Swami Vivekananda - California - Close up


Vivekananda House

Vivekananda House
Chennai, India

Crop of Swamiji from picnic photo 87. In her reminiscences about Swamiji’s stay at their house, Mrs. Hansbrough mentioned that Swamiji would come to the breakfast table with his hair tousled. Although he was very careful about his dress when he went out, while at home he was careless about his appearance. He would jokingly remark: “Why should I be careful of my dress at home? I don’t want to get married!” 19 When she was questioned about Swamiji’s hair, Mrs. Hansbrough replied that his black hair was long and wavy. “And as one can see from photographs taken of him at this period, it was fairly long. This was not by chance, but was, rather, a concession to popular demand. ‘His hair was beautifully wavy,’ Mrs. Hansbrough recalled. ‘In fact, it was so beautiful and it set off his features so well that we would not let him cut it. Swamiji himself,’ she continued, ‘did not object. He was wholly devoid of self-consciousness.’ ” 20 Another interesting reference to Swamiji in his picnic photos comes from Mrs. Allan during Swamiji’s stay at Alameda in 1900. “At other times, Swamiji would entertain a group of friends with jokes and stories, or suddenly growing serious in response to a need or a question, would discourse on some aspect of spiritual reality or spiritual practice. Mrs. Allan, for instance, told of the moonlit evening of Easter Sunday, when a small group gathered on the wide, wisteria-curtained porch. Swamiji sat on the railing, smoking his after-dinner pipe. The air was cool, and someone thought he should have a hat. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘Bring the red one.’ (This was the hat with ear flaps, Mrs. Allan recalled, that one sees him wearing in the picnic photograph taken in South Pasadena.)” 21 ❊ ❊ ❊ What is meant by renunciation? That there is only one ideal in morality: unselfishness. Be selfless. The ideal is perfect unselfishness. . . . For it is not only the end, but also the means. To be unselfish, perfectly selfless, is salvation itself; for the man within dies, and God alone remains. (CW [1978] 4:150)


  • Title: Swami Vivekananda - California - Close up
  • Date Created: 1900-01
  • Location: South Pasadena, California
  • Subject Keywords: Swami Vivekananda, Swami Vivekananda at South Pasadena
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Rights: Sri Ramakrishna Math & Mission, Belur Math
  • Accession ID: Photograph 88

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