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CALCUTTA, circa 1885

Photograph 1

The best descriptions of Swamiji

around this time have been given
by his master, Sri Ramakrishna. On
a certain occasion the Master said
to the disciples present, pointing to
Narendranath, “Behold! Here is
Naren. See! See! Oh what power of
insight he has! It is like the
shoreless sea of radiant knowledge!
The Mother, Mahamaya Herself,
cannot approach within less than
ten feet of him! She is barred by the
very glory which She has imparted
to him!”
CALCUTTA, circa 1886
Photograph 2

Sri Ramakrishna once said of Swamiji: “He is a burning, roaring fire

consuming all impurities to ashes.”
Photograph 3

Judging from Swamiji’s

appearance, this photo seems
to have been taken around
the same time as the two
following photographs, 4 and

Shortly before Sri

Ramakrishna gave up his
body at Cossipore, Swamiji
had an exalted spiritual
experience there. Seeing him
Sri Ramakrishna said: “Now
then, the Mother has shown
you everything. Just as a
treasure is locked up in a box,
so will this realization you
have just had be locked up
and the key shall remain with
me. You have work to do.
When you have finished my
work, the treasure box will be
unlocked again; and you will
know everything then, as you
did just now.”


Photograph 4

1. Atul 2. Amrita 3. Vaikuntha Sannyal 4. Bhavanath

Chatterjee 5. Baburam (Swami Premananda) 6. Narendra
(Swami Vivekananda) 7. Ram Chandra Datta 8. Gopal Ghosh
(Swami Advaitananda) 9. Sharat (Swami Saradananda) 10.
Balaram Bose 11. Latu (Swami Adbhutananda) 12. Shashi
(Swami Ramakrishnananda) 13. Rakhal (Swami
Brahmananda) 14. Nityagopal 15. Yogindra (Swami
Yogananda) 16. Devendra Nath Mazumdar 17. Tarak (Swami
Shivananda) 18. Young Gopal 19. Nitya Niranjan (Swami
Niranjanananda) 20. Narayan 21. Manilal Mallick 22. Fakir
23. Surendra 24. Bhupati 25. Harish 26. Girindra 27. Vinod
28. M. (Mahendra Nath Gupta) 29. Kali (Swami
Abhedananda) 30. Navagopal Ghosh 31. Gangadhar (Swami
Akhandananda) 32. Mahimacharan 33. Manomohan Mitra.

The pictures [4 and 5] show the following: . . . There are at

the four corners of the cot [cot not shown] upright members
for supporting a mosquito curtain. The top and bottom
uprights of the cot’s left side are tied with garlands. Part of
the Cossipore garden house is shown behind. A pile of
bedding (possibly bedding used by Ramakrishna, set out to
sun) can be seen on the left. More than fifty people -
devotees and friends -are seen in the picture, ranged
behind the cot. About half of these people have been

Balaram Basu is seen holding a staff with a symbol on the

top of it. Chakrabarty identifies this as a symbol of the
harmony of religions. In the symbol the trident of the
Shaivites, the Om of the Advaitists, the kanthi (a hand
holding a necklace of tulsi beads) of the Vaishnavas, the
half?moon of the Muslims, and the cross of the Christians
are seen. [This symbol seems to have been drawn on the
top of one of the posts of the cot that Balaram Bose is
holding on to.]

The two photos are similar except that some of the

devotees have changed their positions; and in one Narendra
is wearing a chaddar over the upper part of his body, while
in the other [# 4] he is bare from the waist up. . . .

[After the Master entered mahasamadhi] the news had

spread all over Calcutta and people came in large numbers
to have a last look at the Master’s form. It was hoped by
some that the Master was not dead but only in an unusually
deep samadhi. At about noon Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar, who
had been attending Sri Ramakrishna, arrived. He examined
the body and said that life had departed only half an hour
before. Dr. Sarkar’s opinion was accepted as final.”

Swami Vidyatmananda of Gretz copied the following excerpt

from Dr. Sarkar’s handwritten diary, which had been in the
possession of the late Swami Advayananda, Advaita

Monday, August 16, 1886: His disciples, some at least, were

under the impression that he was in samadhi, not dead. I
dispelled this impression. I asked them to have his
photograph taken and gave them Rs. 10/ as my

Afterwards about 5:00 p.m. when Sri Ramakrishna had been

dressed in an ochre cloth and decorated with sandal paste
and flowers, the photographs were taken.

Swami Abhedananda gave the following account of the


Gradually the news of the Master’s passing away spread

and people began to flock to the Cossipore garden house.
At 10:00 a.m. Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar came. He checked the
Master’s pulse and examined him carefully. Then he
declared that the Master had breathed his last a half hour
earlier. . . . Listening to the doctor’s report, we lost all hope.
Arrangements were then made for cremation of the
Master’s divine body. Dr. Sarkar gave ten rupees so a
photograph could be taken and then left with a heavy heart.
At that time we all felt completely helpless. We felt that our
entire source of strength and hope had gone. We thought:
Now what shall we do? On whom shall we depend? And how
shall we pass our days? . . .

The Bengal Photographers Studio was called to take

photographs of the Master’s mahasamadhi. Sri
Ramakrishna’s body was placed on a cot which was
decorated all over with flowers. Then the Master’s body was
adorned with sandal paste on his face and garlands around
his neck. Ram Datta stood in front of the cot and asked
Narendra to stand by his side. The rest of us stood silently
behind on the staircase. The Bengal Photographers took two
group photographs.


Photograph 5

See photo information under photograph 4.


Photograph 6
A Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna was published by the San Francisco
Vedanta Society in 1912 under Swami Trigunatita’s direction. A quaint
variation of this Baranagore Math photograph was printed in the 1912
edition of the Gospel. Perhaps Swami Trigunatita, not wanting to offend
Western sensibilities, had this photo reproduced with the monks and
devotees fully clothed. On a photo removed from one of the Gospels,
Swami Trigunatita made the following identification in his own

1. Our King -Swamiji

2. Niranjanananda
3. Saradananda
4. Ramakrishnananda
5. Abhedananda ( Hootka) Gopal*
6. Sivananda
7. 'M'-author
8. Devan
9. H. Mastafi
10. our cook*
11.Swami Trigunatita -the servant of all.’
in some publications (Hootka) Gopal has often been misidentified as
Swami Brahmananda and the cook as Swami Premananda.

In one of his articles on the Baranagore Math, Swami Prabhananda of

the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, said, A
group photo of the monks and a few householder devotees, taken on 30
January 1887 shows some of them wearing only a loin cloth and others
wearing ochre cloth. The following incident has been recorded about
this photograph. “After the Master’s death Devendra [Devendra Nath
Mazumdar] visited from time to time the Baranagore monastery and the
Kankurgachi Yogodyana. Once when Devendra was at the monastery
with his uncle [H. Mastafi], Swami Vivekananda asked him to become a
monk. Devendra replied that Sri Ramakrishna had told him to lead the
life of a householder. Swamiji himself then dressed Devendra in the
ochre cloth of a monk, and a group photo was taken at the monastery.
Devendra felt such intense renunciation that day that he told his uncle
he would not return home. Only after much persuasion did Devendra
finally consent to go back with his uncle, but his dispassionate mood
continued for a month. Devendra later acknowledged that it was
because of Swamiji’s power that he had felt that way.

JAIPUR, 1891 (probably)

Photograph 7

Photos 7 and 8 were probably taken

on the same day in Jaipur, 1891.
The Life mentions: “At Jaipur the
disciple [perhaps Lala Govinda
Sahai whom Swamiji initiated in
Rajputana in 1891] insisted on the
swami’s posing for a photograph.
The swami, much against his
wishes, finally consented. This was
the first time that a photo of him as
a wandering monk was taken.”

Another reference to photo # 7

having been taken in Jaipur appears
in Swami Vivekananda: A Forgotten
Chapter of His Life, by Beni Shankar
Sharma: “Furthermore, very few
people know that the turban that the swami always wore . . . was worn
at the suggestion of Ajit Singh [the Maharaja of Khetri]. Swami
Vivekananda being a Bengali did not wear a turban, or any headgear,
and in the first of his photographs, which was taken at Jaipur at the
request of his Alwar friends in 1891, before he met the Maharaja of
Khetri, we find him without his now inseparable turban. It was after his
meeting with the Maharaja and his visit to Khetri that we find him with
his characteristic turban. When Swami Vivekananda visited Khetri as
Vividishananda for the first time, it was summer and the loo, or hot
winds of Rajasthan, during this period are well?known. Besides, from
Swamiji’s letters, we find that he was mortally afraid of the loo. When
the Maharaja saw his discomfort, he advised him to wear a turban, just
as he himself and all the people of the locality wore, to save himself
from the loo, a suggestion which the swami readily accepted. The
Maharaja in fact himself taught him how to wind the turban.”

In all the subsequent photos of Swamiji during his wandering days he is,
in fact, pictured wearing a turban.

These photos (# 7 and 8) have sometimes been identified as having

been taken in various places other than Jaipur such as Trivandrum,
Bangalore, or Mysore, 1892, and sometimes as Chennai, 1893. Photo 7
appears as the frontispiece in the 1901 edition of Inspired Talks
published in Mylapore, Chennai, during Swami Ramakrishnananda’s
stay in Chennai. It bears the caption: “From a photograph taken just
before leaving Madras for the Parliament of Religions at Chicago,
showing the swami in the orange robe and with the shaven head of the
sannyasin.” It is not known where this information originated. Some are
of the opinion that the photo was taken in Chennai simply because it
appeared in a book which was published during Swami
Ramakrishnananda’s time. It should be noted, however, that Swami
Ramakrishnananda was not in Chennai in 1893 when Swamiji was
there, but was sent there after Swamiji returned from the West the first
time in 1897.

Another reference to the possibility of this photo having been taken in

Chennai can be found in the reminiscences of A. Srinivas Pai, who was a
student in the Presidency College, Chennai, in 1893. He mentions: “The
bare?headed photographs in the book, Swami Vivekananda’s Speeches
and Writings, published by Messrs. G. A. Natesan & Co. give a good idea
of the appearance of the swami. But no photograph or description can
give a correct idea of the power of his eyes. They were wonderful. Like
the ‘Ancient Mariner’ in Coleridge’s famous poem he ‘held you by the
eye.’ ” This is one of the photographs that appears in that book.
Clearly there are diverse interpretations as to where these photos (7
and 8) were taken.

JAIPUR, 1891 (probably)
Photograph 8

See photo information under Photog


Photograph 9

Haripada Mitra was one of Swamiji's

hosts while he was staying in
Belgaum in 1892. In his
reminiscences, he recalled his first
impression of Swamiji when he was

Here is a learned Bengali sannyasin who has come to meet

you.” I turned back and found a serene figure with his eyes
flashing like lightning and a face clean shaven. His body
was covered with an ochre robe, in [on] his feet he had
strapped sandals of the Maharashtrian type; and on his
head was an ochre turban. The figure was so impressive
that it is still vivid in my memory.

Haripada convinced Swamiji to accept both him and his wife as

disciples. In his reminiscences, he remarked further:

I had a desire to have his photograph. He would not agree. I

persisted, and after a long drawn tussle, he gave his
consent and a photograph was taken on the 28th. [This
photo was taken prior to the twenty-eighth, since Swamiji is
reported to have left Belgaum on the twenty-seventh.] As
Swamiji had not agreed to be photographed on an earlier
occasion, in spite of the earnest request of another
gentleman, I had to send two copies of this one to him on

Another source states:

The small wooden stand that can be seen at the left corner is still
preserved at the studio. The name of the studio was “S. Mahadev &
Son” and the photograph was taken by one Govinda Shrinivas Welling
(d. 1926). The studio still exists (Welling Camera Works, Welling House,
B.C. 86, Belgaum Cantt. 590-001), but is no more in business, having
closed down in 1970.

Another reference that certainly seems to apply to this photo is given in

Sailendra Nath Dhar’s biography on Swamiji. Around this time
Mahendra Nath Datta, Swamiji’s brother, received a photograph in the
mail from someone who preferred to remain anonymous, but who had
obviously been directed by Swamiji to send it. Dhar says:

The photo was of the swami dressed in a long coat reaching

up to his knees and stuffed with cotton which made them
happy specially because it showed that he had improved in

This photograph is the only one taken during Swamiji’s wanderings that
fits this unique description.

