Madame Emma Calve’s first meeting with Swami Vivekananda

Written by Web Admin. Posted in Anecdotes and Parables

Reproduced from New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 484-86.

[The story of the first meeting of Swami Vivekananda and Madame Emma Calvé, as told in Calvé’s autobiography, My Life] . . .

[Swami Vivekananda] was lecturing in Chicago one year when I was there; and as I was at that time greatly depressed in mind and body, I decided to go to him. . . . Before going I had been told not to speak until he addressed me. When I entered the room, I stood before him in silence for a moment. He was seated in a noble attitude of meditation, his robe of saffron yellow falling in straight lines to the floor, his head swathed in a turban bent forward, his eyes on the ground. After a pause he spoke without looking up.

“My child”, he said, “what a troubled atmosphere you have about you. Be calm. It is essential”. Then in a quiet voice, untroubled and aloof, this man who did not even know my name talked to me of my secret problems and anxieties. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown even to my nearest friends. It seemed miraculous, supernatural.

“How do you know all this?” I asked at last. “Who has talked of me to you?” He looked at me with his quiet smile as though I were a child who had asked a foolish question. “No one has talked to me”, he answered gently. “Do you think that it is necessary? I read in you as in an open book.” Finally it was time for me to leave.

“You must forget”, he said as I rose. “Become gay and happy again. Build up your health. Do not dwell in silence upon your sorrows. Transmute your emotions into some form of external expression. Your spiritual health requires it. Your art demands it.” I left him deeply impressed by his words and his personality. He seemed to have emptied my brain of all its feverish complexities and placed there instead his clear and calming thoughts. I became once again vivacious and cheerful, thanks to the effect of his powerful will. He did not use any of the hypnotic or mesmeric influences. It was the strength of his character, the purity and intensity of his purpose that carried conviction. It seemed to me, when I came to know him better, that he lulled one’s chaotic thoughts into a state of peaceful acquiescence, so that one could give complete and undivided attention to his words.

Insidence at the Cassipore Garden-House on the night of MahaSivaratri

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Talks and Reminiscences

Source:  Life of Swami Vivekananda Volume 1 [Page:166]
COSSIPORE AND THE PASSING AWAY OF THE MASTER]

Early picture of The Cossipore Garden House

Naren (later Swami Vivekananda) was becoming aware of the spiritual power within him. There were moments when he, as it were, touched divinity and became almost physically conscious of Reality by the spiritual transmutation of the internal faculties of sense. His thought became a sweeping power. On one occasion he displayed it. It was on Shivaratri (the Night of Shiva) in March 1886. Naren was seated with three or four brother-disciples in a room in the compound of the Cossipore garden-house. They had fasted the whole day and intended to spend the night in meditation, worship and prayer. A mild shower of rain fell in the evening and the starlit sky was in parts fleeced with clouds. After finishing the worship, Japa and meditation proper to the first quarter of the night, Naren was resting and conversing with others, sitting on the worshipper’s seat. One of the brother disciples went out to prepare a smoke for him and another went to the main residence on a piece of work. Just then a feeling of divine power came to Naren. He wanted to test it out that night, and said to Kali (later Swami Abhedananda) who was sitting close to him, “Just touch me after a while.” When the brother disciple who had gone to prepare tobacco entered the room, he saw Naren sitting motionless in meditation and Kali, with his eyes shut, touching Naren’s right knee with his right hand. He noticed that Kali’s hand was trembling. After a minute or two Naren opened his eyes and said, “That is enough. How did you feel?” Kali answered, “I felt a shock as though from an electric battery. My hand was shaking all the while.” The brother disciple asked Kali, “Was your hand trembling because you were touching Naren?” Kali answered, “Yes, I could not keep it steady, though I tried.”

A little later the young men applied themselves to the worship and meditation proper to the second quarter of the night. Kali entered into deep meditation at that time. He was never seen to enter into such deep meditation before. His whole body became stiff, with his neck and head inclined slightly forward. Consciousness of the outer world seemed to have completely left him for some time. Everyone present thought that he was having such meditation as a result of having touched Naren a little while previously. Naren also noticed that state and indicated it to a companion by a sign.

