Swami Vivekananda at California


Vivekananda House

Vivekananda House
Chennai, India

While in South Pasadena Swamiji stayed at the home of the Mead sisters—Mrs. Alice Hansbrough, Mrs. Carrie Wyckoff, and Miss Helen Mead. The other members of the household were Mr. Mead (the sisters’ father), his two grandchildren—Mrs. Hansbrough’s daughter, Dorothy, and Mrs. Wyckoff ’s son, Ralph, and the housekeeper, Miss Fairbanks. “How so many people could fit comfortably into so small a house is a marvel. But even with guests, they managed with apparent ease.” 12 In this photo Swamiji is shown standing, leaning on an umbrella, at a corner of the Meads’ house, the rose vine at his back, “while Mrs. Wyckoff, standing on the porch, peeps from behind a pillar. Only a portion of the house is visible in this particular photograph; but in the book Swami Turiyananda by Swami Ritajananda there is a full view of it.” 13 The house, now known as the Vivekananda House, located at 309 Monterey Road, South Pasadena, was purchased in 1955 by a devotee and was deeded over to the Vedanta Society of Southern California. It was restored to its original state preserving its Victorian flavor and was dedicated in 1956. Since that time it has been further renovated. In 1989 the Vivekananda House was made an official Historic Landmark. It seems possible that one of the members of the Mead household could have taken this photo as well as the following one, no. 86. In her reminiscences recounted in 1941 Mrs. Alice Hansbrough said with regard to her first meeting with Swamiji: “It was a few days after his second lecture—as I mentioned, Miss MacLeod had arranged for us to call on him at Mrs. Blodgett’s home, and my sister Helen and I went one morning, about the middle of September (?). He was dressed to receive us in the long, knee-length coat we see in the picture where he stands with Sister Lalita [Mrs. Wyckoff]. He wore a kind of minister’s collar with what must have been a clerical vest; and his hair was covered by a black turban which rolled back something like those the women wear here now. This was the dress he always wore on the street.” 14 ❊ ❊ ❊ In the history of mankind, you will find that there come these Messengers, and that from their very birth their mission is found and formed. . . . Because they come with a mission, they come with a message, they do not want to reason. . . . They speak direct. . . . They see the Truth. And not only do they see it but they show it! . . . When they speak the world is bound to listen. When they speak, each word is direct; it bursts like a bombshell. . . . They come to give. They command, they are the Messengers. (CW [1978] 4:122-24)


  • Title: Swami Vivekananda at California
  • Date Created: 1900-01
  • Location: South Pasadena, California
  • Subject Keywords: Swami Vivekananda, Swami Vivekananda at Meads home, Swami vivekananda in California
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Rights: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Accession ID: Photograph 85

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