Saturday, 18 January 2020

Swami Vivekananda,'s visit to Madurai (1893) and his connection with Raja of Ramnad

Swami Vivekananda. .festivalsdatetime.co.in
Swami Vivekananda was a well-known Indian Hindu monk and  a true disciple of the 19th century Indian mystic  Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Swami Vivekananda’s real name was Narendranath Datta.
sage, guru of swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramakrishna .onelittleangel.com
Above image: Ramakrishna (18 February 1836-16 August 1886) born Ramakrishna "Gadadhar" Chattopadhyay  was a 
well-known Indian Hindu mystic.  Belonging to Vaishnava sect of Hinduism, his family was devoted to Lord Rama. A native of Bengal (then not partitioned), right from his  young age he never failed to reveal his  spiritual ecstasies  His spiritual journey was influenced by several religious traditions; most important being  deep devotion toward  Goddess Kali, Tantra (shakta) and  Vaishnava bhakti. A follower of Advaita Vedanta, he was priest  at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple and his mystic powers made him quite popular and became well-respected spiritualist among the elite Bengalis. Attracted by his simplicity and spiritual moorings, Sri Narendra Dutta (Swami Vivekananda) became his chief disciple.  This led him to found the Ramakrishna Math, which provides spiritual training for monastics, charity, social work and education. They have branches all over India. Near Srirangam and Tiruchy, Tamil Nadu  Sri Ramakrishna Mission  at Pettavathalai has been doing a great service to the local population for several decades................. 
The readers of this post probably would have  read about an interesting incident  related to Swami Vivekananda which I  briefly described here under.
Saddened by the condition of the India's poor  masses, Vivekananda traveled across the country  to motivate the fatigued people under the colonial rule to instill confidence and trust in them to face the hard life and challenges in the future. Once he was traveling through the United province (UP) to meet people and talk about spirituality and faith. As usual,  he was traveling third class  on the train.  When swamji was feeling thirsty, he was quite uncomfortable as he did not carry money with him. Being a Parirajaka sanyasin, he had no money on him to buy  even a glass of water to quench his thirst. 
Seeing his predicament, a rich merchant who was sitting right across Swamiji said, '' You can not wet your throat and stomach without money and you need it to meet basic needs.''  Unperturbed, Swamiji did not care about his sharp and carping remarks. The train stopped at that station for a while. A few seconds later, a  local trader approached Swamiji in a hurry and told him, ''I have brought food and water for you''.  Startled, Swamiji said, '' you have come to the wrong person, I am not the one you are looking for.'' Local trader said, ''Swamiji, pardon me, I had a dream in which  God Sri Rama himself asked me  twice to  come to this place to give you food and you have been  hungry since last night''. 
 Upon which Swami Vivekananda realized it was the mystic work of hid Guru Sri Ramakrishna  who gave him 'Sri Rama Upadesam''. The poor trader served Swamiji with a true heart  and devotion and  to say the least,  his happiness knew no bounds.
The rich merchant across the seat could have provided Swamiji food and water if he had a charitable mind toward a Sadhu, an ascetic, but, on the contrary,  he was full of ego and arrogance  and thought money could get him anything on this earth.  He had no compassion  for others unlike the small trader who brought the food all the way from his home to the railway station to feed a holy man whom he never saw before. The rich merchant came out of the veil over him and  realized his folly and apologized to the Swamiji. It finally dawned on him that devotion to God and care for fellow humans  will give lasting peace and tranquillity and money alone can not buy them.
About Swamiji's   famous trip to the US, 'The Hindu news paper' (Madurai Edition) dated January 13,  2013 carried an interesting article:
''It was during January-February of 1893 that Swami Vivekananda traversed the southern districts for the second time after his historic Chicago Address. His earlier visit was in December 1892 when he sat in meditation on the present Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari. His second visit began on the Pamban shore on January 26, 1893, where the steamer carrying him and European disciples from Ceylon anchored. The Raja of Ramnad, who had earlier sponsored his trip to the US to participate in the World’s Parliament of Religions, accorded a grand reception to the monk. He also drew the carriage carrying Swami Vivekananda.

From Pamban, Swami Vivekananda travelled to Rameswaram, Ramanathapuram, Paramakudi and Manamadurai before reaching Madurai on February 2. Here, he stayed as the guest of the Raja of Ramnad. He visited the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and addressed a reception accorded to him by the people of Madurai at the present Madura College Higher Secondary School.
A Portrait of Raja Bhaskara Sethupathi of Ramand State, a painting.fineartamerica.com
In his address, Swami Vivekananda said: “Being in Madura, as the guest of one of your well-known citizens and noblemen, the Raja of Ramnad, one fact comes prominently to my mind. Perhaps, most of you are aware that it was the Raja who first put the idea into my mind of going to Chicago, and it was he who all the time supported it with all his heart and influence. A good deal, therefore, of the praise that has been bestowed upon me in this address, ought to go to this noble man of Southern India. I only wish that instead of becoming a Raja he had become a sanyasin, for that is what he is really fit for.”( vide: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/tracing-vivekanandas-journey/article4304189.ece)
Then in the year 2013, the Ramakrishna Mutt here headed by   Kamalatmananda, recalled how Vivekananda Jayanthi had become a  National Youth Day since 1985 and 
memories of his visit to the historical city- Madurai. The Ramakrishna Mutt here has been active here for a long time and they sponsor National Youth Day every year upholding Swamiji's virtues and his teachings that are relevant to day. 
Tit-bits: 
Vivekananda Rock Memorial in 2016, en.wikipedia.org
Vivekananda Rock Memorial on a 1996 stamp of Indiaen.wikipedia.org
 Vivekananda Kendra-  a fitting Living Memorial alongside the stone structure of the Rock Memorial was mentioned in 1964. It is in the tip of southern most peninsular India close to Kanyakumari town. The place is the confluence of three oceans on three sides, south being vast Indian ocean. On east and west there are the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea respectively.  After pretty long efforts lasting about nine years, Vivekananda Kendra was officially founded on 7 January 1972 (the 108th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The kendra is  a spiritually oriented service mission of non-monastic order. The tradition of penance was to be continued by young men and women coming as Karyakartas of Vivekananda Kendra to spread the message of Swami Vivekananda.
The credit goes to
Shri Eknath Ranade,  a social activist and leader,
Shri Eknath Ranade, a socialist and spiritualist. twitter.com
motivated by the twin spirits of nationalism and spiritualism, and known for his great organizational abilities. He relentlessly worked hard for the establishment of Kendra here and decided that Vivekananda Kendra was to be a cadre-based organization. Young men and women whose hearts long to serve the nation would be provided the opportunity and the right platform to serve God in man.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivekananda_Rock_Memorial
Sarada Yagnapradhan (Ulunthoorpettai town, Tamil Nadu): Dec.09, 2019; page 09.