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Life of Swami Vivekananda

 EARLY DAYS

      Swami Vivekananda, or Narendranath Datta, or simply Naren, as he was called in his pre-monastic days, was born to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneswari Devi in Calcutta on Monday, 12 January 1863. The Datta family was rich, respectable, and renowned for charity, learning, and a strong spirit of in­dependence. Narendranath's grandfather, Durgacharan Datta, was well-versed in Persian and Sanskrit and was skilled in law. But after the birth of his son Vishwanath, he renounced the world and became a monk. He was then only twenty-five years of age.

      Vishwanath Datta was an attorney-at-law in the Calcutta High Court. He was proficient in English and Persian, and took great delight in reciting to his family the poems of the Persian poet Haftz. He also enjoyed the study of the Bible and of the Hindu scriptures in Sanskrit. Though charitable to an extravagant degree and sympathetic towards the poor, Vishwanath was rationalistic and progressive in outlook in matters religious and social, owing  perhaps  to  the  influence  of western culture.    Bhuvaneswari    Devi   was   an   ac­complished lady with a regal  bearing.  She was   deeply   religious.   Before   the   birth   of Narendranath,   though   she   had   daughters, she yearned for a son and asked one of her relatives at Varanasi to make religious offerings to Vlresvara Siva. It is said that she dreamt later that Siva promised to be born as her son. Narendranath was born some time afterwards.

      In his early childhood, Narendranath was rather  restless  and  given   to  much fun  and frolic. But at the same time, he had a great attraction   for   spiritual   matters   and   would play   at  worshipping  or   meditating   on   the images of Rama-Slta,  Siva,  etc.  The stories of the Ramayana and the Mahdbhdrata, which his mother told him, left an indelible impres­sion  on  his   mind.   Traits  such   as   courage, sympathy for the poor, and attraction towards wandering monks appeared spontaneously in him.   Even  in  childhood,   Narendranath  de­manded convincing arguments for every pro­position.   With   these   qualities   of head   and heart, he grew into a vigorous vouth.

 AT THE FEET OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA

      As a youth, Narendranath’s leonine beauty was matched by his courage. He had the build of an athlete, a resonant voice, and a brilliant intellect. He distinguished himself in athletics, philosophy,  and  music,  and  among his col­leagues was the undisputed leader. At college, he studied and absorbed western thought, and this implanted a spirit of critical inquiry in his mind. His inborn tendency towards spirit­uality  and his respect   for   ancient   religious traditions  and beliefs, on  the one side,  and his  argumentative  nature,   coupled with  his sharp intellect, on the other, were, now at war with each other. In this predicament, he tried to find comfort in the  Brahmo  Samaj,  the popular socio-religious movement of the time. The Brahmo Samaj believed in a formless God, deprecated the worship of idols, and addressed itself to various forms of social reform. Naren­dranath also met prominent religious leaders, but could not get a convincing answer from them to his questions about the existence of God.   This   only   accentuated   his   spiritual restlessness.

      At this critical juncture, he remembered the words of his Professor, William Hastie, who had mentioned that a saint lived at Dakshineswar, just outside Calcutta, who experienced the ecstasy described by Words­worth in his poem, The Excursion. His cousin Ramachandra   Datta   also   induced   him   to visit the saint. Thus came about, in 1881, the historic meeting of these two great souls, the prophet of modern India and the carrier of his message. Narendranath asked: 'Sir, have you seen God ?' Sri Ramakrishna answered his question in the affirmative: 'Yes, I have seen Him just as I see you here, only more in­tensely.' At last, here was one who could assure him from his own experience that God existed. His doubt was dispelled. The dis­ciple's training had begun.

      While Sri Ramakrishna tested him in so manv ways, Narendranath, in turn, tested Sri Ramakrishna in order to ascertain the truth of his spiritua! assertions. At one stage, after the passing away of his father in 1884, Narendranath’s family suffered many troubles and privations. At the suggestion of his Master, Narendranath tried to pray to Mother Kali at Dakshineswar for the alleviation of the family’s distress. He found, however, that although his need was for wealth, he could pray only for knowledge and devotion.

      Gradually, Narendranath surrendered him­self to the Master. And Sri Ramakrishna, with infinite patience, calmed the rebellious spirit of his young disciple and led him forth from doubt to certainty and from anguish to spirit­ual bliss. But, more than Sri  Ramakrishna's spiritual guidance and support, it was his love which conquered young Narendranath, love which the disciple reciprocated in full measure.

