Letters between Maharaja Ajit Singh & Swami Vivekananda

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During the residence of the Swamiji in America, the following Address from the Maharaja of Khetri (Rajputana), dated March 4th, 1895, was received by him:

My dear Swamiji,

As the head of this Durbar (a formal stately assemblage) held today for this special purpose, I have much pleasure in conveying to you, in my own name and that of my subjects, the heartfelt thanks of this State for your worthy representation of Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago, in America.

I do not think the general principles of Hinduism could be expressed more accurately and clearly in English than what you have done, with all the restrictions imposed by the very natural shortcomings of language itself.

The influence of your speech and behaviour in foreign lands has not only spread admiration among men of different countries and different religions, but has also served to familiarise you with them, to help in the furtherance of your unselfish cause. This is very highly and inexpressibly appreciated by us all, and we should feel to be failing in our duty, were I not to write to you formally at least these few lines, expressing our sincere gratitude for all the trouble you have taken in going to foreign countries, and to expound in the American Parliament of Religions the truths of our ancient religion which we ever hold so dear. It is certainly applicable to the pride of India that it has been fortunate in possessing the privilege of having secured so able a representative as yourself.

Thanks are also due to those noble souls whose efforts succeeded in organising the Parliament of Religions, and who accorded to you a very enthusiastic reception. As you were quite a foreigner in that continent, their kind treatment of you is due to their love of the several qualifications you possess, and this speaks highly of their noble nature.

I herewith enclose twenty printed copies of this letter, and have to request that, keeping this one with yourself, you will kindly distribute the other copies among your friends.

With best regards,

I remain,

Yours very sincerely,

The Swamiji sent the following reply:

“Whenever virtue subsides, and wickedness raises its head, I manifest Myself to restore the glory of religion”–are the words, O noble Prince, of the Eternal One in the holy Gita, striking the keynote of the pulsating ebb and flow of the spiritual energy in the universe.

These changes are manifesting themselves again and again in rhythms peculiar to themselves, and like every other tremendous change, though affecting, more or less, every particle within their sphere of action, they show their effects more intensely upon those particles which are naturally susceptible to their power.

As in a universal sense, the primal state is a state of sameness of the qualitative forces–a disturbance of this equilibrium and all succeeding struggles to regain it, composing what we call the manifestation of nature, this universe, which state of things remains as long as the primitive sameness is not reached–so, in a restricted sense on our own earth, differentiation and its inevitable counterpart, this struggle towards homogeneity, must remain as long as the human race shall remain as such, creating strongly marked peculiarities between ethnic divisions, sub-races and even down to individuals in all parts of the world.
In this world of impartial division and balance, therefore, each nation represents, as it were, a wonderful dynamo for the storage and distribution of a particular species of energy, and amidst all other possessions that particular property shines forth as the special characteristic of that race. And as any upheaval in any particular part of human nature, though affection others more or less, stirs to its very depth that nation of which it is a special characteristic, and from which as a centre it generally starts, so any commotion in the religious world is sure to produce momentous changes in India, that land which again and again has had to furnish the centre of the wide-spread religious upheavals; for, above all, India is the land of religion.

Each man calls that alone real which helps him to realise his ideal. To the worldly-minded, everything that can be converted into money is real, that which cannot be so converted is unreal. To the man of a domineering spirit, anything that will conduce to his ambition of ruling over his fellow men is real–the rest is naught; and man finds nothing in that which does not echo back the heartbeats of his special love in life.

Those whose only aim is to barter the energies of life for gold, or name, or any other enjoyment; those to whom the tramp of embattled cohorts is the only manifestation of power; those to whom the enjoyments of the senses are the only bliss that life can give–to these, India will ever appear as an immense desert whose every blast is deadly to the development of life, as it is known by them.

But to those whose thirst for life has been quenched for ever by drinking from the stream of immortality that flowers from far away beyond the world of the senses, whose souls have cast away–as a serpent its slough–the three-fold bondages of lust, gold, and fame, who, from their height of calmness, look with love and compassion upon the petty quarrels and jealousies and fights for little gilded puff-balls, filled with dust, called “enjoyment” by those under a sense-bondage; to those whose accumulated force of past good deeds has caused the scales of ignorance to fall off from their eyes, making them see through the vanity of name and form–to such wheresoever they be, India, the motherland and eternal mine of spirituality, stands transfigured, a beacon of hope to everyone in search of Him who is the only real Existence in a universe of vanishing shadows.