While in Belgaum, Swamiji met one Dr. V. V. Shirgaonkar and expressed

to him his wish to visit some seminaries in Goa so that he might study
Christian theology from some old Latin manuscripts. Swamiji then
proceeded to Margaon in Goa. Dr. Shirgaonkar contacted his friend
Subrai Naik in Margaon, requesting him to assist Swamiji. Naik warmly
welcomed Swamiji, helped him to visit one of the oldest Catholic
seminaries, which was about four miles from Margaon, and also took
him into his own home and accommodated him “in a room adjoining the
temple of Damodarji, his family deity. The room, together with whatever
furniture Swamiji used, has been preserved to this day as a memorial to
his visit. Before Swamiji’s departure Naik asked him for his photograph.
The photograph presented to him by Swamiji has also been preserved
by the descendants of Naik.” The photograph that Swamiji gave Naik is
most likely this one which was taken in Belgaum.


Photograph 10

This photo was taken by Prince

Martanda Varma of Travancore. K.
Sundararama Iyer, the tutor of
Prince Martanda Varma (the first
prince of Travancore), remarked in
his reminiscences: “The Prince was
struck, like all others who had come
into contact with him, with the
swami’s striking figure and
attractive features; and being an
amateur photographer, asked the
swami for a sitting and took a fine
photograph which he skillfully
developed into an impressive picture and later on sent as an interesting
exhibit to the next Fine Arts Exhibition held in the Chennai Museum.”

PLACE UNKNOWN (at present), circa 1892 or early 1893

Photograph 11
This photo is usually identified as "probably Belgaum," 1892 and the
next photo, # 12, as Hyderabad, 1893. This information seems
doubtful. Upon close examination it appears that both of these
photographs were taken on the same day, wherever it may have been.
There are reasons to believe that photo #11 was not taken in Belgaum.
Haripada Mitra, Swamiji’s disciple in Belgaum, with whom he stayed for
nine days (October 1927, 1892), arranged for photo # 9. Initially
Swamiji resisted being photographed, so it is not likely that he would
have agreed to have a second and a third photograph taken while in
Belgaum. (See note under photo # 9)

Vivekananda: A Biography in Pictures mentions another account which

says that this photo (# 11) was the first one taken of Swamiji in
Chennai. It is said that when Swamiji saw this photo, he remarked that
"it looked like the picture of a leader of a gang of dacoits!"

Within the last couple of years, Swami Chetanananda of the Vedanta

Society of St. Louis found a Bengali reference in the Udbodhan archives
that he thinks refers to this photo. It reads: "Swamiji’s sitting pose:
Jaipur after Alwar beginning of April 1891." There was no actual photo
with this description.

The photographs of Swamiji during his wandering days in 1892 and

early 1893 clearly confirm the accounts given by those who met him at
that time. When Swamiji first arrived in Belgaum, he stayed with the
father of G. S. Bhate who remembered that the swami "was rather
striking in appearance and appeared to be even at first sight somewhat
out of the common run of men. . . . Though he wore clothes bearing the
familiar color of a sannyasin’s garments, he appeared to be dressed
differently from the familiar brotherhood of sannyasins. He used to wear
a banyan [tee shirt]. Instead of the danda he carried a long stick,
something like a walking stick. His kit consisted of the usual gourd, a
pocket copy of the Gita, and one or two books." B. G. Tilak remarked:
"The swami avoided mixing with society. There was absolutely no
money with him. A deerskin, one or two clothes and a kamandalu were
his only possessions."

PLACE UNKNOWN (at present), circa 1892 or early 1893

Photograph 12

Another interesting anecdote about

Swamiji’s appearance around this
time comes from D. B. Raghunath
Rao, the youngest son of D. R.
Balaji Rao of Chennai, who was a
close friend of Swamiji. Balaji told
his son: "Swamiji was an arresting
personality with handsome
features, always smiling and had a
robust constitution. His voice had a
pleasant ringing tone." Raghunath
Rao continues: "My father who was
fond of tying his turban in various
modes, presented one such length
of cloth to Swamiji. It is this that
adorns his head in the popular
photographs published; and the
sash around his waist which we also see in the photos [Chicago, 1893]
was presented to him by the Maharaja of Khetri."

Photograph 13

This photo is often referred to as

probably at the Hale residence,
Chicago, 1893. But "Mrs. Herbert E.
Hyde (Mary Hale’s niece) could not
recognize this as being a room in
the Hale’s house or in the Walton
Place flat¾both of which places she
knew very well as a child." Sister
Gargi (Marie Louise Burke) has
speculated that if the photo were
taken in 1893 before the Parliament
of Religions, then it could possibly
have been taken in the Lyon’s
house in Chicago.

The organizers of the Parliament of

Religions lodged Swamiji in the
home of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Lyon.
When Swamiji first came to their
home, Mrs. Lyon was a little
apprehensive about how he would
be received by their other guests. In
those days there was strong racial prejudice. However, Mr. Lyon cleared
the air. He had found Swamiji in his library one morning before
breakfast. He later told his wife: "I don’t care a bit, Emily, if all our
guests leave! The Indian is the most brilliant and interesting man who
has ever been in our home and he shall stay as long as he wishes."

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 -- The East Indian Group

Photograph 14

This photograph appeared for the first time in Neely’s History of the
Parliament of Religions and Religious Congresses at the World’s
Columbian Exposition published in Chicago in 1893. From left to right:
"Narasimha Chaira [Narasimhacharya of Chennai], Lakeshnie Narain
[Lakshmi Narain, a barrister from Lahore], Swami Vivekananda, H.
Dharmapala [Anagarika Hewivitarne Dharmapala, a Buddhist from
Ceylon and later the founder of the Mahabodhi Society in Kolkata], and
Vichand Ghandi [Virchand Gandhi, a lawyer of Mumbai and the chief
exponent of the Jain religion.]"

This same photograph, as it appears in The World’s Congress of

Religions, edited by J. W. Hanson, and published in 1894, is stamped WB
Conkey Co., Chicago. According to the Prints and Photographs Division
of the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C., "WB Conkey was one of
the many ‘official’ publishing companies involved in the World’s
Columbian Exposition. Charles Dudley Arnold was the official
photographer for the WCE, however, many other photographers took
photographs at the fair."

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 -- Swami Vivekananda, Hindu Monk

Photograph 15

This photograph of Swamiji as a

delegate to the Parliament of Religions
also appeared in Neely’s History of the
Parliament of Religions. It appears to
have been taken not only on the same
day as the East Indian Group, but at
the same time. Swamiji is holding a
piece of paper in his hand (although in
this photo it is in his right hand, in the
group photo it is in his left hand) and
his official delegate tag is pinned to his
robe in both photos. The drape of his
turban and his general stance suggest
that the two photos were taken one
after the other.
Photograph 16

Swami Vivekananda on the Platform of the Parliament

From left to right: Virchand Gandhi, Hewivitarne Dharmapala, Swami

Vivekananda, and (possibly) G. Bonet Maury.

From all appearances this photo seems to have been taken on the
afternoon of the opening day of the parliament, September 11, 1893.
Swamiji appears apprehensive.

"Through all this [the parliament proceedings] Swamiji

remained seated, meditative and prayerful, letting his turn
to speak go by time and again. It was not until the
afternoon session, after four other delegates had read their
prepared papers, that, urged by the kindly and scholarly
French pastor, G. Bonet Maury, who was seated next to him,
Swamiji, inwardly bowing down to Devi Sarasvati (the
Goddess of Knowledge), arose to address the Congress and,
through it, the world."

Sister Gargi has an interesting footnote on G. Bonet Maury which bears

quoting in full: This information comes from a letter written by Swami
Siddheswarananda to Miss Josephine MacLeod, dated June 11, 1946.
The relevant passage reads: "For a long time I have been in contact
with a man of science (Paul Bennet-Maury) . . . The other day the old
mother of Paul Bennet-Maury came to see me. She is about 80 years
old and she told me that her father-in-law, a Protestant pastor, was one
of the delegates to the Chicago Parliament of Religions and a very close
friend of Swamiji. In the dais of the Parliament Pastor Bennet-Maury [G.
Bonet Maury] had his place next to Swamiji and she told me how she
had heard from him that when Swamiji was each time giving his place
to another to speak, it was Bennet-Maury, the pastor, that encouraged
Swamiji to get up and speak in spite of the hesitation that Swamiji had.
And as the old lady told me the story she got up from her seat and with
trembling emotion told me of what she had heard of the tremendous
impression produced by Swamiji when he addressed the audience as
‘Sisters and Brothers of America.’"
Photograph 17

Swami Vivekananda and Narasimhacharya

This unposed snapshot is one of the first pictures of Swamiji in America.

"Perhaps it is not so clear as one would like his pictures to be, but it
nonetheless belongs to his history." It can be reasonably assumed that
it was taken in the room marked "No. 1-keep out."
The following appeared in the Boston Evening Transcript on September
30, 1893:

There is a room at the left of the entrance to the Art Palace

marked "No. 1-keep out." To this the speakers at the
Congress of Religions all repair sooner or later, either to talk
with one another or with President Bonney, whose private
office is in one corner of the apartment. . . . The most
striking figure one meets in this anteroom is Swami
Vivekananda, the Brahmin monk. He is a large, well-built
man, with the superb carriage of the Hindustanis, his face
clean shaven, squarely molded regular features, white
teeth, and with well-chiseled lips that are usually parted in a
benevolent smile while he is conversing. His finely poised
head is crowned with either a lemon colored or a red
turban, and his cassock (not the technical name for this
garment), belted in at the waist and falling below the knees,
alternates in a bright orange and rich crimson. He speaks
excellent English and replied readily to any questions asked
in sincerity.


Photograph 18

An Actual Scene at One of the Sessions of the Parliament

This photograph was taken on the morning of September 21, 1893-the
eleventh day of the parliament. It was published in 1893 as the
frontispiece of John Henry Barrows’, The World’s Parliament of
Religions, Volume 1.

In New Discoveries we find this reference:

In passing it should be noted that in Barrows’ history there

are three published photographs of the "historic group on
the platform." These were taken on the morning of
September 14, the morning of September 21, and the
evening of September 27. In the second of these, [photo
18] which has been reproduced in the second edition of the
Life, Swamiji has been tentatively identified in the front row
of the delegates; I am sorry to say that a comparison with
an enlarged and annotated copy of the same picture shows
that this is not Swamiji but that "loafer" Narasimhacharya.


Photograph 19

Swami Vivekananda, India

This photograph was published for

the first time in volume two of
Barrows’ history in connection with
Swamiji’s talk on "Hinduism" which
was given on the ninth day of the
parliament, September 19. But to date, there is not sufficient proof that
it was taken on that day.

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)

Photograph 20

This is the famous Chicago pose. The next

seven photographs are part of what the
Vedanta Society of Northern California calls
the "Harrison series." Swamiji has
autographed five of these photos and
inscribed them with English translations of
Sanskrit sayings, some of which have the
original Sanskrit written in Bengali characters.
These photographs were taken by a
photographer named Thomas Harrison, who
was located in Chicago at that time at
"Central Music Hall, Cor. State & Randolph
Sts." Most of the Harrison photographs in the
Vedanta Society’s collection have this
information at the bottom of the pictures.

According to listings of photographers from

1847 to 1900 in the Chicago city directories,
Thomas Harrison was in business from about
1873 through 1900. The Chicago Historical Society states: "He had
several addresses ["Central Music Hall" is listed as his 1893 address]
and probably went into business with D. R. Coover for a short time. We
have many cabinet card portraits of Chicagoans taken at the Harrison
studios, all with the same identification stamp."

The original photos of Swamiji taken at Harrison’s studio were actually

cabinet card portraits, which were the predominant type of media that
Harrison used. The cabinet card was a new style of portrait photography
which came into vogue around 1867. It had several new features
including various styles of posing, improved lighting, and the use of
background scenery or props to add flair to the photograph. The various
poses of Swamiji taken at Harrison’s studio show his successful use of
these different techniques.

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)

Photograph 21

Swamiji has written in Bengali

characters, as well as in English: “One
infinite pure and holy-- beyond thought
beyond qualities I bow down to thee" -
Swami Vivekananda”
Photograph 22

During the Parliament of Religions, this

poster of Swamiji (based on photo 21)
was made by the Goes Lithographic Co.,
Chicago, 1893. It was posted throughout
the city to draw people’s attention to the
fair. Swamiji had become famous
overnight and was a major attraction.

This copy of the poster, which was made

from one of the original posters now in
the possession of the Vedanta Society,
Berkeley, bears the following inscription:
“To Hollister Sturges-- All strength and
success be yours is the constant prayer
of your friend, Vivekananda”

Hollister Sturges was the son of Mrs.

Betty (Sturges) Leggett--the family
members of whom were all dear to
Swamiji’s heart.