After the last quarter’s worship was over at four in the morning, Shashi came to the worship – room and said to Naren, “The Master wants you.” Naren went upstairs with Shashi to the Master. No sooner had the Master seen Naren than he said, “What is this? Spending with hardly anything accumulated! Allow it first to accumulate sufficiently in yourself; then you will know where and how to spend it. Mother Herself will teach you. Don’t you see what harm you have done to him by injecting your attitude of mind into him? He has been progressing till now with a particular mental attitude, the whole of which has now been destroyed, like a miscarriage during the sixth month of pregnancy. What’s done is done. Don’t act so thoughtlessly from now on. The boy, however, is lucky that greater harm has not befallen him.” Naren said afterwards, “I was completely flabbergasted. The Master was able to know whatever we did at the time of worship. What else could I do but keep silent when he scolded me like that!”*

Swami Abhedananda (Kali) narrates this same incident in his autobiography. The gist of his account is as follows:

On the Shivaratri night, when Naren and I were meditating, Naren’s body suddenly began to shake. He asked me to put my hand on his thigh and see if I felt anything. When I put my hand there, I felt as though I had touched an electric battery, and as though a magnetic current were causing a violent tremor in his body. Gradually this current became so strong that my hand too began to shake. Naren did not infuse any power into me on this occasion; he only thought that he could do so. In order to disabuse Narendra of this illusion the Master said to him later, “This is the time to gain power, not to spend it”

A HYMN TO SHIVA

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works

HYMN TO SHIVA
शिवस्तोत्रम्।
ॐ नमः शिवाय।
shiva.adj_A

निखिलभुवनजन्मस्थेमभङ्गप्ररोहाः
अकलितमहिमानः कल्पिता यत्र तस्मिन्।
सुविमलगगनाभे ईशसंस्थेऽप्यनीशे
मम भवतु भवेऽस्मिन् भासुरो भावबन्धः॥

Salutation to Shiva! whose glory
Is immeasurable, who resembles sky
In clearness, to whom are attributed
The phenomena of all creation,
The preservation and dissolution
Of the universe! May the devotion,
The burning devotion of this my life
Attach itself to Him, to Shiva, who,
While being Lord of all, transcends Himself.

निहतनिखिलमोहेऽधीशता यत्र रूढा
प्रकटितपरप्रेम्णा यो महादेवसंज्ञः।
अशिथिलपरिरंभः प्रेमरूपस्य यस्य
प्रणयति हृदि विश्वं व्याजमात्रं विभुत्वम्॥

In whom Lordship is ever established,
Who causes annihilation of delusion,
Whose most surpassing love, made manifest,
Has crowned Him with a name above all names,
The name of “Mahâdeva”, the Great God!
Whose warm embrace, of Love personified,
Displays, within man’s heart, that all power
Is but a semblance and a passing show,

वहति विपुलवातः पूर्वसंस्काररूपः
प्रमथति बलवृन्दं धूर्णितेवोर्मिमाला।
प्रचलति खलु युग्मं युष्मदस्मत्प्रतीतं
अतिविकलितरूपं नौमि चित्तं शिवस्थम्॥

In which the tempest of the whole past blows,
Past Samskâras, stirring the energies
With violence, like water lashed to waves;
In which the dual consciousness of “I” and “Thou”
Plays on: I salute that mind unstable,
Centred in Shiva, the abode of calm!

जनकजनितभावो वृत्तयः संस्कृताश्च
अगणनबहुरूपो यत्र एको यथार्थः।
शामितविकृतिवाते यत्र नान्तर्बहिश्च
तमहह हरमीडे चेत्तवृत्तेर्निरोधम्॥

Where the ideas of parent and produced,
Purified thoughts and endless varied forms,
Merge in the Real one; where the existence ends
Of such conceptions as “within”, “without”—
The wind of modification being stilled—
That Hara I worship, the suppression
Of movements of the mind. Shiva I hail!

गलिततिमिरमालः शुभ्रतेजःप्रकाशः
धवलकमलशोभः ज्ञानपुञ्जाट्टहासः।
यमिजनहृदिगम्यः निष्कलं ध्यायमानः
प्रणतमवतु मां स मानसो राजहंसः॥

From whom all gloom and darkness have dispersed;
That radiant Light, white, beautiful
As bloom of lotus white is beautiful;
Whose laughter loud sheds knowledge luminous;
Who, by undivided meditation,
Is realised in the self-controlled heart:
May that Lordly Swan of the limpid lake
Of my mind, guard me, prostrate before Him!