The majority of mankind can only understand power when it is presented to them in a concrete form, fitted to their perceptions. To them, the rush and excitement of war, with its power and spell, is something very tangible, and any manifestation of life that does not come like a whirlwind, bearing down everything before it, is to them as death. And India, for centuries at the feet of foreign conquerors, without any idea or hope of resistance, without the least solidarity among its masses, without the least idea of patriotism, must needs appear to such, as a land of rotten bones, a lifeless putrescent mass.

It is sad–the fittest alone survive. How is it, then, that this most unfitted of all races, according to commonly accepted ideas, could bear the most awful misfortunes that ever befall a race, and yet not show the least signs of decay? How is it that, while the multiplying powers of the so-called vigorous and active races are dwindling every day, the immoral (?) Hindu shows a power of increase beyond them all? Great laurels are due, no doubt, to those who can deluge the world with blood at a moment’s notice; great indeed is the glory of those who, to keep up a population of a few millions in plenty, have to starve half the population of the earth, but is no credit due to those who can keep hundreds of millions in peace and plenty, without snatching the bread from the mouth of anyone else? Is there no power displayed in bringing up and guiding the destinies of countless millions of human beings, through hundreds of centuries, without the least violence to others?

The mythologists of all ancient races supply us with fables of heroes whose life was concentrated in a certain small portion of their bodies, and until that was touched they remained invulnerable. It seems as if each nation also has such a peculiar centre of life, and so long as that remains untouched, no amount of misery and misfortune can destroy it.

In religion lies the vitality of India, and so long as the Hindu race do not forget the great inheritance of their forefathers, there is no power on earth to destroy them.

Nowadays everybody blames those who constantly look back to their past. It is said that so much looking back to the past is the cause of all India’s woes. To me, on the contrary, it seems that the opposite is true. So long as they forgot the past, the Hindu nation remained in a state of stupor; and as soon as they have begun to look into their past, there is on every side a fresh manifestation of life. It is out of this past that the future has to be moulded; this past will become the future.

The more, therefore, the Hindus study the past, the more glorious will be their future, and whoever tries to bring the past to the door of everyone, is a great benefactor to his nation. The degeneration of India came not because the laws and customs of the ancients were bad, but because they were not allowed to be carried to their legitimate conclusions.

Every critical student knows that the social laws of India have always been subject to great periodic changes. At their inception, these laws were the embodiment of a gigantic plan, which was to unfold itself slowly through time. The great seers of ancient India saw so far ahead of their time that the world has to wait centuries yet to appreciate their wisdom, and it is this very inability on the part of their own descendants to appreciate the full scope of this wonderful plan that is the one and only cause of the degeneration of India.

Ancient India had for centuries been the battlefield for the ambitious projects of two of her foremost classes–the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas.On the other hand, the priesthood stood between the lawless social tyranny of the princes over the masses, whom the Kshatriyas declared to be their legal food.

On the other hand, the Kshatriya power was the one potent force which struggled with any success against the spiritual tyranny of the priesthood and the ever-increasing chain of ceremonials which they were forging to bind down the people with.

The tug of war began in the earliest periods of the history of our race, and throughout the Shrutis it can be distinctly traced. A momentary lull came when Shri Krishna, leading the faction of Kshatriya power and of Jnana, showed the way to reconciliation. The result was the teachings of the Gita–the essence of philosophy, of liberality, of religion. Yet the causes were there, and the effect must follow.

The ambition of these two classes to be the masters of the poor and ignorant was there, and the strife once more became fierce. The meagre literature that has come down to us from that period brings to us but faint echoes of that mighty past strife, but at last it broke out as a victory for the Kshatriyas, a victory for Jnana, for liberty–and ceremonial had to go down, much of it for ever. This upheaval was what is known as the Buddhistic reformation. On the religious side, it represented freedom from ceremonial; on the political side, overthrow of the priesthood by the Kshatriyas.

It is a significant fact that the two greatest men ancient India produced, were both Kshatriyas–Krishna and Buddha–and still more significant is the fact that both of these God-men threw open the door of knowledge to everyone, irrespective of birth or sex.

In spite of its wonderful moral strength, Buddhism was extremely iconoclastic; and much of its force being spent in merely negative attempts, it had to die out in the land of its birth, and what remained of it became full of superstitions and ceremonials, a hundred times cruder than those it was intended to suppress. Although it partially succeeded in putting down the animal sacrifices of the Vedas, it filled the land with temples, images, symbols, and bones of saints.

Above all, in the medley of Aryans, Mongols, and aborigines which it created, it unconsciously led the way to some of the hideous Vamacharas. This was especially the reason why this travesty of the teaching of the great Master had to be driven out of India by Shri Shankara and his band of Sannyasins.

