About UsVisit of Swamiji


Captain Sevier passed away on 28 October 1900 at the age of fifty-five. Swami Vivekananda, then in the West, felt a premonition of Mr. Sevier’s passing away, and cut short his programme to see his devoted disciple. He reached the shores of India on 6 December 1900 and, coming to Belur Math, learnt the sad news of Mr. Sevier’s passing.


Road to Lohaghat (Old View)
Road to Lohaghat (Old view)

Feeling an intense urge to visit Mayavati to console the bereaved Mrs. Sevier, Swamiji sent her a telegram informing that he would be going, and stating that the exact date would be made known before starting. Swamiji had wired saying that he was leaving Calcutta on 27 December and would be reaching Kathgodam on the 29th, this news reached Mayavati only on the 25th. Swamiji had also sent a telegram to his Almora friend, Lala Badri Shah. However, despite the delay in receiving the telegram, Swami Virajananda went from village to village, engaged some dandi-men and coolies at high rates, and brought them by forced marches to Kathgodam by 12 midnight on 28 December. Swamiji with Swami Shivananda and Swami Sadananda reached Kathgodam on the 29th at 5 a.m. and on hearing Swami Virajananda’s achievement, exclaimed, ‘That’s my man!’

 

The party halted at Bhimtal for the midday meal and halted at Dhari in the evening. They spent the night in a dak bungalow. The next day was a troublesome journey with rain and possibility of snow. Nearly at 3 p.m. they reached Paurhapani, and a little sympathy on the part of Swamiji for the dandi-men in allowing them a cup of tea, cost the party a lot of inconvenience, they being forced to spend the night in what they called that ‘awful hole’. That was coincidentally the night which marked the passing of the nineteenth century and the advent of the twentieth.


Next morning the party continued their journey through twelve inches of snow. The party halted for the day at the Mournalla dak bungalow. The next morning the snow thawed, and the journey to Devidhura and Dhunaghat was pleasant. The Swami walked a part of the way, supporting himself with a staff on one side and by the shoulder of Swami Virajananda on the other.

 

View of Ashrama
An old view of Mayavati Ashrama

The Swami with his party arrived at Mayavati on 3 January. When he caught sight of the ashrama and its building, he was much pleased. Reaching the stream in the canyon below, he heard the ashrama bell strike twelve. He was so keen to reach the ashrama that he mounted a horse and pressed on at full speed. The ashrama had been artistically decorated for the occasion with evergreens and flowers. The joy of the disciples knew no bounds on meeting Swamiji after a very long time.

 

He was given at first a room in the first floor of the ashrama. The cold being too intense, he moved on the 9th to the library room on the ground floor which had a big fire place.

On the 5th the weather being clear, Swamiji was better. It was all white snow outside. Swamiji on this day told Swami Swarupananda of his ideas regarding the work that he desired to be carried out at the Advaita Ashrama.

Lake at Mayavati

Old view of upper lake

January 7 was clear. Swamiji and others climbed to Dharamgarh early in the day. Swamiji did the climb fairly well. Situated at a height of about 7000 feet, this highest point within the Mayavati boundary afforded the finest view of the Himalayan snow ranges. Extremely pleased, Swamiji wished to have a hermitage built there, where he could meditate in solitude.


His favourite was the lakeside. One day, walking there with Mrs. Sevier and others, he said to her, ‘In the latter part of my life, I shall give up all public work and pass my days in writing books and whistling merry tunes by this lake, free as a child.’


At the earnest desire of some of the inmates, a shrine room with a photograph of Sri Ramakrishna installed in it had been set up for some time at Mayavati. One day Swamiji happened to go to the room and see that regular worship was being done with flowers, incense, and other offerings. He said nothing just then, but in the evening when all were gathered about the fireplace, he spoke vehemently disapproving of ritual worship in an Advaita Ashrama. It should never have been done, he said. He quoted profusely many of the
ideas enshrined in the Prospectus of the Advaita Ashrama but did not order them to do away with the worship-room.


Swamiji's room, Mayavati
The room where Swamiji stayed at Mayavati

On the 9th, Swamiji went out in the morning for a short walk to the Bungalow with Mother Sevier, and Swamis Swarupananda and Sachchidananda.In the afternoon and the evening Swamiji wrote an article ‘Aryans and Tamilians’ for Prabuddha Bharata.


On the 12th, Swamiji was feeling better and went out for a walk. Lala Badri Shah had brought a sun-dial
which he presented to the ashrama. Swami Virajananda made a large, delicious block of ice-cream with the help of the thick slab of ice that had formed on the lake. This the Swami highly relished.


January 13 was Swamiji’s birthday! He was thirty-eight. It was raining, but Swamiji was feeling better and had had a good sleep at night. The 17th, Swamiji’s last full day at Mayavati, was cloudy. It had not been possible to arrange for coolies even by the evening. Swamiji had spent a bad night and so he began chaffing at the coolies having not arrived. To allay Swamiji’s anxiety, Swami Virajananda said, ‘Never mind, Swamiji! In that case, we ourselves will carry you down somehow!’ Swamiji laughed outright and said jovially, ‘Oh, I see! You are scheming to throw me into the Khud [canyon]!’


On the way Swamiji, who started from Mayavati by noon met Swami Swarupananda and the latter accompanied Swamiji as far as Champawat.

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