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LIBRARY

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THE

MISSION OF OUR MASTER

ESSAYS AND DISCOURSES



BY

THE EASTERN & WESTERN DISCIPLES

OF RAMAKRISHNA-V1VEKANANDA.



PRICE RS. THREE

G. A. NATESAN & CO., MADRAS.

FIRST EDITION.



PUBLISHER'S NOTE.

FIFTEEN years ago in publishing the
first collected edition of Swami Vive-
kananda's works we ventured to announce
that a companion volume containing the
speeches and writings of the Members of
the Ramakrishna Brotherhood would be
issued at no distant date. That long-
cherished ambition is; 4 fulfilled to day in
the publication of this comprehensive
volume fittingly entitled, "The Mission
of our Master."

The papers herein collected are taken
from the extensive writings and speeches
of the many Eastern and Western disciples
of Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the
great Spiritual Teacher of recent times,
whose light has richly illumined a vast
concourse of men and women in both
hemispheres. Swami Vivekananda, Swami
Ramakrishnananda, Swami Abhedananda,
Swami Saradananda, Sister Nivedita, these
and other disciples either directly of
the Paramahamsa or of his most im-
portant disciple Swami Vivekananda,
are too well known by their lives and

791



ii PUBLISHER'S NOTE.

teachings to need any introduction to
Indian readers.

Our object in presenting this collection
to the public is to mirror the mind of the
Great Sage as reflected in the writings of
numerous persons endowed with great
devotion and spirituality.

We have made a formal attempt to
classify the matter under convenient heads,
but of course many of the contributions
are capable of being put under more than
one head indicated by us.

There are many who seem to think
that Swami Vivekananda and his band of
co-workers confined themselves to mere
philosophical discourses. There could be
no greater mistake than that. For Service
is the first aim of the Brotherhood whose
record of benevolence and [charity in con-
nection with innumerable organizations for
medical and famine relief forms a bright
and glowing chapter in the literature of
the Mission. An attempt is made in the
last section of this book to give a summary
of the practical work of the Mission apart
from propagandist activities.



CONTENTS.

Part L General.

HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA

By Swami Vivekananda ... i

THE COMMON BASIS OF ALL RELIGIONS

By Swami Ramakrishnananda ... 15

PRE-EXISTENCE AND IMMORTALITY

By Swami Abhedananda ... 2 1

SELF-MASTERY OF A SAINT

By Swami Abhedananda ... 33

POETRY OF THE VEDAS

By Swami Saradananda 4 1

MISSIONARIES IN INDIA

By Sister Nivedita 46

CHRISTIAN AND HINDU

By Swami Trigunatita ... 77

THE INDIAN EPICS

By Swami Saradananda 9 2

GURU

By Swami Brahmananda ... 1*3

SANKARACHARYA

By Swami Turiyananda . ... 1 26

THE ETHICAL IDEAS OF THE HINDUS

By Swami Saradananda . I 45



VI CONTENTS.

Part IL Comparative Religion.

THE GREAT WORLD-TEACHERS

By Swami Vivekananda ... 175

ZOROASTER

By Swami Paramananda ... 179

DID CHRIST TEACH A NEW RELIGION

By Swami Abhedananda ... 193

SYNTHESIS OF HINDUISM

By Swami Bodhananda ... 204

CONFUCIUS AND HIS PHILOSOPHY

By Swami Bodhananda ... 217

LORD BUDDHA

By Swami Vivekananda ... 226

RELATION OF BUDDHISM TO HINDUISM
By Swami Vivekananda ... 229

LAO-TZE AND HIS TEACHINGS

By Swami Abhedananda ... 23 2.

THE TALMUD

By Swami Kripananda 255

THE MESSAGE OF MOHAMMED

By Swami Ramakrishnananda 273.

THE PRACTICE OF THE CHRIST-IDEAL

By Swami Paramananda ... 276

CHRISTIANITY AND VEDANTA

By S. E. Waldo 28 1

GOD AND FREEDOM IN THE VEDANTA

By J. J. Goodwin ... 290



CONTENTS. vii

Part IH.-Social.

SELFLESSNESS

By Swami Vivekananda ... 297

CASTE

By Swami Vivekananda ... 2g8

WOMAN'S PLACE IN HINDU RELIGION *

By Swami Abhedananda ... 304

THE IDEALS OF THE INDIAN WOMEN

By Sister Nivedita ... 326

MONASTIC LIFE IN INDIA

By Sister Devamata ... 342

THE ELEVATION OF THE MASSES

By Swami Vivekananda ... 354

THE HINDU IDEAL OF NATIONALISM

By Swami Sharvananda ... 367

Part IV. Personal.