Thus even the current of life, set in motion by the greatest soul that ever wore a human form, the Bhagavan Buddha himself, became a miasmic pool, and India had to wait for centuries until Shankara arose, followed in quick succession by Ramanuja and Madhva.

By this time, an entirely new chapter had opened in the history of India. The ancient Kshatriyas and the Brahmins had disappeared. The land between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas, the home of the Aryas, the land which gave birth to Krishna and Buddha, the cradle of great Rajarshis and Brahmarshis, became silent, and from the very farther end of the Indian Peninsula, from races alien in speech and form, from families claiming descent from the ancient Brahmins, came the reaction against the corrupted Buddhism.

What had become of the Brahmins and Kshatriyas of Aryavarta? They had entirely disappeared, except here and there a few mongrel clans claiming to be Brahmins and Kshatriyas, and in spite of their inflated, self-laudatory assertions that the whole world ought to learn from @t ezsUtSy skazadjNmn>, they had to sit in sackcloth and ashes, in all humility, to learn at the feet of the Southerners. The result was the bringing back of the Vedas to India–a revival of Vedanta, such as India never before had seen; even the householders began to study the Aranyakas.

In the Buddhistic movement, the Kshatriyas were the real leaders, and whole masses of them become Buddhists. In the zeal of reform and conversion, the popular dialects had been almost exclusively cultivated to the neglect of Sanskrit, and the larger portion of Kshatriyas had become disjointed from the Vedic literature and Sanskrit learning. Thus this wave of reform, which came from the South, benefited to a certain extent the priesthood, and the priests only. For the rest of India’s millions, it forged more chains than they had ever known before.

The Kshatriyas had always been the backbone of India, so also tey had been the supporters of science and liberty, and their voices had rung out again and again to clear the land from superstitions; and throughout the history of India they ever formed the invulnerable barrier to aggressive priestly tyranny.

When the greater part of their number sank into ignorance, and another portion mixed their blood with savages from Central Asia and lent their swords to establish the rules of priests in India, her cup became full to the brim, and down sank the land of Bharata, not to rise again, until the Kshatriya rouses himself, and making himself free, strikes the chains from the feet of the rest. Priestcraft is the bane of India. Can man degrade his brother, and himself escape degradation?

Know, Rajaji, the greatest of all truths, discovered by your ancestors, is that the universe is one. Can one injure anyone without injuring himself? The mass of Brahmin and Kshatriya tyranny has recoiled upon their own heads with compound interest; and a thousand years of slavery and degradation is what the inexorable law of Karma is visiting upon them.

This is what one of your ancestors said: “Even in this life, they have conquered relativity whose mind is fixed in sameness”–one who is believed to be God incarnate. We all believe it. Are his words then vain and without meaning? If not, and we know they are not, any attempt against this perfect equality of all creation, irrespective of birth, sex, or even qualification, is a terrible mistake, and no one can be saved until he has attained to this idea of sameness.

Follow, therefore, noble Prince, the teachings of the Vedanta, not as explained by this or that commentator, but as the Lord within you understands them. Above all, follow this great doctrine of sameness in all things, through all beings, seeing the same God in all.

This is the way to freedom; inequality, the way to bondage. No man and no nation can attempt to gain physical freedom without physical equality, nor mental freedom without mental equality.

Ignorance, inequality, and desire are the three causes of human misery, and each follows the other in inevitable union. Why should a man think himself above any other man, or even an animal? It is the same throughout:

“Thou art the man, Thou the woman, Thou art the young man, Thou the young woman.”

Many will say, “That is all right for the Sannyasins, but we are householders.” No doubt, a householder having many other duties to perform, cannot as fully attain to this sameness; yet this should be also their ideal, for it is the ideal of all societies, of all mankind, all animals, and all nature, to attain to this sameness. But alas! they think inequality is the way to attain equality, as if they could come to right by doing wrong!

This is the bane of human nature, the curse upon mankind, the root of all misery–this inequality. This is the source of all bondage, physical, mental, and spiritual.

“Since seeing the Lord equally existent everywhere, he injures not Self by self, and so goes to the Highest Goal” (Gita, XIII. 28). This one saying contains, in a few words, the universal way to salvation.

You, Rajputs, have been the glories of ancient India. With your degradation came national decay, and India can only be raised if the descendants of the Kshatriyas co-operate with the descendants of the Brahmins, not to share the spoils of pelf and power, but to help the weak, to enlighten the ignorant, and to restore the lost glory of the holy land of their forefathers.

