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Henry Miller told—
The story of the pilgrimage of this man who electrified the American people reads like a legend. At first unrecognized, rejected, reduced to starvation and forced to beg in the streets, he was finally hailed as the greatest spiritual leader of our time. Offers of all kinds were showered upon him; the rich took him in and tried to make a monkey of him. In Detroit, after six weeks of it, he rebelled. All contracts were cancelled and from that time on he went alone from town to town at the invitation of such or such a society.
I had just been reading [Romain] Rolland’s book on Vivekananda. I had put it down because I couldn’t read anymore, my emotions were so powerful. The passage which roused me to such a state of exaltation was the one in which Rolland describes Vivekananda’s triumphal return to India from America. No monarch ever received such a reception at the hands of his countrymen : it stands unique in the annals of history. And what had he done, Vivekananda, to merit such a welcome?
He had made India known to America; he had spread the light. And in doing so he had opened the eyes of his countrymen to their own weaknesses. All India greeted him with open arms; millions of people prostrated themselves before him, saluting him as a saint and saviour, which he was. It was the moment when India stood nearer to being unified than at any time in her long history. It was a triumph of love, of gratitude, of devotion. I am coming back to him later, to his clean, powerful words, spoken like a fearless champion not of India but of the human race.
- The Airconditioned Nightmare, Miller, Henry Valentine, New Direction Books, New York, 1945, Vol. I, pp. 47, 68-69.
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