Eknathji As I Knew Him
Original Writer: Shri Ajitkumar VishwasRef:Swastika: Bengali Weekly
Shri Dattaji Didodlkar was a Sangha-Pracharak in Kerala for many years. he first mooted the idea of building a temple-memorial of Vivekananda on that Rock. Then the committee put a tablet stating about the meditation of Swamiji on the Rock. This action led to a lot of discussions in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A section of Christian community raised an objection. They said that the rock had nothing to do with your religion and that the rock was connected to the name of St. Xavier. When they were asked by the committee members to state the basis on which they made this claim, they could not produce any evidence in support. One day they damaged the tablet of the Rock and put on a cross on the rock. A complaint was lodged with the government of Tamil Nadu but there was no reply from that government. All political parties maintained silence on these developments. After a few days some volunteers reached that rock in the sea and removed the cross and threw it into the sea. The dispute with the Christians and Hindus was growing day by day. The problems were increasing.
As Eknathji was living in Kolkata, he paid visits to the National Library of Kolkata very often. He borrowed 'The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda' and with the help of the references borrowed from that book he prepared a manuscript called 'Swami Vivekananda's Rousing Call to Hindu Nation'. We got to see how Eknathji worked with full concentration as he prepared this manuscript. Days were passing by. Eknathji lived in the office. I used to bring him breakfast and used to make tea for him in the morning. A typist from Kerala was also staying there with him. Prof. Devendra Swarup had come from Uttar Pradesh to translate the English works of Vivekananda into Hindi. One of Swamiji's books was translated from English into Bengali by Prof.Seetanath Goswami. The book; 'The Rousing call to the Hindu Nation' was translated in several Indian languages.
Shri Padmanabhan with other people went to meet Shri Guruji at Nagpur. He reported the events to him in details. He realized that this great mission was not the responsibility of any one individual. It was a great crusade. Consultations and negotiations were going on. Finally the responsibility for handling the entire mission was entrusted to Eknathji. Eknathji Ranade was found to be the only person who could handle this job, and Eknathji accepted the responsibility. Eknathji was getting ready to face a new battle. Eknathji went to meet the President of Shri Ramakrishna Mission for the first time and gave him full information of the plan for the proposed memorial. The most stiff opposition was from Govt of Tamil Nadu and then from the government at the centre. The minister for the cultural affairs at the centre was Shri Humayun Kabir. Eknathji discussed in detail the complete proposal for the memorial with Humayun Kabir. On coming back to Kolkata, Eknathji gave us the essence of his discussion with Shri Kabir. We were all amazed. Then he typed out the essence of the discussion which had taken place between him and Shri Humayun Kabir and sent a copy of it to Shri Kabir. Humayun Kabir praised Eknathji's memory when he read the report. Humayun Kabir told him that it was not within the jurisdiction of the Centre to give permission to the memorial. It was the prerogative of the government of Madras. Sri Bhaktavatsalam was the Chief Minister of the government of Madras at that time. He told that the memorial would not be built there. Eknathji did not give up.
Eknathji travelled all over the country in connection with the memorial. He met many people and tried to probe their minds with regard to the proposal of building the memorial. A representation was made to be presented to the governments at the centre and the state, stating the desire that the memorial be built. In December 1963, Eknathji obtained the signatures of all the 323 members of Parliament to that representation. The members of all the parties, including Congress, DMK, Socialist, Muslim and Communist, signed the representation. The representation signed by all came before the Central Cabinet of Ministers. When it was pointed out that the privilege to give permission was that of the State, the Cabinet in its meeting decided to refer the matter to the State. After this, the question remained as to how the project was going to be funded if (at all) the permission was granted by the State. From what source was the money going to come? Eknathji was asked this question by the government. Eknathji answered that the government need not worry as to how the money was to come. He said that there would be a downpour of money.