MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA JULY 31 , 2012 11.40 P.M.
As I have stated in my earlier blog about Charles Dickens , I was introduced to the world of books and knowledge by my grandfather . Later on , I was encouraged by my father , who used to buy books for me and saw to it that I should read them . My Maa , who too was a voracious reader , also encouraged me to read good books and magazines and thus a life – long passion started very early in my life .
My father introduced me to the world of Swami Vivekanand . One day he came with a book titled ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” . I was a book of the lectures of Swami Vivekananda , compiled and edited by Shri Eknath Ranade , a Hindu ideologue and RSS Pracharak .
It was my first brush with the renowned sanyasi of India . I started reading the book and was mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the poetic language and powerful thoughts . His speech in the Parliament of the World’s Religion in Chicago is epitome of lucidity in language . It is something which I have not imagined . It is something which will never be obfuscated from my memory . The words uttered by Swami Vivekananda in his Chicago sermon still keep on ringing in my ears , though I read it many years ago .
After I finished reading ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” , I bought many books about Swami ji and read them . ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” and all the other books still adorn my library in my ancestral house at Deoria . I became admirer , follower and a virtual disciple of Swami Vivekananda .
Swami Vivekananda ; (12 January 1863–4 July 1902), born Narendra Nath Datta , was a key figure in the introduction of Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the western world , and was credited with raising interfaith awareness , bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion in the late 19th century . He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India , and contributed to the notion of nationalism in colonial India . He was the chief disciple of the 19th century saint Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission .He will always be known for his inspiring speech beginning with “Sisters and Brothers of America,” through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Parliament of the World’s Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition . On this day Vivekananda gave his first brief address . He represented India and Hinduism , and began his speech with, “Sisters and brothers of America !” .To these words he got a standing ovation from a crowd of seven thousand, which lasted for two minutes . When silence was restored he began his address . He greeted the youngest of the nations in the name of “the most ancient order of monks in the world , the Vedic order of sannyasins , a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance .” And he quoted two illustrative passages in this relation , from the Bhagavad Gita—“As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea , so , O Lord , the different paths which men take , through different tendencies , various though they appear , crooked or straight , all lead to Thee !” and “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form , I reach him ; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me .” Despite being a short speech , it voiced the spirit of the Parliament and its sense of universality.
Dr. Barrows, the president of the Parliament said, “India, the Mother of religions was represented by Swami Vivekananda , the Orange-monk who exercised the most wonderful influence over his auditors .” He attracted widespread attention in the press , which dubbed him as the “Cyclonic monk from India”. The New York Critique wrote, “He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words, and the rich, rhythmical utterance he gave them.” The New York Herald wrote, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” The American newspapers reported Swami Vivekananda as “the greatest figure in the parliament of religions” and “the most popular and influential man in the parliament”. The Boston Evening Transcript, reported on 30 September 1893 that Vivekananda was “a great favourite at the parliament…if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded”. He spoke several more times at the Parliament on topics related to Hinduism and Buddhism and harmony of religions . The parliament ended on 27 September 1893 . All his speeches at the Parliament had one common theme of universality , and emphasised religious tolerance .
Whenever I read above mentioned facts about him or try to visualize his presence in Chicago congregation , a sense of pride engulfs me completely . Adoration for him , which started very early in my life , refuses to subside even today.
I wish to visit his birth place and the place where he was cremated and the Rock memorial at Kanyakumari , which incidentally was spearheaded by Shri Eknath Ranade , whose book ” UTTISHTHATA JAGRATA ” hooked me to Swami ji .
I feel myself lucky to be born in the same country , where Swami ji was born . I feel myself fortunate to follow the tenets of same Hinduism , to which he also subscribed . I am blessed that by writing this blog on his 150th Anniversary , I could claim that I am also a part of the celebration , though insignificant , though just a spec in the scheme of things , but still I am a part of it .
Goosebumps and a strange kind of sensation overpowering me at this time , as I am completing this blog .
[ I have taken some facts and some quotes from Wikipedia . I express my gratitude . ]
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
- vivekananda story (samijjaa.wordpress.com)
- India’s first 3D stereoscopic movie on Vivekananda (thehindu.com)
- Vivekananda House (Ice House), Chennai (cybertravelinc.wordpress.com)
- Seeing God (thehindu.com)
- Guru’s word was gospel to him (thehindu.com)
- Fearless philosopher Vivekananda (samijjaa.wordpress.com)
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