150 Years of Swami Vivekananda


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 31 , 2012           11.40 P.M.

Русский: Свами Вивекананда Свами Вивекананда в...

Swami Vivekanand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 .

English: Swami Vivekanand

A Young Swami Vivekanand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 .

English: Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekana...

Higher detail image of Swami_Vivekananda.jpg Swami Vivekananda, September, 1893, Chicaco, signed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 .

English: Birth place of Narendranath Dutta (Sw...

Birth place of Narendranath Dutta (Swami Vivekananda), now it is maintained by the Ramakrishna Mission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Swami Vivekananda temple at Belur Mat...

Swami Vivekananda temple at Belur Math, at the place where he was cremated. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Memorial for Swami Vivekananda, offsh...

Memorial for Swami Vivekananda, offshore, Kanyakumari, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 .

Swami Vivekananda at Chicago in 1893.

Swami Vivekananda at Chicago in 1893. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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200 Years of Charles Dickens


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 29 , 2012           00.30 A.M.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago , when I was still a child , my grand father introduced me to the world of books . He bought some books from Gita Press , Gorakhpur and gave them to me . Those were illustrated books about the lives of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna . Each illustration was explained with the help of a couplet . I still remember the name of the books ; BAL CHITRAMAYA RAM LEELA and BAL CHITRAMAYA KRISHNA LEELA  . I read those books countless times , almost mugged up each line and I still possess those books in my library in Deoria .

Since then I was hooked to the world of books and the fascination still continues many decades later . When I was in High School , I became member of GHARELU LIBRARY YOJNA of  HIND POCKET BOOKS , which was initiated by a famous Hindi publication house , Rajpal & Sons .

I used to order books and used to receive them through post office . One muggy afternoon , when the post man delivered packet of books to me , I opened the packet with excitement . There was a book titled DO SHEHRON KI DASTAN . I glanced the book and went through the introduction and got to know the name of the writer . It was Charles Dickens . I also got to know that original name of the book in English . It was A TALE OF TWO CITIES .

It was my first introduction with the celebrated British writer . Though I could not complete the reading because I got bored . Many years later , when I was doing post graduation in Allahabad University , I got to know the writer once again . A TALE OF TWO CITIES was in my course and this time I was able to understand it properly . I then realized beauty of his prose and appreciated his style of narration . Hindi translation , which I read years ago , was not lucid enough .

 

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

When I read in the papers that 2012 is the 200th birth anniversary of the celebrated British author and novelist , I decided to note down my encounter of Charles Dickens also . These old memories , which were consigned in some dark and hither to unvisited corners of my being , rushed to the firmament and I decided to become a part of the 200th anniversary celebration of Charles Dickens .

My curiosity reached its zenith , when I read a news item in a paper . The heading was enough to draw my again to Charles Dickens .  ”  Christopher and Jonathan Nolan Explain How A TALE OF TWO CITIES Influenced THE DARK KNIGHT RISES “

Charles Dickens a.k.a. Charles John Huffam Dickens , ( 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters .During his lifetime Dickens’s works enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame , and by the twentieth century his literary genius was fully recognized by critics and scholars . His novels and short stories continue to enjoy an enduring popularity among the general reading public .

Born in Portsmouth , England , Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors’ prison . Though he had little formal education , his early impoverishment drove him to succeed . He edited a weekly journal for 20 years , wrote 15 novels and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles , lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer , and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights , education , and other social reforms .

 

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dickens rocketed to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers . Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity , celebrated for his humour , satire , and keen observation of character and society . His novels , most published in monthly or weekly instalments , pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction , which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication .The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction , and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback . For example , when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities , Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments . Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence , Ikey Solomon ; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends , as they read episodes . In the same novel , both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’ , a beadle at Salisbury Square . His plots were carefully constructed , and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives .Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them , opening up and inspiring a new class of readers .

Dickens was regarded as the ‘literary colossus’ of his age .His 1843 novella , A Christmas Carol , is one of the most influential works ever written , and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre . His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism , comedy , prose style , unique characterisations , and social criticism . On the other hand Oscar Wilde , Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth , loose writing , and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism .

Most of Dickens’s major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey’s Clock and Household Words , later reprinted in book form . These instalments made the stories cheap , accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers made each new episode widely anticipated . When The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialized , American fans even waited at the docks in New York , shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship , “Is little Nell dead ? ” Part of Dickens’s great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end .

Charles Dickens published over a dozen major novels , a large number of short stories (including a number of Christmas-themed stories) , a handful of plays , and several non-fiction books . Dickens’s novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines , then reprinted in standard book formats .

Novels

Short story collections

Christmas numbers of Household Wordsmagazine:

  • What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older (1851)
  • A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1852)
  • Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1853)
  • The Seven Poor Travellers (1854)
  • The Holly-Tree Inn (1855)
  • The Wreck of the “Golden Mary” (1856)
  • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857)
  • A House to Let (1858)
Christmas numbers of All the Year Roundmagazine:

  • The Haunted House (1859)
  • A Message from the Sea (1860)
  • Tom Tiddler’s Ground (1861)
  • Somebody’s Luggage (1862)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings (1863)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy (1864)
  • Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions (1865)
  • Mugby Junction (1866)
  • No Thoroughfare (1867)

Selected non-fiction, poetry, and plays

[ Facts of his life and list of the books , written by him , are taken from Wikipedia . I express my deep gratitude . ]

 

Charles Dickens, ca. 1865

Charles Dickens & His Famous Chair (Photo credit: Penn State Special Collections Library)

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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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