The weaving of the web of a great personality is a wonderful and unique process. The days are the weavers and even experience a thread; intellect and heart with their variations are the warp and woof; and of these elements is made up the pattern by the awakening soul. The spiritual stature of the individual, with his realisations of the Truth, however, depends entirely on his awareness that his real nature is spiritual; with that must go an entire willingness to renounce the whole world, if need be, to uncover that nature. No less clearly does the old mandate of renunciation ring as it issues from the mouth of the sage who walked the hills of Judea; “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" than when it was sounded centuries before by those other sages in ancient India; “All this is Maya, the unreal. That alone is worth while which is real"
A survey of Naren’s youth shows three main factors operating on and moulding his character; His innate spiritual tendency, or, to continue the argument of above, his awareness of his real nature; the influence of his family and of his studies; and lastly, the guidance of his great spiritual teacher Shri Rarnakrishna, who raised him from the quagmire of unhappiness and scepticism into certainty and Peace. In the foregoing pages we have given an idea of his innate spiritual qualities as induced by his intense purity, his thirst to know God, his quest for one who had seen Him and his final surrender at the feet of the Master at Dakshineswar.
The influence of his family was exerted mainly through his parents and was profound and far-reaching in its effects. It was his mother who imbued him with the ideas of feeling nobly, thinking highly and acting rightly, and gave him his wide knowledge of the great Hindu Epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which he gained at her knee as she read them aloud to him in the twilight. To his father he owed his broadmindedness, manliness and respect for any rightful pride in national traditions. Vishwanath Datta, however, could not escape the influence of Western culture which was acting on the India of his time, and as a result he like others had lost faith in the sacred writings of his own land. That was the penalty he had to pay for being sufficiently open-minded to keep in touch with the atheistic and epicurean intellectual movement of his day. But all this served through his influence on Naren the purpose of widening the scope of his learning by directing his attention to the culture of other lands. This was as it should be, for, as Swami Vivekananda, his outlook had to be broad enough to include all cultures, all religions, and that with sympathy and understanding, and Naren himself was desirous of encompassing all knowledge, Eastern or Western, philosophical, artistic, and scientific, more specially, Western philosophy.
Forthwith, he threw himself into the study of Western philosophy, science, history and art with his usual intensity, determined to discover and master their underlying purport. He was cognisant already of the fact that most philosophical systems are only intellectual diagrams, giving no place to the emotions of man, thereby stifling his creative and responsive faculties. After all, it requires as great an act of faith to believe in a speculative system of thought as to “believe without understanding” in theological dogmas. Naren did not want diagrams of Truth, no matter how clever. He wanted the Truth. True philosophy should be the mother of spiritual action, the fountain-head of creative energy, the highest and noblest stimulus to the will. Stopping short of that, it is worthless.
The abstruse philosophy of Herbert Spencer interested him particularly, and later on he used the Spencerian mode of reasoning in his argumentations on the more abstruse doctrines of the Upanishads and the Vedanta — much as Lafcadio Hearn, in a less spiritual way, did with the Buddhism of Japan. Herein Naren gained that power of thought, penetrating discrimination and spirit of search for a scientific basis, which stood him in good stead in delivering his message in later years. The philosophy of Spencer is dangerous to the traditional theological conception of the origin of and outlook on things. It pulverises the very foundations of belief itself; only the strength of an innate idealism, the power of the poetic and imaginative temperament, can save any part of the old personality. It will be seen that it was his inherent capacities for the broader vision that saved young Naren from becoming a hopeless fatalist and atheist. In him was latent the mystic-that-was-to-be, and his spirited soul could not stop its questionings at the agnostic's half-way house. He also studied the systems of the German philosophers, particularly Kant and Schopenhauer, as well as of John Stuart Mill and Auguste Comte and delved into the mystical and analytical speculations of the ancient Aristotelian school. For a time he found refuge and solace in the Positivist philosophy of Comte which embraces a wide ethical outlook. But never did his enthusiasm for the Truth interfere with his subjecting any newer and greater revelation, before accepting it, to the same keen-eyed scrutiny he had given his earlier beliefs, and comparing it to the systems of his own land.