      With   Sri   Ramakrishna's   illness   and   his removal   to   Cossipore,   on   the   outskirts   of Calcutta, for treatment, began Narendranath's final training under his guru.  It was a time remarkable for the intense spiritual fire which burned within him and which expressed itself through various intense practices. The Master utilized the opportunity to bring his young disciples  under  the  leadership  of Narendra. And when Narendra asked that he might be blessed    with    nirvikalpa    samddki,   ordinarily regarded as the highest spiritual experience, the Master admonished him saying:  'Shame on you !  I thought you would grow, like a huge banyan, sheltering thousands from the scorching misery of the world. But now I see you seek your own liberation.' All the same, Narendra  had the much-coveted realization, after which the Master said that the key to this would thenceforth remain in his keeping and the door would not be opened till Narendra had finished the task for which he had taken birth.   Three  or four  days  before  his  mahd-samddhi, Sri Ramakrishna transmitted to Naren­dranath his own power and told him: 'By the force of the power transmitted by me, great things will be done by you; only after that will you go to whence you came.'

      After the passing away of the Master in August 1886, many of the young disciples gathered together in an old dilapidated house at Baranagore under the leadership of Naren-dranath. Here, in the midst of a life of intense austerity and spiritual practices, the founda­tion of the Ramakrishna brotherhood was laid. It was during these days that Naren-dranath, along with many of his brother disciples, went to Antpur; and there on Christmas Eve (1886), sitting round a huge fire in the open, they took the vow of sannyasa. The days at Baranagore were full of great joy, study, and spiritual practices. But the call of the wandering life of the sannydsin was now felt by most of the monks. And Narendranath, too, towards the close of 1888, began to take temporary excursions away from the Math.

 THE WANDERING MONK

      A remarkable change of outlook came over Narendranath between the closing of 1888, when he first left on his temporary excursions, and 1890, when he parted finally from his brethren and travelled alone as an unknown mendicant. He began to assume various names in order to conceal his identity that he might be swallowed up in the immensity of India.

      Now it was that the natural desire of an Indian monk for a life of solitude gave way to the prescience that he was to fulfil a great destiny; that his was not the life of an ordinary recluse struggling for personal salvation. Under the influence of his burning desire to know India better and the mute appeal rising all around him from oppressed India, he went first to Varanasi, the holiest city of the Hindus. After  Varanasi,  he  visited  Lucknow,  Agra, Vrindaban, Hathras, and Rishikesh and then returned to Baranagore for a time. At Hathras, he met Sarat Chandra Gupta who became his   first   disciple   (Swami   Sadananda).   He revealed to him the mission entrusted to him by his Master, namely, the spiritual regenera­tion of India and the world. Sarat, who was on the staff of the railway station at Hathras, resigned  his   post   and  followed  his  guru  to help him in his mission.

      An important event in the Swami's life at this time occurred in 1890, when he met Pavhari Baba of Gazipur, for whose saint-liness he had the greatest admiration through­out his life. At this time, he was torn between the desire, on the one hand, to become absorbed in the eternal silence of the Absolute and, on the other, the desire to fulfil his Master's mission. He hoped that Pavhari Baba would appease the remorse gnawing at his heart, which was due to the fact that fervour for the highest absorption in the Divine drew him away from the work entrusted to him by his Master. For twenty-one days, Naren was on the point of yielding to this temptation, but the vision of Sri Ramakrishna always came to draw him back.

