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Swami Vivekananda, the yoga missionary19-11-2013   

Swami Vivekananda, the yoga missionary

 

By Emily Buchanan BBC world affairs correspondent

 

 

Swami Vivekananda had a huge following but died aged 39

 

 

 

Few in the west have heard of Swami Vivekananda, who was born 150 years ago this week. Yet this Bengali intellectual, still revered in India, introduced many people to yoga and meditation.

 

The crunch of car tyres on gravel, the heavy smell of an imminent thunderstorm, swaying elm trees - random childhood memories of my grandmother's house, Ridgely, in upstate New York.

 

I also dimly remember casual references to a Swami. "That was Swami's sofa." "The end room - that is where the Swami used to sleep."

 

I would collect fallen branches from a huge fir tree for the Alsatian dog to chew - it was known as "prophet Swami's pine".