He now was in full rebellion against the Hindu social system; his eyes were opened to the bondage in which the whole nation was to the autocracy of the priestly caste. The network of caste and creed became to him intolerable. With most persons, particularly those of a romantic temperament, this is a critical state, for there is the danger of dulling the moral sense. When the gods and religious duties, and ascetic and spiritual ideals go, what power is left to curb the turbulent senses? Truly was this a tempestuous period for Naren involving his whole personality; and wonderful was the strength of his inner self which bore him through. His mind was carried by its own impetus beyond the dark and questionable realm of the senses into the world of pure intellectuality, by his subconscious determination to find a way out of the network of ignorance to the reality of his own nature, if such reality there were — to find a way to God, if God existed. To him the solution of this problem was the imperative need. To a mind of his mould agnosticism was only a mood. The mystical temperament cannot stop at “I do not know”. The problem of life, the quest for Truth, is for such a one irresistible. His mind is swept by currents peculiar to itself, which, if he is fortunate, carry him past the dangers of doubts and agnosticism into the safety of realisation. Naren was lost in a maze of agnosticism, but he did not lose heart. If philosophy could not help him, if it was not the door-way to vision, he felt it would have to be discarded as an abstraction, which, beautiful though it might be, was not worth while.
Empirical science cannot transcend the realm of the intellect and senses and therefore cannot enable the aspirant to realise that Permanent Reality which is the foundation and cause of all phenomena. Naren was in accord with Western science and philosophy in their dictum that all that man really knows of the world is nothing but the reaction in time and space of his own senses on outside objects; that this external world in itself is for ever unknown and unknowable. This is also true of the internal nature of man. He can never truly know his inner reality, because it is beyond the laws of time and space. Narendra Nath was aware that the sense-organs, mind and intellect are incapable of solving the ultimate riddle of the universe, because even the sense-perceptions on which man bases his various speculations and theories regarding the ultimate mystery of the universe about him are themselves not free from error and are hence unreliable. Western savants have totally failed to establish the existence of the Self apart from physical consciousness and consequently have failed to come to a final conclusion regarding the ultimate Truth.
Nevertheless Narendra had a great respect for Western material science and its analytical processes. He used them to test Shri Ramakrishna's various supernatural experiences and accepted only those which stood the test. Though he was literally pining for Truth, yet he would not accept anything through fear or because of outside pressure. He was even willing to become an honest atheist if that was to be the end of all reasoning; so eager was he to solve the mystery of the universe that he was willing to surrender all the pleasures of the world, nay, even life itself for a vision of the Truth. With this idea always in mind, he pursued his studies of Western science and philosophy, accepting whatever was good in them. He did not serve learning in order to make it useful in the acquisition of material power; he ascended the stairs of thought because he desired to realise Truth, spiritual and divine. In his rebellion against his inherited faith he was forced to much wandering and intellectual struggle only to return to it to attain the Truth in his final illumination.
His researches were not confined to philosophy. In connection with his other studies he took a course in Western medicine in order to acquaint himself with the working of the nervous system — the brain and spinal cord. He had a passion for history, the story of the conditions under which human character and human events were developed. History was to him, the record of the heart-throbbings of the centuries telling of the aspirations and the realisations of nations.
Poetry, because it is the language of ideals, made a strong appeal to Naren. Wordsworth was to him the fixed star of the poetic firmament. Naren lived in the world of ideals, where history and philosophy and poetry and all the sciences are recognised as phases of Reality. He possessed a prophetic vision of learning, wherein thought was seen as subservient to the real purpose of life, the intellect being the fuel on which the soul fed and which it burned in its supreme effort to go ultimately beyond the intellect, beyond all thought.
With all his seriousness there was another side to Naren. He had a great love for pleasure and gave himself up to it whole-heartedly. Thoroughly human and interested in the ways of human life, he was known in college as “a good old soul", because of his stories, wit and merry-making. He was the leader in all innocent fun, and no party was considered complete without him. But his amusements were never allowed to interfere with his studies. Often, after spending the day with friends, he would plunge late at night into the study of some complex historical or philosophical treatise, not giving over until he had completely mastered it. His brain was always clear, even when his health was impaired and he was physically weak. This is to be marvelled at when one considers the terrible strain to which he frequently subjected it. In the last days of his life he used to say, “Though my body is worn out, my brain is as clear as ever.” Naren’s was a strange personality made up of varying moods and qualities. In mischievous fun a boy, in song an artist, in intellectual pursuits a scholar and in his outlook on life a philosopher.