      In July 1890, the Swami took leave of Sri Sarada Devi, the holy consort of Sri Rama­krishna, who was the spiritual guide of the young monks after the Master's passing away. He also took leave of his brother monks, with :he nrm resolve to cut himself free from all ::e; ind :o so in:o the solitude of the Hima-ijv-is. for he feh it essential to be alone. In the words of Romain Rolland: 'This was the great departure. Like a diver, he plunged into the Ocean of India and the Ocean of India covered his tracks. Among its flotsam and jetsam, he was nothing more than one nameless sannydsin in saffron robe among a thousand others. But the fire of genius burned in his eyes. He was a prince despite all disguise.' His wandering took him to various places of pilgrimage   and   historical   interest   in   Uttar Pradesh,   Rajasthan,   Gujarat,   Maharashtra, Mysore,   Kerala,   Madras,   and   Hyderabad. Everywhere the glory of ancient India vividly came before his eyes, whether political, cul­tural, or spiritual. In the midst-of this great education,  the  abject  misery  of the  Indian masses stood out before his mind. He moved from  one  princely   State  to  another,   every­where to explore avenues of mitigating their lot.   Thus   he   came   to   meet   many   leading personalities and rulers of the princely States. Among them, Maharaj Ajit Singh of Khetri became  his  fast  friend  and  ardent  disciple. At   Alwar,   he   studied   the   Mahdbhasya   of Patanjali.   At   Poona,   he   stayed   with   Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the great national leader. At first, Tilak talked with the Swami some­what ironically, but later his depth of learning and profundity of thought impressed him, and he invited the Swami to stay with him. From there,  after  a stay  at Belgaum,  he  went to Bangalore   and   Mysore.   The   Maharaja   of Mysore gave him the  assurance of financial support to enable him to go to the West to seek help for India and to preach the eternal religion. From Mysore, he visited Trivandrum and Kanya Kumari.

      Wherever he went, it was not the important places and people that impressed him most.

It was the terrible poverty and misery of the masses that caused his soul to burn in agony. He had travelled through the whole of India, often on foot, for nearly three years, coming to know India at first hand. Now he had reached the end of his journey, as it were. He prostrated himself with great feeling before the image of Mother Kumari at the Kanya. Kumari temple. Then he swam across the sea to a rock off the south coast, and sitting there for the whole night went into deep meditation. The vast panorama of his experiences during his travels passed before his mind's eye. He meditated on the past, the present, and the future of India, the causes of her downfall, and the means of her resurrection. He then took the momentous decision to go to the West to seek help for the poor of India and thus give shape to his life's mission.

      With this decision, he journeyed to Rame-swaram and Madurai. He then went on to Madras, where a group of young men, headed by Alasinga Perumal, were eagerly awaiting his arrival. To them, he revealed his intention of visiting America to attend the Parliament of Religions that was being convened at Chicago. His young disciples forthwith raised a subscription for his passage. But the Swami was not yet certain that it was  the Divine Mother's will that he should go, and so he asked them to give away the money to the poor. At this juncture, the Swami had a sym­bolic dream in which Sri Ramakrishna walked out into the sea and beckoned him to follow. This, coupled with the blessings and permis­sion of Sri Sarada Devi, who also, in a dream, had received Sri Ramakrishna's consent, settled the question for him, and his young friends again set about collecting the necessary funds. He next paid a short visit to Hyderabad. Then, while arrangements were being  made for  his journey  to  America,   there  came  a sudden   invitation   from    the    Maharaja   of Khetri  to  attend  celebrations  in  connection with the birth of his son. The Swami could not refuse  this  invitation  from  his  disciple. The   Maharaja  received  him  cordially   and promised to help him in every possible way. And it was here, at his suggestion, that the Swami   assumed   the   name   'Vivekananda'. True   to   his   word,   the   Maharaja   sent   his personal secretary with the Swami to equip him for the journey and see him off at Bombay. His journey to America commenced on 31 May 1893.

 ON THE WORLD STAGE

      Swami Vivekananda travelled to America via China, Japan, and Canada, and reached Chicago about the middle of July. At Canton, he saw some Buddhist monasteries; in Japan, he noted with admiration the industrial progress and cleanliness of the people. Now, at Chicago, so dazzling with riches and the inventive genius of the West, he was puzzled like a child. To his disappointment, he learnt that the Parliament of Religions would not be held until September, and that no one could be a delegate without credentials. Fie felt lost, but resigning himself to the will of Provi­dence, he went to Boston which was less expensive than Chicago. In the train, he happened to become acquainted with Miss Katherine Sanborn, who invited him to be her guest at Boston. Through her, he came to know Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who gave him a letter of introduc­tion to the Chairman of the Parliament of Religions. In the course of this letter, Dr. Wright said: 'Here is a man who is more learned than all our learned professors put together.'

