Swami Vivekananda

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Epistles (first series)

Miss Josephine MacLeod

The Math, Belur,
11th August, 1897
Dear Joe {Miss MacLeod},

. . . Well, the work of the Mother will not suffer; because it has been built and up to date maintained upon truth, sincerity, and purity. Absolute sincerity has been its watchword.
Yours with all love,
Vivekananda

 

The Math, Belur
Howrah, Bengal
2nd February, 1899
My dear Joe {Miss MacLeod},

You must have reached N. Y. by this time and are in the midst of your own after a long absence. Fortune has favoured you at every step of this journey--even the sea was smooth and calm, and the ship nearly empty of undesirable company. Well, with me it is doing otherwise. I am almost desperate I could not accompany you. Neither did the change at Vaidyanath do me any good. I nearly died there, was suffocating for eight days and nights!! I was brought back to Calcutta more dead than alive, and here I am struggling to get back to life again.
Dr. Sarkar is treating me now.
I am not so despondent now as I was. I am reconciled to my fate. This year seems to be very hard for us. Yogananda, who used to live in Mother's house, is suffering for the last month and every day is at death's door. Mother knows best. I am roused to work again, though not personally but am sending the boys all over India to make a stir once more. Above all, as you know, the chief difficulty is of funds. Now that you are in America, Joe, try to raise some funds for our work over here.
I hope to rally again by March, and by April I start for Europe. Again Mother knows best.
I have suffered mentally and physically all my life, but Mother's kindness has been immense. The joy and blessings I had infinitely more than I deserve. And I am struggling not to fail Mother, but that she will always find me fighting, and my last breath will be on the battlefield.
My best love and blessings for you ever and ever.
Ever yours in the Truth,
Vivekananda

 

Belur Math
Dist. Howrah,
14th February, 1901
My dear Joe {Miss Josephine MacLeod},

I am ever so glad to hear that Bois is coming to Calcutta. Send him immediately to the Math. I will be here. If possible I will keep him here for a few days and then let him go again to Nepal.
Yours etc.,
Vivekananda


The Math, Belur
Howrah, Bengal
17th February, 1901
Dear Joe {Miss MacLeod},

Just now received your nice long letter. I am so glad that you met and approve Miss Cornelia Sorabji. I knew her father at Poona, also a younger sister who was in America. Perhaps her mother will remember me as the Sannyasin who used to live with the Thakore Sahib of Limbdi at Poona.
I hope you will go to Baroda and see the Maharani.
I am much better and hope to continue so for some time. I have just now a beautiful letter from Mrs. Sevier in which she writes a whole lot of beautiful things about you.
I am so glad you saw Mr. Tata and find him so strong and good.
I will of course accept an invitation if I am strong enough to go to Bombay.
Do wire the name of the steamer you leave by for Colombo. With all love,
Yours affectionately,
Vivekananda

 

The Math, Belur
Howrah Dist.,
14th June, 1901
Dear Joe {Miss MacLeod},

I am so glad you are enjoying Japan--especially Japanese art. You are perfectly correct in saying that we will have to learn many things from Japan. The help that Japan will give us will be with great sympathy and respect, whereas that from the West unsympathetic and destructive. Certainly it is very desirable to establish a connection between India and Japan.
As for me, I was thrown hors de combat in Assam. The climate of the Math is just reviving me a bit. At Shillong--the hill sanatorium of Assam--I had fever, asthma, increase of albumen, and my body swelled to almost twice its normal size. These symptoms subsided, however, as soon as I reached the Math. It is dreadfully hot this year; but a bit of rain has commenced, and I hope we will soon have the monsoon in full force. I have no plans just now, except that the Bombay Presidency wants me so badly that I think of going there soon. We are thinking of starting touring through Bombay in a week or so.
The 300 dollars you speak of sent by Lady Betty have not reached me yet, nor have I any intimation of its arrival from General Patterson.
He, poor man, was rather miserable, after his wife and children sailed for Europe and asked me to come and see him, but unfortunately I was so ill, and am so afraid of going into the City that I must wait till the rains have set in.
Now, Joe dear, if I am to go to Japan, this time it is necessary that I take Saradananda with me to carry on the work. Also I must have the promised letter to Li Huang Chang from Mr. Maxim; but Mother knows the rest. I am still undecided.
So you went to Alanquinan to see the foreteller? Did he convince you of his powers? What did he say? Write particular s'il vous plait.
Jules Bois went as far as Lahore, being prevented from entering Nepal. I learn from the papers that he could not bear the heat and fell ill; then he took ship et bon voyage. He did not write me a single line since we met in the Math. You also are determined to drag Mrs. Bull down to Japan from Norway all the way--bien, Mademoiselle, vous etes une puissante magicienne, sans doute. 14 Well, Joe, keep health and spirits up; the Alanquinan man's words come out true most of them; and glorie et honneur await you--and Mukti. The natural ambition of woman is through marriage to climb up, leaning upon a man; but those days are gone. You shall be great without the help of any man, just as you are, plain, dear Joe--our Joe, everlasting Joe. . . .
We have seen enough of this life to care for any of its bubbles, have we not Joe? For months I have been practising to drive away all sentiments; therefore I stop here, and good-bye just now. It is ordained by Mother we work together; it has been already for the good of many; it shall be for the good of many more; so let it be. It is useless planning, useless high flights; Mother will find Her own way; . . . rest assured.
Ever yours with love and heart's blessings,
Vivekananda
PS. Just now came a cheque for Rs. 300 from Mr. Okakura, and the invitation. It is very tempting, but Mother knows all the same.