Naren had learned to do whatever was to be done because the mind sees and understands the fitness of the doing and not because of some external pressure. The freedom of the will, he was convinced, was the basis of all true self-development; but that freedom of will must be added to and supported by a righteous and developed discrimination. Then one obeyed the moral laws as a master, not as a slave. He possessed that rare and wonderful qualification for the attainment of the spiritual consciousness — a positive passion for good. Though his mind plunged into the depth of agnosticism, he hated a materialistic and sensuous outlook of life. He did not make a little learning an excuse for much sinning.
The monastic instinct was natural to him, and yet he was a jubilant lover of life. He had the physical freedom of a child with the intellectual strength of a spiritual giant. It is not strange, therefore, to find him rising from his study, when he was preparing for the B. L. Examination and saying to a friend. “Yes, I must abandon the idea of appearing for the examination. What does it all mean! I must be free!” In early youth he recognised marriage to be a barrier to spirituality and said to this same friend, “You are married. You are under the bondage of the householder's life. I am free. Mine will be the monastic life, I am sure.” He knew life to be a dream. His very agnosticism had impressed him with the meaninglessness of all things. Therefore he looked upon the monastic life as the only method of protest against the falseness of it all.
The great barrier to his final realisation at this period was the intellect. But it had to be silenced, not by stunting its growth by the acceptance of any casual belief, not by suppressing it as one would an evil thought or desire, but by developing it to its highest capacity. It must have dealt successfully with all phases of doubt and of uncertainty and gone beyond to the perception of reality, before being capable of joining the emotions in the living of the spiritual life. How Naren arrived at this consummation is a mystery. How his intellect became illuminated, no one knows. It was perhaps due to his contact with his teacher Shri Ramakrishna, whose realisation was the fulfilment and solution of all intellectual cravings and doubts. For do not the scriptures say that when one knows God one knows the Universe? Nature cannot withhold from such a one any of her secrets. But Naren had still to grope in darkness for some time to come. There were many difficulties to be faced, many doubts to be settled before he could resign himself to a teacher and accept his teachings without question, and he was to fight every inch of the way, accepting nothing until it was proved conclusively. When any point was gained it became insight, illumination. In all his struggles and sufferings of mind and heart he instinctively felt that victory was to be his; that his latent monastic self would some day overcome his agnostic mind and make of him the victorious monk. He was pure in heart, and such, Jesus the Christ said, shall see God.
To gain a still clearer perspective of Naren’s personality and the early stage of his mental development, it would be well to quote the observations of one of his fellow-students, Dr. Brajendra Nath Seal, who was one of the leading intellects of India. He says in an article written for the Prabuddha Bharata in 1907:
“When I first met Vivekananda in 1881, we were fellow-students of Principal William Hastie, scholar, metaphysician, and poet, at the General Assembly's College. He was my senior in age, though I was his senior in the College by one year. Undeniably a gifted youth, sociable, free and unconventional in manners, a sweet singer, the soul of social circles, a brilliant conversationalist, somewhat bitter and caustic, piercing with the shafts of a keen wit the shows and mummeries of the world, sitting in the scorner’s chair but hiding the tenderest of hearts under that garb of cynicism; altogether an inspired Bohemian but possessing what Bohemians lack, an iron will; somewhat peremptory and absolute, speaking with accents of authority and withal possessing a strange power of the eye which could hold his listeners in thrall.
“This was patent to all. But what was known to few was the inner man and his struggle — the Sturm und Drang of soul which expressed itself in his restless and Bohemian wanderings.
“This was the beginning of a critical period in his mental history, during which he awoke to self-consciousness and laid the foundations of his future personality. John Stuart Mill’s Three Essays on Religion had upset his first boyish theism and easy optimism which he had imbibed from the outer circles of the Brahmo Samaj. The arguments from causality and design were for him broken reeds to lean upon, and he was haunted by the problem of the Evil in Nature and Man which he, by no means, could reconcile with the goodness of an All-wise and All-powerful Creator. A friend introduced him to the study of Hume’s Scepticism and Herbert Spencer’s doctrine of the Unknowable, and his unbelief gradually assumed the form of a settled philosophical scepticism.
“His first emotional freshness and naivete were worn out. A certain dryness and incapacity for the old prayerful devotions, an ennui which he concealed under a nonchalant air of habitual mocking and scoffing, troubled his spirit. But music, still stirred him as nothing else could, and gave him a weird unearthly sense of unseen realities which brought tears to his eyes.
