Swami Vivekananda and Narasimhacharya


Vivekananda House

Vivekananda House
Chennai, India

Swami Vivekananda and Narasimhacharya 8. This unposed snapshot is one of the first pictures of Swamiji in America. “Perhaps it is not so clear as one would like his pictures to be, but it nonetheless belongs to his history.”9 It can be reasonably assumed that it was taken in the room marked “No. 1—keep out.” The following appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript on September 30, 1893: There is a room at the left of the entrance to the Art Palace marked “No. 1—keep out.” To this the speakers at the Congress of Religions all repair sooner or later, either to talk with one another or with President Bonney, whose private office is in one corner of the apartment. . . . The most striking figure one meets in this anteroom is Swami Vivekananda, the Brahmin monk. He is a large, well-built man, with the superb carriage of the Hindustanis, his face clean shaven, squarely molded regular features, white teeth, and with well-chiseled lips that are usually parted in a benevolent smile while he is conversing. His finely poised head is crowned with either a lemon colored or a red turban, and his cassock (not the technical name for this garment), belted in at the waist and falling below the knees, alternates in a bright orange and rich crimson. He speaks excellent English and replied readily to any questions asked in sincerity.10 “In a letter dated November 2, 1893, Swamiji asked his Chennai disciple Alasinga Perumal for information regarding a Chennai boy called Narasimhacharya, who ‘has cropped up in our midst.’ ‘He has been loafing about the city for the last three years,’ he wrote. ‘Loafing or no loafing, I like him, but please write to me all about him, if you know anything. He knows you. He came in the year of the Paris Exhibition [1889] to Europe.’ “This ‘boy called Narasimhacharya’ is without question the same Narasimhacharya who is pictured peering intently over Swamiji’s shoulder in [this photograph] and who was described 69 70 PHOTOGRAPHS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA Photograph 17 (continued) in the Boston Evening Transcript as ‘often seen in the anteroom, leaning with graceful abandon on the table in the center of the room, his bright boyish face lighting up as he freely airs his opinions upon the Indian civilization and ours.’ ” 11 ❊ ❊ ❊ I addressed the assembly as “Sisters and Brothers of America,” a deafening applause of two minutes followed, and then I proceeded, and when it was finished, I sat down, almost exhausted with emotion. (Letters, 54) Actual words of the address: Sisters and Brothers of America, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. (CW [1984] 1:3)


  • Title: Swami Vivekananda and Narasimhacharya
  • Date Created: 1893-09
  • Location: Chicago, America
  • Subject Keywords: Swami Vivekananda and Narasimhacharya, Swamiji in America
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Rights: Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Accession ID: Photograph 17

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