 

The Math, Belur
18th June, 1901
Dear Joe,

I enclose with yours an acknowledgement of Mr. Okakura's money--of course I am up to all your tricks.
However, I am really trying to come, but you know--one month to go--one to come--and a few days' stay! Never mind, I am trying my best. Only my terribly poor health, some legal affairs, etc., etc., may make a little delay.
With everlasting love,
Vivekananda

 

The Math, Belur
Howrah
Bengal, India
1901
Dear Joe,

I can't even in imagination pay the immense debt of gratitude I owe you. Wherever you are you never forget my welfare; and, there, you are the only one that bears all my burdens, all my brutal outbursts.
Your Japanese friend has been very kind, but my health is so poor that I am rather afraid I have not much time to spare for Japan. I will drag myself through the Bombay Presidency even if only to say, "How do you do?" to all kind friends.
Then two months will be consumed in coming and going, and only one month to stay; that is not much of a chance for work, is it? So kindly pay the money your Japanese friend has sent for my passage. I shall give it back to you when you come to India in November.
I have had a terrible collapse in Assam from which I am slowly recovering. The Bombay people have waited and waited till they are sick--must see them this time.If in spite of all this you wish me to come, I shall start the minute you write.
I had a letter from Mrs. Leggett from London asking whether the 300 have reached me safe. They have, and I had written a week or so before to her the acknowledgment, c/o Monroe & Co., Paris, as per her previous instructions.
Her last letter came to me with the envelope ripped up in a most barefaced manner! The post offices in India don't even try to do the opening of my mail decently.
Ever yours with love,
Vivekananda

 

The Math, Belur
Howrah
8th November, 1901
My dear Joe {Miss MacLeod},

By this time you must have received the letter explaining the word abatement. I did not write the letter nor send the wire. I was too ill at the time to do either. I have been ever since my trip to East Bengal almost bedridden. Now I am worse than ever with the additional disadvantage of impaired eyesight. I would not write these things, but some people require details, it seems.
Well, I am so glad that you are coming over with your Japanese friends--they will have every attention in my power. I will most possibly be in Madras. I have been thinking of leaving Calcutta next week and working my way gradually to the South.
I do not know whether it will be possible to see the Orissan temples in company with your Japanese friends. I do not know whether I shall be allowed inside myself--owing to my eating "Mlechchha" food. Lord Curzon was not allowed inside.
However, your friends are welcome to what I can do always. Miss Muller is in Calcutta. Of course she has not visited us.
Yours with all love,
Vivekananda

 

The Math
21st April, 1902
Dear Joe,

It seems the plan of going to Japan seems to have come to naught. Mrs. Bull is gone, you are going. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the Japanese.
Sadananda has accompanied the Japanese to Nepal along with Kanai. Christine could not start earlier, as Margot could not go till the end of this month.
I am getting on splendidly, they say, but yet very weak and no water to drink. Anyhow the chemical analysis shows a great improvement. The swelling about the feet and the complaints have all disappeared.
Give my infinite love to Lady Betty and Mr. Leggett, to Alberta and Holly--the baby has my blessings from before birth and will have for ever.
How did you like Mayavati? Write me a line about it.
With everlasting love,
Vivekananda

 

The Math
Belur, Howrah
th May, 1902
Dear Joe,

I send you the letter to Madame Calve.
. . . I am somewhat better, but of course far from what I expected. A great idea of quiet has come upon me. I am going to retire for good--no more work for me. If possible, I will revert to my old days of begging.
All blessings attend you, Joe; you have been a good angel to me.
With everlasting love,
Vivekananda

 

Epistles (second series)

CIX

C/o Miss Muller,
Airlie Lodge, Ridgeway Gardens,
Wimbledon, England,
7th October, 1896.
{To Josephine MacLeod}

Once more in London, dear Joe Joe, and the classes have begun already. Instinctively I looked about for one familiar face which never had a line of discouragement, never changed, but was always helpful, cheerful, and strengthening--and my mind conjured up that face before me, in spite of a few thousand miles of space. For what is space in the realm of spirit? Well, you are gone to your home of rest and peace. For me, ever-increasing mad work; yet I have your blessings with me always, have I not? My natural tendency is to go into a cave and be quiet, but a fate behind pushes me forward and I go. Whoever could resist fate?
Why did not Christ say in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are they that are always cheerful and always hopeful for they have already the kingdom of heaven"? I am sure, He must have said it, He with the sorrows of a whole world in His heart, He who likened the saintly soul with the child--but it was not noted down; of a thousand things they noted down only one, I mean, remembered.
Most of our friends came--one of the Galsworthys too--i.e. the married daughter. Mrs. Galsworthy could not come today; it was very short notice. We have a hall now, a pretty big one holding about 200 or more. There is a big corner which will be fitted up as the Library. I have another man from India now to help me.
I enjoyed Switzerland immensely, also Germany. Prof. Deussen was very kind--we came together to London and had great fun here. Prof. Max Muller is very, very friendly too. In all, the English work is becoming solid --and respectable too, seeing that great scholars are sympathising. Probably I go to India this winter with some English friends. So far about my own sweet self.
Now what about the holy family? Everything is going on first-rate, I am sure. You must have heard of Fox by this time. I am afraid I rather made him dejected the day before he sailed by telling him that he could not marry Mabel, until he began to earn a good deal of money! Is Mabel with you now? Give her my love. Also give me your present address.... How is Mother? Frankincense, same solid sterling gold as ever, I am sure. Alberta, working at her music and languages, laughing a good deal and eating a good many apples as usual? By the by, I now live mostly on fruits and nuts. They seem to agree with me well. If ever the old doctor, with "land" up somewhere, comes to see you, you may confide to him this secret. I have lost a good deal of my fat. But on days I lecture, I have to go on solid food. How is Hollis? I never saw a sweeter boy--may all blessings ever attend him through life.
I hear your friend Cola is lecturing on Zoroastrian philosophy--surely the stars are not smiling on him. What about your Miss Andreas and our Yogananda? What news about the brotherhood of the ZZZ's and our Mrs. (forgotten!)? I hear that half a shipload of Hindus and Buddhists and Mohammedans and Brotherhoods and what not have entered the U.S., and another cargo of Mahatma-seekers, evangelists etc. have entered India! Good. India and the U.S. seem to be two countries for religious enterprise. Have a care, Joe; the heathen corruption is dreadful. I met Madam Sterling in the street today. She does not come any more for my lectures, good for her. Too much of philosophy is not good. Do you remember that lady who used to come to every meeting too late to hear a word but button-holed me immediately after and kept me talking, till a battle of Waterloo would be raging in my internal economy through hunger? She came. They are all coming and more. That is cheering.
It is getting late in the night. So goodnight, Joe. (Is strict etiquette to be followed in New York too?) And Lord bless you ever and ever.
"Man's all-wise maker, wishing to create a faultless form whose matchless symmetry should far transcend creation's choicest works, did call together by his mighty will, and garner up in his eternal mind, a bright assemblage of all lovely things, and then, as in a picture, fashioned them into one perfect and ideal form. Such the divine, the wondrous prototype whence her fair shape was moulded into being." (Shakuntalam by Kalidasa, translated by Monier Williams).
That is you, Joe Joe; only I would add, the same the creator did with all purity and nobility and other qualities and then Joe was made.