Another reference to this poster can be found in New Discoveries,

volume 5:199:

In Chicago Mrs. Blodgett acquired a large colored poster of

him [Swamiji], which she hung in her home in Los Angeles,
never dreaming that he would one day be her guest. This
poster, hanging incredibly over her [Miss Josephine
MacLeod’s] dying brother’s bed, had greeted Miss MacLeod
when she had arrived from Ridgely Manor. Astounded, she
had asked Mrs. Blodgett, “What do you know about him?”
and Mrs. Blodgett had told her story. “I know him,” Miss
MacLeod had said, and then, “Why don’t you ask him
here?” “To my cottage?” “He will come.” And in her
memoirs she relates: “In three weeks my brother was dead
and in six weeks Swamiji was there.” (Later on Miss
MacLeod brought this poster, which showed Swamiji
standing in his robe and turban, to Ridgely Manor, where
she mounted it in a toweringly high-backed Gothic chair. For
years it remained thus in her bedroom. “One would hardly
dare go into her room,” Mrs. Frances Leggett told me,“--this
enormous thing appearing there!”)

CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)

Photograph 23

Swamiji has inscribed this photo:

“Samata sarvabhuteshu
etanmuktasya lakshanam. Equality
in all beings this is the sign of the
free -- Vivekananda”
CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)
Photograph 24

This photograph of Swamiji bears the

inscription: “Thou art the only treasure in
this world -- Vivekananda”


Photograph 25
“Thou art the father the lord the mother the husband and
love -- Swami Vivekananda”

Swamiji mentioned the Harrison photographs early on to Alasinga

Perumal, particularly with reference to stimulating an interest in his
work amongst some of his admirers in India, such as Ajit Singh, the
Maharaja of Khetri, and His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore (Shri
Chamarajendra Wadiyar). In a letter written to Alasinga from Chicago on
November 2, 1893, he mentioned that he had sent one of these photos
to the Maharaja of Khetri.

Again on May 28, 1894, he wrote to Alasinga from Chicago: “As for the
photographs, I have not them at present. I will ask for some to be sent
over. In the meantime, you apply to the Maharaj of Khetri for some
copies he has had printed from those I sent over to him.” Then again on
July 11, 1894, he wrote to Alasinga: “I have sent a letter to H. H. of
Mysore and some photographs. You must have got yours by this time.
Present one to the Raja of Ramnad. Work on him as much as you can.
Keep correspondence with Khetri and try to spread.”

Swamiji also mentioned the Harrison photographs, often in a somewhat

surly manner, in a number of his letters written to Mrs. George Hale,
who seems to have handled Swamiji’s Harrison photo orders. In mid-July
1894, Swamiji wrote to Mrs. Hale from Fishkill Landing, New York:

As to the photographs, the first time the Babies got a few

copies, and the second time you brought a few copies; you
know they are to give 50 copies in all. Sister Isabelle knows
better than I.

Swamiji makes this humorous remark about the Chicago pose (photo
#20) and this photo (#25) in a letter dated August 5, 1894, to Mrs. Hale
written from Greenacre Inn, Eliot, Maine:

The Harrison people sent me two “nasty standing” photos--

that is all I have out of them, when they ought to give me
40 minus the 10 or 15 I have got already!!!

Again he wrote to Mrs. Hale from Annisquam on August 20, 1894:

The photographs have not reached me--except two of

Fishkill when I was there last

. Three days later he wrote:

The photographs reached safely yesterday. I cannot tell exactly
whether Harrison ought to give me more or not. They had sent
only two to me at Fishkill--not the pose I ordered though.

Clearly, Swamiji was having his difficulties with Harrison. And yet we are
deeply indebted to Harrison for the beautiful, soul-stirring images he
produced of Swamiji during his early days in America.

He penned a letter to Mary Hale from Annisquam on August 31, 1894, “I

sent two pictures to Mother Church yesterday and hope you will like
them.” On the same day he wrote to Alasinga: “I have sent over my
photograph and written to the Raja of Mysore.” Five days later in a
letter to Mrs. Hale, he mentioned: “The new arrival of the phonograph
from Khetri has not come yet. But I am not anxious because I just now
got another letter from India wherein there is no mention of the
photographs I sent showing that parcels reach later than letters.”

Obviously the Harrison photographs had made their way to India as

early as November 1893. In a letter written to Alasinga on September
27, 1894, he says:

Bhattacharya [Manmatha Nath Bhattacharya of Chennai]

writes he has not got any of my photos. I have none at
present. I will have to order for some new ones & then will
send them over.

Yet another request came from Kolkata. Swamiji wrote to Mrs. Hale on
October 27, 1894:

Will you kindly [order] for a 100 photographs to Harrison

and send them over to India to Ramdayal Chakravarty, c/o
Swami Ramakrishnananda, Varahanagar Math, Alambazar,
Calcutta. I will pay for it when I come to Chicago.

Although it is not certain which two photos (if they are still extant) the
following remark of Swamiji refers to, it is ingenuous and candid and
worth repeating. From Detroit he wrote on March 10, 1894, to Mrs. Hale:

The photographer here has sent me some of the pictures he

made. They are positively villainous. Mrs. Bagley does not
like them at all. The real fact is that between the two photos
my face has become so fat and heavy¾what can the poor
photographers do? Kindly send over four copies of

In this case Swamiji seems to have decided that Harrison’s photos were
the best of a bad bargain!
CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)
Photograph 26

Swamiji's inscription reads: "Eka eva

suhrid dharma nidhanepyanuyati yah.
Virtue is the only friend that follows us
even beyond the grave. Everything else
ends with death - Vivekananda"

This photograph was first published in

Neely's History of the Parliament of
Religions and Religious Congresses at
the World's Columbian Exposition in
1893 without the inscription, but
bearing the caption Swami
Vivekananda. It is interesting to note
that Neely published more photographs
of Swamiji than any other delegate to the parliament.
CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 1893 (Harrison)
Photograph 27

Sister Devamata related a story of

how she first heard about Swamiji.
After the Parliament of Religions, she
along with her mother and sister met
a Swedenborgian minister in Ohio,
who had attended the parliament in
Chicago. He enthusiastically
described various aspects of the
sessions to them: " 'But,' he
continued, 'there was one speaker
who stood out above all others,
because of his learning, his
eloquence and his impressive
personality. No other could compare with him except two or three
Roman Catholic prelates, and they had sent their best men.' He paused,
leaving his brilliant figure without name or nationality. 'Who was he?' I
asked eagerly. The minister replied quietly: 'A Hindu -- Swami
Vivekananda.' "
Photograph 28

This photograph was taken during the closing session of the

parliament on the evening of September 27. We know that Swamiji was
present on the platform that evening because he had been invited to
give one of the final addresses. It was in this talk that he made his
famous sweeping remark: "The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a
Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each
must assimilate the others and yet preserve its individuality and grow
according to its own law of growth."

According to New Discoveries (1:134, 36) "it is probable, though not

at present certain, that Swamiji does indeed appear, seated with regal
unconcern in the second row of delegates." To date it has not been
ascertained for sure that the person in the second row, left of center, is
in fact Swamiji.

Barrows' history describes the last session:

More than seven thousand persons were crowded into the Halls of Washington and
Columbus [Barrows writes]. For more than an hour before the time announced, the eager
crowds swept up against the doors of the Art Palace. The throng extended from the
doorways to Michigan Avenue and thence for half a block in either direction . . . . An
eyewitness reports: ". . . The last and closing scene of the great Parliament of Religions is
one that will live forever in the memory of those who were so fortunate as to be
spectators. The great Hall of Columbus was illuminated by a myriad of lights. Every inch
of room was used by the greatest crowd that ever sat within its walls. On the stage,
beneath the folds of the flags of all nations, were the representatives of all religions. The
dull, black and somber raiment of the West only intensified the radiantly contrasted garbs
of the Oriental priests." Twice during the evening flashlight photographs were taken of the
historic group on the platform.

Photograph 29

After the parliament Swamiji's

luminous personality radiated his
inner serenity. Those who were
fortunate enough to meet him at
this time said what a blessing it
was to be with him. Years later
Mary Hale recalled Swamiji as:

. . . the great and

glorious soul that
came to the
Parliament of
Religions, so full of
love of God, that his
face shone with divine
light, whose words
were fire, whose very
presence created an
atmosphere of
harmony and purity,
thereby drawing all souls to himself.

When one looks at this photograph one can easily understand what
Mary meant, for as Sister Gargi says:

One cannot fail to be moved by the childlike tenderness of

Swamiji's appearance, and by the wonderful peace and
calm of his expression.

This photo was taken by E. B. Snow in Chicago in 1894 and was

copyrighted. Swamiji's inscription reads:

Ajaramaravat prajnah vidyam arthancha chintayet/ Grihitva

iva kesheshu mrityuna dharmam acharet. When in search
of knowledge or prosperity think that you would never have
death or disease, and when worshipping God think that
death's hand is in your hair.

Early prints of this photo, and of photos 21 as well as 23 to 26 (copies of

which are in the present volume), were acquired originally by Swami

It was through the kindness of the late Swami Vishwananda,

then in charge of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society in
Chicago [1937-1965], that these photographs and other
invaluable material regarding Swamiji came to our hands,
and the story of how this material was discovered by the
swami is worth telling here, for it is an example of those
coincidences that occur so frequently in matters concerning
Swamiji. Swami Vishwananda told us that a young man,
unconnected with Vedanta, had received from his
grandmother a bundle of unpublished letters, photographs
and other material, all pertaining to Swami Vivekananda.
Knowing that his grandmother had cherished them, the
young man had kept them, and indeed might still possess
them, or perhaps by this time have discarded them, had it
not been that a friend of his was a student of Swami
Vishwananda. How this friend came to know of the bundle
of old documents is not known, but one day she told Swami
Vishwananda of its existence. The swami forthwith visited
the young man and found, with what joy we can imagine, a
veritable feast of hitherto unknown material! The young
man gladly gave him the bundle, which had originally
belonged, the swami learned, to the McKindley sisters,
nieces of Mr. and Mrs. Hale. It is such unlooked?for and
fortuitous discoveries which give us hope that eventually
more hidden material regarding Swamiji will come to light,
slowly pushing its way up through the years.


Photograph 30
Swami Vivekananda seated in front. Ralph Waldo Trine (standing) in
cowboy hat.

In this photo Swamiji is seated under the “Swami’s Pine” with his class.
“This photograph was discovered by Elva Nelson [of the Ramakrishna
Vedanta Society, Boston] and may well be the photograph he spoke of
in his letter to the Hale sisters: ‘Herewith I send a photograph Cora
Stockham took of the group under the tree. It is only a proof and will
fade away under exposure, but I cannot get anything better at present.’
Very likely a more durable print was made for both pictures [# 30 and
33] which have been taken from finished photographs.”


Photograph 31
Swami Vivekananda, Sarah Farmer (seated to his left), Charles Malloy
(standing), with white hat and walking stick.

This is yet another, heretofore unknown, picture of Swamiji seated

under his pine with one of his classes. Elva Nelson acquired this photo,
as well as # 32, from the Baha'i Archives now located at Green Acre in
Eliot, Maine.

"On July 28 an article headed VIVEKANANDA AT GREENACRE

appeared in Boston's brahminical and world?famous Evening Transcript.
It was almost certainly written by Ralph Waldo Trine, who was later to
become a well?known author on metaphysical subjects. (At that time,
he was a special correspondent for the Transcript at Greenacre, where
he had built for himself 'a little cabin . . . on the edge of a pinegrove.')
The article read in part:

Friday an extra lecture will be given by Swami Vivekananda

of India, who is spending a few weeks at Greenacre. He is
deeply interested in this unitary work which has been
inaugurated, and each morning may be seen, attired in his
flowing red robes and yellow turban, sitting cross?legged on
the ground near a wide?spreading pine, and surrounded by
a group of eager listeners, men and women, to whom he
pours out freely his treasures of knowledge and experience.
It is a rich opportunity to us who are privileged to enjoy it,
and our only regret is that so many hungry souls are
missing it.

Greenacre is very full, as are also a half?dozen or more

cottages in the vicinity: still there is room. The townspeople
are opening their rooms to accommodate the numbers who
desire to attend the lectures, which are free to all."


Photograph 32

From left to right: Swami Vivekananda, Sarah J. Farmer, M. H. Gulesian,

and Dr. Edward Everett Hale.

In New Discoveries a reference is made to another photo that Cora

Stockham took at Green Acre. “From the Portsmouth Daily Chronicle of
August 9 one learns that Miss Stockham took another group picture (yet
to be unearthed) in which Swamiji was present. This time it was in the
Tent following a lecture given by Dr. Edward Everett Hale on Thursday,
August 2. The pertinent passage reads in part:

. . . Swami Vivekananda, as a representative of the far east,

sat upon the platform, gorgeous in his scarlet and gold. At
the close of the lecture he and Dr. Hale, Mr. Gulesian [a
native of Armenia] and Miss Farmer were photographed in a
group by Miss Stockham of Chicago.”

