GRAY AREA 2 from the Life of Swami Vivekananda: Consumption of Alcohol
The following is a quote from Swami Vivekananda's biography by Sister Gargi (Marie Lousie Burke), born 1912. (Burke IV: 283-288) refers to Vol. 4, pages 283-288. (Notes: We should not confuse ourselves with Sister Gargi- Ms. Marie Louise Burke, with Swami Abhayananda Ms. Marie Louise. Abhayananda was first Lady Swami, initiated by Vivekananda into Hinduism. She was not his biographer. Ms. Marie Lousie Burke also called Sister Gargi, born ten years after demise of Swamiji (10 years from 1902 i.e. 1912) was his biographer.
Context: Swami Vivekananda was visiting Switzerland, to see Alps. While in Switzerland, he met Prof. Deussen, a noted Sanskrit Scholar. The general impression among Europeans and Americans at that time was Indian Hindu Monks do not smoke or consume meat or alcohol. They are jitendriyas (those who conquered their senses and themselves). Swami Vivekananda's ease with smoking and alcohol surprised Prof. Deussen. Hence, this conversation.
Prof. Deussen : "...You seem to be a queer sort of saint....You eat well, you drink well, you smoke all day, and you deprive yourself of nothing.
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA : "I observe my vows."
PROF. DEUSSEN : "And what consists of your vows?"
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA : "They require me simply Kama Kanchana Viraha, to renounce sex and gold" (Burke IV: 283-288)."
About kAma kAnchana viraham (Staying away from lust and gold), we shall take up separately.
Mrs. Ole Bull, was the wife of a famous American violinist (deceased). She has great appreciation and respect for Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji called her "Mother", and addressed her as Mother, in several of his letters. When Swami Vivekananda was found to be quite at ease with liquor and smoking, there was some tumult. Mrs. Ole Bull, in reply to such criticisms, gave her this view. She wrote to Lady Henry Somerset:-
"... The fact that V. has smoked for years and has at lunches and dinners a few times tasted wine (not with men alone) with the impulsive combative nature of the man -- in large part his own fault as I tell him -- and in part the prejudice of creed and custom against any oriental not a converted Christian, have contributed to this prejudice which had reached me before I knew him ..."
ybrao-a-donkey's humble comments. वैबीराव एक गधे के विनम्र राय . వైబీరావ్ గాడిద వినమ్ర వాణి. You have every right to differ with me. I respect your right. आपको मेरे मत से भिन्न राय रखने के संपूर्ण हक है। मै उस अधिकार को परिपूर्ण रूप से गौरव देता हुँ. మీకు, మీ భిన్నమైన అభిప్రాయాన్ని కలిగిఉండే సంపూర్ణ హక్కు ఉంది. దానిని ఎంతో నేను గౌరవిస్తాను. However, pl. examine this donkey's views also. परन्तु एस गधे के दृष्टिकोण को भी अनुशीलन कीजिये. కానీ ఈ గాడిద దృష్టికోణాన్ని కూడ ఓర చూపుతో కంటజూడుమీ, క్రీగంట జూడమీ.
Whatever be the outlook of Swami Vivekananda towards Wine, whatever be the inspirational speeches of our great orator Shri V.V. Lakshmi Narayana garu, Indian youth are already on a trajectory path of ALCOHOLISM towards the sky. It is unlikely that Indian youth will restrain themselves from them. This is irrespective of whether 3000 condoms, 3000 beer cans, 2000 indian foreign liquor bottles, reported to have been found at Jawaharlal Nehru University as alleged by a BJP M.L.A. Why JNU alone? Why only Universities? Alcohol is ubiquitous in India.
As, our admirers of Swami Vivekananda (includes our beloved Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Our Urban Development Minister Shri Venkaiah Naidu whether they may be knowing about ease of Swamiji with alcohol, or not), have apparently given exemption to our 19th Century Swami Vivekananda, for consumption of alcohol, and made him the Preceptor and the Role Model for the Nation, will our Shri Lakshmi Narayanaji also give some concessions to our modern Indian Vivekanandas of 21st Century?
Next Gray Area which we may have to discuss "cigars" and Swamiji.
To continue. सशेष. ఇంకా ఉంది.