Ever yours, with love and blessings,
Vivekananda.

PS. Mrs. & Mr. Sevier in whose house (flat) I am writing now, send their kindest regards.

 

CLVIII
Alameda, California,
18th April, 1900.

My dear Joe,
Just now I received yours and Mrs. Bull's welcome letter. I direct this to London. I am so glad Mrs. Leggett is on the sure way to recovery.
I am so sorry Mr. Leggett resigned the presidentship.
Well, I keep quiet for fear of making further trouble.
You know my methods are extremely harsh and once roused I may rattle. A -- too much for his peace of mind.
I wrote to him only to tell him that his notions about Mrs. Bull are entirely wrong.
Work is always difficult; pray for me Joe that my works stop for ever, and m;y whole soul be absorbed in Mother. Her works, She knows.
You must be glad to be in London once more -- the old friends, give them all my love and gratitude.
I am well, very well mentally. I feel the rest of the soul more than that of the body. The battles are lost and won. I have bundled my things and am waiting for the great deliverer."
Shiva, O Shiva, carry my boat to the other shore."
After all, Joe, I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of Ramakrishna under the Banyan at Dakshineswar. That is my true nature; works and activities, doing good and so forth are all super impositions. Now I again hear his voice; the same old voice thrilling my soul. Bonds are breaking -- love dying, work becoming tasteless -- the glamour is off life. Only the voice of the Master calling, -- "I come Lord, I come." "Let the dead bury the dead, follow thou Me." -- "I come, my beloved Lord, I come."
Yes, I come. Nirvana is before me. I feel it at times -- the same infinite ocean of peace, without a ripple, a breath.
I am glad I was born, glad I suffered so, glad I did make big blunders, glad to enter peace. I leave none bound, I take no bonds. Whether this body will fall and release me or I enter into freedom in the body, the old man is gone, gone for ever, never to come back again! The guide, the Guru, the leader, the teacher has passed away; the boy, the student, the servant is left behind.
You understand why I do not want to meddle with A--, who am I to meddle with anyone, Joe? I have long given up my place as a leader -- I have no right to raise my voice. Since the beginning of this year I have not dictated anything to India. You know that. Many thanks for what you and Mrs. Bull have been to me in the past. All blessings follow you ever! The sweetest moments of my life have been when I was drifting: I am drifting again -- with the bright warm sun ahead and masses of vegetation around -- and in the heat everything is so still, so calm -- and I am drifting languidly -- in the warm heart of the river! I dare not make a splash with my hands or feet -- for fear of breaking the marvellous stillness, stillness that makes you feel sure it is an illusion!
Behind my work was ambition, behind my love was personality, behind my purity was fear, behind my guidance the thirsty of power! Now they are vanishing, and I drift. I come! Mother, I come! In Thy warm bosom, floating wheresoever Thou takest me, in the voiceless, in the strange, in the wonderland, I come -- a spectator, no more an actor.
Oh, it is so calm! My thoughts seem to come from a great, great distance whispers, and peace is upon every thing, sweet, sweet peace -- like that one feels for a few moments just before falling into sleep, when things are seen and felt like shadows -- without fear, without love, without emotion. Peace that one feels alone, surrounded with statues and pictures --I come! Lord, I come!
The world is, but not beautiful nor ugly, but as sensations without exciting any emotion. Oh, Joe, the blessedness of it! Everything is good and beautiful; for things are all losing their relative proportions to me -- my body among the first. Om That Existence!
I hope great things to come to you all in London and Paris. Fresh joy -- benefits to mind and body.
With love as ever to you and Mrs. Bull,
Yours faithfully,
VIVEKANANDA.

 

CLCVII
The Math, Belur, Howrah,
26th Dec., 1990.

Dear Joe,
The mail brought your letter including that of Mother and Alberta. What the learned friend of Alberta says about Russia is about the same I think myself. Only there is one difficulty of thought; Is it possible for the Hindu race to be Russianised?Dear Mr. Sevier passed away before I could arrive. He was cremated on the banks of the river that flows by his Ashrama, aa la Hindu, covered with garlands, the Brahmins carrying the body and boys chanting the Vedas.
The cause has already two martyrs. It makes me love dear old England and its heroic breed. The Mother is watering the plant of future India with the best blood of England. Glory unto her!
Dear Mrs. Sevier is calm. A letter she wrote me to Paris comes back this mail. I am going up tomorrow to pay her a visit. Lord bless her, dear brave soul!
I am calm and strong. Occasion never found me low yet; Mother will not make me now depressed.
It is very pleasant here, now the winter is on. The Himalayas will be still more beautiful with the uncovered snows.
The young man who started from New York, Mr. Johnson, has taken the vow of a Brahmacharin and is at Mayavati.
Send the money to Saradananda in the Math, as I will be away in the hills.They have worked all right as far as they could;; I am glad, and feel myself quite a fool on account of m;y nervous chagrin.
They are as good and as faithful as ever, and they are in good health. Write all this to Mrs. Bull and tell her she was always right and I was wrong, and I beg a hundred thousand pardons of her.
Oceans of love for her and for M--.
I look behind and after
And find that all is right.
In my deepest sorrows
There is a soul of right.
All love to M--, Mrs.C--, to Dear J.B.--, and to you, Dear Joe, Pranams.

VIVEKANANDA.