“It was at this time that he came to me being brought by a common friend, the same who had introduced him to the study of Hume and Herbert Spencer. I had had a nodding acquaintance with him before, but now he opened himself to me and spoke of his harassing doubts and his despair of reaching certitude about the Ultimate Reality. He asked for a course of Theistic philosophic reading suited to a beginner in his situation. I named some authorities, but the stock arguments of the Intuitionists and the Scotch common-sense school only confirmed him in his unbelief. Besides, he did not appear to me to have sufficient patience for humdrum reading — his faculty was to imbibe not so much from books as from living communion and personal experience. With him it was life kindling life and thought kindling thought.
“I felt deeply drawn towards him, for I now knew that he would grapple with difficulties in earnest.
“I gave him a course of readings in Shelley. Shelley’s Hymn to the spirit of Intellectual Beauty, his pantheism of impersonal love and his vision of a glorified millennial humanity moved him as the arguments of the philosophers had failed to move him. The universe was no longer a mere lifeless, loveless mechanism. It contained a spiritual principle of unity.
“I spoke to him now of a higher unity than Shelley had conceived, the unity of the Para Brahman as the Universal Reason. My own position at that time sought to fuse into one, three essential elements, the pure monism of the Vedanta, the dialectics of the Absolute idea of Hegel and the Gospel of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity of the French Revolution. The principle of individuation was with me the principle of Evil. The Universal Reason was all in all, Nature, life, history being the progressive unfolding of the Absolute idea. All ethical, social and political creeds and principles were to be tested by their conformity to Pure Reason. The element of feeling appeared to me merely pathological, a disturbance of sanity and order. How to overcome the resistance of matter, of individuality and of unreason, to the manifestation of the Pure Reason was the great problem of life and society, of education and legislation. I also held with the ardour of a young inexperienced visionary that the deliverance of the race from the bondage of unreason would come about through a new revolutionary polity of which the watchwords were Equality, Liberty and Fraternity.
“The sovereignty of Universal Reason, and the negation of the individual as the principle of morals, were ideas that soon came to satisfy Vivekananda's intellect and gave him an assured inquest over scepticism and materialism. What was more, they furnished him with the card and compass of life, as it were. But this brought him no peace. The conflict now entered deeper into his soul, for the creed of Universal Reason called on him to suppress the yearnings and susceptibilities of his artist nature and Bohemian temperament. His senses were keen and acute, his natural cravings and passions strong and imperious, his youthful susceptibilities tender, his conviviality free and merry. To suppress these was to kill his natural spontaneity — almost to suppress his self. The struggle soon took a seriously ethical turn — reason struggling for mastery with passion and sense. The fascinations of the sense and the cravings of a youthful nature now appeared to him as impure, as gross and carnal. This was the hour of darkest trial for him. His musical gifts brought him associates for whose manners and morals he had bitter and undisguised contempt. But his convivial temperament proved too strong for him. It was, therefore, some relief to him when I occasionally kept him company of an evening when he went out for a musical soiree.
“I saw and recognised in him a high, ardent and pure nature, vibrant and resonant with impassioned sensibilities. He was certainly no sour or cross-grained puritan, no normal hypochondriac; he would indulge cynically in unconventional language except when he would spare my innocence. He took an almost morbid delight in shocking conventionality in its tabernacles, respectability in its booths, and in the pursuit of his sport would appear other than he was, puzzling and mystifying those outside his inner circle of friends. But in the recesses of his soul he wrestled with the fierce and fell spirit of Desire, the subtle and illusive spirit of Fancy.
“To his repeated quest for some power which would deliver him from bondage and unavailing struggle, I could only point to the sovereignty of Pure Reason and the ineffable peace that comes of identifying the self with the Reason in the Universe. Those were for me days of a victorious Platonic transcendentalism. The experience of a refractory flesh or rebellious temperament had not come to me. I had not sufficient patience for the mood or attitude of mind which surrenders the sovereign right of self-government to artificial props or outside help, such as grace or mediation. I felt no need of conciliating feeling and nature in the cult of Reason, nor had had any experience of a will divided in its allegiance to the Self. The experience of a discord between the Ideal and the Real, between Nature and Spirit, had indeed come to me already in an objective way as an outstanding reality and was to come afterwards in subjective fashion though in forms quite other than what obtained in Vivekananda's case. But at the time, his problems were not mine, nor were my difficulties his.