      The Swami returned to Chicago a couple of days before the opening of the Parliament of Religions, but found to his dismay that he had lost the address of the committee which was   providing   hospitality   for   the   oriental delegates. After a night's rest in a huge box in the railway freight-yard, the Swami set out in the morning to find somebody who could help him out of this difficulty. But help for a coloured man was not readily available. Exhausted by a fruitless search, he sat down the   roadside   resigning   himself   to   the on divine will. Suddenly, a lady of regal ap­pearance emerged from the fashionable house opposite, approached him, and offered him help. This was Mrs. Geroge WT. Hale, whose house was to become in future the permanent address of the Swami while in the United States, for the Hale family became his devoted followers.

      The   Parliament   of  Religions   opened   on 11 September 1893. The spacious hall of the Art  Institute was  packed with nearly  7000 people, representing the best culture of the country.   On  the  platform,  every  organized religion from all corners of the world had its representatives. The Swami had never address­ed such a huge and distinguished   gathering. He  felt  extremely  nervous.   When   his  turn came, he mentally bowed down to Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and then began his address with the words, 'Sisters and Brothers of America'. Immediately, there was thunder­ous applause from the vast audience, and it lasted for full two minutes. 'Seven thousand people rose to their feet as a tribute to some­thing, they knew not what.' The appeal of his simple words of burning sincerity, his great personality, his bright countenance, and his orange robes was so great that next day the newspapers described him as the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. The simple monk with a begging bowl had become the man of the hour.

      All the subsequent speeches of the Swami at the Parliament were listened to with great respect and appreciation. They all had one common theme—universality. While all the delegates to the Parliament spoke of their own religion the Swami spoke of a religion that was vast as the sky and deep as the ocean. When the Parliament ended, the days of quiet had ended for the Swami. What followed were days of hectic lecturing in almost every part of the United States. Having signed a contract for a lecture tour with a bureau, the Swami had to be constantly on the move, speaking to all sorts of audiences. Though this tour provided him with opportunities of knowing the different aspects of western life at first hand, he found that the. bureau ex­ploited and embarrassed him. He felt dis­gusted  and  severed   his   connection  with  it. Now he wanted to form a group of earnest American  disciples,   and  began  classes,  free of charge, for sincere students. His stay in the West, which lasted till December 1896, was packed with intense activity: besides innumera­ble   lectures   and   classes   at  New  York,   he founded a Vedanta Society there; he trained a  band  of close  disciples  at  the  Thousand Island   Park;   and   he   wrote   Rdja-yoga   and paid two successful visits to England, where he gave the lectures which now form Jnana-yoga. There he made some disciples, prominent among  them being Capt.  and Mrs,  Sevier, Sister Nivedita, and E. T. Sturdy. Earlier, in New York, J. J. Goodwin, a young English stenographer had  been accepted as his dis­ciple. It was during these visits that he had the pleasure of meeting the great savant Max Miiller.  During  his  tour  of Europe  in  the summer  of  1895,   he   also  met  the  famous German orientalist Paul Deussen.

      He had laboured hard to give to the West his message of Vedanta as the universal principle basic to all religions, and his effort had by now resulted in the establishment of the Vedanta work on a permanent basis in the United States. The London work, too, had made some progress. Now his motherland was calling  him   and  was   eager   to   receive   his message. So, from London, he started for India at the end of 1896. Besides his American and English disciples, he left behind his brother disciples Saradananda and Abhedananda to carry on the work.

 TRIUMPHAL RETURN

      Swami Vivekananda left London with the Seviers  on   16  December  1896,  and after  a visit to Rome and other places in Italy, he took the boat for India at Naples on 30 Decem­ber. At Naples, Mr. Goodwin joined the party. They reached Colombo on 15 January 1897. The news of the Swami's return had already reached  India,  and  the  people  everywhere, throughout   the   country,   were   afire   with enthusiasm to receive him. He was no more the  unknown sannydsin.  In every city,  small or big, committees had been formed to give him a fitting reception. As Romain Rolland says,   the   Swami   'replied   to   the   frenzied expectancy of the people by his Message to India,  a conch sounding the resurrection of the land of Rama,  of Siva,  of Krsna,  and calling the heroic Spirit, the immortal Atman, to march to war. He was a general, explaining his Plan of Campaign, and calling his people to rise  en  masse:   "My  India,   arise!  Where  is vour vital  force? In your Immortal Soul."' At Madras, he delivered five public lectures, every one of which was a clarion call to throw away  weakness  and  superstition and  rise  to build a new  India.  He  emphasized that in India 'the keynote of the whole music of the national life'  was religion,  a  religion which preached the 'spiritual oneness of the whole universe',  and when that was  strengthened, everything else would take care of itself. He did not spare his criticism, however, castigating his countrymen for aping the West, for their blind adherence to old superstitions, for their caste prejudices, and so on.