And who can say but that the time is propitious? Once more the wheel is turning up, once more vibrations have been set in motion from India, which are destined at no distant day to reach the farthest limits of the earth. One voice has spoken, whose echoes are rolling on and gathering strength every day, a voice even mightier than those which have preceded it, for it is the summation for them all. Once more the voice that spoke to the sages on the banks of the Sarasvati, the voice whose echoes reverberated from peak to peak of the “Father of Mountains”, and descended upon the plains through Krishna, Buddha, and Chaitanya in all-carrying floods, has spoken again. Once more the doors have opened. Enter ye into the realms of light, the gates have been opened wide once more.

And you, my beloved Prince–you the scion of a race r fwho are the living pillars upon which rests the religion eternal, its sworn defenders and helpers, the descendants of Rama and Krishna, will you remain outside? I know, this cannot be. Yours, I am sure, will be the first hand that will be stretched forth to help religion once more. And when I think of you, Raja Ajit Singh, one in whom the well-known scientific attainments of your house have been joined to a purity of character of which a saint ought to be proud, to an unbounded love for humanity, I cannot help believing in the glorious renaissance of the religion eternal, when such hands are willing to rebuild it again.

May the blessings of Ramakrishna be on you and yours for ever and ever, and that you may live long for the good of many, and for the spread of truth is the constant prayer of–VIVEKANANDA.


9th July, 1895
{to the Maharaja of Khetri}

. . . About my coming to India, the matter stands thus. I am, as your Highness well knows, a man of dogged perseverance. I have planted a seed in this country; it is already a plant, and I expect it to be a tree very soon. I have got a few hundred followers. I shall make several Sannyasins, and then I go to India, leaving the work to them. The more the Christian priests oppose me, the more I am determined to leave a permanent mark on their country. . . . I have already some friends in London. I am going there by the end of August. . . . This winter anyway has to be spent partly in London and partly in New York, and then I shall be free to go to India. There will be enough men to carry on the work here after this winter if the Lord is kind. Each work has to pass through these stages–ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Each man who thinks ahead of his time is sure to be misunderstood. So opposition and persecution are welcome, only I have to be steady and pure and must have immense faith in God, and all these will vanish. . . .

9th June, 1898
Your Highness {Maharaja of Khetri},

Very sorry to learn that you are not in perfect health. Sure you will be in a few days.
I am starting for Kashmir on Saturday next. I have your letter of introduction to the Resident, but better still if you kindly drop a line to the Resident telling him that you have already given an introduction to me.
Will you kindly ask Jagamohan to write to the Dewan of Kishangarh reminding him of his promise to supply me with copies of Nimbarka Bhashya on the Vyasa-Sutras and other Bhashyas (commentaries) through his Pandits.
With all love and blessings,
PS. Poor Goodwin is dead. Jagamohan knows him well. I want a couple of tiger skins, if I can, to be sent to the Math as presents to two European friends. These seem to be most gratifying presents to Westerners.


c/o Risibar Mookerjee,
Chief Judge,
17th September, 1898
Your Highness {Majaraja of Khetri},

I have been very ill here for two weeks. Now getting better. I am in want of funds. Though the American friends are doing everything they can to help me, I feel shame to beg from them all the time, especially as illness makes one incur contingent expenses. I have no shame to beg of one person in the world and that is yourself.
Whether you give or refuse, it is the same to me. If possible send some money kindly. How are you? I am going down by the middle of October.
Very glad to learn from Jagamohan the complete recovery of the Kumar (Prince) Saheb. Things are going on well with me; hoping it is the same with you.
Ever yours in the Lord,


16th October, 1898
Your Highness {Maharaja of Khetri},

The letter that followed my wire gave the desired information; therefore I did not wire back about my health in reply to yours.
This year I suffered much in Kashmir and am now recovered and going to Calcutta direct today. For the last ten years or so I have not seen the Puja of Shri Durga in Bengal which is the great affair there. I hope this year to be present.
The Western friends will come to see Jaipur in a week or two. If Jagamohan be there, kindly instruct him to pay some attention to them and show them over the city and the old arts.
I leave instructions with my brother Saradananda to write to Munshiji before they start for Jaipur.How are you and the Prince? Ever as usual praying for your welfare,
I remain yours affectionately,
PS. My future address is Math, Belur, Howrah Dist., Bengal.


