Mani Sankar Mukherjee is a very great Bengali writer. He has written a wonderful book about Swami Vivekananda. I have read about Vivekananda all my life, but in Sankar’s book I read many, many things for the first time. This is one incident that Sankar himself told me when he came to New York.
After the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda became world-famous overnight. Here in America, a few religious fanatics stood dead against him. They were trying to destroy his reputation by defaming him everywhere.
Once Vivekananda and six or seven of his admirers were invited to dinner by a very distinguished lady. During the meal, they were all talking and talking about ‘cabbages and kings’. It was nothing to do with spirituality. They were in the seventh heaven of worldly talk.
The hostess came and asked everyone, “Now would you like to have a cup of coffee?” Vivekananda used to drink tea sometimes twenty times a day. He also drank coffee a few times, Sankar told me. And his friends and disciples also drank tea and coffee.
On this day, they were served coffee. Everybody started drinking it. As soon as Vivekananda lifted the cup to his month, he vividly saw his Master, Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, “Naren, stop, stop! There is poison inside your cup.”
The fanatics had bribed the cook to put poison inside Vivekananda’s cup. Many others were drinking the coffee and nothing happened. But Vivekananda’s coffee was examined and it was found to have poison inside. And where was Sri Ramakrishna at that time? In Heaven.
This was the Master’s love for his dearest disciple. Sri Ramakrishna stopped him immediately. Otherwise, he would have died. Those fanatics were so ruthless.
TCE 34. 21 January 2004↩