      From Madras the Swami sailed for Calcutta and arrived there on 20 February. His native city gave him a grand welcome, and here the Swami paid a touching tribute to his Master: 'If there has been anything achieved by me, by thoughts, or words, or deeds, if from my lips has ever fallen one word that has helped anyone in the world, I lay no claim to it, it was his.  ...  If this nation wants to rise, take my word for it, it will have to rally round his name.'

      To establish his work on a firm basis, the Swami summoned all the monastic and lay disciples to a meeting at Balaram Bose's house, and the Ramakrishna Mission was formed in May 1897. The aims and ideals of the Mission propounded by the Swami were purely spirit­ual and humanitarian. He had inaugurated the machinery for carrying out his ideas.

      When plague broke out in Calcutta in May 1898, he organized relief work with the help of the members of the monastery and lay disciples. After the plague was under control, the Swami and his western disciples left for Naini Tal and Almora. This was a period of great preparation and training for his western disciples, especially Sister Nivedita. On 16 June, the Swami left for Kashmir with some of these disciples. This trip to Kashmir was an unforgettable experience both for the Swami and for the disciples. At the end of July, the Swami journeyed with Sister Nivedita to the holy shrine of Amarnath. Observing meticu­lously every little practice demanded by custom, the Swami reached the cave of Amarnath on 2 August, wearing only loin-cloth, his body besmeared with ashes. His whole frame was trembling with emotion; a great mystical experience came over him, of which he never spoke, beyond saying that Siva Himself ap­peared before him. This was followed by a lonely visit to Kshir Bhavani, the shrine of the Mother Goddess, a few miles away from Srinagar. This proved to be another memorable experience for the Swami. He was full of the Mother and said, quoting from his own poem: 'It all came true, every word of it; and I have proved it, for I have hugged the form of Death.'

      When he reached Calcutta on 18 October, he  was  pale   and  weak   and   suffering  from various   ailments.   Despite   this,   he   engaged himself in numerous activities. A piece of land had been acquired at Belur on the west bank of the Gaiiga, five miles above Calcutta, and the construction of the monastery had started. In January 1899, the monks moved to the new monastery, the now famous Belur Math. The Nivedita Girls' School had been inaugurated earlier.   The  Bengali   monthly   Udbodhan  was also   started   at   this   time.   And   the   Seviers fulfilled the Swami's dream of having a monas­tery in the Himalayas, by starting the Advaita Ashrama   at   Mayavati   (Almora)   in   March 1899. The English monthly Prabuddha Bharata had been started at Madras earlier, but on the untimely passing away of its editor in 1898, it ceased publication for a month. The monthly started again at Almora under the editorship of Swami Swarupananda, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, and in 1899, it was transferred to the Advaita Ashrama at Mayavati.

      During this period,  the "Swami  constantly inspired the sannyasins and brahmacdrins at the Math towards a life of intense spirituality and service, for one's own emancipation and the good of one's fellow men - Atmano moksdrtham jagat hitdya ca, as he put it.

      But the Swami's health was failing. And his plan to revisit the West was welcomed by his brother monks, in the hope that this would improve his health.

 ACROSS THE WORLD AGAIN

      Swami Vivekananda left India on 20 June 1899, taking with him Swami Turiyananda and Sister Nivedita. The journey with the Swami was a great education to both of them. Sister Nivedita wrote: 'From the beginning to the end, a vivid flow of stories went on. One never knew what moment would bring the flash of intuition and the ringing utterance of some fresh truth.' After touching Madras, Colombo, Aden, and Marseilles en route, the ship arrived at London on 31 July. The trip was beneficial to the Swami's health.

      After spending two weeks in London, he sailed for New York. Arriving there, he went with Mr. and Mrs. Leggett to their beautiful country home called Ridgely Manor on the River Hudson. The Swami stayed at this country retreat until  5  November and then went to the west coast. He visited Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and also made short trips to Chicago and Detroit. Now the conviction that the East and the West ought to be mutually helpful and must co-operate with each otlier grew stronger upon him. The mere material brilliance of the West could not dazzle him, nor could the emphasis on spirit­uality in India hide her social and economic drawbacks.

