The Voyages : A Prelude

An unknown Indian Monk decided to cross the seas for two basic purposes - to display his country's religious treasures before the Western people; and thereby arouse their interst to help him with ways so that he could raise the hapless people of his country from the pit of poverty and degradation. The task was nearly impossible, but his dream was invincible. Today, even after more than a 100 years since he left this earth, thinking people around the globe are eagerly poring over everything that he did, thought and preached during merely a decade before he left his mortal frame.

The Wandering Monk

During his early days as a mendicant monk, Vivekananda had left his known surroundings in July 1890 and moved around his country mostly on foot; he was penniless, unknown and knew not wherefrom his next meal would come. This experience for slightly less than three years gave him three things. His nonattachment as a monk grew much more than when he had begun his journey. Second, the knowledge and ideas  about his motherland which he had had before got multiplied manifold through this extensive travels. He began to love his country and Her people like almost none before him. And thirdly, this unfathomable love for his people and motherland caused an irreparable dent in his heart - during the rest of his life he could never disown the perpetual pain and compassion for his suffering countrymen.


Madras, Where it all Began

The news of the imminent Religious Congress to be held in Chicago at the later part of 1893 had first reached Madras, and there it greatly inspired a school teacher. He was Alasinga Perumal. When he first had come face to face  with Swami Vivekananda in the beginning of 1893, he knew who would fulfill his dream. He asked the Swami why the latter would not think of visiting Chicago. The Swami visibly pondered over the possibility and thought aloud, 'Why not?' It took a few months before he decided to cross the seas and appear at the Religious Congress. For he had his other agendas as well which matched the occassion. Preliminaries and unsorted dilemas had taken a few more months before everything could be settled and the young Swami left the Indian shore on 31May 1893.

Early Experience in the West

Arriving in Chicago on 30 July 1893 Vivekananda faced three obstacles.The first two were sufficient to crush whatever hope he had while leaving his country; and the third one was no less daunting. He learned that to participate as a representative of any religion, one had to have a genuine authorization from the concerned religious authority; he had none whatsoever. And to make the matter worse, it was so found that the date of enrolling oneself as an authorized representative of any religious group had been over much before. So he decided to remain in Chicago and find alternative ways to further his aims. Eventually he faced the third hazard - the impossibility of living in a big and costly  city like Chicago with his small purse till the Religious Congress began, which was more than a month away. This last obstacle took him to Massachusetts and, eventually, people who mattered in the US at that point of time. When he went back to Chicago, he was well equipped to appear at the Religious Congress.

© : Somenath Mukherjee (See MORE )​