CHRONOLOGY OF THE
VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : I have already explained my idea in my statement.
Sri Ranade : Still some clarifications are necessary. For example, your shrine idea is not clear. Are you of the opinion that Swamiji's statue should be put up there just as the idol of a deity is installed in a temple?
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : No, not in the least. I do not propose to have his temple there with daily Pooja, Archana and all that. Of course, there should be a caretaker who would daily open it in the morning and close and lock it at night. I only mean that the statue should not be in the open exposed to mischief by miscreants. Therefore, I had purposely used the term - 'shrine-like enclosure' and not 'shrine' in my statement.
Sri Ranade : Yes, I understand it now. Your suggestion is only from the point of view of safeguarding the statue.
Secondly, I would like to know what you mean by small size you have prescribed for the shrine. I think, you probably mean, that as the Rock itself is not very large in size, the shrine should not be disproportionately big.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : Yes, there is a very small flat surface on the top. The shrine should occupy only a part of that space and sufficient space should be left out for the visitors to walk round it. If you have seen the small shrine built by Swami Chidbhavananda on the Kanyakumari shore, I would like you to plan a still smaller construction or, at the most, as small as that.
Sri Ranade : On the Rock there are three tablelands near the top. Each one of them is of about 60 feet by 60 feet in area. Therefore, without being disproportionate, the size of that shrine can be bigger than that of the one on the shore.
If the restriction of size is only aesthetic reasons then it is perfectly justified and let us, therefore, leave the question of determining the size to the artists and architects who would give us their expert opinion.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : Who is the architect?
Sri Ranade : We have not thought about it yet. I would like you also to suggest.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : No, I mean the architect is not going to decide it. I say it should be of a small size. You may tomorrow tell me that such and such great architect has recommended a big size shrine. That would not do. The shrine should be as small as possible.
I would like to make it clear that if the Committee was not agreeable to the Government suggestion the Government would get its plan carried out even without the Committee.
Sri Ranade : It is quite obvious. The Government can certainly do it. I only request you to visit the Rock once. I think that if you visit the place you may also feel that a shrine of even some bigger size there, could also present a beautiful sight.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : I shall certainly visit the Rock. This time I could not visit it but I would like to visit it next time. But space or no space, the shrine should be small. After all there should not be too much interference with Nature. That consideration also should be kept in mind. Therefore, I am saying that the shrine should be small.
Similarly, I also do not want a foot-bridge joining the Rock with the Mainland — a foot-bridge which would be used by miscreants. Those who want to visit the Rock may go by boats. Everybody is not expected to go there. Those who want to go there for meditation, etc., may use boats.
Sri Ranade : It is very kind of you that you have clarified your views. I shall place them before the Committee. Now, with your permission I would like to go round the country and meet a few important persons like Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya of Kamakoti Peetam, Swami Madhavanandji Maharaj, President, Ramakrishna Mission, Rashtrapati Dr. Radhakrishnan, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Lai Bahadur Shastri, Sri M.C. Chagla and Dr. M.S. Aney, I shall try to ascertain their views also on the plan of the memorial. As they have been showing interest in it, it is in the fitness of things that I should meet them on behalf of the Committee. After meeting them I shall place before you their suggestions, if any.
Similarly, I propose to visit Kanyakumari with some engineers and architects, shortly. I shall collect their findings also. I propose to complete the above two works first and place all the data before you as soon as possible so that the final plan is prepared in consultation with you and the formal application on behalf of the Committee is submitted accordingly.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : In my last visit to Delhi I had the opportunity to meet Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and also Sri Lai Bahadur Shastri to whom I have communicated my proposal.
Sri Ranade : Yes, I have learnt about it.
Now, the immediate thing that is necessary is the construction of jetties at the Rock and the shore for facilitating transport of building material to the Rock. The monsoons....
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : You will have to secure Government permission for starting that work. You meet the Collector at Nagercoil and he would do the needful. Actually I had instructed the Collector that if the Committee people were to accept the Government proposal and meet him he should discuss the matter with them and send a report to me. It seems that nobody has met him.
Sri Ranade : I met the Collector but that was before your announcement of the proposal in the press conference at Coimbatore.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : But even before that press-conference I had proposed the thing to the deputationists who had met me at Nagercoil. I had further told them that they might submit a fresh plan on the basis of what was proposed to them by me.
Sri Ranade : You had that discussion with the deputationists who met you on behalf of the Haindava Sevaka Sangham and not the Committee. Anyway, now that I have received your instructions with necessary clarifications I shall go to Kanyakumari and meet the Collector.
Will then a formal permission from the Devaswom Board also be necessary?
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : I think so. I have not uptill now communicated to them. I shall do it.
Sri Ranade : All right Sir. I shall address myself to all the works immediately. I shall contact you from time to time if there is any difficulty. I beg of you to grant me that much freedom to place before you my ideas as also the difficulties that might come in the way or various suggestions I might be receiving from prominent people and to seek your guidance. I would like to assure you, however, that ultimately that alone would be done which would be acceptable to you.
It is necessary and proper that the Memorial work is completed as early as possible. Actually I consider this work to be quite small compared to the work which this issue has brought me face to face with. I mean the work of meeting the Christian proselytisation menace which is assuming huge proportions. I consider it very urgent and necessary that some silent and constructive work is undertaken. And I shall deem it a privilege to do my bit under your guidance. Though I had been in a sort of conflict with you uptill now I would like, in the new context, to work as your trusted lieutenant if some such work was under your contemplation.
Sri Bhaktavatsalam : Yes, I am quite aware of it. But my way of work is quite different. I am in favour of silent work. I am myself against the Christian fanatics. That day I plainly told those Christian leaders who had come to meet me in deputation at Kanyakumari, that if they were against Vivekananda it meant that they were anti-Indian. I said I could not consider that person to be patriotic and national if he were to be antagonistic to the memorial of Swami Vivekananda and agitate in favour of that of St. Xavier or any other foreigner instead.
Sri Ranade : Yes, recently when I was there, I learnt with great satisfaction about all that talk you had with them. Therefore, excuse me if I give vent to my honest feeling that if there is anybody among the political leaders at present whom the Hindus in the South may look to as their saviour it is yourself. It is because of the appreciation of this situation that I am now greatly relieved to find that that unhappy chapter of my tussle with you is over and that there may be opportunities ahead to work under your guidance for the common cause.