Journey to the West
Swamiji swam back to the shore. He then went to Madras. There he had many disciples. He told them that in his travels he had found that India was asleep. India was like a person who had been asleep for hundreds of years. She had to be awakened.
Swamiji now explained the plan he had thought of. He would go away from India. He would see what the people in other countries were doing. They had faith in themselves, so they could do anything. Also he would tell them all about India. India believes that nothing is stronger than the spirit that is in man. But now India has forgotten this. She has no faith.
‘Our people have lost faith in themselves,’ said Swamiji sadly ‘I will bring back that faith to them. Now I go; but when I return, I shall awaken the sleeping millions of my people.’
A Parliament of Religions was to be held in America, in the city of Chicago. Leaders of all the different religions of the world were going to speak.
‘I will go there,’ Swamiji said, ‘I will tell them about the ancient religion of India. I will tell them what I know, and I will learn from them the things they know.’
Chicago was many thousands of miles away. To get there, money was needed. Swamiji’s disciples in Madras collected money. And the Raja of Khetri, one of his disciples, also gave him much help. But Swamiji said that he was not yet ready to go. He said: ‘I shall not go, until I know that God wants me to go. If it is God’s plan, I shall go, otherwise not.’
One day, Swamiji was standing on the seashore looking at the beautiful sea and thinking about his plan. Then he saw a marvellous thing. In a vision, he saw Sri Ramakrishna walking on the sea. He was asking Swamiji, by signs, to follow him! Now Swamiji knew that it was his duty to go to America. It was the wish of Sri Ramakrishna.
It was on the 31st May 1893 that Swami Vivekananda sailed for America. He boarded the ship at Bombay. The Captain gave his orders. The ship’s whistle sounded a long, loud blast; and the ship sailed out of the harbour.
Swamiji watched the shores of India until they faded into the distance. Mother India faded from his sight But she stayed in his heart and he never ceased to serve her.
- Swami Vivekananda