This photo from the Baha’i Archives certainly seems to be the picture
that was lying “unearthed” until now.
Photograph 33

We now have three photos of Swamiji taken at Green Acre under his
pine. Sister Gargi poetically describes this photo: “One of these, which
was among Isabelle McKindley’s treasures, shows him standing with
folded arms, his eyes looking as eyes look when the whole world is seen
as permeated by Divinity.”
Photograph 34

This picture was taken during Swamiji’s stay at Green Acre in 1894, but
was reproduced in 1899 in a Watertown, Massachusetts newspaper
article on Green Acre.
NEW YORK, 1895 (probably between February and June)
Photograph 35

Photos 35 to 37 were taken at the Prince Studio, 31 Union Square, New

York. A report of Swamiji’s first talk of a lecture series that he was to
give in January of 1896 appeared in the New York World Telegram,
January 6, 1896. It was entitled:


The Hindoo Monk tells New Yorkers about the Truth and
Utility of Religion.

This report was accompanied by a line drawing of ‘Swami

Vivekanand,’ [based on this photo] standing solidly on the
platform of the hall, his hands behind his back. The drawing is
hardly that of a ‘tall man, of handsome face and figure,’ but it is
reproduced in this book [New Discoveries] for the readers’
amusement or indignation, as the case may be. Swamiji himself
may have thought it a good likeness. Rarely aware of his body, he
apparently did not know what it looked like. A story in illustration
of this was told to Sister Devamata by Miss Waldo and took place
in the front drawing room of 228 West Thirty-ninth Street--a long,
narrow room with two tall windows facing the street, between
which hung a mirror ‘reaching from floor to ceiling.’

This mirror [Devamata wrote] seemed to fascinate the swami. He stood

before it again and again, gazing at himself intently. In between he
walked up and down the room, lost in thought. Miss Waldo’s eyes
followed him anxiously. ‘Now the bubble is going to burst,’ she thought.
‘He is full of personal vanity.’ Suddenly he turned to her and said: ‘Ellen,
it is the strangest thing, I cannot remember how I look. I look and look
at myself in the glass, but the moment I turn away I forget completely
what I look like.’

NEW YORK, 1895

Photograph 36

In various publications this photo is

often mistaken for Chicago, 1893. The
background studio setting is the same
as # 35.

Josephine MacLeod’s life was

revolutionized by her meeting with
Swamiji during the early part of 1895
in New York. She remarked that when
she heard Swamiji speak:

Instantly to me that was truth, and

the second sentence he spoke was
truth, and the third sentence was truth.
And I listened to him for seven years
and whatever he uttered was to me
truth. From that moment life had a
different import. It was as if he made you realize that you were in
eternity. It never altered. It never grew. It was like the sun that
you will never forget once you have seen. . . . His presence, you
see, was dynamic. You cannot pass that power on unless you
have it.

NEW YORK, 1895

Photograph 37

This photograph has also been mistaken

for Chicago, 1893. One reason for the
misidentification of photo nos. 36 and 37
may be their resemblance to Swamiji’s
1893 Chicago photographs. However in
full reproductions of both of these
photos, it is clear that they were taken in
the same New York studio as # 35.

Sister Devamata recalled in her

reminiscences her first impression of
Swamiji when she heard him speak in
New York in 1895:

A sudden hush, a quiet step on the stairs,

and Swami Vivekananda passed in stately erectness up the aisle to the
platform. He began to speak; and memory, time, place, people, all
melted away. Nothing was left but a voice ringing through the void. It
was as if a gate had swung open and I had passed out on a road leading
to limitless attainment. The end of it was not visible; but the promise of
what it would be shone through the thought and flashed through the
personality of the one who gave it. He stood there¾prophet of


Photograph 38
Swamiji’s palm impression appeared in the book Language of the Hand
by Cheiro. Cheiro was a famous palmist in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. No doubt, one of Swamiji’s wealthy friends in New
York took him to Cheiro to have his palm read.

We have been trying to locate Language of the Hand, which is out of

print, to check for details that Cheiro might have given about the line
tracing of Swamiji’s palm. So far we have been unable to find the book.

When Swamiji was young he and other boys would try to foretell the
future by reading each other’s palms. “Naren was the chief palmist of
them all. He told them that he would be a monk: there was no mistake
about it. ‘See!’ he would say triumphantly, ‘there is the sure sign of a
sannyasi.’ And he would point out certain lines on his hand which an old
man had once told him were characteristic of the tendency to


Photograph 39

Swamiji used to take walks in the village of

Thousand Island Park with his students, Sister
Christine, and others.

We know of two such walks the group took

through the village. One of them took place
before the morning class and perhaps before
many people were abroad. They stopped at the Thousand Island Park
Studio, which specialized in “Portrait Photography, Instantaneous
Pictures, [and] Thousand Island Park Views,” and at the request of his
students Swamiji had tintypes taken of himself, two of which may well
have been this pose¾one full?length with a painted river?view for a
backdrop, and the other [# 40] a simple head and shoulders. “He was
so full of fun, so merry,” Mrs. Funke wrote of this occasion.


Photograph 40

This is the "head-and-shoulders"

print made at Thousand Island Park.
The original print of this head-and-
shoulders photo bears the name of
the studio: Lamson & Van Camp,
1000 Island Park, N.Y.
LONDON, 1895
Photograph 41

"The formal meeting between Swami

Vivekananda and England--the beginning of
what was to be a long and mutually
satisfactory friendship--took place on the
evening of Tuesday, October 22, in Prince’s
Hall, London. Fittingly, Swamiji chose for his
subject ‘Self-Knowledge,’ the key, as he
said in an interview, to his philosophy."

Announcements began to appear in various

London newspapers. "In addition, the Daily
Graphic, a smaller paper than the Gazette,
but, as it said of itself, ‘The most popular
home newspaper in the world,’ published
on October 21 [actually 22] a brief article
about Swamiji accompanied by a
photograph. (The Daily Graphic also
boasted that it was ‘the only illustrated
morning newspaper published in the
world.’) Its article ["An Indian Monk in
London"] reads:


An interesting figure has lately arrived in this country in the

person of Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Yogi--one who
formally renounces the world, and gives himself to study and
devotion. He left India to express his interpretation of the
Vedanta philosophy to Western people at the Parliament of
Religions held at Chicago in 1893. Since that event he has
been teaching and lecturing in America. He has now reached
England, but will, after a short visit, return to America to carry
on his self-appointed task there during the winter. He will
lecture at Prince’s Hall, Piccadilly, tomorrow evening."

In New Discoveries it is mentioned that "the portrait of Swamiji that

accompanied the above [41] was taken at the Walery Photographers, then
located on Regent Street in London, and is all the proof needed that this
now well-known picture, which shows him in profile, wearing a black
astrakhanlike hat and a clerical collar, was taken in London in 1895 and
not, as had long been supposed, in Cairo five years later. We may judge,
incidentally, that Swamiji had come into London some time before Sunday,
October 19, to sit for his photograph, for on Monday, the twentieth, he
wrote from Caversham to Miss MacLeod, who had recently arrived in the
city, that he would not be able to come in to see her until the day of the

It can be reasonably assumed that the next five photographs (42 to 46)
were taken at the same sitting. In two of these photographs Swamiji is
without his cap, but in every other detail he appears the same, including
his robe and buttoned clerical collar.

LONDON, 1895
Photograph 42

Mr. Desai who attended Swamiji’s

first public lecture in London recalled:

That was the first time I saw the

commanding figure of the great
swami. He looked more like an Indian
Prince than a sadhu (holy man). He had a bhagva patka (ochre
colored turban) on his head. He electrified the audience by his
grand and powerful oratory. The next day the report appeared in
the papers that he was the next Indian after Keshab Chandra Sen,
who had surprised the English audience by his magnificent
oratory. He spoke on the Vedanta. His large eyes were rolling like
anything, and there was such an animation about him that it
passeth description. After the meeting was over, the swami took
off his turban and put on a huge and deep Kashmiri cap looking
like a big Persian hat.

LONDON, 1895
Photograph 43

An excerpt from an article that

appeared in the London Daily Chronicle
of October 23, on Swamiji’s lecture


Attired in picturesque Oriental costume, this famous
preacher last night addressed an audience at Prince’s Hall
on "Self-Knowledge." He is an Indian Yogi, that is to say, one
who has formally renounced the world and gives himself to
study and devotion, and not, as he amusingly pointed out
last night, one who did juggling tricks or flew through the

LONDON, 1895
Photograph 44

On November 19, 1895, the

Westminster Gazette ran an article on
Swamiji entitled: "An Indian Yogi in
London." The following is an excerpt
from that article:

The Swami Vivekananda is a striking

figure with his turban (or mitreshaped
black cloth cap) and his calm but
kindly features.

On my inquiring as to the significance, if any, of his name, the swami

said: "Of the name by which I am now known (Swami Vivekananda), the
first word is descriptive of a sannyasin, or one who formally renounces
the world, and the second is the title I assumed--as is customary with
all sannyasins--on my renunciation of the world; it signifies, literally, the
bliss of discrimination."

LONDON, 1895
Photograph 45

Reverend H. R. Haweis--one of the

leaders of the Anglican Church in the
late 1800s--made a penetrating
comment about Swamiji which gives
us insight into his first season in

This remarkable person

appeared in England in the
autumn of 1895, and although he led a very retired life, [he]
attracted numbers of people to his lodgings, and created
everywhere a very deep impression. He seemed completely
indifferent to money, and lived only for thought. He took
quite simply anything that was given to him, and when
nothing came he went without, yet he never seemed to lack

LONDON, 1895
Photograph 46

Swamiji had a deep and subtle

influence on the hearts and minds of
the English people. It was such
characteristics as these--his
immense personal magnetism, his
directness, his lucidity, his vision--
which gave convincing force to his
utterances and bound indissolubly
to himself large groups of the very finest and the most devout disciples.

LONDON, 1896
Photograph 47

Swamiji returned to England the

second time in April of 1896. He
remained in England until July 19,
when he left with a party of three
(Captain and Mrs. Sevier, and Miss
Henrietta Muller) for a European
tour. On September 19, 1896, he
came back to England once again,
to remain until he left for India in
December of the same year. Swamiji
continued to attract and deeply
influence people in England as the
following excerpt from an article in
the Indian Mirror published in the
July 1896 issue of Prabuddha
Bharata clearly illustrates:
He who has once listened to the great swami, is tempted to
attend every lecture that he delivers. We cannot but own
that the man possesses a great magnetic power or some
power divine by which he even draws so many Londoners
towards him.


Photograph 48

Miss Emmeline Souter, an admirer of Swamiji and a wealthy friend of

the Reverend Hugh R. Haweis, arranged for some photographs to be
made of Swamiji. In a letter written from Kolkata on May 5, 1897, to
Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita), Swamiji said: "The only help I got in
the world was in England, from Miss Souter and Mr. Sturdy."

According to New Discoveries Miss Souter had Swamiji professionally

photographed before he left for India: "As the time for Swamiji’s
departure from England drew near, Miss Souter, as though to stay the
sun in its passage, had the professional photographer, Alfred Ellis, take
[about] twelve studio pictures of him."

However, "in recent years a proof sheet from the photographic studio of
Alfred Ellis has come to light in which six (not twelve) poses of Swamiji
are shown. They are: (# 48) the well-known meditation pose; (nos. 49
and 50) two full-length with robe and turban; (# 51) one bust with robe
and turban (right profile); (# 52) one bust with bare head; and (# 53)
one full?length with robe and bare head. Three of the original
photographs from the Ellis studio (nos. 49, 52, and 53) are in the
archives of the Vedanta Society of Northern California.

There is another view regarding where this photo (# 48) was taken.
According to Swami Prabhananda of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute
of Culture, oral tradition has it that this photograph (which is
worshipped in many shrines of the Ramakrishna Order) was taken when
Swamiji went into samadhi while demonstrating asanas during a raja
yoga class in London.


Photograph 49

Eric Hammond in his reminiscences of

Swamiji in London describes his
appearance while lecturing:

It was a novel sight, a

memorable experience. His
dark skin, his deep glowing
eyes, even his costume, attracted and fascinated. Above all,
eloquence acclaimed him, the eloquence of inspiration.


Photograph 50

During his classes on jnana yoga:

Swamiji seemed to rise to a state

bordering on the divine--awesome
and yet infinitely gracious.
[Mahendra Nath Datta, one of
Swamiji's younger brothers,
remarked] "Face shining, he had lost
his human nature and seemed like
someone from a higher plane, as if
his previous self had vanished and in
its place there stood a powerful being."


