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New Research Findings by Carl Aronsson

I have recently discovered an unrecorded letter by Swami Vivekananda from his second visit to England which was sent to the Rev. Hugh R. Haweis, who was a delegate of the Anglican Church at the World Parliament of Religions and where he first met Vivekananda.

The Rev was a very popular and well known preacher and drew big crowds to his sermons (inc evening sermons at Westminster Abbey), he also wrote books. It is recorded that he admired and praised Vivekananda in his sermons and he sent him his book (The Key of Doctrine & Practice - pub. 1884) together with a letter dated 17 July 1896 which is described in detail in Marie Louise Burke's books Swami Vivekananda in the West - New Discoveries Volume 4; pages 193-4 - for excerpt see 1 below.

1. Letter to Vivekananda from Rev Haweis 17 July 1896

Mr Haweis sent him a little book of his sermons, inscribing it:

"To the Master Vivekananda from one who both reverences and admires his teachings, H.R. Haweis."

A note accompanying the gift read:

My dear Scwami

With every sentiment of profound esteem & admiration I wish you heartily God speed and return to London. Your teaching is a kind peculiarly adapted to the Western mind & you are doing inestimable good – Allow me to ask your acceptance of the accompanying little booklet 10,000 of which are now in circulation. It is nothing but a few condensed short hand reports of my general teaching – Yours truly and faithfully H.R. Haweis

Source: the letter from Rev Haweis dated 17 July 1896 in the Sara Chapman Bull papers.

2. Vivekananda letter to Rev Haweis 17 July 1896 (New discovery)

The letter was attached inside the 1st edition book "Raja Yoga" written by Vivekananda and published on 13 July 1896. The book has the owner's inscription Hugolin Haweis - Rev. Haweis' daughter.

The letter is signed and also signed on the outer letter sheet - the book was probably given with the letter as it was newly published (4 days prior to the letter). Vivekanada went on vacation to Switzerland on 19 July 1896.

Handwritten letter:

63 St George's Road, London SW
17th July (1896)

Dear Friend

Many many thanks for your very instructive book.
I have been going through a few pages already and have already learned a few great and beautiful lessons. One specially where you insist that the life of Lord Jesus is the only commentary to his teachings and whenever the teachings as recorded contradict the life we are sure that the record was wrong. That is wonderful insight and Keen reason. I am sure to read the book several times over and learn many a lesson. May the Lord speak through you long - for the world needs and never more than now, inspired souls like yourself.
Ever yours in the Lord.
It is the only letter by Vivekananda to a prominent Christian minister.

You can see the original letter with blog on the following link:

3. Rev Haweis book The Key of Doctrine & Practice (1884)

The great and beautiful lesson Vivekananda refers to in his letter is described in the sermon "Hell" (page 46-47):

“But how about Christ’s own words?
1. Remember that Christ’s words have passed through half a century of oral tradition and more than one written account before they reach us in the earliest gospel, Mark.
2.That Christ used freely the old watchwords of Jewish theology, the prophetic images and popular beliefs, infusing into them His own higher teaching, but that He was often misunderstood (of which He repeatedly complained), therefore no doubt occasionally misreported , as He must have been...
Hence arises for us, in these latter days, a new canon of criticism and interpretation.
It is this: that whenever the reported words of Christ are in flagrant opposition to the events of human history, or to the spirit of His own teaching, or to the character and purposes of God to usward, as revealed in the general drift and tenour of the Gospels, there has been some mistake in the reporting or transmission.”

4. Vivekananda lecture "Christ the Messenger"

This highlighted lesson learnt by Vivekananda is used by him in his lecture "Christ the Messenger" on 7 January 1900 in Los Angeles. Excerpt from the lecture:

".....So, we find Jesus of Nazareth, in the first place, the true son of the Orient, intensely practical. He has no faith in this evanescent world and all its belongings. No need of text-torturing, as is the fashion in the west in modern times, no need of stretching out texts until they will not stretch any more. Texts are not India-rubber, and even that has its limits.

Now, no making of religion to pander to the sense vanity of the present day!

Mark you, let us all be honest. If we cannot follow the ideal, let us confess our weakness, but not degrade it; let us not try to pull it down.

One gets sick at heart at the different accounts of the life of the Christ that Western people give. I do not know what he was or what he was not! One would make him a great politician; another, perhaps, would make of him a great military general; another, a great patriotic Jew, and so on.

Is there any warrant in the books for all such assumptions? The best commentary on the life of a great teacher is his own life. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."

That is what Christ says is the only way to salvation; he lays down no other way. Let us confess in sackcloth and ashes that we cannot do that. We still have fondness for 'me' and 'mine'. We want property, money, wealth. Woe unto us! Let us confess and not put shame to that great Teacher of Humanity!

He had no other occupation in life; no other thought except that one, that he was a Spirit. He was a dis-embodied, unfettered, unbound Spirit. And not only so, but he, with his marvellous vision, had found every man and woman, whether Jew of Gentile, whether rich or poor, whether saint or sinner, was the embodiment of the same un-dying Spirit as himself. Therefore, the one work his whole life showed, was calling upon them to realise their own spiritual nature. Give up, he says, these superstitious dreams that you are low and that you are poor.

Think not that you are trampled upon and tyrranized over as if you were slaves, for within you is something that can never be trampled upon, never be troubled, never be killed. You are all Sons of God, Immortal Spirit. "Know", he declared, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you".














- www.vivekananda.net edited by Frank Parlato Jr.

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