27 November 2013

Swami Vivekananda Quotes On American Women And American womanhood

This article is a sub-article of Swami Vivekananda's Quotes on Women

"Nowhere in the world are women
like those of this country.
How pure, independent,
self-relying, and kindhearted!"
—Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda at California, in 1900
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Throughout the visits to the United States, Swami Vivekananda closely and carefully observed the society and culture of the country. He saw the country's greatness in educational institutions and hospitals, its social justice system, absence of caste, environment of cultivating and spreading knowledge and education, hatred towards superstition power of organization etc. The freedom and social position of American women amazed him.

In this page, we'll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda's quotes on American women and American womanhood

Nowhere in the world are women like those of this country...

On 19 March 1894, Vivekananda wrote a letter to Swami Ramakrishnananda (Shashi). In that letter he wrote—[Source]

Nowhere in the world are women like those of this country. How pure, independent, self-relying, and kindhearted! It is the women who are the life and soul of this country. All learning and culture are centred in them. The saying, " या श्री: स्वयं सुकृतिनां भवनेषु—Who is the Goddess of Fortune Herself in the families of the meritorious" (Chandi)—holds good in this country, while that other, " अलक्ष्मीः पापात्मनां—The Goddess of ill luck in the homes of the sinful" (ibid.)—applies to ours. Just think on this. Great God! I am struck dumb with wonderment at seeing the women of America. "त्वं श्रीस्त्वमीश्वरी त्वं ह्रीः etc. — Thou art the Goddess of Fortune, Thou art the supreme Goddess, Thou art Modesty" (ibid.)," "या देवी सर्वभूतेषु शक्तिरूपेण संस्थिता—The Goddess who resides in all beings as Power" (ibid.)—all this holds good here. There are thousands of women here whose minds are as pure and white as the snow of this country. And look at our girls, becoming mothers below their teens!! Good Lord! I now see it all. Brother, "यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवताः—The gods are pleased where the women are held in esteem"—says the old Manu. We are horrible sinners, and our degradation is due to our calling women "despicable worms", "gateways to hell", and so forth. Goodness gracious! There is all the difference between heaven and hell!! "याथातथ्यतोऽर्थान् ब्यदधात्—He adjudges gifts according to the merits of the case" (Isha, 8). Is the Lord to be hoodwinked by idle talk? The Lord has said, "त्वं स्त्रि त्बं पुमानसि त्वं कुमार उत वा कुमारी—Thou art the woman, Thou art the man, Thou art the boy and the girl as well." (Shvetâshvatara Upa.)

Letter written to H. H. the Maharaja on 23 June 1894

In a letter written to H. H. the Maharaja on 23 June 1894, Vivekananda wrote—[Source]
Nowhere on earth have women so many privileges as in America. They are slowly taking everything into their hands; and, strange to say, the number of cultured women is much greater than that of cultured men.

Hale family and Hale sisters

In a letter written to the brother disciples on 25 December 1894, Vivekananda talked on Hale family and Hale sisters.[Source]
Hale sisters
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
I shall now tell you something of the Hales to whose address you direct my letters. He and his wife are an old couple, having two daughters, two nieces, and a son. The son lives abroad where he earns a living. The daughters live at home. In this country, relationship is through the girls. The son marries and no longer belongs to the family, but the daughter's husband pays frequent visits to his father-in-law's house.[Source]

In that letter Vivekananda quoted an American proverb, which clearly impressed him—
They say,
"Son is son till he gets a wife;
The daughter is daughter all her life."[Source]

Who is the real Shakti-worshipper

Swami Vivekananda wrote in a letter sent to Haripada Mitra, dated 29 December 1893—[Source]
Do you know who is the real "Shakti-worshipper"? It is he who knows that God is the omnipresent force in the universe and sees in women the manifestation of that Force. Many men here look upon their women in this light. Manu, again, has said that gods bless those families where women are happy and well treated. Here men treat their women as well as can be desired, and hence they are so prosperous, so learned, so free, and so energetic. But why is it that we are slavish, miserable, and dead? The answer is obvious.

And how pure and chaste are they here! Few women are married before twenty or twenty-five, and they are as free as the birds in the air. They go to market, school, and college, earn money, and do all kinds of work. Those who are well-to-do devote themselves to doing good to the poor. And what are we doing? We are very regular in marrying our girls at eleven years of age lest they should become corrupt and immoral. What does our Manu enjoin? "Daughters should be supported and educated with as much care and attention as the sons." As sons should be married after observing Brahmacharya up to the thirtieth year, so daughters also must observe Brahmacharya and be educated by their parents. But what are we actually doing? Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are now. 

God bless American women

From Swami Vivekananda's letter to his Madras disciples, dated 24 January 1894—[Source]
About the women of America, I cannot express my gratitude for their kindness. Lord bless them. In this country, women are the life of every movement, and represent all the culture of the nation, for men are too busy to educate themselves.

Modern American women

From a letter written to H. H. the Maharaja of Khetri in 1894—[Source]
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 dosing 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 the affirmative and positive side of everything that shall be stored up, and that this very act of accumulating the affirmative and positive, and therefore soul-building forces of nature, is what destroys the negative and destructive elements in the world.

This page was last updated on: 4 December 2013, 6:08 am IST (UTC+5.30 hours)
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