Photograph 51

A charming story has come down to

us that when Swami Abhedananda
was to give his maiden speech in
London in 1896, he said to Swamiji,
who had just delivered his
magnificent class-lecture, “God in
Everything”: “You know, Naren, I
don’t think I will speak this
afternoon. Some other time. . . .”
And Swamiji, who was a good deal
more strongly built than Swami
Abhedananda, replied fiercely, “Kali,
you must speak, or I will throw you out that window!”


Photograph 52

In his Bengali book, Londone

Swami Vivekananda, Mahendra
Nath has given us an insight into
Swamiji’s inner world at this

“You see,” Swamiji said, “at

night I go to my room and lie
down. I keep quiet for a while,
and then within me so much
ananda arises that I cannot stay
lying down. I see the Blissful
Mother. Men, animals, the sky
and earth--all are saturated with
bliss. I cannot lie down any
longer; so I get up and dance in
the middle of the room. That bliss
can no longer be confined within
my heart. The whole world becomes filled with it, as it were.”
Even as he said this, Swamiji began to dance like a child for a
little while. Then he said with affection to those who were
present, “Be happy, don't be depressed; the Mother is
everywhere; all will be filled with bliss!”


Photograph 53

“Another day when sobersided Mr.

Sturdy was not there, Swamiji and
Swami Saradananda themselves tried
(without much success) to ride a
bicycle in front of the house. ‘That
day,’ Mahendra, [who was with
Swamiji in London at that time]
recalled, ‘he was his boyish self, all
jokes, and in a sweet voice he sang a
Bengali song.’ ”
Photograph 54

Swamiji returned from the West for the first time in January 1897. It was
a triumphal time of great rejoicing. He never expected such a
tremendous reception from his countrymen. Arriving in Colombo on
January 15, he left on the nineteenth for Kandy. Sometime during this
four-day period three photographs of Swamiji were taken (nos. 54, 56,
and 57). An early print of # 54 bears the name of the photographer "A.
W. Andree, Columbo." Since Swamiji was in Colombo such a short time,
it seems reasonable that the other two photos were taken at the same
sitting. His appearance also suggests this. In all three pictures the tail of
his turban, which is draped over his left shoulder, is tucked under his

Upon request Mrs. Poomani Gulasingam, a devotee of the Ramakrishna

Mission in Colombo and a lecturer at Colombo University, researched
the provenance of Swamiji's photos taken in Colombo. Mrs. Gulasingam
reviewed newspapers of the period and tried to contact Andree's
descendants with no luck.

For months she, along with others, exhaustively pursued various

avenues of information about the photos, including contacting some of
the descendants of the families who had come into close contact with
Swamiji during his visit, some of whom had participated in the reception
accorded to Swamiji. Collections of old photographs and documents,
both public and private, as well as the Colombo Archives were
thoroughly searched. Mrs. Gulasingam had said earlier: "There is a
strong belief among old devotees that one of these photographs was
taken on 16 January 1897 during the public lecture in the Floral Hall and
the others on 19 January 1897 at the Public Hall." So far her research
has not substantiated this.

Although it is true that Swamiji gave talks in both of these places in

Colombo, it remains to be seen if the photographs were actually taken
in these halls on those occasions. From all appearances they seem to be
studio photographs.


Photograph 55

Crop of photograph 54, See Photograph 54 for description

Photograph 56

This pose of Swamiji is reminiscent of the

famous Chicago pose of 1893. J. J. Goodwin,
one of Swamiji’s beloved English disciples
who was with him at the time, wrote a letter
on January 22, 1897, to Mrs. Ole Bull in
which he described their reception in
Colombo. On Sunday, January 17, Swamiji
and his party visited a local temple in the
Tamil quarter of the city. In his elaborate
account of the honor accorded Swamiji,
Goodwin makes an interesting comment:
“The Seviers and I, but particularly myself,
have come in for an enormous amount of
attention. We are always sprinkled with rose
water and given sandalwood. One man
wanted me to be photographed with the
swami so that he might worship me with

The question naturally arises: on this

occasion was a photograph actually taken of Swamiji, either with
Goodwin or just by himself? Since the letter is not published in full, an
answer to this question is not known at present; however, future
research may throw more light on this incident.
Photograph 57

An excerpt from a Colombo local paper, the Ceylon Independent,

describes how Swamiji was received when he arrived there: “As the day
was closing and the night approached, when the auspicious and sacred
hour of ‘sandhya’ noted by the Hindu shastras as the best suited for
devotion came round as the harbinger of the coming great events of
the day, the sage of noble figure, of sedate countenance with large,
luminous eyes, arrived, dressed in the orange garb of a sannyasin,
accompanied by the Swami Niranjanananda and others. . . . No words
can describe the feelings of the vast masses and their expressions of
love, when they saw the steam launch bearing the sage, steaming
towards the jetty.”
Photograph 58

A quaint and charming article appeared in the April 1897 issue of

Prabuddha Bharata concerning photos 58 and 59:


the photo-type of Swami Vivekananda. It is the best likeness we have
been able to send to our subscribers. It is from a half-tone block
prepared for us by Messrs. S. K. Lawton and Co., of Jaffna, Ceylon, from
a photograph specially taken here by Mr. T. G. Appavan Mudaliar, No. 3,
Veeraraghava Mudali Street, Triplicane, Madras. We are sure many
would be glad to have the likeness of the swami in his simple Indian
sannyasi dress and position. We are sorry to announce that many of our
subscribers have not as yet sent us the small amount of two annas, we
asked of them, to meet the extra cost in printing these photo-types on
separate sheets. Nevertheless, we have sent a copy of the above
photo-type to each of our subscribers, in the fullest hope that such of
our subscribers as have not already remitted the amount, will not fail to
remit the same at their earliest convenience. We can never bring
ourselves to believe that any of the subscribers of the "Awakened India"
will fail to send this small amount of two annas for both the photo-
types. We tender our thanks to those of our subscribers who have
already remitted the amount so promptly; we regret that we cannot find
space to publish their names.

We, of course, tender our thanks to Mr. T. G. Appavan Mudaliar for

taking such beautiful photos of Swamiji. In the February 1897 issue of
Prabuddha Bharata there is some information about Mr. Mudaliar. He
was a well-known photographer of South India of those days and was
himself a bhakta or devotee. The subject matter of his photographs
which was mainly religious--temples and images--reflected his own
religious temperament. He could not have found a more divine being
than Swamiji to photograph and he surely must have recognized that.

The Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, was consulted as to whether they

knew anything further about Mr. Mudaliar. The Chennai Math researched
the matter. Apparently the house that is located at Mudaliar’s old
address was built in the 1920s; it is uncertain what existed on that lot
before 1920. Another possibility is that No. 3 Veeraraghava Mudali
Street (in the 1890s) may have been renumbered later. Renumberings
have taken place in many parts of the city. Unfortunately the Math has
been unable to trace Mudaliar’s residence or family.

In future if the Mudaliar descendants could be located, perhaps further

information about Swamiji’s Chennai photos could be brought to light.
Investigating the company in Ceylon that prepared the halftone blocks
for Swamiji’s photos is precluded by the present political situation in
that area.
Photograph 59

It is not known to date who arranged for Mr. T. G. Appavan Mudaliar to

take these two photos. However, it seems likely that one of Swamiji’s
admirers was behind it, like K. Sundararama Iyer, or Biligiri Iyengar, who
provided his residence¾Castle Kernan (later named Vivekananda
House, and presently being maintained by Sri Ramakrishna Math,
Chennai)¾for Swamiji’s nine?day stay in Chennai, or perhaps one of
Swamiji’s ardent disciples from Chennai. K. Sundararama Iyer said of
Swamiji at that time:

I enjoyed the infinite pleasure and privilege of once more

looking at his wonderful eyes direct, recalling to my
recollection all he had achieved and mentally running over
what his future career might be as the future minister of the
Vedic religion.


Photograph 60

Sitting on chair (left to right): Tarapada (a monk from another order),

Swami Shivananda, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Niranjanananda, and
Swami Sadananda.
Standing (left to right): Alasinga Perumal, J. J. Goodwin, M. N. Banerjee,
and other local devotees.
Front row (left to right): (second) Biligiri Iyengar, (fourth) M. C. Nanjunda
This photo appears to have been taken a few days after the two single
ones (nos. 58, 59) of Swamiji. In all respects his appearance is the
same, except that his shaven head shows signs of a few days’ growth. It
seems quite possible that Mr. Mudaliar took this group photo as well.
One can well imagine that he could have come to Castle Kernan where
Swamiji was staying. It seems unlikely that so many people, especially
the local devotees, would go to a studio to have an official photograph

Mr. Sundararama Iyer mentioned in his reminiscences:

At last the train steamed into the station to the great delight of all
who had gathered there and been kept waiting owing to the
lateness of its arrival. The swami alighted in company with two of
his fellow disciples of Sri Ramakrishna [Swamis Shivananda and
Niranjanananda] and another who was his own disciple [Swami
Sadananda] and had been attracted to him while he was formerly
a stationmaster in some railway line in North India. They had
gone to Colombo to meet him and to give him new kashaya
(ochre) clothing for his wear as an Indian sannyasin in lieu of his
European costume. The swami was also accompanied by Mr.
Goodwin, the Englishman who had been engaged to take down in
shorthand his lectures in America and who had become his
disciple and refused to accept any wages for his work and now
had got himself attached to the swami for the rest of his life. He
was clothed in purely Indian and brahmin costume to the surprise
of us all.

He goes on to say that when Swamiji was with his brother disciples at
Castle Kernan: “Their simple ways and hearty greetings, their easy
manners and frank unconventional behavior towards each other, were
very attractive to all who had the privilege of getting into the interior of
Castle Kernan.”


Photograph 61
Crop from previous group photo.


Photograph 62
This photograph was taken at a reception in Kolkata, February 28, 1897.
(The “x” identifies Swamiji.)

The following is an excerpt from The Amrita Bazar Patrika of March 1,

1897, which published a report of the reception accorded to Swamiji:

Welcome address to Swami Vivekananda

As announced before a meeting was held yesterday evening

at the residence of the late Rajah Sir Radhakanta Deb
Bahadur to present Swami Vivekananda with an address of
welcome. The meeting was very largely attended, the
specious [archaic meaning] natmandir where the meeting
was held, its wings and passages leading to the place,
being filled with an expectant crowd to hear for the first
time the swami. Among those present we noticed Raja
Rajendra, Narayan Deb Bahadur, Mr. Justice Chundra
Madhab Ghose, Raja Peary Mohun Mookerjee, Rajha [sic]
Benoy Krishna, the Hon’ble Guru Prasad Sen, and others.
Punctual to time, the swami accompanied by some of his
disciples, including a European lady and gentleman
[Captain and Mrs. Sevier], arrived and was escorted to [the]
dais raised in the northern extremity of the quadrangle. On
account of the unavoidable absence of the Maharaja of
Durbhanga, Raja Benoy Krishna took the chair. After making
a few suitable remarks he read out an address to Swami
Vivekananda who, on rising to reply, was received with loud
applause. He said he was glad to be again among them and
asked them to take him as the same Calcutta boy he was.
Photograph 63

Crop of photograph 62.


Photograph 64

This austere and somewhat awesome photograph of Swamiji was taken

at the Calcutta Art Studio, 185 Bow Bazar Street in Kolkata. Early prints
of this photograph, some of which may well be originals, have the
above information stamped on the back. This photo is usually labeled
as “probably Gopal Lal Seal’s.” However, from all appearances this
photo, as well as the next (# 65), was taken in the same studio on the
same day. The negative of photograph # 65 includes the same studio’s
logo. The speculation that # 64 was taken at Gopal Lal Seal’s may have
arisen from Swamiji’s custom of spending his days with his disciples
and friends at that devotee’s riverside garden home in Cossipore during
this period.


Photograph 65

This photograph also bears the same

photographic studio’s name, i.e., the
Calcutta Art Studio. As in # 64, except
for the turban, Swamiji is without a
shirt and his cloth is draped over his
left shoulder.


Photograph 66

This photograph has been published

as London, 1896. However, from all
appearances it certainly seems to
have been taken in Kolkata in 1897. It
is said that having reached his
motherland, Swamiji shaved his head
during his nine-day stay in Chennai. The photographs of this period
testify to this fact. It is obvious, even in this photo where Swamiji is
pictured with a turban on, that he is shavenheaded. In this photograph
(66) Swamiji looks the same as he does in the following group photo
(67), minus the turban. Several notices appeared in the Indian
newspapers about both photographs, 66 and 67.