Math, Belur,
Howrah Dist., Bengal,
26th October, 1898
Your Highness {Maharaja of Khetri},

I am very very anxious about your health. I had a great desire to look in on my way down, but my health failed completely, and I had to run down in all haste. There is some disturbance with my heart, I am afraid.
However I am very anxious to know about your health. If you like I will come over to Khetri to see you. I am praying day and night for your welfare. Do not lose heart if anything befalls, the “Mother” is your protection. Write me all about yourself. . . . How is the Kumar Saheb?
With all love and everlasting blessings,
Ever yours in the Lord,


The Math, Belur,
Howrah Dist.,
November (?), 1898
Your Highness {Maharaja of Khetri},
Very glad to learn that you and the Kumar are enjoying good health. As for me, my heart has become very weak. Change, I do not think, will do me any good, as for the last 14 years I do not remember to have stopped at one place for 3 months at a stretch. On the other hand if by some chance I can live for months in one place, I hope it will do me good. I do not mind this. However, I feel that my work in this life is done. Through good and evil, pain and pleasure, my life-boat has been dragged on. The one great lesson I was taught is that life is misery, nothing but misery. Mother knows what is best. Each one of us is in the hands of Karma; it works itself out–and no nay. There is only one element in life which is worth having at any cost, and it is love. Love immense and infinite, broad as the sky and deep as the ocean–this is the one great gain in life. Blessed is he who gets it.
Ever yours in the Lord,


Math, Belur,
15th December, 1898
Your Highness {Maharaja of Khetri},

Your very kind letter received with the order of 500 on Mr. Dulichand. I am a little better now. Don’t know whether this improvement will continue or not.
Are you to be in Calcutta this winter, as I hear? Many Rajas are coming to pay their respects to the new Viceroy. The Maharaja of Sikar is here, I learn from the papers already.
Ever praying for you and yours,
Yours in the Lord,


The Math,
14th June, 1899
My dear Friend {Raja of Khetri},

I want your Highness in that fashion as I am here, you need most of friendship and love just now.I wrote you a letter a few weeks ago but could not get news of yours. Hope you are in splendid health now. I am starting for England again on the 20th this month.I hope also to benefit somewhat by this sea-voyage.
9 >May you be protected from all dangers and may all blessings ever attend you!
I am yours in the Lord,
PS. To Jagamohan my love and good-bye.


Epistles (second series)

{To the Maharaja of Khetri}
. . . “It is not the building that makes the home, but it is the wife that makes it,” 38 says a Sanskrit poet, and how true it is! The roof that affords you shelter from heat and cold and rain is not to be judged by the pillars that support it–the finest Corinthian columns though they be–but by the real spirit-pillar who is the centre, the real support of the home–the woman. Judged by that standard, the American home will not suffer in comparison with any home in the world.
I have heard many stories about the American home: of liberty running into license, of unwomanly women smashing under their feet all the peace and happiness of home-life in their mad liberty-dance, and much nonsense of that type. And now after a year’s experience of American homes, of American women, how utterly false and erroneous that sort of judgement appears! American women! A hundred lives would not be sufficient to pay my deep debt of gratitude to you! I have not words enough to express my gratitude to you. “The Oriental hyperbole” alone expresses the depth of Oriental gratitude — “If the Indian Ocean were an inkstand, the highest mountain of the Himalaya the pen, the earth the scroll and time itself the writer” 39 still it will not express my gratitude to you!
Last year I came to this country in summer, a wandering preacher of a far distant country, without name, fame, wealth, or learning to recommend me — friendless, helpless, almost in a state of destitution — and American women befriended me, gave me shelter and food, took me to their homes and treated me as their own son, their own brother. They stood my friends even when their own priests were trying to persuade them to give up the “dangerous heathen” — even when day after day their best friends had told them not to stand by this “unknown foreigner, may be, of dangerous character”. But they are better judges of character and soul — for it is the pure mirror that catches the reflection.
And how many beautiful homes I have seen, how many mothers whose purity of character, whose unselfish love for their children are beyond expression, how many daughters and pure maidens, “pure as the icicle on Diana’s temple”, and withal with much culture, education, and spirituality in the highest sense! Is America then full of only wingless angels in the shape of women? There is good and bad everywhere, true — but a nation is not to be judged by its weaklings called the wicked, good, the noble, and the pure who indicate the national life-current to be flowing clear and vigorous.
Do you judge of an apple tree and the taste of its fruits by the unripe, undeveloped, worm-eaten ones that strew the ground, large even though their number be sometimes? l If there is one ripe developed fruit, that one would indicate the powers, the possibility and the purpose of the apple tree and not hundreds that could not grow.
And then the modern American women — I admire their broad and liberal minds. I have seen many liberal and broad-minded men too in this country, some even in the narrowest churches, but here is the difference — there is danger with the men to become broad at the cost of religion, at the cost of spirituality — women broaden out in sympathy to everything that is good everywhere, without losing a bit of their own religion. They intuitively know that it is a question of positivity and not negativity a question of addition and not subtraction. They are every day becoming aware of the fact that it is alternative and positive, and therefore soul-building forces of nature, is what destroys the negative and destructive elements in the world.
What a wonderful achievement was that World’s Fair at Chicago! And that wonderful Parliament of Religions where voices from every corner of the earth expressed their religious ideas! I was also allowed to present my own ideas through the kindness of Dr. Barrows and Mr. Bonney. Mr. Bonney is such a wonderful man!
Think of that mind that planned and carried out with great success that gigantic undertaking, and he, no clergyman, a lawyer, presiding over the dignitaries of all the churches — the sweet, the learned, patient Mr. Bonney with all his soul speaking through his bright eyes…
Yours etc.,


