INAUGURAL FUNCTION OF VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL ON 2ND September, 1970
Welcome address by President, Shri D.N. Sinha:-
I shall however tell you in a very small compass, the story as to how Swamiji came to be associated with the rock, to enable you all the better to appreciate the gravity of the occasion and the grandness of the idea that lies behind this attempt to dedicate a memorial on the rock to Swamiji, to commemorate an unique spiritual experience of his, which has now become a part of history.
After the Maha Samadhi of Bhagawan Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, and to carry out his last wishes, a group of his disciples, under the leadership of Swamiji took holy orders and the Swamiji started touring the length and breadth of India as a Parivrajaka.
It was during the Parivrajaka days of Swamiji, when he was touring southern India on foot, that he journeyed to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) the southernmost extremity of India. He had commenced his journey from the show-clad Himalayas and he had arrived at the southernmost tip of Bharatvarsha (India) after having visited the holy temple of Rameshwaram. The Swamiji had journeyed the whole length and breadth of India and when he visited the shrine of mother at Kanyakumari he fell prostrate in ecstasy before heritage. Worship finished, he crossed to the Rock which is separate from the mainland. About him the ocean tossed and stormed, but in his mind there was even a greater tempest. And here, sitting on the last stone of India, he passed into a deep meditation or Samadhi, upon the present and future of his country. He sought for the root of her downfall and with the vision of a seer he understood why India had been thrown from the pinnacle of glory to the depths of degradation.
It was a vision indeed! Before him was arranged all the centuries, all the potentialities of the Hindu religion and culture. He saw the whole of India organically and synthetically as a master builder sees the whole architectural design. Most vividly did he realise in the silence of his heart – "India shall rise only through a renewal and restoration of what highest spiritual consciousness which has made of India, at all times, the cradle of the nations and the cradle of the faith." He saw her weakness as well, the central evil of which was that the nation had lost its individuality. The only hope was, to his mind, a restatement of the culture of the ancient Rishis. But this was not all. His soul was flooded with infinite compassion and anguish over India's miserable poverty. He saw India as consisting of two hundred million beggars. And of what use was religion to the masses, oppressed and downtrodden by foreign conquerors, the autocracy of priesthood and the despotism of caste? He seemed to have entered into the warp and woof, the very being, of the teeming millions of India and he shared their agony and suffering. Months later he wrote in a letter –"In view of all this, specially of the poverty and ignorance, I got no sleep. At Cape Comorin sitting in Mother Kumari's Temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian Rock, I hit upon a plan: we are so many Sanyasins wandering about, and teaching the people metaphysics – it is all madness. Did not our Gurudeva use to say, - 'An empty stomach is not good for religion? That those poor people are lending the life of brutes is simply due to ignorance. We have for all ages been sucking their blood and trampling them under foot."
It is then that Swamiji clearly saw that the remedy lay along the twin paths of renunciation and service. If the national life could be guided through these channels, India would again revert to her pristine greatness.
From such thoughts came the seeds of the Ramakrishna Mission and the wonderful centers founded in India and abroad for the propagation of Vedanta and the Hindu religion. In a sense, this temple is a reminder of that epoch – making and luminous vision. Swamiji and his fiery inspiration marked the commencement of a movement of liberation, which has culminated in the Independence, of India. But also let it not be forgotten that inspite of twenty years of independence, we have failed to solve the problem of ignorance and poverty. We have tried to resuscitate our stupendous inheritance in matters of the spirit, as contained in the Vedas, the Vedantas and the Indian philosophies. But we have failed to fully solve a single problem, whether economic, political or religious. Our masses continue to be miserably poor, insufficiently educated and there has been no emancipation in their spiritual life. Thus the supreme vision of the Swami is already fading, and if it goes on like this it will soon be forgotten. It was therefore necessary to create a reminder of that stupendous vision, so that men, in the direst hour of their travail, might be reminded of it and gather hope once more. This temple shall be a reminder that a man of God had a holy vision here, but that vision has not been redeemed yet and it behaves upon such one of us to do our uttermost to redeem it.
It is this spirit of limitless love for the poor, the down trodden the inarticulate millions in India that swept us ultimately into independence. It was he whose heart bled first for the masses and it was he who wept to see their miserable condition. He said, "Do you feel? Do you feel that millions and millions of the descendant of Gods and the sages have become next – door neighbours to brutes? Do you feel that millions are starving to-day and millions have been starving for ages? Does it make you sleepless? Has it gone into your blood, coursing through your veins, becoming consonant with your heart-beats? Has it made you almost mad? Are you seized with that one ilea of the misery and ruin, and have forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property and even your bodies? Have you done that? That is the very first step to become a patriot …. So long as the millions strive in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor, who having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them. I call these men who strut about in their finery having got all their money, by guiding the poor wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two hundred millions who are now no better than hungry savages. We are poor my brothers, we are nobodies but such have been always the instruments of the Most High". And to-day we the poor and nobodies have gone round with our alms-bowl and built the monument to commemorate the splendid spiritual vision of Swamiji. Let us all join to-day in praying to God that the memorial that you Mr. President will inaugurates to-day will be our pledge that we shall not forget the wishes of Swamiji, and that we shall work unceasingly for its fruitions.
The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji
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