Sir, Since the landing of Swamy Vivekananda on these shores, after his successful mission in Europe and America, there have appeared three criticisms from the pen of Mr. Madhava Doss, a Mofussilite who, to tell it in his own words, ‘came to Madras as many others on a pilgrimage to see the Swamy, hear his voice, and feel his holy presence,’ and who had the misfortune to return home bitterly disappointed. What is it, then, one would be curious to enquire, that has led up to search an unlooked for and undesirable result? Briefly stated, it is the weakness which this Swamy displayed in refusing to throw in his lot with the mighty head of the Theosophical Society, and the splenetic words of the Swamy in inveighing against the Theosophists. Adverting to the services done to us by the Theosophists, Mr. Doss writes, ‘Mrs. Besant joined the Society in her own time and pleaded the cause of Madame Blavatsky’s movement and of Hinduism with a fervour and insight that called forth from Mr. Justice Subramania Aiyar, the eulogium that she was a Rishi and the epithet of Saraswati from no less a personage than the Dewan of Mysore. Pamphlets after pamphlets have been given out to the world and speeches after speeches have been delivered by her, the foremost woman orator of the day, as Mr. Stead said, and we find nothing new, not a single new idea to learn from the Swamijee. (The italics are mine.) Now, I may clear my ground at the very outset by pointing out, what I sincerely believe, that Mrs. Besant highly deserved these encomiums, and I yield to none in my admiration for her. No sane man will ever dream of doubting that in powers of eloquence and keenness of perception she will be second to none of the foremost persons of the day. Nor will any one deny that she, in common with the leaders of the Theosophical Society, has done yeoman service to this land. But one would readily concede that the eulogiums of Mr. Justice Subramania Aiyer and Dewan of Mysore are intended more to indicate their appreciation of her undoubted sterling qualities than they are meant to be understood literally. There can hardly be much weight in the argument that the Swamijee does not ventilate any new ideas.
… Had the Swamy allied himself with the Theosophists there would be but one opinion that all his labours in the West would have ended in inferno. If the Swamy said nothing but what the Theosophists have been preaching all these years, how to account for the popularity of the one and the unpopularity of the other? If the Swamy had only repeated to the Westerns what they have been accustomed to hear, is that not, I ask, one reason why his views should be stigmatised as hackneyed and insipid? How, then, to account for all the great ovation of which we all have heard so much of late as having been accorded to the Swamy in Europe and America? Secondly, the attitude of the Theosophists towards the Swamy from the beginning was aught but desirable. When the Swamy first came to Madras four years ago, he called upon Col. Olcott with a view to procure a letter of introduction to his friends in America. In the course of the conversation the Col. asked him if he would join his Society and the Swamy had to bear the brunt of the Col.’s anger when, for reasons of his own, he felt constrained to decline the offer. Nor satisfied with this, the Col. wrote very disparagingly of the Swamy in consequence whereof the members of the American and European Theosophical Societies were forbidden to attend the Swamy’s lecture on pain of dismissal. ‘The Devil is going to die’, he wrote, ‘and our cause is safe.’ Is this the treatment which the Hindus would expect to be meted out to their representative at the Parliament of Religions, at the hands of the Theosophists, the loudest braggers in the world of ‘Toleration’, and ‘Universal Brotherhood’? Surely, Universal Brotherhood means something more than printing the expression in big characters on the walls of the Theosophical premises. Perhaps, the Revered Col. is not to be brought to book, for what he does under the inspiration of the Mahatmas! In the face of these facts is the Swamy to be found fault with for telling his constituents how wide of the mark was the suggestion that the Theosophists paved the way for him? Is it not highly indispensable that a misunderstanding which was gaining ground should be removed?
...The Swamy never insinuated, as Mr. Doss represents or rather misrepresents him to have done, that wisdom and Mahatmism begins and ends with his Guru. All that he said was that so far as we can see with Ramakrishna Pramahamsa Deva ends the list of humanitarians who may be ranked with Sree Sankara Charya, Ramanuja, etc. That he deserved all the penegeric showered upon him is borne out by the testimony of the most highly cultured persons of our day. Professor Max Mueller is reported to have said in a recent interview, referring to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, ‘To whom else is worship due if not to him.’ And there are a thousand other testimonials in the same strain too numerous to be noticed in this place. Mr. Doss, after threatening Vivekananda that he would be alienating his sympathy and the sympathy of those that think with him if he inveighed against the Theosophists as a body, does not fail to point out that Mrs. Besant in ‘true humility’ spoke of the Swamy in her last ‘Town Hall meeting with respect and admiration.’ But where was this ‘true humility’ when she turned a cold shoulder to the Swamy from America where he was friendless and penniless?
...Let not Mr. Doss take to the easy task of fulminating petulant diatribes upon one who, even according to him, has done yeoman service to this land, and who no less for simplicity of life and unassuming manners than for versatility of genius, indomitable courage and unflinching perseverance has, at so early an age, become a model to the world.