will always remain as such. Should one spend six long months brooding over the questions of honour and disgrace, gain and loss pertaining to this? . . . I am a man of action. Simply advice upon advice is being given — this one says this, that one says that; again that man threatens, and this one frightens! This life is not, in my view, such a sweet thing that I would long to live through so much care and caution and fear. Money, life, friends, and relatives, and the love of men and myself — if one wants to enter into work fully assured beforehand of all these — if one has to be so much ridden with fear, then one will get just what Gurudeva used to say, “The crow thinks itself very clever but . . .” (The crow thinks itself very clever, but it cannot help eating filth.) — well, he will get that. After all, what is the purpose behind all these — money and wealth, Maths and institutions, preaching and lecturing? There is only one purpose in the whole of life — education. Otherwise what is the use of men and women, land and wealth?
So loss of money, or loss of anything else — I cannot bother about, and I will not. When I fight, I fight with girded loins — that much I fully understand; and I also understand that man, that hero, that god, who says, “Don’t care, be fearless. O brave one, here I am by your side!” To such a man-god I offer a million salutations. Their presence purifies the world, they are the saviours of the world. And the others who always wail, “Oh, don’t go forward, there is this danger, there is that danger” — those dyspeptics — they always tremble with fear. But through the grace of the Divine Mother my mind is so strong that even the most terrible dyspepsia shall not make me a coward. To cowards what advice shall I offer? — nothing whatsoever have I to say. But this I desire, that I should find shelter at the feet of those brave souls who dared to do great deeds even though they failed to succeed, of those heroes who never quailed nor shirked, of those fighters who never disobeyed orders through fear or pride. I am the child of the Divine Mother, the source of all power and strength. To me, cringing, fawning, whining, degrading inertia and hell are one and the same thing. O Mother of the Universe, O my Gurudeva, who would constantly say, “This is a hero!” — I pray that I may not have to die a coward. This is my prayer, O brother. ” [111_rakhal_01.jpg] — certainly there is, or there will be born one equal to me”; some one or other will certainly arise from these thousands of devotees of Shri Ramakrishna who will be like me, and who will be able to understand me.
O hero, awake, and dream no more. Death has caught you by the forelock . . . still fear not. What I have never done — fleeing from the battle — well, will that happen today? For fear of defeat shall I retreat from the fight? Defeat is the ornament the hero adorns himself with. What, to acknowledge defeat without fighting! O Mother, Mother! . . . Not one capable of even playing second fiddle and yet the mind filled with petty self-importance, “We understand everything”. . . . Now I retire; . . . everything I leave in your control. If Mother sends me men again in whose heart there is courage, in whose hands strength, in whose eyes there is fire, real children of the Mother — if She gives me even one such, then I shall work again, then I shall return. Otherwise, I shall take it that, by Mother’s will, this is the end. I am in a tremendous hurry, I want to work at hurricane speed, and I want fearless hearts.
I have rebuked poor Sarada severely. What to do? . . . I do scold; but I also have much to complain. . . . Almost suffocated by short breathing, standing and standing, I have written an article for him. . . . It is all good, otherwise how will renunciation come? . . . Will Mother in the end kill me with attachment? I have offended all of you — do what you want.
I bless you all with a full heart. May Mother enshrine Herself in your hearts as strength: [111_rakhal_02.jpg] — the support that is fearlessness — may She make you all fearless. This I have seen in life — he who is over-cautious about himself falls into dangers at every step; he who is afraid of losing honour and respect, gets only disgrace; he who is always afraid of loss always loses. . . . May all good attend you all.