“He confessed that though his intellect was conquered by the universal, his heart owned the allegiance of the individual Ego and complained that a pale bloodless reason, sovereign de jure but not de facto, could not hold out arms to save him in the hour of temptation. He wanted to know if my philosophy could satisfy his senses, could mediate bodily, as it were, for the soul’s deliverance; in short, he wanted a flesh and blood reality visible in form and glory; above all, he cried out for a hand to save, to uplift, to protect, a Shakti or power outside himself which could cure him of his impotence and cover his nothingness with glory — a Guru or master who by embodying perfection in the flesh would still the commotion in his soul.
“At the time, this appeared to me a weakness born of unreason, this demand for perfection in the flesh and for a power out of ourselves to save — this sacrifice of reason to sense. My young inexperienced self, confronted with this demand of a soul striving with itself, knew not wherewith to satisfy it, and Vivekananda soon after betook himself to the ministers and missionaries of the Brahmo Samaj, asking Brahmos with an unconscious Socratic Irony for an ideal made real to sense, for truth made visible, for a power unto deliverance. Here he had enough, he bitterly complained, of moral disquisitions, principles, intuitions for pabulum which to him appeared tasteless and insipid. He tried diverse teachers, creeds and cults, and it was this quest that brought him, though at first in a doubting spirit, to the Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar, who spoke to him with an authority as none had spoken before, and by his Shakti brought peace into his soul and healed the wounds of his spirit. But his rebellious intellect scarcely yet owned the Master. His mind misgave him and he doubted if the peace which would possess his soul in the presence of the Master was not illusory. It was only gradually that the doubts of that keen intellect were vanquished by the calm assurance that belongs to ocular demonstration.
“I watched with intense interest the transformation that went on under my eyes. The attitude of a young and rampant Vedantist-cum-Hegelian-cum-Revolutionary like myself towards the cult of religious ecstasy and Kali-worship, may be easily imagined; and the spectacle of a bor iconoclast and free-thinker like Vivekananda, a creative and dominating intelligence, a tamer of souls, himself caught in the meshes of what appeared to me an uncouth, supernatural mysticism, was a riddle which my philosophy of the Pure Reason could scarcely read at the time. But Vivekananda, ‘the loved and lost' was loved, and mourned most in what I could not but then regard as his defection; and it was personal feeling, after all, the hated pathological element of individual preference and individual relationship, which most impelled me, when at last I went on what to a home-keeping recluse like myself was an adventurous journey to Dakshineswar, to see and hear Vivekananda’s Master, and spent the greater part of a long summer day in the shady and peaceful solitude of the Temple-garden, returning as the sun set amidst the whirl and rush and roar and the awful gloom of a blinding thunder-storm, with a sense of bewilderment as well moral as physical, and a lurking perception of the truth that the majesty of Law orders the apparently irregular and grotesque, that there may be self-mastery in apparent selfalienation, that sense even in its errors is only incipient Reason and that faith in a Saving Power ab extra is but the dim reflex of an original act of self-determination. And a significant confirmation of all this came in the subsequent life-history of Vivekananda who, after he had found the firm assurance he sought in the saving Grace and Power of his Master, went about preaching and teaching the creed of the Universal Man, and the absolute and inalienable sovereignty of the Self.”
Naren yearned sincerely for knowledge, sure, real, permanent and satisfactory. He wanted to get out of the quagmire of doubt and uncertainty. To him the voice of the spirit of agnosticism was the voice of anguish, causing him much mental tribulation and stress of soul. A feeling of emptiness and sadness obsessed him. Why he could not explain. He entered that world in which every glance and every step is suffering, because it is the world of doubt in which man says, “I do not know”. The ordinary philosopher utters this with indifference; the saint-that-is-to-be says it with a suffering-laden heart. The worldly man pays no heed if the whole world of idealism and tradition falls; he is oblivious to the suffering which disillusion involves. Yet in all this confusion of intellect and agnosticism Naren practised meditation. He continued his spiritual exercises. It gave him great mental peace, this effort to quiet the mind in meditation. And in that state when great silence and great stillness came, he would sometimes pass into the innermost recesses of his nature. There the doubting mind could not follow. During this period the visions he had during the first few visits to Dakshineswar helped him a great deal to keep his mind firm in the belief of an ultimate Reality. Shri Ramakrishna’s words were of great comfort and helped to keep him steady in the practice of meditation, no matter what the tumult of his mind; “God listens to the sincere prayer of the human mind. I can swear that you can see Him more intensely than you see me. You can talk to Him more intimately than you talk to me. One can hear His words and feel His touch.” Again; “You may not believe in various divine forms and may discard them as products of the human imagination. But if you believe in some ultimate Reality which is the regulator of the universe, you can pray thus; ‘O God, I do not know Thee. Be gracious to reveal to me Thy real nature! — He must listen to you if your prayer be sincere.” These words of the Master encouraged Naren a great deal and helped to turn his mind more and more to the practice of spiritual exercises. He had been greatly impressed with the opinion of Hamilton that the human intellect can only give hints of the truth that there exists a God who is the regulator of the universe. It is beyond the power of intellect to give a correct knowledge of God. Here philosophy ends and religion begins. Naren often would quote this. Though he was now giving much time and energy to spiritual exercises, he did not throw away his philosophical books. As a matter of fact, study, music and meditation wholly occupied his mind.