 

Epistles (fourth series)

XLIV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
21 W. 34th St.,
New York,
June, 1895.
Dear Joe {Josephine MacLeod},.
Experiences are gathering a bit thick round you. I am sure they will lift many a veil more.
Mr. Leggett told me of your phonograph. I told him to get a few cylinders--I talk in them through somebody's phonograph and send them to Joe--to which he replied that he could buy one, because "I always do what Joe asks me to do." I am glad there is so much of hidden poetry in his nature.
I am going today to live with the Guernseys as the doctor wants to watch me and cure me. . . . Doctor Guernsey, after examining other things, was feeling my pulse, when suddenly Landsberg (whom they had forbidden the house) got in and retreated immediately after seeing me. Dr. Guernsey burst out laughing and declared he would have paid that man for coming just then, for he was then sure of his diagnosis of my case. The pulse before was so regular, but just at the sight of Landsberg it almost stopped from emotion. It is sure only a case of nervousness. He also advises me strongly to go on with Doctor Helmer's treatment. He thinks Helmer will do me a world of good, and that is what I need now. Is not he broad?
I expect to see "the sacred cow" today in town. I will be in New York a few days more. Helmer wants me to take three treatments a week for four weeks, then two a week for four more, and I will be all right. In case I go to Boston, he recommends me to a very good ostad (expert) there whom he would advise on the matter.
I said a few kind words to Landsberg and went upstairs to Mother Guernsey to save poor Landsberg from embarrassment.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

LII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
C/o E. T. Sturdy, Esq.,
High View, Caversham,
Reading, England,
September, 1895.
Dear Joe Joe {Josephine MacLeod},
A thousand pardons for not promptly writing to you. I arrived safe in London, found my friend, and am all right in his home. It is beautiful. His wife is surely an angel, and his life is full of India. He has been years there--mixing with the Sannyasins, eating their food, etc., etc.; so you see I am very happy. I found already several retired Generals from India; they were very civil and polite to me. That wonderful knowledge of the Americans that identify every black man with the negro is entirely absent here, and nobody even stares at me in the street.
I am very much more at home here than anywhere out of India. The English people know us, we know them. The standard of education and civilisation is very high here--that makes a great change, so does the education of many generations.
Have the Turtle-doves returned? The Lord bless them and theirs for ever and ever. How are the babies--Alberta and Holister? Give them my oceans of love and know it yourself.
My friend being a Sanskrit scholar, we are busy working on the great commentaries of Shankara etc. Nothing but philosophy and religion here, Joe Joe. I am going to try to get up classes in October in London.
Ever affectionately with love and blessings,
Vivekananda.

 

LIV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
High View, Caversham,
Reading, England,
October, 1895.
Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
I was so glad to hear from you. I was afraid you had forgotten me.
I am going to have a few lectures in and about London. One of them, a public one, will be at Princes' Hall on the 22nd at 8-30.
Come over and try to form a class. I have as yet done almost nothing here. Of course, breaking the ice is slow always. It took me two years in America to work up that little which we had in New York.
With love for all,
Yours ever,
Vivekananda.

 

LV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
High View, Caversham,
Reading, England,
20th October, 1895.
Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
This note is to welcome the Leggetts to London. This being in a sense my native country, I send you my welcome first, I shall receive your welcome next Tuesday the 22nd at Princes' Hall half past eight p.m.
I am so busy till Tuesday, I am afraid, I shall not be able to run in to see you. I, however, shall come to see you any day after that. Possibly I may come on Tuesday.
With everlasting love and blessings,
Yours,
Vivekananda.

 

LVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
80 Oakley Street,
Chelsea,
31st October, 1895.
Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
I shall be only too glad to come to lunch on Friday and see Mr. Coit at the Albemarle.
Two American ladies, mother and daughter, living in London came in to the class last night--Mrs. and Miss Netter. They were very sympathetic of course. The class there at Mr. Chamier's is finished. I shall begin at my lodgings from Saturday night next. I expect to have a pretty good-sized room or two for my classes. I have been also invited to Moncure Conways's Ethical Society where I speak on the 10th. I shall have a lecture in the Balboa Society next Tuesday. The Lord will help. I am not sure whether I can go up with you on Saturday. You will have great fun in the country anyway, and Mr. and Mrs. Sturdy are such nice people.
With love and blessings,
Vivekananda.

PS. Kindly order some vegetables for me. I don't care much for rice--bread will do as well. I have become an awful vegetarian now.
V.

 

LXII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
228 West 39th Street,
New York,
8th December, 1895.
Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
After 10 days of the most disastrous voyage I ever had I arrived in New York. I was so so sick for days together.
After the clean and beautiful cities of Europe, New York appears very dirty and miserable. I am going to begin work next Monday. Your bundles have been safely delivered to the heavenly pair, as Alberta calls them. They are as usual very kind. Saw Mrs. and Mr. Salomon and other friends. By chance met Mrs. Peak at Mrs. Guernsey's but yet have no news of Mrs. Rothinburger. Going with the birds of paradise to Ridgely this Christmas. Wish ever so much you were there.
Had you a nice visit with Lady Isabelle? Kindly give my love to all our friends and know oceans yourself.
Excuse this short letter. I shall write bigger ones by the next.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

LXXXVI
To Miss Josephin MacLeod
Grey Coat Gardens,
Westminster, S.W.,
London,
3rd December, 1896.
Dear Joe {MacLeod},
Many, many thanks, dear Joe Joe, for your kind invitation; but the Dear God has disposed it this way, viz I am to start for India on the 16th with Captain and Mrs. Sevier and Mr. Goodwin. The Seviers and myself take steamer at Naples. And as there will be four days at Rome, I will look in to say good-bye to Alberta.
Things are in a "hum" here just now; the big hall for the class, 39 Victoria, is full and yet more are coming.
Well, the good old country now calls me; I must go. So good-bye to all projects of visiting Russia this April.
I just set things a-going a little in India and am off again for the ever beautiful U.S. and England etc.
So very kind of you to send Mabel's letter--good news indeed. Only I am a little sorry for poor Fox. However, Mabel escaped him; that is better.
You did not write anything about how things are going on in New York. I hope it is all well there. Poor Cola! is he able now to make a living?
The coming of Goodwin was very opportune, as it captured the lectures here which are being published in a periodical form. Already there have been subscribers enough to cover the expenses.
Three lectures next week, and my London work is finished for this season. Of course, everybody here thinks it foolish to give it up just now the "boom" is on, but the Dear Lord says, "Start for Old India". I obey.
To Frankincense, to Mother, to Holister and everyone else my eternal love and blessings, and with the same for you,
Yours ever sincerely,
Vivekananda.