Epistles (fifth series)

To Maharaja Ajit Singh, the Raja of Khetri
10 August 1898
Your Highness–
I have long not heard any news of you. How are things going on with you both bodily and mentally?
I have been to see Shri Amarnathji. 128 It was a very enjoyable trip and the Darshana 129 was glorious.
I will be here about a month more, then I return to the plains. Kindly ask Jagmohan to write to the Dewan Saheb of Kishangarh to get for me the copies of Nimbarka Bhashya which he promised.
With all love,


Maharaja Ajit Singh, the Raja of Khetri
Math Belur
22 November 1898
Your Highness–
Many thanks for your kind note and the Nimbarka Bhashya — reached through Jaga Mohan Lalji.I approach your Highness today on a most important business of mine, knowing well that I have not the least shame in opening my mind to you, and that I consider you as my only friend in this life. If the following appeals to you, good; if not, pardon my foolishness as a friend should.
As you know already, I have been ailing since my return. In Calcutta your Highness assured me of your friendship and help for me personally and [advised me] not to be worried about this incurable malady. This disease has been caused by nervous excitement; and no amount of change can do me good, unless the worry and anxiety and excitement are taken off me.After trying these two years a different climate, I am getting worse every day and now almost at death’s door. I appeal to your Highness’s work, generosity and friendship. I have one great sin rankling always in my breast, and that is [in order] to do a service to the world, I have sadly neglected my mother. Again, since my second brother has gone away, she has become awfully worn-out with grief. Now my last desire is to make Seva [give service] and serve my mother, for some years at least. I want to live with my mother and get my younger brother married to prevent extinction of the family. This will certainly smoothen my last days as well as those of my mother. She lives now in a hovel. I want to build a little, decent home for her and make some provision for the youngest, as there is very little hope of his being a good earning man. Is it too much for a royal descendent of Ramchandra to do for one he loves and calls his friend? I do not know whom else to appeal to. The money I got from Europe was for the “work”, and every penny almost has been given over to that work. Nor can I beg of others for help for my own self. About my own family affairs–I have exposed myself to your Highness, and none else shall know of it. I am tired, heartsick and dying. Do, I pray, this last great work of kindness to me, befitting your great and generous nature and [as] a crest to the numerous kindnesses you have shown me. And as your Highness will make my last days smooth and easy, may He whom I have tried to serve all my life ever shower His choicest blessings on you and yours.
Ever yours in the Lord,
P.S. This is strictly private. Will you please drop a wire to me whether you will do it or not?
Ever yours,


To Maharaja Ajit Singh, the Raja of Khetri
Math Beloor
Howrah District
1 December 1898
Your Highness–
Your telegram has pleased me beyond description, and it is worthy of your noble self. I herewith give you the details of what I want.
The lowest possible estimate of building a little home in Calcutta is at least ten thousand rupees. With that it is barely possible to buy or build a house in some out-of-the-way quarter of the town–a little house fit for four or five persons to live in.
As for the expenses of living, the 100 Rs. a month your generosity is supplying my mother is enough for her. If another 100 Rs. a month be added to it for my lifetime for my expenses–which unfortunately this illness has increased, and which, I hope, will not be for long a source of trouble to you, as I expect only to live a few years at best–I will be perfectly happy. One thing more will I beg of you–if possible, the 100 Rs. a month for my mother be made permanent, so that even after my death it may regularly reach her. Or even if your Highness ever gets reasons to stop your love and kindness for me, my poor old mother may be provided [for], remembering the love you once had for a poor Sadhu.
This is all. Do this little work amongst the many other noble deeds you have done, knowing well whatever else can be proved or not, the power of Karma is self-evident to all. The blessings of this good Karma shall always follow you and yours. As for me, what shall I say–whatever I am in the world has been almost all through your help. You made it possible for me to get rid of a terrible anxiety and face the world and do some work. It may be that you are destined by the Lord to be the instrument again of helping yet grander work, by taking this load off my mind once more.
ABut whether you do this or not, “once loved is always loved”. Let all my love and blessings and prayers follow you and yours, day and night, for what I owe you already; and may the Mother, whose play is this universe and in whose hands we are mere instruments, always protect you from all evil.
Ever yours in the Lord,