      He said to Nivedita: 'Social life in the West is like a peal of laughter; but underneath, it is a wail. It ends in a sob. . . . Here in India, it is sad and gloomy on the surface, but under­neath are carelessness and merriment.' The West had tried to conquer external nature, and the East had tried to conquer internal nature. Now East and West must work hand in hand for the good of each other, without destroying the special characteristics of each. The West has much to learn from the East, and the East has much to learn from the West; in fact, the future has to be shaped by a proper fusion of the two ideals. Then there will   be   neither   East   nor   West,   but   one humanity.

      The main event of this period was the starting of the Shanti Ashrama in Northern California, which he placed under the charge of Swami Turiyananda. Vedanta    centre    at    San Francisco was    also   inaugurated.    He    also delivered a number of lectures in the western cities during this period. But the Swami was becoming more and more aware of the ap­proaching end. He wrote to Miss MacLeod: 'My boat is nearing the calm harbour from which it is never more to be driven out.'

      On 1 August 1900, he arrived in Paris to participate in the Congress of the History of Religions, held there on the occasion of the Universal Exposition. With some friends, he left Paris in October and visited Hungary, Rumania, Serbia, and Bulgaria, before arriving at Constantinople. Then they proceeded to Athens and Cairo. In Cairo, the Swami suddenly became restless to return to India; he had a premonition of Capt. Sevier's death. He took the first available boat and hurried back to India and reached the Belur Math on 9 December 1900, without any previous intimation. It was a pleasant surprise to his brother monks and disciples, who greatly rejoiced at his return.

 THE JOURNEY'S END

      At the  Math,  Swami Vivekananda heard that   Capt.   Sevier   had  passed  away  on   28 October, and he left immediately for Mayavati to console Mrs. Sevier. Arriving there on 3 January 1901, he stayed for a fortnight. The grandeur of the scenery of this Himalayan Ashrama, dedicated to Advaita, delighted him. In spile of his ill health and the severe cold, he wandered in the woods and around an artificial lake, happy and carefree.

      Returning to Belur, he stayed there for seven weeks and then left for East Bengal and Assam. His mother, who had expressed an earnest desire to visit the holy places there, went with him. 'This is the one great wish of a Hindu widow', he wrote to Mrs. Bull. 'I have brought only misery to my people. I am trying to fulfil this one wish of hers.' He returned to the Math in the second week of May 1901, after visiting Nangalbandh, Kamakhya, and Shil-long during the tour, and delivering a few lectures at Dacca and Shillong.

      Now the Swami tried to lead a carefree life at the monastery. He would roam about the Math grounds, sometimes clad only in his loin-cloth; or he would supervise the cooking; or sit with the monks singing devotional songs. Sometimes, he would be seen imparting spirit­ual instructions to the visitors, at other times engaged in serious study in his room or ex­plaining  to  the  members  of the  Math  the intricate passages of the scriptures and unfold­ing to them his schemes for future work. He freed himself entirely from all formal duties by executing a Deed of Trust in favour of his brother disciples, transferring to them all the properties, including the Belur Math, so far held in his name,

      Towards the end of 1901, two learned Buddhists came from Japan to invite him to attend the forthcoming Congress of Religions there. The Swami could not accept their invitation, but went with them to Bodh Gaya and from there to Varanasi. At Varanasi, he was delighted to see a few young men who, under the inspiration of his message, had started nursing the poor and the needy. Their work formed the nucleus of the future Rama-krishna Mission Home of Service.

      The Swami knew his end was nearing. All his actions during the last days were deliberate and significant. He said that smaller plants cannot grow under the shade of a big tree. On 4 July 1902, he meditated from 8 to 11 in the morning, rather unusually. In the after­noon, he went out for a walk with Swami Premananda and explained his plan to start a Vedic school. In the evening, he retired to his room and spent an hour in meditation. Then he lay down quietly and after some time took two deep breaths and passed into eternal rest.

      He had renounced his mortal body, but his words uttered in 1896 to Mr. Eric Hammond in London remained to reassure everyone of his immortality: 'It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body to cast it off like a worn-out garment. But I shall not cease to work, I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.'