In presenting this little book of the late sister Nivedita to the public, the Editor has taken care to correct only a few minor inaccuracies, as regards facts that crept into it, when it appeared as a series of articles in the Brahmavadin of Madras. The chapter headings and a short Synopsis of the contents of each Chapter are also his; and the latter has been joined to the book, to make it convenient for the reader to find out things dealt with in it, whether he feels so disposed. In conclusion he hopes that the book, which offers bright glimpses of the yet undiscovered books of the private life of the great Swami Vivekananda, and the period of training through which the much-lamented Sister Nivedita had to pass in the hands of her Master, ere she came out before the public gaze as the wonderful champion of truth and justice and righteousness and of the cause of India- will meet with the warm reception at the hands of the public, that it fully deserves.
Beautiful have been the days of this year. In them the Ideal has become the Real. First in our river-side cottage at Belur; then in the Himalayas, at Naini-Tal and Almora; afterwards wandering here and there through Kashmir; -everywhere have come hours never to be forgotten, words that will echo through our lives for ever, and once at least, a glimpse of the Beatific Vision.
It has been all play.
We have seen a love that would be one with the humblest and most ignorant, seeing the world of the moment through his eyes, as if criticism were not we have laughed over the colossal caprise of genius we have warmed ourselves at heroic fires and we have been present, as it were, at the awakening of the Holy Child.
But there has been nothing grim or serious about any of these things. Pain has come close to all of us. Solemn anniversaries have been and gone. But sorrow was lifted into a golden light, where it was made radiant, and did not destroy.
Fain, if I could, would I describe our journeys. Even as I write I see the irises in bloom at Baramulla; the young rice beneath the poplars at Islamabad starlight scenes in Himalayan forests and the royal beauties of Delhi and the Taj. One longs to attempt some memorial of these. It would be worse than useless. Not then in words but in the light of memory they are enshrined for ever together with the kindly and gentle folk who dwell among them, and who me we trust always to have left the gladder for our coming.
We have learnt something of the mood in which new faiths are born, and of the Persons who inspire such faiths. For we have been with one who drew all men to him – listening to all, feeling with all and refusing none. We have known a humility that wiped out all littleness, a renunciation that would die for scorn of oppression and pity of the oppressed , a love that would bless even the oncoming feet of torture and of death. We have joined hands with that tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. We have lacked, not the occasion, but her passionate unconsciousness of self.
Seated under a tree in the garden of dead emperors these came to us a vision of all the rich and splendid things of Earth, offering themselves as a shrine for the great of soul. The storied windows of cathedrals and the jeweled thrones of kings, the banners of great captains and the vestments of the priests the pageants of cities and the retreats of the proud all came and all were rejected.
In the garments of the beggar, despised by the alien, worshipped by the people, we have seen him and only the bread of toil, the shelter of cottage- roofs and the common road across the cornfields seem real enough for the background to this life.
Amongst his own, the ignorant loved him as much as scholars and statesmen. The boatmen watched the river, in his absence, for his return and servants disputed with guests to do him service. And through it all, the veil of playfulness was never dropped. They played with the Lord, and instinctively they knew it.
To those who have known such hours life is richer and sweeter, and in the long nights even the wind in the palm-trees seems to cry.
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