HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
BACK IN THE MOTHERLAND
The Swami reached the mother-land healthier and stronger. Direct contact with the New World added to his experience of men and things, broadened his outlook on the world, enabled him to see for himself how true the words of the leader were concerning the immediate problems of the future and the part which India had to play in their solution and how slow the work was going to be, and it also made him fully conscious of his own powers.
On his return, he was given a fitting reception. The Anatha Bandhu Samiti, Salkia, Howrah, presented him with an address of welcome. Thanking them he said that he had not done anything special to deserve that honour at their hands. He had simply followed the foot-steps of his guru, the Swami Vivekananda. He did what lay in his power to further the cause of the Universal Religion of Vedanta which is the backbone, the very life of India. He brought out that Jnana and Karma did not contradict, but complemented each other and he emphasised on the necessity for work, 'To serve Humanity is to serve God, for it is He who dwels within every soul, nay, every being in the Universe."
It will be noted that this first public utterance of his after his return contains the keynote of all his future activities. Spreading the gospel ot the Vedanta, as interpreted by his Master and the Swami Vivekananda, and serving humanity as God were the objects for which he had dedicated his life. Faithfully and untiringly he worked for these ends unto his very last days. He knew no fatigue, he took no rest. He worked, his work was worship.
It is interesting to note that he, like his other gurubhais, regarded the Swami Vivekananda as his Guru. In an interview given to Swami Ramakrishnanandaji, H. H. the Maharaja of Mysore expressed that it was a rare privilege to greet a disciple of Swami Vivekananda in Swami Ramakrishnananda. Swami Ramakrishnanandaji said later on to a devotee that in a sense he was a disciple of Swami Vivekananda (Mysore and the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement, Sri Ramakrishna Centenary Number, published by Dr. P. Venkatarangam, page 5). His "Gurubhais looked upon him (Swami Vivekananda) as their leader, both because the Master had taught them to do so and because his personality unconsciously dominated every thought and desire of their inmost nature. Some of the monks even regarded him as the mouthpiece of the Master. Some thought that by obeying him they would please the Master himself, whilst others attached themselves to his person in a manner even as they had done to Sri Ramakrishna himself. * * It was all an unconscious growth and understanding, and as the days grew older, the more they came to understand him, the more they saw in him verily the spirit of the Master himself incarnate as it were". (Life of Swami Vivekananda by his Eastern and Western disciples, 1st Edition, Mayavati, Vol. II, page 12). It was the Swami Vivekananda who gave Sanyas to most of his gurubhais and it was largely due to him that they eventually gathered in a brotherhood and resolved to work as a new type of Sanyasins. To Swami Nirmalanandaji in particular the Master appeared in the form of Vivekananda (see the letter to Swami Madhavanandaji). The Swami did not consider him an Iswarakoti, but an Avatara – the Iswarakotis being Swamis Brahmananda, Premananda, Yogananda and Niranjanananda in whose memory he founded four Ashramas. Sri Guru Maharaj, he said was not an Avatara. He was the Mother herself.
After staying for some days in the Math at Belur, the Swami with Swami Premananda went to East Bengal and Assam for spreading the Master's ideas. He also visited Kashmir. Again the call came to him from his favourite "Mountain caves and glades of forest deep". He obeyed it and spent some time in the Himalayas. Perhaps he was testing himself and proving that he was stiil an ascetic, that after long residence in the luxurious West, he could still live like a wandering Sanyasin, that he was still the unspoilt child of his Master, To take up Sanyasa is to give up, to forget the body idea. But that forgetfulness comes as the result of long years of hard and steady practice. The Swami must have now realised, once for all, that he was something far, far higher than the clump of earth winch he was carrying as his instrument; his realisation must have been so real and deep that he could not henceforth identify himself with the body, even for a moment. He had become a real Master.