Goodwin – unsung stenographer of Swami Vivekananda

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Udhagamandalam (TN), October 18:  As the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is being celebrated, many are not even aware of his stenographer Josiah Goodwin, who played a key role in immortalising his lectures and preachings.

Goodwin, a young journalist from England who migrated to USA and followed Vivekananda to Kolkata after being impressed by his famous Chicago speech in 1893, lies buried in a cemetery in this hill resort town where he fell sick during a visit with the Swami.

Since 1893, he started jotting down the lectures and preachings and presented to the public in print form. Goodwin accompanied Vivekananda for six months from January to June, 1897 during the famous tour of Colombo to Almorah.

Aged about 27 then, Goodwin was instrumental in bringing 17 lectures and preachings, all fast and extempore, given by the Swamiji to the world, according to functionaries in the Ramakrishna Seva Sangh in Udhagamandalam and Coimbatore.

Goodwin, who had accompanied Vivekananda to then ‘Ooty’ (Udhagamandalam) in May 1898, fell sick and died on June 2 (Vivekananda was in Almora then) and was buried in the cemetery attached to St. Thomas Church in the town, they said.

“It is Josiah who brought the history and preachings of Swami Vivekananda, giving them the immortality, the status and popularity across the world,” Ramakrishna Seva Sangh Joint Secretary C Thangavel said.

He regrets that Goodwin’s role has been neglected at a time when the 150th birth anniversary was being celebrated.

Considering the contribution of Goodwin, the Government, as a tribute, should at least come forward and maintain his memorial and declare it as a ‘historic monument,’ he said.

The government should also take steps to preserve as a monument the ‘Kaveri House’ in Udhagamandalam, where Josiah stayed, Sivadas of Vivekananda Youth Welfare Association said.

The house is in the possession of a private party, they said.

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