MY MASTER

By Swami Vivekananda ... 375

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND HIS WORK

By Swami Abhedananda ... 4*0

THE MASTER AS I SAW HIM

By Sister Nivedita ... 435

Part-V. The Mission and Social Work.

THE ADVAITA ASHRAMA

By Swami Virajananda ... 444

THE 'PRACTICAL WORK OF THE MISSION.

... 448
THE MISSION'S WORK IN FOREIGN LANDS

... 455



1



r


Swami Vivekananda

Aw EXHAUSTIVE AND COMPREHENSIVE COLLECTION o
HIS SPEECHES AND WRITINGS.

THIBD EDITION.

This publication is the first of its kind. It is the most exhaus-
tive and comprehensive collection of the work of Swami Vivekan-
anda hitherto published. It contains, among others, his eloquent
character sketch of " My Master "; his celebrated locture at the
great Parliament of Religions at Chicago; all the important and
valuable speeches delivered in England, America aud India on

S Guana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga. Karma Yoga, Vedanta, and Hinduism;

S selections from the inspiring speeches he gave, in reply to addres-

R fie* of welcome that were presented to him at different iowna aud
tfitiesiu India, during his historic journey from Colombo to Al-

U mora. on his return from America.

I Detailed contents. My Master ; Hinduism as a/
Religion; Reply to the Addressee of Congratulations from
Madran and Calcutta ; The Ideal of Universal Religion;
n God in Everything; Immortality ; Is the Soul Immortal; y
(The Freedom of the Soul; Maya and Illusion; Maya and
the Conception of God; Maya and Freedom; The Real and
the Apparent Man; The Absolute and Manifestation; Unity
. in Diversity; The Cosmoa; The Macrocosm; Realization; U
M Karma Yoga; Metaphysics in India; Re-incarnation;
Bhakti or Devotion; Ved'anta; The Vedanta inlnclian Life;
The Mission of the Vedanta; The Sages of India; Christ,
S. Tho Messenger ; The Relation of Buddhism to Hindu- 8

8 ism; The True Method of Social Reform; The Reform of
Caste; Education on National Lines; The Conquest of
the World by Indian Thought; Poems, etc. \j

Fifth Edition.
Price Rs. 5. To Subscribers of /. R., Rs. 2-8.



G. A. Natesan & Co., Publisher*, George Town, Madras.







The Mission of Our Master.

PART I. GENERAL.

HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA.*

BY SWAMI VlVEKANANDA.

NON-EXISTENCE can never be the cause of
what exists. Something cannot come out of
nothing. That the law of causation is omnipotent
and knows no time or place when it did not exist
is a doctrine as old as the Aryan race, sung by their
ancient poet-seers, formulated by their philosophers,
and made the corner-stone upon which the Hindu
man even of to-day builds his whole scheme of life.

There was an inquisitiveness in the race to start
with, which very soon developed into bold analysis,
and though in the first attempt the work turned out
might be like the attempts of the future master-sculpt-
or with shaky hands, it very soon gave way to strict
science, bold attempts and startling results.

Its boldness made them search every brick of

their sacrificial altars; scan, cement and pulverise

every word of their scriptures ; arrange, re-arrange,

doubt, deny or explain the ceremonies ; turned their

* From the Prabhuddha Bharata, Dec. 1918.



2 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

gods inside out, and assigned only a secondary place
to their omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator
of the universe, their ancestral Father- in-heaven ; or
threw Him altogether overboard as useless, and
started a world-religion without Him with even now
the largest following of any. It evolved the science
of geometry from the arrangements of bricks to build
various altars, and startled the world with astrono-
mical knowledge that arose from the attempts to
accurately time their worship and oblations. It made
their contribution to the science of Mathematics the
largest of any race ancient or modern, and their
knowledge of chemistry, of metallic compounds in
medicine, their scale of musical notes, their invention
of the bow- instruments of great service in the building
of modern European civilisation. It led them to
invent the science of building up the child mind
through shining fables, which every child in every
civilised country learns in a nursery or a school and
carries an impress through life.

