Dr Vandana Mahajani
Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari and its state units have launched a year-long nationwide contact programme to spread the message of Swami Vivekananda. The mass contact programme titled ‘Ek Bharat, Vijayi Bharat’ coincides with the 50th foundation year of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari.
Involving around 20,000 workers of around 1,005 units of Vivekananda Kendra across the country, the drive has got underway with a meeting with President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind on September 2, 2019. Later, the team consisting of senior Kendra members including President of Vivekananda Kendra Shri Balakrishnan, Vice President Sushri Nivedita Bhide and Secretary Shri Bhanudas and others met the Vice President of India Shri M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.
All state teams of Vivekananda Kendra would contact the heads of states and a sizeable number of people from all segments of the society with the messages of Swami Vivekananda. Sushri Nivedita Bhide explained the objective of the initiative thus:
- To take the message of Swami Vivekananda to the people—the message is: Being part of the society, we should give our sometime for the good works in the society; serve mankind, serve god; and India has a message for the world thus with our work we should enable India to give her message.
- To tell the inspiring story of Vivekananda Rock Memorial to the people, which is a constructive example that if we come together in the interest of the nation then great works are achieved.
- To tell them about the activities of Vivekananda Kendra.
The programme will also focus on making people aware of the inspiring story of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and the activities of the Vivekananda Kendra. The memorial stands on a mid-sea rock off the Kanyakumari shore where Swami Vivekananda mediated in December 1892 and decided to restore the glory of Bharat.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial
Swamiji had only been a simple wandering monk till he sojourned on this Rock to do mediation and sadhana in search of an answer to numerous queries in his mind. His meditations on the Kanyakumari Rock found explosive expression immediately after in the message of dynamic spirituality which he delivered in America, England, and India during the remaining ten years of his life, a message comprehensive of man’s total welfare, material as well as spiritual. That vision transformed him into a great reformer, a master organiser and a world teacher. It is to commemorate this event in Swamiji’s life that this edifice has been built in spite of the hazards of construction at that difficult spot and high cost it involved.
The architect of this memorial was Shri Eknath Ranade, a Sangh swayamsevak, who had proved himself in the past. His organisational abilities and sincerity towards his mission were remarkable. Ranadeji was deeply influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. In 1963, during the centenary year of Swami Vivekananda’s birth, he published a selection of Vivekananda's writing under the title Rousing Call to Hindu Nation as a personal tribute. The same year, Ranade ji conceived the idea of building a monument of Vivekananda at the mid-sea rock location near Kanyakumari. His idea found approval among seniors of the Sangh.
Unsurprisingly, he was the choosen one to be given the task of constructing the rock memorial. When the idea was initially rejected by the Minister of Education and Culture Shri Humayun Kabir, Ranade ji drummed up support from over 323 Members of the Parliament, which led to the project receiving approval from Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi. Ranadeji also managed to win endorsement for the project from a diverse section of the political and spiritual community.
After the project was approved, Ranade ji led a cadre of volunteers to raise funds for construction from donors across the country; state governments and the central government also contributed towards the Rs 12.5 million fund total. The Rock Memorial was completed in 1970, and was inaugurated by President of India Shri V.V. Giri on 2 September. Two years later he founded Vivekananda Kendra. Presently, the organisation bloomed and is doing fantastic work, especially in north eastern region of the country.
Eknath Ranade said: “This Rock is associated with Swamiji’s life almost in the same manner as the Bodhi Tree in Gaya is associated with the life of Gautam Buddha. It was just an ordinary tree as any other tree. But, on account of the fact that Gautam Buddha, meditating under this tree, received divine enlightenment, the tree and the entire surroundings have become a place of pilgrimage and a source of inspiration to millions of people all over the world.”
Swami Vivekananda was inspired by the great truth discovered by the ancient sages of India and conveyed to humanity at large by that immortal literature of our Philosophical and spiritual tradition, namely, the Upanishads, that the true glory of man lies in his inalienable, divine, immortal Self, the Atman. Evidently, that glory of the human spirit proclaimed by his nation’s books and saints had not been passed on to the nation’s masses. They bore the mark of arrested growth due to continued neglect and oppression. Other nations created history, and India became its victim century after century.
Swami Ranganathananji says: “And the message which Kanyakumari coveys to us today, therefore, is meditation combined with action, resulting in the evolution of a perfect national character, and synthesizing our age old moral and spiritual efficiency with modern scientific and technical efficiency.”
It is this new emphasis on work, on intelligent, co-operative, team work, for the betterment of the lives of millions and millions of human beings that is symbolised in Kanyakumari. Says Vivekananda in one of his great utterances voicing man’s awakening to his inborn divine nature: “Teach yourself, teach every one, his real nature; call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, everything great and glorious will come, when the sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity.”
(The writer is Nagar Pramukh of Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari, Navi Mumbai Branch)