Eknathji As I Knew Him
Original Writer: Shri Ajitkumar VishwasRef:Swastika: Bengali Weekly
Eknathji had a novel idea in this regard. He got ordered coupons to be printed worth a rupee each. Each coupon had the image of Swami Vivekananda, Vivekananda Rock Memorial with Swamiji's message on it. An inauguration- ceremony was also organized to release the coupons. The Deputy-Prime-Minister of that time Shri Morarji Desai, Swami Ranganathanandaji and Dr Sujit Dhar were present at that ceremony. The most interesting part of it was that at the end of the speeches by all the dignitaries, Eknathji spoke in Bengali. Those coupons were got printed at the Institution of Ramakrishna Mission. The appeal was sent to people all over India. Schools, colleges, the poor and the rich, the laborers, farmers, all had lent a helping hand in making the sale of the coupons, and thus the capital was formed. In addition, the erstwhile Chief Minister of Bengal Sri Ajay Mukhopadhyay, Shri Jyoti Basu and his wife Smt. Kamla Basu also made special efforts to raise money and the amount collected was handed over to Eknathji.
In the same way, there was contribution from the general public and various Governments to the tune of Rupees one crore and twelve lacs. The construction work was completed in1970. Sri S K Achary, the Sthapati was from Tamil Nadu. He did not know any other language than Tamil. Eknathji didn't know Tamil. Still it is the language of heart that spoke. Eknathji asked Sthapti to go all around country to see various monuments.
Eknathji had set up a studio in a house at Kolkata in Rasbihari Chowk where he organized an exhibition on the life of Swamiji as a part of the celebration of the birth-centenary. Two well-known photographers and volunteers, Shri Raghunath Goswami and Shri Madhusudan Chakravarti had prepared a collection of 160 magnificent photographs of Swami Vivekananda in that studio to be presented at an exhibition. The exhibition was open to the public in the Institute of the Kolkata University for three days. Millions of people came to see this remarkable exhibition. Eknathji made arrangements to exhibit this collection of photographs in the major cities of the country. I had been to Bilaspur in the then Madhya Pradesh with my Sangha-swayamsevak Sri Devavrat Dutta to show the exhibition which was open to the public for four days.
The Vivekananda Memorial was inaugurated by Respected President of India of that time, Shri V V Giri. Eknathji was still in the process of meeting several distinguished personalities to explore the possibilities of raising still more funds which were necessary for carrying the mission to a greater height. Eknathji did not stop construction of the Memorial for Swamiji. He established the spiritually oriented service mission with the name Vivekananda Kendra. Having worked tirelessly for 20 long years continuously, Eknathji was ill during the last two years of his life. He departed from this world in August 1982 at the age of 68. But today the Memorial he built for Swami Vivekananda has made him immortal.