Behind and before this analytical keenness, cover-
ing it as in a velvet sheath, was the other great mental
peculiarity of the race poetic insight. Their
religion, their philosophy, their history, their ethics,
their politics were all inlaid in a flower-bed of poetic
imageries the miracle of language which they call
Sanskrit, or perfected, lending itself to expressing and
manipulating them better than any other tongue.
The aid of melodious numbers was invoked even to
express the hard facts of Mathematics.



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. 3

This analytical power and the boldness of poeti-
cal visions which urged it onward are the two great
internal causes in the make-up of the Hindu race.
They together formed as it were the keynote to the
national character. This combination is what is
always making the race press onwards beyond the
senses the secret of those speculations which ar.e like
the steel blades they used to manufacture cutting
through bars of iron, yet pliable enough to be easily
bent into a circle.

They wrought poetry in silver and gold; the
symphony of jewels, the maze of marble wonders, the
music of colours, the fine fabrics which belong more
to the fairy-land of dreams than to the real have
at the back of them thousands of years of working of
this national trait.

Arts and sciences, even the realities of domestic
life, are covered with a mass of poetical conceptions
and pressed forward, till the sensuous touches the
super-sensuous, and the real gets the rose-hue of the
unreal.

The earliest glimpses we have of this race shows
them already in the possession of this characteristic,
as an instrument of some use in their hands. Many
forms of religion and society must have been left
behind in the onward march, before we find them as
depicted in the scriptures, the Vedas.

An organised Pantheon, elaborate ceremonials,
divisions of society into hereditary classes necessitated
by a variety of occupations, a great many necessaries,



4 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

and a good many luxuries of life are already
there.

Most modern scholars are agreed that surroun-
dings as to climate and conditions purely Indian were
not yet working on the race.

Onward through several centuries, we come to a
multitude surrounded by snows of the Himalayas on
the North and the heat of the South vast plains,
interminable forests, through which mighty rivers
roll their tides. We catch a glimpse of different
races Dravidians, Tartars, and Aboriginals pouring
in their quota of blood, of speech, of manners and
religions and at last a great nation emerges to our
view, stiH keeping the type of the Aryan ; stronger,
broader, and more organised by the assimilation.

We find the central assimilative core giving its
type and character to the whole mass, clinging on with
great pride to its name of " Aryan," and though
willing to give other races the benefits of its civilisa-
tion, it was by no means willing to admit them withia
the " Aryan " pale.

The Indian climate again gave a higher direction
to the genius of the race. In a land where nature
was propitious and yielded easy victories, the national
mind started to grapple and conquer the higher
problems of life in the field of thought. Naturally
the thinker, the priest, became the highest class in the
Indian society, and not the man of the sword. The
priests again, even at that dawn of history put most
of their energy in elaborating rituals ; and when the



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. 5

nation began to find the load of ceremonies and
lifeless rituals too heavy, came the first philoso-
phical speculations, and the royal race was the first to
break through the maze of killing rituals.

On the one hand, the majority of the priests
impelled by economical considerations were bound to
defend that form of religion which made their existence
a necessity of society and assigned them the highest
place in the scale of caste ; on the other hand, the
king-caste, whose strong right hand guarded and
guided the nation and who now found themselves as
leaders in the higher thoughts also, were loath to
give up the first place to men who only knew how to
conduct a ceremonial. There were then others,
recruited from both the priest and king-castes, who
ridiculed equally the ritualists and philosophers,
declared spiritualism as fraud and priestcraft, and
upheld the attainment of material comforts as the
highest goal of life. The people tired of ceremonials
and wondering at the philosophers joined in masses
the materialists. This was the beginning of that caste
question and that triangular fight in India between
ceremonials, philosophy and materialism which has
come down unsolved to our own days.

The first solution of the difficulty attempted was
by applying the eclecticism which from the earliest
days had taught them to see in differences the same
truth in various garbs. The great leader of this
school, Krishna himself of royal race and his sermon,
the Gita, have after various vicissitudes brought



6 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

about by the upheavals of the Jains, the Buddhists
and other sects, fairly established themselves as the
" Prophet " of India and the truest philosophy of
life. The tension though toned for the time did not"
satisfy the social wants which were among the causes
the claim of the king-race to stand first in the scale
of caste j and the popular intolerance of priestly
privilege. Krishna had opened the gates of spiritual
knowledge and attainment to all irrespective of sex or
caste, but he left undisturbed the same problem on the
social side. This again has come down to our own
days, inspite of the gigantic struggle of the Buddhists,
Vaishnavas, etc., to attain to social equality for all.