 

XCVII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Almora,
10th July, 1897.
My Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
I am glad to learn that you have at last found out that I have time to read your letters.
I have taken to the Himalayas, tired of lecturing and orating. I am so sorry the doctors would not allow my going over with the Raja of Khetri to England, and that has made Sturdy mad.
The Seviers are at Simla and Miss Muller here in Almora.
The plague has subsided, but the famine is still here, and as it looks (on account of no rain as yet), it may wear yet a terrible aspect.
I am very busy from here directing work by my boys in some of the famine districts.
Do come by all means; only you must remember this. The Europeans and the Hindus (called "Natives" by the Europeans) live as oil and water. Mixing with Natives is damning to the Europeans.
There are no good hotels to speak of even at the capitals. You will have to travel with a number of servants about you (cost cheaper than hotels). You will have to bear with people who wear only a loin cloth; you will see me with only a loin cloth about me. Dirt and filth everywhere, and brown people. But you will have plenty of men to talk to you philosophy. If you mix with the English much here, you will have more comforts but see nothing of the Hindus as they are. Possibly I will not be able to eat with you, but I promise that I will travel to good many places with you and do everything in my power to make your journey pleasant. These are what you expect; if anything good comes, so much the better. Perhaps Mary Hale may come over with you. There is a young lady, Miss Campbell, Orchard Lake, Orchard Island, Michigan, who is a great worshipper of Krishna and lives alone in that Island, fasting and praying. She will give anything to be able to see India once, but she is awfully poor. If you bring her with you, I will anyhow manage to pay her expenses. If Mrs. Bull brings old Landsberg with her, that will be saving that fool's life as it were.
Most probably I may accompany you back to America. Kiss Holister for me and the baby. My love to Alberta, to the Leggetts, and to Mabel. What is Fox doing? Give him my love when you see him. To Mrs. Bull and S. Saradananda my love. I am as strong as ever, but it all depends upon leading a quiet life ever afterwards. No hurly-burly any more.
I had a great mind to go to Tibet this year; but they would not allow me, as the road is dreadfully fatiguing. However, I content myself with galloping hard over precipices on mountain ponies. (This is more exciting than your bicycle even, although I had an experience of that at Wimbledon.) Miles and miles of uphill and miles and miles of downhill, the road a few feet broad hanging over sheer precipices several thousand feet deep below.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

PS. The best time to come is to arrive in India by October or beginning of November. December, January, and February you see things all over and then start by the end of February. From March it begins to get hot. Southern India is always hot .
V.
Goodwin has gone to work in Madras on a paper to be started there soon.
V.

 

CVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Srinagar, Kashmir,
30th September, 1897
My Dear Miss MacLeod,
Come soon if you intend to come really. From November to the middle of February India is cool; after that it is hot. You will be able to see all you want within that time, but to see all takes years.
I am in a hurry; therefore excuse this hasty card. Kindly tender my love to Mrs. Bull and my good wishes and earnest thoughts for Goodwin's speedy recovery. My love to Mother, to Alberta, to the baby, to Holister, and last, not the least, to Franky.
Yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CXXV
To Miss Josephin MacLeod
Darjeeling,
18th April, 1898.
My Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
I was down with fever brought upon, perhaps, by excessive mountain climbing and the bad health in the station.
I am better today and intend leaving this in a day or two. In spite of the great heat there, I used to sleep well in Calcutta and had some appetite. Here both have vanished--this is all the gain.
I could not see Miss Muller yet on the subject of Marguerite; but I intend to write her today. She is making all arrangements to receive her here. Mr. Gupta is also invited to teach them Bengali. She may now do something about her. I shall, however, write.
It will be easy for Marguerite to see Kashmir any time during her stay; but if Miss M. is not willing, there will be a big row again to injure both her and Marguerite.
I am not sure whether I go to Almora again. Much riding it seems is sure to bring on a relapse. I will wait for you at Simla--whilst you pay your visit to the Seviers. We will think on it when I am in. I am so glad to learn that Miss Noble delivered an address at the R.K. Mission. With all love to the Trinity,
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CXXVII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Darjeeling,
29th April, 1898
My Dear Joe Joe {MacLeod},
I have had several attacks of fever, the last being influenza.
It has left me now, only I am very weak yet. As soon as I gather strength enough to undertake the journey, I come down to Calcutta.
On Sunday I leave Darjeeling, probably stopping for a day or two at Kurseong, then direct to Calcutta. Calcutta must be very hot just now. Never mind, it is all the better for influenza. In case the plague breaks out in Calcutta, I must not go anywhere; and you start for Kashmir with Sadananda. How did you like the old gentleman, Devendra Nath Tagore? Not as stylish as "Hans Baba" with Moon God and Sun God of course. What enlightens your insides on a dark night when the Fire God, Sun God, Moon God, and Star Goddesses have gone to sleep? It is hunger that keeps my consciousness up, I have discovered. Oh, the great doctrine of correspondence of light! Think how dark the world has been all these ages without it! And all this knowledge and love and work and all the Buddhas and Krishnas and Christs--vain, vain have been their lives and work, for they did not discover that "which keeps the inner light when the Sun and Moon were gone to the limbo" for the night! Delicious, isn't it?
If the plague comes to my native city, I am determined to make myself a sacrifice; and that I am sure is a "Darn sight, better way to Nirvana" than pouring oblations to all that ever twinkled.
I have had a good deal of correspondence with Madras with the result that I need not send them any help just now. On the other hand I am going to start a paper in Calcutta. I will be ever so much obliged if you help me starting that. As always with undying love,
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CXXXV
To Miss Josephine MacLecd
57 Ram Kanta Bose Street,
Calcutta,
12th November, 1898.
My Dear Joe {MacLeod},
I have invited a few friends to dinner tomorrow, Sunday. . . .
We expect you at tea. Everything will be ready then.
Shri Mother is going this morning to see the new Math. I am also going there. Today at 6 p.m. Nivedita is going to preside. If you feel like it, and Mrs. Bull strong, do come.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CXXXVIII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
The Lymes,
Woodsides, Wimbledon,
3rd August, 1899.
My Dear Joe {MacLeod},
We are in at last. Turiyananda and I have beautiful lodgings here. Saradananda's brother is with Miss Noble and starts Monday next.
I have recovered quite a bit by the voyage. It was brought about by the exercise on the dumb-bells and monsoon storms tumbling the steamer about the waves. Queer, isn't it? Hope it will remain. Where is our Mother, the Worshipful Brahmini cow of India? She is with you in New York, I think.
Sturdy is away, Mrs. Johnson and everybody. Margo is rather worried at that. She cannot come to U.S. till next month. Already I have come to love the sea. The fish Avatara is on me, I am afraid--good deal of him in me, I am sure, a Bengali.
How is Alberta, . . . the old folks and the rest of them? I had a beautiful letter from dear Mrs. Brer Rabbit; she could not meet us in London; she started before we arrived.
It is nice and warm here; rather too much they say. I have become for the present a Shunyavadi, a believer in nothingness, or void. No plans, no afterthought, no attempt, for anything, laissez faire to the fullest. Well, Joe, Margo would always take your side on board the steamer, whenever I criticised you or the Divine cow. Poor child, she knows so little! The upshot of the whole is, Joe, that there cannot be any work in London, because you are not here. You seem to be my fate! Grind on, old lady; it is Karma and none can avoid. Say, I look several years younger by this voyage. Only when the heart gives a lurch, I feel my age. What is this osteopathy, anyway? Will they cut off a rib or two to cure me? Not I, no manufacturing of . . . from my ribs, sure. Whatever it be, it will be hard work for him to find my bones. My bones are destined to make corals in the Ganga. Now I am going to study French if you give me a lesson every day; but no grammar business--only I will read and you explain in English. Kindly give my love to Abhedananda, and ask him to get ready for Turiyananda. I will leave with him. Write soon.
With all love etc.,
Vivekananda.

