Question: Do you notice the results of the work that Vivekananda did in America?

Sri Chinmoy: The great souls, liberated souls, realised souls, the earth-saviours, come into this world for world-transformation, but it is practically in vain. They come here, but they can hardly achieve anything. It was Vivekananda who brought Indian spirituality to the West. It lasted, but it would have lasted longer if so many Hatha Yoga teachers had not come to the West. On the one hand, you can say that Westerners, since they were not very spiritual to begin with, did the right thing by starting with Hatha Yoga, which is like kindergarten. There is a great difference between Hatha Yoga exercises and ordinary physical exercises, and there is a great advantage in doing Hatha Yoga. But on the other hand, if they had started with the yoga of concentration and meditation right from the beginning, as the Indians do, they would have made much faster progress. There are many ashrams in India where they do not practise Hatha Yoga at all. They do not give any importance to Hatha Yoga there. In the same way, they could have started with real meditation in America.

But a great number of swamis came here after Vivekananda and started teaching Hatha Yoga. They ignored meditation and the inner life, so Westerners associated Yoga with only physical exercises. Vivekananda's Vedanta movement was thwarted by Hatha Yoga here. Again, there were some in America who cared for deeper spirituality. Then the Hatha Yoga teachers, who perhaps never meditated in India, became clever. They attached meditation to their own teachings so that they could keep at least some disciples.

But when it is a matter of meditation, I wish to say that many of my own disciples have meditated for a longer period and more sincerely than some of these swamis did in India. They may have stayed there for thirty, forty or even fifty years, but out of those forty or fifty years perhaps they did not meditate seriously for even one month. Some of these teachers did not have a spiritual Master at all, while others went to a spiritual figure for a very short time. Then they came to the West and banked on their Master's name. They said, "I had so-and-so as my Master." But some of these so-called disciples did not even stay at the Master's ashram. Or they may have stayed at the ashram for a day or a month. When the Masters were alive, perhaps these swamis were their worst disciples. The Masters may never even have known that these disciples were with them. But then these so-called disciples became the self-styled "chosen instruments" of their Master in the West.