To Maharaja Ajit Singh, the Raja of Khetri

The Math
Howrah Dist.
[December 1900]
Your Highness–
Very glad to learn that you and the Coomar [the Royal Prince] are enjoying good health. As for me, my heart has become very weak. Change, I do not think, will do me any good, as for the last 14 years I do not remember to have stopped at one place for three months at a stretch. On the other hand, if by some chance I can live for months in one place, I hope it will do me good. I do not mind this, however; I feel that my work in this life is done. Through good and evil, pain and pleasure, my life-boat has been dragged on. The one great lesson I was taught is that life is misery, nothing but misery. Mother knows what is best. Each one of us is in the hands of Karma–it works out itself, and no nay. There is only one element in life which is worth having at any cost–and it is love. Love immense and infinite, broad as the sky and deep as the ocean. This is the one great gain in life. Blessed is he who gets it.
Ever yours in the Lord,

Two unpublished letters of Swami Vivekananda

Two letters written by Swami Vivekananda to Maharaja Ajit Singh of Khetri were recently found among old papers in the record room of the Khetri Sub-divisional Officer’s office (Jhunjhunu District, Rajasthan, India). We are publishing the text of the letters virtually unedited.


the 15th February [1893]

Your Highness,

Two things I am telling your Highness. One—a very wonderful phenomenon I have seen in a village called Kumbakonam, and another about myself.

In the said village lives a man of the Chetty caste, generally passing for an astrologer. I, with two other young men, went to see him. He was said to tell about anything a man thinks of. So, I wanted to put him to the test. Two months ago, I dreamt that my mother was dead and I was very anxious to know about her. My second was whether what my Guru had told me was right. The third was a test-question—a part of the Buddhistic mantra, in Tibetan tongue. These questions I determined upon, two days before going to this Govinda Chetty. Another young man had one of his sisters-in-law given poison to, by some unknown hand, from which she recovered. But he wanted to know the author of that delivery.

When we first saw him, the fellow was almost ferocious. He said that some Europeans came to see [him] with the Dewan of Mysore and that since then through their ‘Dristee Dosham’ he had got fever and that he could not give us a seance then and only if we paid him 10 Rs., he would consent to tell us our ‘prasnas’. The young men with me of course were ready to pay down his fees. But he goes to his private room and immediately comes back and says to me that if I gave him some ashes to cure him of his fever he would consent to give us a seance. Of course I told him that I do not boast of any power of curing diseases but he said, ‘That does not matter, only I want [the ash]’. So, I consented and he took us to the private room and, taking a sheet of paper, wrote something upon it and gave it over to one of us and made me sign it and keep it into the pocket of one of my companions. Then he told me point blank, ‘Why you, a Sannyasi, are thinking upon your mother?’ I answered that even the great Shankaracharya would take care of his mother; and he said ‘She is all right and I have written her name in that paper in the possession of your friend’ and then went on saying, ‘Your Guru is dead. Whatever he has told you, you must believe, for he was a very very great man,’ and went on giving me a description of my Guru which was most wonderful and then he said ‘What more you want to know about your Guru?’ I told him ‘If you can give me his name I would be satisfied’, and he said, ‘Which name? A Sannyasi gets different sorts of names’. I answered, ‘The name by which he was known to the public’, and says, ‘The wonderful name, I have already written that. And you wanted to know about a mantra in Tibetan, that is also written in that paper.’ And, he then told me to think of anything in any language and tell him, I told him ‘Om Namo BhagavateVasudevaya’, and he said, ‘That is also written in the paper in possession of your friend. Now take it out and see’. And Lo! Wonder! They were all there as he said and even my mother’s name was there!! It began thus—your mother of such and such name is all right. She is very holy and good, but she is feeling your separation like death and within two years she shall die; so if you want to see her, it must be within two years.

