Way back when I first began to read Mrs Burke’s Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries, it had been the fortnight before the Chicago religious congress in 1893 which captivated my whole attention: it epitomizes Swamiji’s prophetic disposition—no country in this world or its people were unfamiliar to him, he never hesitated to love people or speak his mind wherever he went. Even when he was no more than a fortnight in America, he had no difficulty in getting attention of the people, or in endearing himself to them who came a little closer. Each story in this book is testimony to what Romain Rolland felt long back: ‘It was impossible to imagine him in the second place. Wherever he went he was the first. … Everybody recognized in him at sight the leader, the anointed of God, the man marked with the stamp of the power to command.’
We may start with three unique representatives of the late nineteenth century America, whom the Swami met about a fortnight before the religious parliament began in Chicago. These associations allowed him to experience the very basics which were then shaping America.
Mary Tappan Wright
An erudite woman with close links with some leading American higher education institutions through both her pre-and-post-married life. Besides, she had been a notable writer of her time and her books still sell today. It was this great lady who first initiated the chronicle of the Swami when he was not even a month in America.
Kate Tannatt Woods
Even when living, this lady was selected for a publication dealing with the American Women of the Century. A popular writer of her time, who is still remembered for her books and her leading role in the American Women Club Movement which is still considered as a great contributor in making America the way we see her today.
Franklin Benjamin Sanborn
He was close to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and many more who are recognized today for bringing in the American renaissance. He lived with many of the legends in Concord, a place in Massachusetts, which is today widely celebrated in American culture as the pastoral ground of the American renaissance.
William Ernest Hocking
He was one of the last true giants of American philosophy. At Harvard Hocking Studied under the great William James, George Santayana, Josiah Royce, and George Herbert Palmer. Later, he held the most prestigious chair at Harvard University for the first three decades of the twentieth century.
After his PhD. in philosophy and classical philology from Tübingen University, Paul Carus migrated first to England and then to the United States. In 1887 he began editing The Open Court, a monthly journal devoted to comparative religion. The Monist, a quarterly of the philosophy of science, came out in 1888 with Carus as its editor.
She was a devoted student of none else than Auguste Rodin. Malvina imbibed the teaching of the Master who found a protege to share his lifetime of experience. In Malvina Rodin found someone who understood how his creative mind flowed and saw her intensity as a reflection of his.
The most famous actress of the late nineteenth century. ...She went on to become the most popular actress of her generation in Europe, North America, and Australia. When she lived, people said that only two things are there in Paris to see―the Eiffel Tower, and Sarah Bernhardt.
A Serbian immigrant who came to the US with almost nothing beyond his extraordinary genius, and finally rose to become one of the 100 most famous people of the last 1000 years. He was one of the Great Scientists who coursed the stream of human progress.
An original thinker in and between the disciplines of physiology, psychology, and philosophy. With seeds of pragmatism and phenomenology, James's work influenced generations of thinkers in Europe and America, including Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. His writings were from the outset as much philosophical as scientific. He made some of his most important philosophical contributions in the last decade of his life. In philosophy, his positive work is still prophetic.
John P. Fox
He signed the letter on behalf of the Harvard Philosophical Club inviting Vivekananda for a lecture. The decision to invite the Swami was taken by the luminaries of the club, who were the cream of Harvard University during those days, Fox merely issued it on behalf of the Philosophical Club, But this had allowed him to become very close to the Swami and have a ringside view of his soaring spirituality and brilliance both in the US and England a little before he ended his first visit to the West.
Paul J. Deussen
A German philosopher and Sanskrit scholar. After remaining at the Berlin University as an Extraordinary Professor for ten years, Deussen finally moved to the University of Kiel in 1889 and became a full professor of philosophy. Here he remained till his last. He was a friend of Friedrich Nietzsche and a lifelong admirer of Arthur Schopenhauer. His love and interest in Vedantic literature once brought him to India. Deussen's numerous publications include The Philosophy of the Upanisads (1899; English trans. 1906), extensive translations into German of the Upanishads, parts of the Mahabharata, and the Brahmasutrabhshya of Acharya Shankara.
F. Max Müller
An all-time world-renowned Sanskrit scholar and philologist. He was a pioneer in the fields of Vedic studies, comparative philosophy, comparative mythology, and comparative religion. Müller travelled to Berlin in 1844 to study with Friedrich Schelling, whose lectures eventually inspired his intellectual development. He translated some of the most important passages of the Upanishads, which he considered the greatest outcome of Vedic literature. Before finally coming to Oxford, he had studied with the famous Sanskrit scholar Eugene Burnouff in Paris. Max Müller’s a great many scholarly works were later published as an 18-volume Collected Works.
Known as a painter of the portrait, figure, and still-life. During the early 1890's, her watercolors were shown at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and the Boston Art Club. Later, after her study in Paris with Oliver Merson (circa 1894-1895), Maud returned to New York, where she found much success. Her various creations frequently come up today for auctions and are in demand too.
For her exceptional voice and personality, she still is remembered in the world of performing arts. Her profound talents in acting as well as singing were so uniquely matched that the roles she played on stage have become enduring legends of a sort. ‘“Hear Calvé in ‘Carmen’—and die”, is the motto which heralded this singer’s first visit to America’, wrote a contemporary artiste and reviewer a few years after she saw Emma Calvé as Carmen during her US tour.