Modern India admits spiritual equality of all
souls but strictly keeps the social difference.

Thus we find the struggle renewed all along the
line in the seventh century before the Christian era
and finally in the sixth, overwhelming the ancient
order of things under Sakya Muni, the Buddha. In
their reaction against the privileged priesthood they
swept off almost every bit of the old ritual of the
Vedas, subordinated the gods of the Vedas to the
position of servants to their own human saints and
declared the " Creator and Supreme Ruler " as ah
invention of priestcraft and superstition.

But the aim of Buddhism was reform against
ceremonials requiring offerings of animals, against
hereditary caste, exclusive priesthood and against belief
in permanent souls. It never attempted to destroy
the Vedic religion, or overturn the social order. It



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. 7

introduced a vigorous method, by organising a class of
Sannyasins into a strong monastic brotherhood, and
the Brahmavadinis into a body of nuns, by introdu-
cing images of saints in the place of altar- fires.

It is probable that the reformers had for centuries
the majority of the Indian people with them. The
older forces were never entirely pacified but they
underwent a good deal of modification during the
centuries of Buddhistic supremacy.

In ancient India the centres of national life were
always the intellectual and spiritual and not political.
Of old, as now, political and social power has been
always subordinated to spiritual and intellectual. The
outburst of national life was round colleges of sages
and spiritual teachers. We thus find the Samities of
the Panchalas, of the Kashyas (Benares), the Maithilas
standing out as great centres of spiritual culture and
philosophy, even in the Upanishads. Again these
centres in turn became the focus of political ambition
of the various divisions of the Aryans.

The great epic Mahabharata tells us of the war
of the Kurus and Panchalas for supremacy over
the nation, in which they destroyed each other.
The spiritual supremacy veered round and centred in
the East among the Magadhas and Maithilas, and
after the Kuru-Panchala war a sort of supremacy was
obtained by the kings of Magadha.

The Buddhist reformation and its chief field of
activity was also the same eastern region; and when
the Maurya kings forced possibly by the bar sinister to



8 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

their escutcheon, patronised and let the new move-
ment, the new priest power joined hands with the
political power of the empire of Pataliputra. The
popularity of Buddhism and its fresh vigour made the
Maurya kings the greatest emperors that India ever
had. The power of the Maurya sovereigns made
Buddhism that world-wide religion that we see even
to-day.

The exclusiveness of the old form of Vedic
religions debarred it from taking ready help from
outside. At the same time it kept it free and pure
from many debasing elements which Buddhism in its
propagandist zeal was forced to assimilate.

This extreme adaptability in the long run made
Indian Buddhism lose almost all its individuality, and
extreme desire to be of the people made it unfit to
cope with the intellectual forces of the mother reli-
gion in a few centuries. The Vedic party in the
meanwhile got rid of a good deal of its most objection-
able features, as animal sacrifice, and took lessons
from the rival daughter in the judicious use of images,
temple processions, and other impressive perform-
ances and stood ready to take within her fold the whole
empire of Indian Buddhism already tottering to its fall.

And the crash came, with the Scythian invasions
and the total destruction of the empire of Pataliputra.

The invaders already incensed at the invasion of
their central Asiatic home by the preachers of
Buddhism, found in the sun-worship of the Brahmanas
great sympathy with their own solar religion, and



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. 9

when the Brahmanist party were ready to adapt and
spiritualise many of the customs of the new comers,
the invaders threw themselves heart and soul into the
Brahmanic cause.

Then there is a veil of darkness and shifting
shadows, there are tumults of war, rumours of
massacres, and the next scene rises upon a new phase
of things.

The empire of Magadha was gone. Most part
of Northern India was under the rule of petty chiefs
always at war with one another. Buddhism was
almost extinct, except in some eastern and Himalayan
provinces and in the extreme south ; and the nation
after centuries of struggle against the power of a
hereditary priest awoke to find itself in the clutches of
a double priesthood of hereditary Brahmanas and as
exclusive monks of the new regime, with all the
powers of the Buddhistic organisation and without
their sympathy for the people.

A renaissant India bought by the valour and
blood of the heroic Rajputs, defined by the merciless
intellect of a Brahmana from the same historical
thought-centre of Mithila, led by a new philosophical
impulse organised by Sankara and his bands of
Sannyasins and beautified by the arts and literature
of the courts of Malava arose on the ruins of the old.

