Swami Vivekananda at Boat House - Kashmir


Vivekananda House

Vivekananda House
Chennai, India

In a houseboat. Barely visible in the houseboat (left to right): Josephine MacLeod, Swami Vivekananda, Mrs. Ole Bull, Sister Nivedita.15 Swamiji received the terrible news of Goodwin’s death while he was staying at Almora. Apparently he had become impatient and restless to leave the place where he had received this sad news. According to the Life, “It was decided to spend some time in Kashmir. On June l1, 1898, therefore, with the women disciples who had come with him from Kolkata, he left Almora for Kashmir.” 16 Although not shown in the photograph, Mrs. Patterson, wife of the American consul general in Kolkata and friend and admirer of Swamiji, was also in the party. In the four dungas (houseboats) their memorable travel began. Josephine MacLeod “was fascinated by the practicality of the dungas. She described them: These boats called dungas are about seventy feet long [perhaps thirty feet] and broad enough to have two single beds in them and a corridor between, covered with a matting house; so wherever we wanted a window we only had to roll up the matting. The whole roof could be lifted in the daytime and thus we lived in the open, yet knew there was always a roof over our heads. We had four of these dungas, one for Mrs. Ole Bull and me, one for Mrs. Patterson [who accompanied them only to Anantnag and then left them to join her husband] and Sister Nivedita and one for swami and one of his monks. [Until the end of their stay in Kashmir Vivekananda was alone in the boat. It was only just before they left the valley that Swami Saradananda was sent for to join them.] We stayed in Kashmir four months, said Joe, the first three in these simple little boats until after September, when it got so cold, we took an ordinary houseboat with fireplaces and there enjoyed the warmth of a real house.” 17 The Western pilgrims were in raptures. In the words of Sister Nivedita, “The whole was a symphony in blue and green and white, so exquisitely pure and vivid that for a while the response of the soul to its beauty was almost pain!” 18 They were all enchanted by the company of Swamiji who charmed them with his knowledge of the countryside and its history. He was often so deeply absorbed in his own thoughts and various exalted moods that he completely forgot all thought of food or drink. ❊ ❊ ❊ And so you see, all this is but a feeble manifestation of the great ideas which alone are real and perfect. Somewhere is an ideal you, and here is an attempt to manifest it! The attempt falls short still in many ways. Still—go on! You will interpret the ideal some day. (Master, 118)


  • Title: Swami Vivekananda at Boat House - Kashmir
  • Date Created: 1898-09-20
  • Location: Kashmir, India
  • Subject Keywords: Swami Vivekananda, Swami Vivekananda at Kashmir, Swami Vivekananda at Kashmir boat house
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Rights: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Accession ID: Photograph 70

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