 

CLX
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
1502 Jones Street,
San Francisco,
7th March, 1900.
Dear Joe {MacLeod},
I learn from Mrs. Bull's letter that you are in Cambridge.
I also learn from Miss Helen that you did not get the stories sent on to you. I am sorry. Margot has copies she may give you. I am so so in health. No money. Hard work. No result. Worse than Los Angeles.
They come in crowds when the lecture is free--when there is payment, they don't. That's all. I have a relapse--for some days--and am feeling very bad. I think lecturing every night is the cause. I hope to do something in Oakland at least to work out my passage to New York, where I mean to work for my passage to India. I may go to London if I make money here to pay a few months' lodging there.
Will you send me our General's address? Even the name slips from memory now!
Good-bye. May see you in Paris, may not. Lord bless you, you have done for me more than I ever deserve.
With infinite love and gratitude,
Yours,
Vivekananda.

 

CLXVII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
1719 Turk Street,
San Francisco,
30th March, 1900.
My Dear Joe {MacLeod},
Many thanks for the prompt sending of the books. They will sell quick, I believe. You have become worse than me in changing your plans, I see. I wonder why I have not got any Awakened India yet. My mail is getting so knocked about, I am afraid.
I am working hard--making some money--and am getting better in health. Work morning and evening, go to bed at 12 p.m. after a heavy supper!--and trudge all over the town! And get better too!
So Mrs. Milton is there, give her my love, will you? Has not Turiyananda's leg got all right?
I have sent Margot's letter to Mrs. Bull as she wanted. I am so happy to learn of Mrs. Leggett's gift to her. Things have got to come round; anyway, they are bound to, because nothing is eternal.
I will be a week or two more here if I find it paying, then go to a place near by called Stockton and then--I don't know. Things are going anyhow.
I am very peaceful and quiet, and things are going anyway--just they go. With all love,
Vivekananda
PS. Miss Waldo is just the person to undertake editing Karma-Yoga with additions etc.
V.

 

CLXIX
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
1719 Turk Street,
San Francisco, Calif.
April, 1900.
My Dear Joe {MacLeod},
Just a line before you start for France. Are you going via England? I had a beautiful letter from Mrs. Sevier in which I find that Miss Muller sent simply a paper without any other words to Kali who was with her in Darjeeling.
Congreave is the name of her nephew, and he is in the Transvaal war; that is the reason she underlined that, to show her nephew fighting the Boers in Transvaal. That was all. I cannot understand it any more now than then, of course.
I am physically worse than at Los Angeles, mentally much better, stronger, and peaceful. Hope it will continue to be so.
I have not got a reply to my letter to you; I expect it soon.
One Indian letter of mine was directed by mistake to Mrs. Wheeler; it came all right to me in the end. I had nice notes from Saradananda; they are doing beautifully over there. The boys are working up; well, scolding has both sides, you see; it makes them up and doing. We Indians have been so dependent for so long that it requires, I am sorry, a good lot of tongue to make them active. One of the laziest fellows had taken charge of the anniversary this year and pulled it through. They have planned and are successfully working famine works by themselves without my help. . . . All this comes from the terrific scolding I have been giving, sure!
They are standing on their own feet. I am so glad. See Joe, the Mother is working.
I sent Miss Thursby's letter to Mrs. Hearst. She sent me an invitation to her musical. I could not go. I had a bad cold. So that was all. Another lady for whom I had a letter from Miss Thursby, an Oakland lady, did not reply. I don't know whether I shall make enough in Frisco to pay my fare to Chicago! Oakland work has been successful. I hope to get about $100 from Oakland, that is all. After all, I am content. It is better that I tried. . . . Even the magnetic healer had not anything for me. Well, things will go on anyhow for me; I do not care how. . . . I am very peaceful. I learn from Los Angeles, Mrs. Leggett has been bad again. I wired to New York to learn what truth was in it. I will get a reply soon, I expect.
Say, how will you arrange about my mail when the Leggetts are over on the other side? Will you so arrange that they reach me right?
I have nothing more to say; all love and gratitude is yours; already you know that. You have already done more than I ever deserved. I don't know whether I go to Paris or not, but I must go to England sure in May. I must not go home without trying England a few weeks more. With all love,
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.
PS. Mrs. Hansborough and Mrs. Appenul have taken a flat for a month at 1719 Turk Street. I am with them, and shall be a few weeks.
V.