दुरितदलनदक्षं दक्षजादत्तदोषं
कलितकलिकलङ्कं कम्रकह्लारकान्तं।
परहितकरणाय प्राणविच्छेदसूत्कं
नतनयननियुक्तं नीलकण्ठं नमामः॥

Him, the Master-remover of evil,
Who wipes the dark stain of this Iron Age;
Whom Daksha’s Daughter gave Her coveted hand;
Who, like the charming water-lily white,
Is beautiful; who is ready ever
To part with life for others’ good, whose gaze
Is on the humble fixed; whose neck is blue
With the poison swallowed:
Him, we salute!

Questions and Answers: Answer to Nivedita

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works, Vivekananda

Q.—I cannot remember what parts Prithvi Rai and Chând disguised themselves to play, when they determined to attend the Svayamvara at Kanauj.

A.—Both went as minstrels.
Q.—Also did Prithvi Rai determine to marry Samyuktâ partly because she was the daughter of his rival and partly for the fame of her great beauty? Did he then send a woman-servant to obtain the post of her maid? And did this old nurse set herself to make the princess fall in love with Prithvi Rai?

A.—They had fallen in love with each other, hearing deeds and beauty and seeing portraits. Falling in love through portraits is an old Indian game.
Q.—How did Krishna come to be brought up amongst the shepherds?

A.—His father had to flee with the baby to save it from the tyrant Kamsa, who ordered all the babes (male) from that year to be killed, as (through prophecy) he was afraid one of them would be Krishna and dethrone him. He kept Krishna’s father and mother in prison (who were his cousins) for fear of that prophecy.
Q.—How did this part of his life terminate?

A.—He came with his brother Baladeva and Nanda, his foster-father, invited by the tyrant to a festival. (The tyrant had plotted his destruction.) He killed the tyrant and instead of taking the throne placed the nearest heir on it. Himself he never took any fruit of action.
Q.—Can you give me any dramatic incident of this period?

A.—This period is full of miracles. He as a baby was once naughty and the cowherd-mother tried to tie him with her churning string and found she could not bind him with all the strings she had. Then her eyes opened and she saw that she was going to bind him who had the whole universe in his body. She began to pray and tremble. Immediately the Lord touched her with his Maya and she saw only the child.

Brahmâ, the chief of gods, disbelieving that the Lord had become a cowherd, stole one day all the cows and cowherd boys and put them to sleep in a cave. When he came back, he found the same boys and cows round Krishna. Again he stole the new lot and hid them away. He came back and saw there the same again. Then his eyes opened and began to see numerous worlds and heavens and Brahmans by the thousands, one greater than the preceding, in the body of the Lord.

He danced on the serpent Kâliya who had been poisoning the water of the Yamunâ, and he held up the mount Govardhana in defiance of Indra whose worship he had forbidden and who in revenge wanted to kill all the people of Vraja by deluge of rain. They were all sheltered by Krishna under the hill Govardhana which he upheld with a finger on their head.

He from his childhood was against snake-worship and Indra-worship. Indra-worship is a Vedic ritual. Throughout the Gita he is not favourable to Vedic ritual.

This is the period of his love to Gopis. He was eleven years of age.

Questions and Answers: Yoga, Vairagya, Tapasya, Love

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works, Vivekananda

Q. — Does Yoga serve to keep the body in its full health and vitality?

A. — It does. It staves off disease. As objectification of one’s own body is difficult, it is very effective in regard to others. Fruit and milk are the best food for Yogis.
Q. — Is the attainment of bliss synchronous with that of Vairagya?

A. — The first step in Vairagya is very painful. When perfected, it yields supreme bliss.
Q. — What is Tapasyâ?

A. — Tapasya is threefold — of the body, of speech and of mind. The first is service of others; the second truthfulness; and third, control and concentration.
Q. — Why do we not see that the same consciousness pervades the ant as well as the perfected sage?

A. — Realising the unity of this manifestation is a question of time only.
Q. — Is preaching possible without gaining perfection?

A. — No. May the Lord grant that all the Sannyasin disciples of my Master and of myself be perfected, so that they may be fit for missionary work!
Q. — Is the divine majesty expressed in the Universal Form of Shri Krishna in the Gita superior to the expression of love unattended with other attributes, embodied in the form of Shri Krishna, for instance, in His relation with the Gopis?

A. — The feeling of love, unattended with the idea of divinity, in respect to the person loved, is assuredly inferior to the expression of divine majesty. If it were not so, all lovers of the flesh would have obtained freedom.