The task before it was profound, problems vaster
than what their ancestors ever faced. A compara-
tively small and compact race, of the same blood and
speech and the same social and religious aspiration,



10 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

saving its unity by unscalable walls around itself has
grown huge by multiplication and addition during the
Buddhistic supremacy and divided by race, colour,
speech, spiritual instinct, and social ambitions into
hopelessly jarring factions. And this has to be unified
and welded into one gigantic nation. This task
Buddhism had come also to solve, and had taken it up
when the proportions were not so vast.

So long it was a question of Aryanising the
other types that were pressing for admission, and
thus out of different elements making a huge Aryan
body. Inspite of concessions and compromises
Buddhism was eminently successful and remained the
national religion of India. But the time came when
the allurements of sensual forms of worship indiscri-
minately taken in along with various low races, were
too dangerous for the central Aryan core, and a longer
contact would certainly have destroyed the civilisation
of the Aryans. Then came a natural reaction for
self-preservation, and Buddhism as a separate sect
ceased to live in most parts of its land of birth.

The react ion- movement led in close succession by
Kumarilla in the North and Sankara and Ramanuja
in the South has become the last embodiment of that
vast accumulation of sects and doctrines and rituals
called Hinduism. For the last thousand years or more,
its great task has been assimilation, with now and
then an outburst of reformation. This reaction first
wanted to revive the rituals of the Vedas, failing
which, it made the Upanishads or the philosophic



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. H

portions of the Vedas of its basis. It brought
Vyasa's systems of Mimamsa philosophy and Krishna's
sermon, the Gita, to the forefront, and all succeeding
movements have followed the same. The movement
of Sankara forced its way through its high intellectua-
lity but it could be of little service to the masses,
owing to its adherence to strict caste-laws, very little
scope for ordinary emotion, and making Sanskrit the
only vehicle of communication. Ramanuja on the
other hand, with a most practical philosophy, a great
appeal to the emotions, an entire denial of birthrights
before spiritual attainments and appeals through the
popular tongue, completely succeeded in bringing the
masses back to the Vedic religion.

The northern reaction of ritualism was followed
by the fitful glory of the Malava empire. With the des-
truction of that in a short time, northern India went
to sleep, as it were, for a long period, to be rudely
awakened by the thundering onrush of Mahomedan
cavalry across the passes of Afghanistan. In the south,
however, the spiritual upheaval of Sankara and
Ramanuja was followed by the usual Indian sequence
of united races and powerful empires. It was the
home of refuge of Indian religion and civilisation,
when northern India from sea to sea lay bound at the
feet of Central Asiatic conquerers. The Mahomedans
tried for centuries to subjugate the south, but can
scarcely be said to have got even a strong foothold ;
and when the strong and united empire of the Moguls
was very near completing its conquest, the hills and



1 2 THE MISSION OF OUR MASTER.

plateaus of the south poured in their bands of fighting
peasant horsemen, determined to die for the religion
which Ramdas preached and Tuka sang and in a short
time the gigantic empire of the Moguls was only a
name.

The movements in northern - India during the
Mahomedan period are characterised by their uniform
attempt of holding the masses back from joining the
religion of the conquerors, which brought in its train
social and spiritual equality for all.

The friars of the orders founded by Ramananda,
Kabir, Dadu, Chaitanya or Nanak were all agreed in
preaching the equality of Man, however differing from
each other in philosophy. Their energy was for the
most part spent in checking the rapid conquest of
Islam among the masses and they had very little left
to give birth to new thoughts and aspirations. Though
evidently successful in their purpose of keeping the
masses within the folds of the old religion, and tem-
pering the fanaticism of the Mahomedans, they were
mere apologists, struggling to obtain permission to live.

One great prophet, however, arose in the north,
Govind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikhs, with creative
genius, and the result of his spiritual work was
followed by the well-known political organisation of
the Sikhs. We have seen throughout the history of
India, a spiritual upheaval is almost always succeeded
by a political unity extending over more or less area
of the continent, which in its turn helps to strengthen
the spiritual aspiration that brings it to being. But



HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA. 13

the spiritual aspirations that preceded the rise of the
Mahratta or the Sikh empire was entirely reactionary..
We seek in vain to find in the court of Poona or
Lahore even a ray of reflection of that intellectual
glory which surrounded the courts of the Moguls,
much less the brilliance of Malava or Vijayanagar.
It was intellectually the darkest period of Indian



Online LibraryAnnie Wood BesantThe Mission of our master; essays and discourses by the eastern & western disciples of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda → online text (page 1 of 30)