 

CLXXIV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
1719 Turk Street,
San Francisco,
10th April, 1900.
Dear Joe {MacLeod},
There is a squabble in New York, I see. I got a letter from A__ stating that he was going to leave New York. He thought Mrs. Bull and you have written lots against him to me. I wrote him back to be patient and wait, and that Mrs. Bull and Miss MacLeod wrote only good things about him.
Well, Joe Joe, you know my method in all these rows; to leave all rows alone! "Mother" sees to all such things. I have finished my work. I am retired, Joe. "Mother" will work now Herself. That is all.
Now, as you say, I am going to send all the money I have made here. I could do it today, but I am waiting to make it a thousand. I expect to make a thousand in Frisco by the end of this week. I will buy a draft on New York and send it or ask the bank the best way to do it.
I have plenty of letters from the Math and the Himalayan centre. This morning came one from Swarupananda. Yesterday one from Mrs. Sevier.
I told Mrs. Hansborough about the photos.
You tell Mr. Leggett from me to do what is best about the Vedanta Society matter. The only thing I see is that in every country we have to follow its own method. As such, if I were you, I would convene a meeting of all the members and sympathisers and ask them what they want to do. Whether they want to organise or not, what sort of organisation they want if any, etc. But Lordy, do it on your own hook. I am quits. Only if you think my presence would be of any help I can come in fifteen days.
I have finished my work here; only, out of San Francisco, Stockton is a little city I want to work a few days in; then I go East. I think I should rest now, although I can have $100 a week average in this city, all along. This time I want to let upon New York the charge of the Light Brigade.
With all love,
Ever yours affectionately,
Vivekananda.
PS. If the workers are all averse to organising, do you think there is any benefit in it? You know best. Do what you think best. I have a letter from Margot from Chicago. She asks some questions; I am going to reply.
V.

 

CLXXVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Alameda, California,
20th April, 1900.
My Dear Joe {MacLeod},
Received your note today. I wrote you one yesterday but directed it to England thinking you will be there.
I have given your message to Mrs. Betts. I am so sorry this little quarrel came with A__. I got also his letter you sent. He is correct so far as he says, "Swami wrote me 'Mr. Leggett is not interested in Vedanta and will not help any more. You stand on your own feet.'" It was as you and Mrs. Leggett desired me to write him from Los Angeles about New York--in reply to his asking me what to do for funds.
Well, things will take their own shape, but it seems in Mrs. Bull's and your mind there is some idea that I ought to do something. But in the first place I do not know anything about the difficulties. None of you write me anything about what that is for, and I am no thought-reader. You simply wrote me a general idea that A__ wanted to keep things in his hands. What can I understand from it? What are the difficulties? Regarding what the differences are about, I am as much in the dark as about the exact date of the Day of Destruction! And yet Mrs. Bull's and your letters show quite an amount of vexation! These things get complicated sometimes, in spite of ourselves. Let them take their shape.
I have executed and sent the will to Mr. Leggett as desired by Mrs. Bull.
I am going on, sometimes well and at other times ill. I cannot say, on my conscience, that I have been the least benefited by Mrs. Milton. She has been good to me, I am very thankful. My love to her. Hope she will benefit others.
For writing to Mrs. Bull this fact, I got a four page sermon, as to how I ought to be grateful and thankful, etc., etc. All that is, sure, the outcome of this A__ business! Sturdy and Mrs. Johnson got disturbed by Margot, and they fell upon me. Now A__ disturbs Mrs. Bull and, of course, I have to bear the brunt of it. Such is life!
You and Mrs. Leggett wanted me to write him to be free and independent and that Mr. Leggett was not going to help them. I wrote it--now what can I do? If John or Jack does not obey you, am I to be hanged for it? What do I know about this Vedanta Society? Did I start it? Had I any hand in it? Then again, nobody condescends to write me anything about what the affair is! Well, this world is a great fun.
I am glad Mrs. Leggett is recovering fast. I pray every moment for her complete recovery. I start for Chicago on Monday. A kind lady has given me a pass up to New York to be used within three months. The Mother will take care of me. She is not going to strand me now after guarding me all my life.
Ever yours gratefully,
Vivekananda.

 

CLXXXV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
102 E. 58th Street,
New York,
20th July, 1900.
Dear Joe {MacLeod},
Possibly before this reaches you I shall be in Europe, London or Paris as the chance of steamer comes.
I have straightened out my business here. The works are at Mr. Whitmarsh's suggestion in the hands of Miss Waldo.
I have to get the passage and sail. Mother knows the rest.
My intimate friend did not materialise yet and writes she will come some time in August, and she is dying to see a Hindu, and her soul is burning for Mother India.
I wrote her I may see her in London. Mother knows again. Mrs. Huntington sends love to Margot and expects to hear from her if she is not too busy with her scientific exhibits.
With all love to "sacred cow" of India, to yourself, to the Leggetts, to Miss (what's her name?), the American rubber plant.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CLXXXVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
102 E. 58th Street,
New York,
24th July, 1900.
Dear Joe {MacLeod},
The sun=Knowledge. The stormy water=Work. The lotus=Love. The serpent=Yoga. The swan=the Self. The Motto=May the Swan (the Supreme Self) send us that. It is the mind-lake. 40 How do you like it? May the Swan fill you with all these anyway.
I am to start on Thursday next, by the French steamer La Champagne . The books are in the hands of Waldo and Whitmarsh. They are nearly ready.
I am well, getting better--and all right till I see you next week.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda.