The March 4, 1897, issue of The Statesman and Friend of India had this


The Art Workers’ League, 34, College St., have taken two
photographs of Swami Vivekananda. One [66] is a cabinet-
size photograph of the swami, who is dressed in a long
chapkanlike garment, but wearing a puggree much after the
style of a Madrassi. The other is a group picture [67] of the
swami and his disciples, which include Mr. & Mrs. Xavier
[sic] and Mr. Goodwin, who have arrived from England. Both
photographs are clear and distinct, and indeed, very well

The Bengalee paper ran this notice in its July 24, 1902,


announcement made sometime ago in these columns about
the photos of Swami Vivekananda available at the Art
Workers’ League at 56-1, Sukea’s Street [the manager’s
address], we are informed that the bust of the swami is of
simple cabinet-size and that the group (comprising both
European gentlemen and ladies as well as Indian
gentlemen) is in panel size or 12 x 10. The prices are Rs. 1
and Rs. 2 respectively.

KOLKATA, FEBRUARY 1897 - At Gopal Lal Seal’s Garden House

Photograph 67
Standing (left to right): Shantiram Babu, Mr. Turnbull, Swami
Prakashananda, Singaravelu Mudaliar (Kidi) (?), Swami Vivekananda,
Captain Sevier, Swami Shivananda, unidentified person.
Sitting (left to right): Alasinga Perumal, Swami Ramakrishnananda,
Swami Premananda, Mrs. Sevier, Swami Adbhutananda, Swami
Turiyananda, G. G. Narasimhachariar.
Floor (left to right): unidentified person, Mr. Harrison of Colombo.

The announcement that The Bengalee made "sometime ago in these

columns" about photos of Swamiji referred to a short notice which was
Art Workers’ League have executed very good cabinet-size photos of a
group consisting of Late Swami Vivekananda with his colleagues and
European disciples. The photos are to be had of the Manager of the
League at No. 56-1, Sukea’s Street.

In From Holy Wanderings to the Service of God in Man, Swami

Akhandananda said: Afterwards, at Gopal Lal Seal’s garden house in
Cossipore, Swamiji had a group photograph taken with Mother Sevier,
some of his gurubhais on two sides of her and some devotees such as
Alasinga and G. G. seated on chairs, and himself standing behind
Mother Sevier. In that photo Dr. Turnbull can be seen standing. From
Swami Akhandananda’s remark it is clear that Swamiji had the
photographer from The Art Workers’ League come to Gopal Lal Seal’s
garden house to take the photo.
Photograph 68

Sitting on chairs (left to right): Swami Sadananda, Swami Vivekananda,

Swami Niranjanananda, Swami Dhirananda.

This photograph has often been dated 1898. However it appears to

have been taken during Swamiji’s first visit to Kashmir in 1897. In a
letter to Swami Brahmananda from Amritsar dated September 2, 1897,
Swamiji mentioned that his party which consisted of Niranjan (Swami
Niranjanananda), Latu, Krishnalal (Swami Dhirananda), Dinanath, Gupta
(Swami Sadananda), and Achyut were accompanying him to Kashmir.
Krishnalal was the familiar name of Swami Dhirananda. There is no
mention of Swami Dhirananda being in the party that visited Kashmir in

During this first visit to Kashmir, Swamiji was trying to acquire some
land for the Math. He was received by various officials of high rank and
nobility, for example, the brothers of the Maharaja of Kashmir, Rajas
Rama Singh and Amar Singh. “Raja Rama Singh received the Swami
with marked cordiality and honor, seating him on a chair, and himself
sitting with officials on the floor. The interview lasted two hours. Matters
of religion, and the problem of improving the condition of the poor, were
discussed.” He was literally besieged by visitors and “was busy filling
many engagements, private and public, and visiting places of historic
interest with which Kashmir abounds.”

No doubt this photograph was taken on one of these occasions where

people had assembled to meet Swamiji. His second visit to Kashmir in
1898 was under entirely different circumstances and was prompted by
another mood, which was sparked by the sudden death of his beloved
disciple, J. J. Goodwin.

Photograph 69

Crop of Swamiji from previous Kashmir group.

KASHMIR, 1898--In a Houseboat

Photograph 70
Barely visible in the houseboat (left to right): Josephine MacLeod, Swami
Vivekananda, Mrs. Ole Bull, Sister Nivedita.

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
Calcutta, he left Almora for Kashmir.”

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. ”

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!” 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
Photograph 71

Left to right: Josephine MacLeod, Mrs. Ole Bull (sitting), Swami

Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita.

While in Kashmir and the surrounding area, Swamiji and his companions
made many excursions to shrines, palaces, the ruins of old temples,
and other places of historic interest. From Sister Nivedita's diary we
learn: "The travelers left Acchabal on September 12 and slowly made
their way back to Srinagar, arriving on September 15. General and Mrs.
Patterson were still there. On September 20, some friends came and
took photographs of them and their boats and so on before lunch. In the
group photo, Sara is sitting on the ground, not at all willing to be
photographed. She had a cold and her heart was heavy with grief for
her granddaughter [who had recently passed away]. The next day,
Vivekananda gave a ceremonious farewell banquet to General and Mrs.
Patterson." Perhaps the same friends who took this photo (71) and also
photo 70 of the houseboat also took the following ones (nos. 72-73)
with a roll?film box camera, which had become the rage in the late
1800s. George Eastman of Rochester, New York, had come out with the
first roll?film box camera in 1888. During this time in India it seems
more likely that Westerners, rather than some of Swamiji's Indian
friends, would have had such a luxury item like a camera.

Photograph 72
This picture has often been misidentified as "Annisquam" and as the
first photo taken of Swamiji in the United States in August of 1893.
However, in some correspondence between Mrs. Gertrude Emerson
Sen, wife of Sri Boshi Sen, the famous scientist of Almora, and Swami
Ashokananda, she wrote that this photo (as well as no. 73) were taken
in Kashmir.

Photograph 73

Sister Nivedita relates that

while in Kashmir, one
morning "when they woke
up, they found themselves
in the midst of the
beautiful valley,
surrounded by the snow-peaks of the Himalayas on the horizon. They
took a long walk in the morning across fields and came to a huge
chenar tree in the middle of a pasture. The tree provided ample shade
and the Swami fantasized on how it could be used as a dwelling-place
for a hermit. Then he talked about the subject to which he always
seemed to gravitate: meditation."


Photograph 74

Standing (left to right):

Devendranath Mazumdar,
Swami Nirmalananda,
Swami Virajananda, Swami
Shivananda, Swami
Turiyananda, Swami
Akhandananda, Swami
Vijnanananda, Swami
Saradananda, Swami
Satchidananda, a friend of
Sri U. N. Dev,
*Mahendranath Datta
[alternative identification
for "a friend of Sri U. N.
Dev "], Sri U. N. Dev.

Sitting on chairs (left to right): Swami Vivekananda and Nadu

(Brahmachari Harendranath). [Nadu might be kneeling.]

Sitting on a bench [or on the edge of the veranda] (left to right): Swami
Somananda, Swami Kalyanananda, Swami Advaitananda, Swami
Atmananda, Swami Trigunatita, Swami Sureswarananda, Swami
Bodhananda, *Br. Nandalal, *Kheda, Swami Prakashananda, Brojen,
Swami Suddhananda. Below: Swami Nishchayananda, *probably Haru
Thakur [alternative identification for "Swami Nishchayananda].
Cited in Prabuddha Bharata, vol. 86 (March 1981), 115.

This photo was taken at Belur Math on June 19, the day before Swamiji
and Swami Turiyananda sailed for the West (the second time for
Swamiji). In Swami Shraddhananda's book, The Story of an Epoch,
which is based on his Bengali book Atiter Smriti (Swami Virajananda
and Contemporary Memoirs), he mentions:

As Swamiji's departure time approached, excitement spread

among sadhus, devotees and admirers, both in the Math
and in Calcutta. It was not known how long he would be
away, and all were eager to have his company. True, his
body was broken, yet Swamiji knew no weariness.
Tirelessly, without rest, he discussed ideals and plans for
the samgha, and instructed, encouraged and enlivened all
those about him. . . . On the afternoon of June l9th, a
photograph was taken of all the sadhus with Swamiji.
Virajananda, busy preparing food to be served to Swamiji,
was repeatedly called and at last hurried to join the group.
He had no time to don a shirt and appeared in the picture
barechested. After the photograph was taken, he returned
once more to his duty--but he felt like bursting into tears,
for the good fortune of serving his guru would end in a few
short hours.


Photograph 75

This photo was also taken at the Math on the same day as photograph
no. 74.
Photograph 76

This photo is usually published as Calcutta, 1901. However, in Sailendra

Nath Dhar’s, A Comprehensive Biography of Swami Vivekananda , he

On 19 June, a day before sailing, photographs were taken,

singly of the swami and, in group [nos.74 and 75], of him
and the Brotherhood. One can easily understand from these
pictures how deplorable was the state of Swamiji’s health
and why, as we are told, his friends and disciples, who went
to receive him at his landing in London, were shocked at the
sight of him.

This appears to be the photo of Swamiji taken “singly” on the occasion

of the farewell gathering held in honor of him and Swami Turiyananda.
Swamiji certainly looks unwell in this photo, as well as the following
one, no. 77.
CALCUTTA, (JUNE 20?), 1899
Photograph 77

From left to right: Swami

Trigunatita, Swami
Shivananda, Swami
Vivekananda, Swami
Turiyananda, Swami
Brahmananda, Swami
Sadananda (seated below).

This photo was taken at 8

Bosepara Lane in Calcutta
at the rented house of Sri
Boshi Sen's family. The
Holy Mother was living in
this house at that time.
Although this photograph
is published as having been taken in 1897, from the appearance of
Swamiji, Swamis Turiyananda, Shivananda, and Trigunatita, it seems to
have been taken in 1899 around the same time as the previous three
photos, nos. 74 to 76. It is quite possible that it was taken on June 20,
the day that Swamiji and Swami Turiyananda sailed for the West with
Sister Nivedita and Swami Saradananda's brother. According to the Life,
"On the day of departure the Holy Mother gave a sumptuous feast to
the swami, Swami Turiyananda, and all her sannyasi children of the
Math, at her Calcutta house."

In The Story of an Epoch, it is mentioned: "June 20, 1899, was the date
of departure. On that day, the Holy Mother, who was then living in
Calcutta (in Bosepara Lane, Baghbazar), had invited Swamiji and all the
sadhus of the Math for the noonday meal. In two large boats all the
monks crossed the Ganga to Baghbazar. There they were royally
entertained by Sarada Devi."

The Life also mentions: "Sometime in the second week of June, Nivedita
left her house at 16 Bosepara Lane and moved to the Holy Mother's
residence at 8 Bosepara Lane (Baghbazar), where she lived till she left
for the West."

On June 18, two days before she left India, Sister Nivedita visited Belur
Math accompanied by Swami Sadananda and Mr. Mohinimohan
Chatterji. At the Math she was given a farewell tea party in her honor.
Swami Sadananda returned with her to the Holy Mother's residence.
From this reference it is clear that Swami Sadananda was at the Holy
Mother's house at this time.

Another point to note is that Swami Shivananda was only in Calcutta for
part of the time in 1897. Sometime after Swamiji returned from the
West, the first time in January 1897, he sent Swami Shivananda to
Ceylon to do some preaching work. The swami remained in Ceylon for
about seven months, returning to Belur Math in February 1898.

The Bosepara Lane group photograph was taken by Haripada Mitra,

who, it may be remembered, arranged to have Swamiji's photograph
taken while in Belgaum in October 1892. It is probable that Haripada
took the photos (74 to 76) at Belur Math on June 19 as well.

Mrs. Cara French, a disciple of Swami Trigunatita, mentions this group

photograph in her reminiscences. She visited India after the death of
Swami Trigunatita. While at Belur Math she met Haripada. She said: "Mr.
H. Mitra, of Vivekananda Kutir, Burdwan, Bengal, called a number of
times to see Tantine [Josephine MacLeod], pausing frequently to visit
me also. He told me he and his wife were the first lay disciples of Swami
Vivekananda; and that it was he who took the photographs of the
various groups of disciples shown in M's Gospel. And while talking of
them, he autographed his name and address on one of the pictures, in
my personal copy of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna."

Mrs. French's Gospel (Madras, 1907) does, indeed, have the following
inscription on this photo: "Photo taken by H. Mitra, Viveka Kutir, Bhaita
P. O. (Burdwan), Bengal, E. J. R. Saktistur Station."

When asked if he knew anything about H. Mitra, Swami Prabhananda


Please note that H. Mitra is no other than Haripada Mitra.