Naren took to a new method of meditation. Formerly he used to meditate upon God, following the Brahmo belief, as formless but endowed with attributes. But now he prayed from the bottom of his heart, “O God, be gracious and reveal to me Thy real nature which is the embodiment of Truth!" Then he would banish from his mind all other thoughts. After a while his mind would dive so deeply into the innermost recesses of his soul that he would lose all consciousness of body and time. He would meditate in this manner at night when all the inmates of the house had retired. He would feel then an ineffable peace within; afterwards he would feel for some time a sort of intoxication which made it difficult for him to leave his seat. On one such occasion as he was thus seated after meditation, he was blessed with the vision of Lord Buddha.
As time passed on and the days became landmarks of varied higher experiences. The man is seen in the making, inflexible with himself in his search for Reality. All the passionate longing which, in ordinary persons, is related to the senses, was in Naren directed to the understanding of life and its problems. Where there is such sincerity of effort there must come realisation. The result of all his deep study in the wisdom of man only brought him to the conclusion that all worldly knowledge and experience is vanity and vexation of spirit. Slowly but surely came the expansion of thought. Gradually Naren became convinced, by an intellectual process, of the existence of an Ultimate Reality, conscious and inexpressible, from which all phenomena have emanated. The gods might be false, thought Naren, but not God.
But it must be remembered that there were other factors equally important in Naren’s finding of this intellectual, or rather spiritual position, besides his own innate power of discrimination and thought. Naren began to build, though slowly at first, an enlightened spiritual life upon the broad basis of insight under the vigilant watch of an ever-wakeful spiritual guide. It was a long way, however, between the state of agnosticism and the state of prayer. But prayer and contemplation were gradually awakened in Naren, as he began to lead the life of renunciation, the quieting of the senses, and centre the strength and intensity of his thought upon these noble ideals. And was not such concentration of thought, in itself, prayer? There came a longing for divine vision, to make thought a process of feeling. The idea, God, must become the feeling that God is. And when one has that feeling, who shall say unto him, "This is true and this is not true"? Intellectual truth is always debatable; spiritual Truth is beyond debate. To feel such a longing, even to dream of such an exalted state of consciousness, verily, in itself, is spirituality. Naren pondered deeply on the idea of God. He would dream day after day of the contents of the infinite consciousness. Meditation became a habit with him. The desire to see, to know the Truth, became so intense that already the walls of his intellect were being undermined and washed away, leaving the way open to the intuitive mind, the direct servant of the soul. At night he often sank the shaft of personality into its very depths. In the dream consciousness he would see dimly things which were beyond all mortal dreaming, or in the morning he would awake with a feeling of exaltation that could only be explained on the ground that his sleep was not ordinary sleep. The feeling of exaltation, the temporary glimpses of Reality, were daily happenings with him. It was at this time that frequently he seemed to be separate from his body.
He thought when he met the Master, his guide and companion, that he had found a haven of peace and the end of all his struggles, but he was unable to accept the teacher in toto. As the Master tried to kindle the sleeping spirituality of his disciple, the latter asserted his intellectual strength. He opposed and he fretted. But the Master, to use his own expressions, was not a water-snake, but a deadly cobra whose bite was fatal. Gradually Naren's opposition died away in complete surrender. The inner history of Naren's conversion and illumination is too subtle to be described in words. The Guru performed this in an inscrutable manner. Only the outer strife, the intellectual struggle Naren's friends observed and knew. But the real conversion is a mystery, known only to the teacher, and perhaps, the disciple.