1870 - 1898
Swami Vivekananda wrote: "Those who think they have been helped by any thought of mine, ought to know that almost every word of it was published through the untiring and most unselfish exertions of Mr. Goodwin...a disciple of never-failing devotion, a worker who knew not what tiring was...."
"He is chosen for my work. What would I do without him! If I have a mission, he is indeed a part of it."
On Goodwin from:
"THE LIFE OF THE SWAMI VIVEKANANDA."
By his Eastern and western Disciples
First edition (written primarily by Swami Virajananda)
Among the followers who worked hardest for the Swami was Mr. J. J. Goodwin, whom it was Miss (Sara Ellen) Waldo's good fortune to secure as a stenographer for him. He had come from England, shortly before the Swami's return from that country on his first visit, and was looking forward to some adventurous experience, his life having been a chequered one. He had then no settled religious views, and as a young man, his age being twenty-three faced life as it came. The Swami's disciples had heard of him and secured his services, the latter regarding the post from a purely business point of view. But hardly had two weeks elapsed when he had ecome a most devoted follower, occupying the same quarters as the Swami's, accompanying him wheresoever he went, and performing all manner of personal service to him. He was literally enamoured with his Master's personality, though he also admired and followed his teachings, He threw himself into his work, and it was a work that demanded all his time and energy. He alone, it was found, could keep up with the Swami, at the time of lecturing, all the other stenographers having failed to transcribe his utterances with sufficient rapidity or to grasp his ideas, thereby often confusing themselves and those who read their reports. Mr. Goodwin would take down a lengthy address in the evening, work through the night in typewriting off his stenographic reports, and then hasten towards midnight to the newspaper offices, the conductors of which were anxious to print the Swami's lectures, and this continued day after day, The Guru loved his disciple with infinite tenderness and initiated him into the practices and ideals of the Vedanta philosophy, so that he became an expert in grasping its contents and faithfully reporting them. It is needless to say that the Swami was grateful beyond words to his disciple. He could not speak too highly of him ; he saw in him a great Karma Yogin, one who could unselfishly perform work for the sake of work and who could live the life of ideals. Mr. Goodwin, of course, refused any remuneration as soon as he understood the Swami and had been with him for a fortnight. Though he came from the ordinary classes of society and his education was not of a scholarly type, he exhibited remarkable intellectual adaptabilities with reference to the Swami's work. His youth and his enthusiasm proved valuable stimuli. The Swami often spoke of him, saying, "He is chosen for my work. What would I do without him ! If I have a mission, he is indeed a part of it." And his words were accompanied by his actions, for on no occasion would he enter a new field of work without taking with him this invaluable servant, And Mr. Goodwin performed all the duties of a travelling companion for his Guru, such as, massaging him at night when he was tired till he fell into sleep, nursing him and keeping up nights when he was ill, taking care of his clothes and personal belongings, and relieving him from many embarrassments to which his social inexperience in the West and his moods of absorption often made him liable. Of course, he accompanied the Swami to England on his second visit, and thence to India, where he passed away at the early age of twenty-six through the inclemencies of the Indian climate. Most of the important lectures delivered by the Swami in America, and in England, and all those given in India from Colombo to Almora, were taken down by Mr. Goodwin's hand. And when he suddenly passed away from an attack of enteric fever in Ootacamond, the Swami, who chanced to be at the time in distant Almora, was visibly affected. When the sad news reached him he wrote a poem, "Requiescat in Pace", that for its tenderness, its beauty and depth of feeling makes a sweet and touching appeal. To the Indian disciples of the Swami, Mr. Goodwin was a constant source of wonder. They could not understand how a European could so de-occidentalise himself and possess, even as one of them,, the adoring and serving attitude of a Hindu devotee. Both with the Gurubhais of the Swami and his Indian and European disciples, the memory of Mr. Goodwin is a dear possession, and though many years have passed away, his personality is still an inspiration to them.
When Vivekananda's English disciple, J.J. Goodwin, died in 1898 an obituary was published in the Tribune of Lahore, which was in turn printed in the Indian Mirror. A copy was sent to Goodwin's mother (who, according to her great grandaughter Margaret Marklew) lived to the age of 102.
She died in Ewell, Surrey, during the second world war, closely followed by her daughter (Goodwin’s sister).
The Tribune of Lahore wrote: We are deeply grieved to learn of the death, from enteric fever, of Mr J.J. Goodwin who came out to India as a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, and whom many people will remember in Lahore. Mr Goodwin was quite a young man, and we mourn his early death as that of a personal friend for whom we had a high regard. In Lahore, Mr Goodwin became a particular favourite with children, and hundreds of them were to be found always following him and asking him to share their simple games. Of all Swami Vivekananda's disciples that we saw here he was undoubtedly the most devoted, single-minded and capable. He was a journalist of considerable ability, and as a shorthand reporter we doubt whether he had any equal in India. Swami Vivekananda's speeches were mostly reported by him, Sanskrit and all. For some time Mr Goodwin joined the staff of the Madras Mail, where he was soon appreciated and was sent to Utacamund as its special correspondent. His pure life and gentle ways soon made him a general favourite. One of the truest and gentlest of natures we have known has been cut off in the early dawn of manhood, furnishing one more example of the saying that those whom the gods love die young.
Vivekananda - on the death of Mr J. J. Goodwin May 1898, wrote to Goodwin's mother.
With infinite sorrow I learn the sad news of Mr. Goodwin's departure from this life, the more so as it was terribly sudden and therefore prevented all possibilities of my being at his side at the time of death. The debt of gratitude I owe him can never be repaid, and those who think they have been helped by any thought of mine ought to know that almost every word of it was published through the untiring and most unselfish exertions of Mr. Goodwin. In him I have lost a friend true as steel, a disciple of never — failing devotion, a worker who knew not what tiring was, and the world is less rich by one of those few who are born, as it were, to live only for others.
"I met Goodwin, (in 1897, in Lahore) the young Englishman who at one time was on the high road to become a wastrel, but fortunately came under Vivekananda's influence and became one of his staunchest and most devoted followers. Goodwin was a fast and accurate stenographer and most of Vivekananda's lectures were reported by him. He was simple as a child and wonderfully responsive to the slightest show of kindness."
- Nagendra Nath Gupta
"It is entirely due to his efforts that the Swami's utterances in those countries (England and India) have been preserved."
- Sara Ellen Waldo
- www.vivekananda.net edited by Frank Parlato Jr.