The People of India

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in Oakland on Monday, March 19, 1900, with editorial comments of the Oakland Enquirer The lecture which the Swami Vivekananda gave Monday night in his new course on “The People of India”, was interesting, not only for what he had to relate of the people of that country, but for the insight into their mental attitude and prejudices which the speaker gave without really meaning it. It is apparent that the Swami, educated and intellectual man that he is, is no admirer of Western civilisation. He has evidently been a good deal embittered by the talk about child widows, the oppression of women, and other barbarisms alleged against the people of India, and is somewhat inclined to resort to the tu quoque in reply. In commencing his talk, he gave his hearers an idea of the racial characteristics of the people. He said that the bond of unity in India, as in other countries of Asia, is not language or race, but religion. In Europe the race makes the nation, but in Asia people of diverse origin and different tongues become one nation if they have the same religion. The people of Northern India are divided into four great classes, while in Southern India the languages are so entirely different from those of Northern India that there is no kinship whatever. The people of Northern India belong to the great Aryan race, to which all of the people of Europe, except the Basques in the Pyrennees,...

Way To Salvation

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in Oakland on Monday, March 12, 1900, with editorial comments of the Oakland Enquirer Wendte Hall of the First Unitarian Church was crowded last evening with a large audience to hear the “Way to Salvation” from the standpoint of the Hindu priest, Swami Vivekananda. This was the last lecture of a series of three which the Swami has delivered. He said in part: One man says God is in heaven, another that God is in nature and everywhere present. But when the great crisis comes, we find the goal is the same. We all work on different plans, but the end is not different. The two great watchwords of every great religion are renunciation and self – sacrifice. We all want the truth, and we know that it must come, whether we want it or not. In a way we are all striving for that good. And what prevents our reaching it? It is ourselves. Your ancestors used to call it the devil; but it is our own false self. We live in slavery, and we would die if we were out of it. We are like the man who lived in total darkness for ninety years and when taken out into the warm sunshine of nature, prayed to be taken back to his dungeon. You would not leave this old life to go into a newer and greater freedom which opens out. The great difficulty is to go to the heart of things. These little...

The Reality And The Shadow

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in Oakland on March 8, 1900, with editorial comments of the Oakland Tribune Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu philosopher, delivered another lecture in Wendte Hall last evening. His subject was: “The Reality and The Shadow”. He said: “The soul of man is ever striving after certainty, to find something that does not change. It is never satisfied. Wealth, the gratification of ambition or of appetite are all changeable. Once these are attained, man is not content. Religion is the science which teaches us whence to satisfy this longing after the unchangeable. Behind all the local colours and derivations they teach the same thing — that there is reality only in the soul of man. “The philosophy of Vedanta teaches that there are two worlds, the external or sensory, and the internal or subjective — the thought world. “It posits three fundamental concepts — time, space, and causation. From these is constituted Maya, the essential groundwork of human thought, not the product of thought. This same conclusion was arrived at a later date by the great German philosopher Kant. “My reality, that of nature and of God, is the same, the difference is in form of manifestation. The differentiation is caused by Maya. The contour of the shore may shape the ocean into bay, strait, or inlet; but when this shaping force or Maya is removed, the separate form disappears, the differentiation ceases, all is ocean again.” The Swami then spoke of the roots of the theory of...

The Laws Of Life And Death

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in Oakland on March 7, 1900, with editorial comments of the Oakland Tribune Swami Vivekananda delivered a lecture last evening on the subject, “The Laws of Life and Death”. The Swami said: “How to get rid of this birth and death — not how to go to heaven, but how one can stop going to heaven — this is the object of the search of the Hindu.” The Swami went on to say that nothing stands isolated — everything is a part of the never – ending procession of cause and effect. If there are higher beings than man, they also must obey the laws. Life can only spring from life, thought from thought, matter from matter. A universe cannot be created out of matter. It has existed for ever. If human beings came into the world fresh from the hands of nature, they would come without impressions; but we do not come in that way, which shows that we are not created afresh. If human souls are created out of nothing, what is to prevent them from going back into nothing? If we are to live all the time in the future, we must have lived all the time in the past. It is the belief of the Hindu that the soul is neither mind nor body. What is it which remains stable — which can say, “I am I”? Not the body, for it is always changing; and not the mind, which changes more...

The Claims Of Vedanta On The Modern World

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in Oakland on Sunday, February 25, 1900, with editorial comments of the Oakland Enquirer he announcement that Swami Vivekananda, a distinguished savant of the East, would expound the philosophy of Vedanta in the Parliament of Religions at the Unitarian Church last evening, attracted an immense throng. The main auditorium and ante – rooms were packed, the annexed auditorium of Wendte Hall was thrown open, and this was also filled to overflowing, and it is estimated that fully 500 persons, who could not obtain seats or standing room where they could hear conveniently, were turned away. The Swami created a marked impression. Frequently he received applause during the lecture, and upon concluding, held a levee of enthusiastic admirers. He said in part, under the subject of “The Claims of Vedanta on the Modern World”: Vedanta demands the consideration of the modern world. The largest number of the human race is under its influence. Again and again, millions upon millions have swept down on its adherents in India, crushing them with their great force, and yet the religion lives. In all the nations of the world, can such a system be found? Others have risen to come under its shadow. Born like mushrooms, today they are alive and flourishing, and tomorrow they are gone. Is this not the survival of the fittest? It is a system not yet complete. It has been growing for thousands of years and is still growing. So I can give you but an...