From ‘Epistles – Fourth Series’-chapter -V of Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.
To Swami Ramakrishnananda
25th February, 1898.
MY DEAR SHASHI,
Our congratulations for the successful carrying out of the Mahotsava (Big celebration of Shri Ramakrishna’s birthday.) in Madras. Hope you had a good gathering and plenty of spiritual food. We are all so glad that you have girded yourself to teach more of spirituality to the Madras people than those finger twistings and kling phat (Cryptic Mantras or sound formulae.) you are so fond of. Really your lecture on Shriji (Shri Ramakrishna.) was splendid. I could only catch a report in the Madras Mail in Khandwa, and the Math people have not had any. Why don’t you send us over a copy?
I learn that you complain about my silence, is it? I have written you more letters, however, than you ever wrote me, from Europe and America even. You ought to give me all the news you can from Madras every week. Simplest way is to put down a few lines and a few items of news every day on a sheet.
My health has not been all right of late; at present it is much better. Calcutta is unusually cool just now, and the American friends who are here are enjoying it ever so much. Today we take possession of the land we have bought, and though it is not practicable to have the Mahotsava on it just now, I must have something on it on Sunday. Anyhow, Shriji’s relics must be taken to our place for the day and worshipped. Gangadhar is here and asks me to write to you that though he has succeeded in getting some subscriptions for the Brahmavadin, the delivery being very irregular, he is afraid of losing them also soon. I received your letter of recommendation for the young man with the old story of “having nothing to eat, Your Honour”; only added in the Madras edition: “got a number of children too”, for generating whom no recommendation was needed! I would be very glad to help him, but the fact is, I have no money; every cent I had I have made over to Raja, (Rakhal or Swami Brahmananda.) as they all say I am a spendthrift and are afraid of keeping money with me. I have, however, sent the letter to Rakhal if he can find the way to help your friend, the young man, in having some more children. He writes that the Christians will help him out if he becomes a convert, but he won’t. Perhaps he is afraid that his conversion will make Hindu India lose one of her brightest jewels and Hindu society the benefit of his propagating power to eternal misery!
The boys here are rather seedy owing to the unusual amount of pure and cool air they are made to breathe in and live on the bank of the Ganga in the new Math. Sarada has his malaria brought over from Dinajpur. I made him eat a dose of opium the other day without much benefit to him except his brain which progressed for some hours towards its natural direction, namely, idiocy. Hari also has a touch; I hope it will take off a good bit of their avoirdupois. By the by, we have once more started the dancing business here, and it would make your heart glad to see Hari and Sarada and my own good self in a waltz. How we keep balance at all is a wonder to me.
Sharat has come and is hard at work as usual. We have got some good furniture now, and a big jump from the old Châtâi (mat) in the old Math to nice tables and chairs and three Khâts (cots), mind you. We have curtailed the Pujâ (worship) work a good deal, and the amount of pruning your klings and phats and svâhâs have undergone would make you faint. The puja occupied only the day, and they slept soundly all night. How are Tulsi and Khoka? Are they more tractable with you than under Rakhal? You may run in to Calcutta for a few days giving charge to Tulsi, but it is so expensive, and then you must go back, as Madras has to be thoroughly worked up. I am going to America again with Mrs. Bull in a few months.
Give my love to Goodwin and tell him that we are going to see him at any rate on our way to Japan. Shivananda is here, and I have toned down a bit his great desire to go to the Himalayas for food! Is Tulsi contemplating the same? The bandicoot-hole will be a sufficient cave for him, I suppose.
So the Math here is a fait accompli, and I am going over to get more help. . . . Work on with energy. India is a rotten corpse inside and outside. We shall revive it by the blessings of Shri Maharaj. With all love,
Ever yours in the Lord,