His wife was Indumati Mitra. They belonged to the village
Bhaita in the district of Burdwan. Mr. Mitra, a Government
Forest Officer, and his wife met Swamiji at Belgaon
[Belgaum]. Mrs. Indumati Mitra was very probably the first
female disciple of Swamiji but Mr. Haripada Mitra was not
the first male disciple (householder) of Swamiji. Before
Swami went to Belgaon [Belgaum], he, during his travel in
Rajputana had initiated [a] few persons (pg. 314 of Vol. I,
1st ed. of Yuganayak Vivekananda by Swami
Gambhirananda). One of them is Lala Govinda Sahai to
whom Swamiji had addressed a letter on the 14th April

Mrs. French's reminiscences continue, giving another tantalizing bit of

information: "He [Haripada Mitra] invited me most cordially to visit his
home, saying that his wife had known and admired Sister Nivedita; and
he was sure she would be pleased to meet me. He said he would send
me a youthful and almost unknown picture of Swamiji. After his return,
he wrote me, his wife joining in the invitation renewal to visit them in
their home. He apologized for not being able to send the specified
photograph; but sent as substitute another I had never seen." It is not
known to date exactly which two photographs are being referred to.

Another charming reference to this photo occurs in the "Reminiscences

of Swami Shivananda" by Swami Shraddhananda (VK, 295, no.79, May
1990). One day Swami Shivananda came into Swami Vivekananda's
room at Belur Math. "Then he looked at a group photo hanging on the
south wall. Swamiji, Hari Maharaj, Swami Brahmananda, and also
Mahapurushji were in it. When his eyes fell on his figure in the photo, he
said laughing, 'Who is this villain? He was a villain, indeed. In the
company of these holy men, he became a sadhu.'" This photo is
presently hanging on the westward facing wall of Swamiji's room.

KOLKATA, (JUNE 20?), 1899

Photograph 78
Crop of Swamiji from the Bosepara Lane group.


Photograph 79
Standing (left to right): Swami Turiyananda, Swami Abhedananda .

Sitting (left to right): Swami Vivekananda, Alberta Sturges, Besse

Leggett (hidden), Josephine MacLeod, friend of Alberta's [sometimes
mistaken for Sister Nivedita].

During the "great summer" of 1899 at Ridgely Manor, when Swamiji

spent ten weeks vacationing at Mr. Francis Leggett's estate, two group
photos were taken on the circular portico at the back of the main house.
These photos had to be taken sometime between September 8 and 17
or 18 because it was during that time that Swami Abhedananda was
staying at Ridgely Manor. Swami Abhedananda's diary entry for
September 8, 1899, reads:

Arrived at Kingston at 7:30 p.m. drove to Ridgely and

arrived there at 9:30 p.m. Saw Swami V. and T. and lived
with them.

Swami Abhedananda left on September 17 or 18 for New York.

Photograph 80

This photograph was taken of the same people on the same day, at the
same place (as in no.79. Here "one sees Swamiji standing and looking
unwell and Alberta with her face in her hands, shielding her eyes from
the afternoon sun."
Photograph 81

This is a photograph of a pastel drawing

of Swamiji au Bedouin by Maud Stumm,
a young artist who was one of the
Leggett’s house guests during the
"great summer." "On a hot summer day
Miss Stumm and others asked Swamiji
to show how he wound his turban--a
demonstration he had given perhaps
countless times in the West for
fascinated children and grownups alike.
Now at Ridgely Manor he wound and
unwound the length of silk, disclosing
the mysteries not only of his own turban
but of other kinds as well. ‘When he
arranged it as the desert people do, to
keep the neck from the great heat,’ Miss
Stumm recounted, ‘I asked him to pose,
and he did, talking all the time. That
was the day he talked to us of purity
and truth.’ "
" ‘The lines of the mouth were so simple and lovely and yet so very
difficult!’ Miss Stumm wrote of her attempts to draw him."

A charming sequel to this account is that Swamiji himself took drawing

lessons from Miss Stumm. She recalled:

At an appointed hour he came, promptly, bringing to me,

with a curious little air of submission, a huge red apple,
which he laid in my hands, bowing gravely. I asked him the
significance of this gift, and he said, "in token that the
lessons may be fruitful"--and such a pupil as he proved to
be! Once only did I have to tell him anything; his memory
and concentration were marvelous, and his drawings
strangely perfect and intelligent for a beginner. By the time
he had taken his fourth lesson, he felt quite equal to a
portrait; so . . . Turiyananda posed, like any bronze image,
and was drawn capitally--all in the study of Mr. Leggett, with
its divan for our seat, and its fine light to aid us.
Photograph 82

Swami Vivekananda and Mrs. Ole Bull

This photograph was thought to have been taken in Green Acre in 1894.
However, the Eliot Baha’i archivist in Green Acre has indicated that it was
taken at Ridgely Manor in October 1899:

[The photo of] Swami Vivekananda and Sara Bull at Green Acre is a mystery
for me. Some have suggested that it is at her cottage at Green Acre, however
the cottage was not built until 1897 and Vivekananda did not visit after 1896.
One might think that it is on the porch of the [Green Acre] Inn but the railing
finials are not of that design! I do not believe it was taken at Green Acre.
Joseph Frost, of Eliot, has in his possession a glass slide taken by his deceased
relative Ralph S. Bartlett on which he has written "Mrs. Ole Bull and Swami
Vivekananda at home of Francis H. Leggett, Stoneridge, NY--October 1899." It
appears to be the same photograph.

Swamiji and Mrs. Bull are standing on the porch of the "Inn," which was a
building on the Ridgely property where Mrs. Bull and Sister Nivedita stayed.
Swamiji had been earnestly requesting Mrs. Bull to join the group who had
gathered at the Leggett’s home during his stay there. Various obstacles kept
cropping up which prevented Mrs. Bull’s coming. Eventually, the way cleared
and she arrived on October 7 and remained there until Swamiji left on
November 7. Mrs. Bull’s stay during October corroborates the Baha’i Society’s
information that the photo was taken at that time.

A print made from Mr. Frost’s glass slide has verified that the photo was taken
at Ridgely Manor. This photo, as well as the next, no 83, are scans of the
original glass positives, which are currently in the collection of the Sri Sarada
Society, New York.


Photograph 83

This photograph was previously thought to have been taken in Kashmir

in 1898 perhaps because of Swamiji’s Kashmiri dress, but it has been
identified in Pravrajika Prabuddhaprana’s publication Saint Sara: The
Life of Sara Chapman Bull, The American Mother of Swami
Vivekananda, as “Swami Vivekananda at Stoneridge [Ridgely Manor],
New York, photographed by Ralph S. Bartlett in mid-October 1899.”

According to Pravrajika Prabuddhaprana this information is from the

label on the glass slide, which was loaned to her by Joseph Frost from
his collection through the Eliot Baha’i archivist in Green Acre (who had
also provided the same information about photo 82). Ralph Bartlett, a
friend of Mrs. Bull’s daughter Olea, arrived in Ridgely Manor a few days
after Mrs. Bull who arrived on October 7; he stayed several days and
then left. Olea wrote him a letter from Ridgely Manor on October 28.
The two photographs that he took of Swamiji were taken sometime
during this period.


Photograph 84

" 'Tomorrow if it be fine,' Miss MacLeod had written on December 15 to

Sister Nivedita, 'Mr. & Mrs. Baumgardt, Swami, & I go to Mount Lowe
where there is a fine observatory, and we shall have a rare sight looking
through the telescope--& do some fine excursions in the neighborhood,
returning home here about 5 on Sunday afternoon.' As it had happened
December 16 had not been fine, and the outing had been postponed. It
was not until the second weekend in January that Swamiji made the trip
up Mount Lowe, a high peak of the San Gabriel Range that rose just
northeast of Pasadena."

Sister Gargi remarks: "In a photograph taken unquestionably at Mount

Lowe (not, as has generally been supposed, in Switzerland), one sees
Swamiji standing in the very center of a funicular-load of excursionists
and looking, at the moment, none too happy. The people around him
are unidentified, but just behind his right shoulder appears a man
whose photograph resembles one of Mr. Baumgardt. The funicular is
about to ascend the first steep slope of the mountain by way of the
Great Cable Incline, a track that climbed straight up for a dizzy half mile
to Echo Summit--a small plateau from which one could halloo once and
be answered by the friendly mountains thirteen times."

The group stayed overnight on Echo Summit in the Echo Mountain

House on Saturday, January 13 and descended the mountain the next
day, Sunday, January 14. This photograph must have been taken on
Saturday the thirteenth.


Photograph 85

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."

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."

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."


Photograph 86
According to the Vedanta Society of Southern California, this photo of
Swamiji standing with an umbrella was taken on Monterey Road, South
Pasadena. The tree and the house in back of Swamiji are no longer

Mrs. Hansbrough mentioned in her reminiscences in response to Swami

Ashokananda's question:

"What would Swamiji wear to the [public] meetings? Would

he wear his robe? " She replied, "No, he wore the black
garment we see in several of the pictures of him, something
like a clerical frock, but looser. Sometimes if it were not too
warm he would wear his overcoat over this. He would take
his gerua robe and turban in a suitcase, and put them on
when he arrived at the meeting place."

Mrs. Hansbrough also recalled:

When Mrs. Bowler had invited him to speak in Pasadena,

she had specifically asked that he wear his turban. "Do you
have to wear the turban?" I asked him, for by that time he
had given it up. "Don't you understand?" he said, "She
wants the whole show!"


Photograph 87

Swami Vivekananda in center; on his right, a Mrs. Bruce; behind him,

Carrie Wyckoff; on his left, Alice Hansbrough. The others are unknown.
In Vivekananda: A Biography in Pictures, some of the other picnickers
are identified. As the source of these identifications cannot be verified,
these people have not been listed.

The two Pasadena picnic photos (nos. 87 and 89) were taken on the hill
above the Meads' house. This hill is now known as "Monterey Hill." Mrs.
Hansbrough mentioned the picnics that Swamiji and others used to
have on this hill. "It seems as if there were always something going on.
This was always true on Sunday mornings. But during the week, if he
did not have a formal meeting somewhere, we would often go for a
picnic lunch to the top of a hill about four city blocks' distance from our
house. You have seen that photo of Swamiji in a picnic group; that was
taken on top of that hill. We would make up a party of people who were
attending his meetings more or less regularly--or Swami would even
hold some of his smaller class groups there. Naturally the talk was
always on spiritual subjects."

Sister Gargi gives a colorful description of the hilltop picnic pictured

here: "In this photograph, Swamiji is sitting cross-legged at what might
be called the head of the picnic cloth; on his left sits Mrs. Hansbrough
(identified by her daughter, Mrs. Cohn); behind him stands Mrs.
Wyckoff; and on his right, a Mrs. Bruce (also identified by Mrs. Cohn).
On either side one can see two or three of the guests--ladies with the
long skirts, tight bodices, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and overburdened hats
of the period. The photograph was taken at a relaxed moment; two of
the women talk together, and Swamiji appears to be reading with
amusement a scrap of paper, about the size of a fortune from a Chinese
cookie, while Mrs. Bruce reads over his shoulder. To judge from the
absence of coats, shawls, or wraps, the weather was pleasant, as it was
almost every day that winter."


Photograph 88

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!" 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.' "

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.)"


Photograph 89

(Swami Vivekananda in center. Other picnickers are not identified.)

"There are no known records of Swamiji's talks and informal classes on

this sunny hilltop. Yet from a snatch of conversation that Mrs.
Hansbrough remembered, it is clear that he was seeing all the world--its
good and its evil alike--as a divine play, all supremely Good. On one of
the picnics a young woman, a Christian Scientist, put forth the belief
that one should teach people to be good. Swamiji smiled and waved his
hand to indicate the trees and the countryside, 'Why should I desire to
be good ?' he asked. 'All this is His handiwork. Shall I apologize for His
handiwork? If you want to reform John Doe, go and live with him; don't
try to reform him. If you have any of the Divine Fire, he will catch it.'

"In those still, warm days of January, seated where they could overlook
the rich valley with its escarpment of snow?peaked mountains, the
picnickers listened to his words and felt themselves lifted into another
level of existence altogether-- a level in which they surely caught the
'Divine Fire' that blazed in their midst. 'When he had talked for some
time,' Mrs. Hansbrough said, 'the air would become surcharged with a
spiritual atmosphere.' And she spoke of one occasion in particular
when, absorbed in some subject he was discussing, 'he talked for six
hours without interruption--from ten in the morning until four in the
afternoon.' 'The air,' she said, 'was just vibrant with spirituality by the
time it was over.' "


Photograph 90

Crop of Swamiji from picnic photo 89.

