Great persons are usually known to us through their lectures, writings or public activities. But it is always a rare privilege to come into intimate contact with them and study their lives and thoughts at close quarters. This is all the more true of spiritual geniuses. Those who have attained to a great spiritual height live in a different plane, as it were, from that of ours, and in spite of their endeavour to do good to the world and their great sympathy for the suffering humanity, none except those who have been directly touched by them succeed in taking full advantage of their lives and teachings. Spiritual giants are worshipped from a distance but the influence of their examples enters into the lives of only a fortunate few. All are not destined to have direct contact with spiritual personalities, hence the next best thing for ordinary people is to know their teachings, in which is hidden the inspiration of their lives. It is therefore that the teachings or recorded sayings of saints are so much in demand. A few sayings of Christ found in the Bible and a few words of Buddha that have been left to the world as a great legacy are giving spiritual sustenance to millions of people for thousands of years. It is but natural.
The meteoric success of Swami Vivekananda as a religious teacher in two hemispheres dazzles us. We are struck with awe and reverence when we read his writings or go through his recorded speeches. We feel he is talking to us from a dizzy height. We are bewildered by the thought of the gulf between his greatness and our smallness. But when one would come into direct touch with him, one would feel that the distance had vanished, and find in Swami Vivekananda a close friend or an intimate relation, eager to do the highest good for all. It is only when such relationship is established that you can know the real man. The disciples who recorded their conversations with Swami Vivekananda in the following pages, had the privilege not only of finding the Swami as a Guru, but of being very free with him. So we find, they were discussing all kinds of subjects with him. And as Swami Vivekananda while giving out his views was not trammeled by formality as is the case when one stands on a public platform, his world has found here have got special value. Here Swami Vivekananda gives directions about spiritual practice and meditation, talks of high philosophy, and in the next breath discusses the problems of national regeneration, social reform, educational ideals, and what not. Now and then we find how the large heart of that great giant bled for the sufferings of the poor and the needy. People in almost all walks of life will find guidance from these conversations.
The conversations took place in Bengali and were originally published in the Udbodhan a Bengali monthly of the Ramakrishna Order. They were translated, at places abridged, and incorporated in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. We bring them out in a handy book from, hoping they will be of immense help to a larger circle of the reading public. May our hope be justified.
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