Next it was written—your Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is dead but he lives in Sukshma, i.e., ethereal body, and is watching over you, etc. and then it was written ‘Lamala capsechua’, in Tibetan, and then at last was written ‘In conformation to what I have written, I give you also this mantra which you would give me after one hour after my writing; ‘Om Namo Bhagavate etc.’; and so he was equally successful with my friends. Then I saw people coming from distant villages and as soon as he sees them he says—‘Your name is such and such and you come from such and such village for this purpose’. By the time he was reading me, he toned down very much and said—‘I won’t take money from you. On the other hand, you must take some “seva” from me’. And I took some milk at his house and he brought over his whole family to bow down to me and I touched some ‘vibhutee’ brought by him and then I asked him the source of his wonderful powers. First he would not say, but after a while he came to me [and] said—‘Maharaj, it is “siddhi of mantras” through the “sahaya” of “Devi”.’ Verily, there are more things on heaven and earth Horatio than your philosophy ever dreamt of—Shakespeare.

The second is regarding me. Here is a zamindar of Ramnath, now staying in Madras. He is going to send me over to Europe and, as you are already aware of, I have a great mind to see those places. So I have determined to take this opportunity of making a tour in Europe and America. But I can’t do anything without asking your Highness, the only friend on Earth I have.

So kindly give your opinion about it. I only want to make a short tour in those places. One thing I am certain of, that I am [an] instrument in the hands [of] a holy and superior power. Myself, I have no peace, am burning literally day and night, but somehow or other, wherever I go hundreds and, in some [places] as in Madras, thousands would come to me day and night and would be cured of their skepticism and unbelief but I—! I am always unhappy!! Thy will be done!! Therefore, I don’t know what this power requires of me, to be done in Europe. I cannot but obey. ‘Thy will be done’!! There is no escape.

I congratulate your Highness on the birth of a son and heir. May the infant prince be quiet like his most noble father and may the Lord shower his blessings always on him and his parents.

So I am going over in two or three weeks to Europe. I can’t say anything as to the future of the body. Only I pray to your Highness if it be proper to take some care of my mother that she does not starve.

I would be highly obliged to get a reply soon, and pray your Highness to keep the latter part of this letter, i.e., my going over to England etc., confidential.

May you be blessed all your life, you and yours, is the prayer that is day and night offered up by,

C/o. M.Bhattacharya Esq.
Assistant Accountant General
Mt. St. Thome, Madras


The 22nd May 1893

Your Highness,

Leaving Khetri there happened nothing particular to relate except that I had every comfort on the way, broke journey at Kharari and then [went] to Nariad [Nadiad]. Haridas Bhai was as usual very kind to me and we had many and many a talk about your Highness, so much so that he was really very anxious to see you and intends paying his respects to your Highness in his coming winter tour to the north. And I dare say your Highness would also be very much pleased to see this old man of great experience who was for twenty-five years the mentor of Kathiawad. Withal he is the only remnant of the old school of very conservative politicians. He is a man who is thoroughly able to organize and put to perfect order an existing machinery; but he would be the last man to move a step further.

At Bombay I went to see my friend Ramdas, Barrister-at-Law. He is rather a sentimental gentleman and was so much impressed with your Highness’ character that he told me that had it not been midsummer he would rather fly to see such a prince.

His father intends going to Chicago on the 31st; if so, we would go together for company. Today I go to buy some steel trunks etc., and am only waiting for the Madras money to come in. Although I wired to them from Jeypore, they were rather suspicious and waited for my further communications and I have again wired them and written too.

On our way we had the company of Mr.Ramnath, the charan headmaster of the Jeypore noble’s school. He and I had a bout on my first coming out of Khetri years ago, about vegetarianism. He had in the meantime got hold of some American writers and pounced upon me with his arguments from them. His author, he said, has proved to his satisfaction that the human digestive organs including the teeth are exactly like those of the cow. Therefore, man is designed by nature to be a vegetarian animal. He is a very good and nice gentleman and I did not want to disturb his confidence in the American hobbyist but one thing was on the tip of my tongue—If our digestive apparatus is exactly like that of a cow—we ought and must be able to eat and digest grass. In that case poor Indians are fools to die of starvation in famine times while their natural food, grass, is so abundant, and your Highness’ servants are fools to serve you while they have only to get up the nearest hillock and get a bellyful of grass instead of undergoing all the trouble of serving others!!! Grand American discovery indeed!!! Only I hope the holy dungs of such human cows may become of great use to the wonderful American author and his Indian disciple. Amen. So much for the cow-human theory.

Do not find anything more to advertize to your Highness, so, beg leave to stop here.

May the giver of all good bestow his choicest blessings on you and yours, I remain,

Yours in the Lord,