 

CXCVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Port Tewfick
26th November, 1900.
Dear Joe {MacCleod},
The steamer was late; so I am waiting. Thank goodness, it entered the Canal this morning at Port Said. That means it will arrive some time in the evening if everything goes right.
Of course it is like solitary imprisonment these two days, and I am holding my soul in patience.
But they say the change is thrice dear. Mr. Gaze's agent gave me all wrong directions. In the first place, there was nobody here to tell me a thing, not to speak of receiving me. Secondly, I was not told that I had to change my Gaze's ticket for a steamer one at the agent's office, and that was at Suez, not here. It was good one way, therefore, that the steamer was late; so I went to see the agent of the steamer and he told me to exchange Gaze's pass for a regular ticket.
I hope to board the steamer some time tonight. I am well and happy and am enjoying the fun immensely.
How is Mademoiselle? Where is Bois? Give my everlasting gratitude and good wishes to Mme. Calve. She is a good lady.
Hoping you will enjoy your trip.
Ever affectionately yours,
Vivekananda.

 

Epistles (fifth series)

CXXII
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Darjeeling
19th April '98
My dear Miss MacLeod,
Miss Muller is very glad to learn that you intend inviting Miss Noble to join our party to Kashmir.
It has her hearty approval. On her way back, Miss Muller will start something for her in Calcutta. She need not come to Darjeeling at all.
Hope you are enjoying the baking quite a bit. I start this week most probably.
Ever yours in the Lord,
Vivekananda

 

CXXIV
To Miss Josephine MacLeod or Mrs. Ole Bull
Seshnag
Chandanbari, Kashmir
[en route from Srinagar to Amarnath]
[End of July 1898]

I send back the old Dandi 126 as it is difficult to carry it through. I have got another like Margaret's. Please send it back to the Tahsildar of Vernag, Khand Chand, Esq., whom you already know. We are all right. Margot has discovered some new flowers and is happy. There is not much ice so the road is good.
Yours affectionately,
Vivekananda

 

CXXXIX
To Miss Josephine MacLeod

[When Swami Vivekananda sailed from Calcutta, he dispatched the following cablegram.]

[Calcutta,
June 21, 1899]
Started. Wire Sturdy.

 

CLXIII

To Miss Josephine MacLeod

1231 Pine Street
San Francisco.
March 2nd 1900
Dear Joe--
Your note enclosing two from France and three from India just received. I have had general good news and am happy.
Financially, I have got $300 in Los Angeles. About Mrs. Bowler, 148 she has about a hundred odd dollars in cash. Mrs. Hendrick and she have not paid up as yet. That money--$300 in all--is with her. She will send it to me whenever I write.
Rev. Benjamin Fay Mills, 149 a very popular Unitarian preacher in Oakland, invited me from here and paid the fare to San Francisco. I have spoken twice in Oakland to 1500 people each time. Last time I got from collection $30. I am going to have classes at 50 cents admission each.
San Francisco had one lecture the other night [February 23] at 50 each. It paid its expenses. This Monday [Sunday?] I am going to speak free--after that a class.
I went to see Mrs. Hurst [Hearst]. 150 She was not at home. I left a card--so with Prof. Le Conte. 151
Mary [Hale] writes that you wrote her of my coming any day to the East. I don't know. Here I have a large following--ready-made by my books. Will get some money, not much. St. Francis [Francis Leggett] may put the money in the bank for me--but can that be done without my signature? And I am here? It is good if it can be done. Did you see any possibility of my books being sold for good to any publisher?
The French invitation 152 is all right. But it seems impossible to write any decent paper on the subject we chose. Because if I have to lecture and make money, very little time will be left for anything else. Again, I can not find any books (Sanskrit) here. So let me try to make a little money if I can and go to France all the same, but send them no paper. No scholarly work can be done in this haphazard and hurried fashion. It means time and study.
Shall I write to Mr. [Gerald] Nobel an acknowledgement and thanks? Write to me fully on these subjects if you can before you leave [for Europe]. My health is going on the same way. The gas is there more or less and this city is all climbing up[hill]--that tires me much.
With all love,
Yours affectionately,
Vivekananda
P.S. Did anybody else respond to Mrs. Leggett's call?

 

CCXV

To Miss Josephine MacLeod

Gopal Lal Villa, Benaras Cantonment
7th Feb. 1902.
My dear Joe--
We have safely reached Benaras, and Mr. Okakura [Kakuzo] has already done Benaras. He goes to see Sarnath (the old Buddhistic place) today and starts on his tour tomorrow.
He has asked Niranjan [Swami Niranjanananda] to accompany him and he has consented.
Kanay [Nirbhayananda] has supplied him with everything he asked for--and he asks me also to send you the accounts. This, on the other page.
I hope Nivedita and Mrs. [Ole] Bull have safely arrived. I am rather better than at Buddha Gaya. This house is nice--well furnished and has a good many rooms and parlours. There is a big garden all round and beautiful roses--and gigantic trees. It is rather cooler here than at Gaya. There was no hitch to our friends being admitted into the chief temple and [allowed to] touch the Sign of Shiva and to worship. The Buddhists, it seems, are always admitted.
With all love and welcome to Mrs. Bull and Nivedita--if they have arrived--and all to you,
Vivekananda

 

CCXVI
To Miss Josephine MacLeod
Gopal Lal Villa
Benaras Cantonment
14 February 1902.
Dear Joe--
I received a note yesterday from Mr. Okakura [Kakuzo]. They have seen Agra on their way to Gwalior. They must be there now.
The wire he sent to Japan was to Mr. [Tokuno] Oda to come immediately. There was a work. "Six" in it also.
It is quite cool here even now--and will remain so for this month at least. Is it getting warm in Calcutta?
I hope Mrs. [Ole] Bull and Nivedita are getting well rested after that tremendous journey.
I am so so.
The boys all send love.
Ever Yours with love and blessings,
Vivekananda.

 

CCXXI

To Miss Josephine MacLeod

The Math
2nd April 1902
My dear Joe--
The telegram is already gone, and I expect you will fill all arrangements there.
The Dak bungalows en route to Mayavati provide no food, nor have they cooks.
Provisions have to be taken at Kathgodam and arrangements made.
If you find any difficulty, go straight to Almora and make your arrangements at leisure. The Dak bungalows on the way to Almora provide food and in Almora there is a nice Dak bungalow.
Hoping everything will come your way, as it always does
--(except Grandpa's 174 health).
Yours affectionately,
Vivekananda
I like Mr. [Tokuno] Oda much--he means business.
V.

 

 

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