Mrs. Hansbrough said of Swamiji: "He

always looked bright, especially when he
was particularly interested in something.
Then his eyes actually sparkled."
Photograph 91

Two photographs [91 & 92] of Swami

Vivekananda were discovered at the
Vedanta Society of Southern California's
Hollywood center. This photo was
published in the June 2002 issue of
Vedanta Voices, the southern California
newsletter. The other photo, no. 92, was
published in the July 2002 issue. It seems
that over the last seventy years many
photographs and other materials have
accumulated in the Society's archives.
The archive committee is in the process
of sorting through the collection. The
archives' director continues the story:
"Sorting through the box of photos, I
noticed two pictures of Swamiji I hadn't
seen before. The photographs are in
excellent condition, but there is no
descriptive information to give us a date
or the circumstances surrounding the
origin of the photos. Suspecting they might be new discoveries, we
printed one of them in last month's newsletter, hoping to get feedback
from scholars who are more familiar with the life of Swami Vivekananda.
Since then we have heard from several researchers who believe the
photographs were probably taken in San Francisco in 1900."

The July newsletter states: "It appears that the photographs were
donated to the Vedanta Society by Ida Ansell (Ujjvala), a devoted
follower of Swamiji, who transcribed some of his talks in San Francisco.
Ujjvala eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she became active at
the Hollywood center. When she died in 1955, she left some of her
personal belongings to the center, where she had been living for some
time. About twenty-five years ago, her belongings were sorted in a
preliminary manner and put in storage with other archival material.
Calls from researchers over the past few weeks concur that Ujjvala is
the most likely source of these photos."

It is not yet certain exactly where or when these two photos were taken.
They certainly resemble the photos taken in San Francisco, except
Swamiji looks heavier and his hair longer than in the other San
Francisco photos [nos. 93-99]. His turban also is wound a little
differently. In addition to his personal appearance, the studio backdrop
in both photos differs from the other seven photos. This does not, of
course, preclude the possibility that they were taken sometime during
his stay in San Francisco possibly in a different studio, or the same
studio at another time. Perhaps the Vedanta Society of Southern
California will discover the details behind these photos in the future. We
are indeed grateful that they have generously given their permission to
publish these beautiful new photos of the great swami.

Photograph 92

Ida Ansell recalled as she was leaving

Camp Taylor in northern California: "He
[Swamiji] took me up the steep steps to
the railroad track and flagged the train for
me. There was no station and the train
stopped only on signal. Swamiji's carriage
was magnificent. His eyes were always
turned skyward, never down. Someone
said of him that he never saw anything
lower than a telegraph pole. When the
engine passed us, as the train slowed
down, I heard the fireman say to the
engineer, 'Hellow! Who is this sky pilot?' I
had never heard the expression and was puzzled at first as to its
meaning. Then I realized that it must mean a religious leader, and that
it was evident to anyone who saw him that Swamiji was such a leader."


Photograph 93

Miss Blanche Partington, a reporter from

the San Francisco Chronicle, visited the
Turk Street flat where Swamiji was staying
to interview him. Her report of this
interview, "A Dusky Philosopher From
India" was published in the Chronicle of
March 18, 1900.

When Miss Partington asked for a photo to

publish along with her article, she was
given one which she referred to as being
like Othello.

" 'I asked for a picture to illustrate

this article, and when someone
handed me a certain 'cut' which has
been extensively used in lecture
advertisements here he uttered a
mild protest against its use. [One
might well remember Swamiji's
earlier reference to Harrison's "nasty standing photos."]

'But that does not look like you,' said I.

'No, it is as if I wished to kill someone,' he said smiling,


'Othello,' I inserted rashly. But the little audience of friends

only smiled as the swami made laughing recognition of the
absurd resemblance of the picture to the jealous Moor. But I
do not use that picture.' "

In New Discoveries we learn: "As for the picture of Swamiji which Miss
Partington likened to Othello, it may have been one of those taken
during the Parliament of Religions in 1893, showing him standing with
his arms folded and looking like the heroic warrior-monk that he was.
The photograph which she chose to accompany her article was in
another mood entirely. Here Swamiji is seated in his robe and turban,
his right elbow rests on the arm of his settee, he leans slightly to the
right, his head supported by his hand. This picture was one of several
[seven] taken professionally in San Francisco [at Bushnell Studio],
perhaps at Mrs. Hansbrough's urging and certainly before March 17."


Photograph 94

The Vedanta Society of Northern California

secretary's minutes for February 9, 1903,
read: "A move was made and seconded that
Miss Ansell, Mr. French, and Mr. Juhl be
appointed a committee of three to inquire regarding copyright of
photographs. Carried. Moved and seconded that Mr. French apply for
copyright for Swami Vivekananda's photos--7 sittings." However, a
copyright was never acquired by the Society.


Photograph 95
"'The beauty of Swamiji nobody can imagine,' Mrs. Allan once said. 'His
face, his hands, his feet, all were beautiful. Swami Trigunatita later said
that Swamji's hands were far more beautiful than any woman's. His
color would seem to change, some days being darker and some days
lighter, but usually there was about it what can best be described as a
golden glow.' "
Photograph 96

Sister Gargi's thorough research has

revealed that "two sets of photographs
had been taken at the same studio
[Bushnell]. In one set [nos. 93-95] Swamiji
wears his robe and turban; in the other,
[nos. 96-99] which shows him seated in an
ornately carved chair, his head is bare, he
wears his clerical collar and loose black
coat. In all these photographs, he seems
piercingly beautiful, the embodiment--
almost translucently so --of grace in every
meaning of the word.

"Attempts were made in San Francisco to

recover the original negatives of these
photographs, but to no avail. It seems
fairly certain that they were destroyed by
the Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
Fortunately, however, the Vedanta Society
of Northern California possesses some of
the original prints and has made negatives from these prints. The two
sets are the only pictures we have of Swamiji in San Francisco, and as
Miss Partington has let us know, it is these photographs, not earlier
ones, which show us how he was when he was here, how he looked
when he lectured, when he talked to friends and interviewers, when he
walked these streets."
Photograph 97

"As was the case everywhere, Swamiji met

people of all kinds in San Francisco, and,
as was the case always, he was equally
friendly to all. 'He seemed to like all
people,' Mrs. Hansbrough once said. 'He
was most compassionate; it seemed as if
he never saw distinctions between
people--almost as if he didn't see the
difference between a duck and a man!'"


Photograph 98

"'The Swami's personality impressed

itself on the mind with visual intensity,'
Mr. [Frank] Rhodehamel was to write some ten years later. 'The
speaking eyes, the wealth of facial expression and gesticulation; the
wondrous Sanskrit chanting, sonorous, melodious, impressing one with
the sense of mystic potency; the translations following in smiling
confidence--all these set off by the spectacular apparel of the Hindu
sannyasin--who can forget them?'"

In his reminiscences of Swami Shivananda, Swami Shraddhananda has

this entry for January 28, 1931: "When I was cleaning Swamiji's room,
Mahapurushji entered. On the north wall hung a big framed photograph
of Swamiji sitting on a chair in a Western dress, his hair long, black and
curly. Mahapurush Maharaj: 'See in this photograph what a grand
appearance Swamiji had! Nivedita used to call him King. He indeed
looks like a King. In America they used to call him a 'Prince among
Men.'" This photo is still hanging on the northern wall in Swamiji's room
at Belur Math.


Photograph 99
Ida Ansell in her reminiscences recalled the first impression of Swamiji
that she and her friends had when they met him in February 1900:

We were startled and astonished at what we heard, amazed

and enraptured at the swami's appearance. He was surely a
Mahatma or a divine being, more than human. No one had
ever been so sublimely eloquent or so deliciously
humorous, such an entrancing storyteller, or such a perfect


Photograph 100
"Charles Neilson was another Alameda friend whom Swamiji visited. It is
indeed to him that we owe what many feel to be one of the most
beautiful, 'speaking' photographs of Swamiji that we possess. Among
Mr. Allan's papers one finds an account of the circumstances under
which it was taken.

'Swamiji with a party of friends,' Mr. Allan wrote, 'was invited to lunch at
the home of Mr. Charles Neilson. After lunch they adjourned to the
garden, and Swamiji stretched out on the lawn.

'Mr. Neilson, wishing to take a picture of Swamiji, asked him to pose.

Swamiji being indifferent about having his picture taken was loath to
get up.

'Mrs. Emily Aspinall, one of the party, said, 'Swami, Mr. Neilson wants to
take your picture, why not let him?' Swamiji then stood up in front of
the summer house and Mr. Neilson took the picture, and that is how
Swamiji has the flowers [actually a vine?covered lattice] for a
background.' . . .

"It can be added to Mr. Allan's account that Mr. Neilson took two
pictures of Swamiji, the first [100] of which has not been generally
known; it shows him looking not at all pleased."
Photograph 101

“According to Mrs. Allan someone then said, ‘Oh Swami, please smile for
us!’ Whereupon, Swamiji smiled, and as he did so the second
photograph [101] of which Mrs. Allan once said, ‘You will see everything
in it,’ was taken. Both pictures are reproduced here: the cross one and
the all?inclusive one.

“One does indeed find everything in Swamiji’s smiling picture, and it is

small wonder; for throughout his stay in Alameda he was in an
exceedingly exalted state of mind. All anxiety in connection with his
work had long since fallen from him.”

Another reference to this photograph was found in a letter that Mrs.

Allan wrote to Ida Ansell from San Francisco dated October 27, 1945:

I did not take the picture of Swamiji you refer to. It was
taken by the Artist Charles Neilson. The flowers shown back
of Swamiji’s head are on the summerhouse of Charles
Neilson. Dr. Plum had a copy of that picture and did not care
to keep it when she left Vedanta and gave it to Tom [Mr.
Allan] who had a negative made from it from which all other
copies have been made. I do not know whether the Temple
has any pictures. Miss Hansen who kindly makes prints for
the Temple has all our negatives we had made and of
various Swamis etc. She says she will make some prints bye
and bye. In the meantime I have the enclosed print you are
welcome to if you want it.

Photograph 102

In March 1901 Swamiji went on tour

in East Bengal and Assam. Swamiji’s
health, which was by this time
already declining, went from bad to
worse. It was decided that a change
of air would be beneficial to him and
the party proceeded to Shillong, a
beautiful hill station and the capital
of Assam. Sir Henry Cotton, the chief
commissioner, was a well-known
sympathetic friend of India. Sir Henry
Cotton was anxious to meet Swamiji,
who had by now become famous
throughout the country. He arranged
for Swamiji to give a public speech
before the resident English officials
and Indian gentlemen. Afterwards
the two of them spent some time
discussing India and her national
problems. Noticing that Swamiji was
not well, Sir Henry Cotton made all arrangements for his medical care.

This photo as well as the following one, no. 103, were both taken in the
same studio, although in the second one Swamiji has donned a cap. The
ornate studio background is the same in both photos. One of the
swamis of the Ramakrishna Order, who is from Shillong, said that there
was a well-known photographic company in Shillong during those days
called Ghosal Brothers. This company specialized in photography of
Assam and of important government officials and other noteworthy
people. It is possible that Sir Henry Cotton, who had been much
impressed with Swamiji, arranged for Ghosal Brothers to take these two
studio photographs.

Photograph 103

(See photo information under

photograph 102.)
Photograph 104

While in Shillong Swamiji was very ill,

as this photo, as well as the next,
indicates. Swamiji told Sharatchandra

The Shillong hills are very

beautiful. There, I met Sir
Henry Cotton, the chief
commissioner of Assam.
He asked me, "Swamiji,
after traveling through
Europe and America, what
have you come to see
here in these distant
hills?" Such a good and
kind-hearted man as Sir
Henry Cotton is rarely
found. Hearing of my
illness, he sent the Civil
Surgeon and inquired after
my health mornings and evenings. I could not do much
lecturing there, because my health was very bad.
Photograph 105

(Taken after a long illness)

Swamiji wrote to Swami Swarupananda on May 15, 1901: “I have just

returned from my tour through East Bengal and Assam. As usual, am
quite tired and broken down.” And in a letter to Josephine MacLeod he
wrote from Belur Math on June 14, 1901, “As for me, I was thrown hors
de combat [disabled] in Assam. The climate of the Math is just reviving
me a bit.”
BELUR MATH, 1977 Swamiji’s Temple
Photograph 106

Three days before his passing away, as the swami [Swamiji] was
walking up and down on the spacious lawn of the monastery in the
afternoon with Swami Premananda, he pointed to a particular spot on
the bank of the Ganga, and said to his brother monk gravely, “When I
give up the body, cremate it there!”

Swamiji entered mahasamadhi on July 4, 1902. This memorial was

erected in his honor on the very spot where he was cremated.

---The End---