After November 2019, I was hibernating (or was it hiding?) in my house afraid of the rakshasa (demon) called COVID-19. It was only in the last two months I chose to attend selected public functions. I attended one such selected public function yesterday. It was the foundation laying ceremony for Swami Vivekananda Memorial Cultural Youth Centre. In short, Viveka Memorial. It commemorates Swami Vivekananda’s visit to Mysuru in 1892.
Suttur Mutt Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji, who performed the bhoomi puja, in his brief speech rightly declared it as a ‘historic day’ for Mysuru. Hearing the word ‘historic’ from the lips of the Seer, I nodded my head in approval. Yes, it was a ‘historic day’ because we the great majority of silent Mysureans have seen, read and experienced the trials, tribulations, challenges, protests, Court cases and politics that a small section of our brothers launched against the location of this Viveka Memorial for the last about 10 years. At last, Swami Vivekananda succeeded! Really? Not yet. The actual place where Swami Vivekananda stayed, Niranjana Mutt at the northern end, is still mired in Court cases, I am told. Let it be. Let us wait. ತಾಳಿದವನು ಬಾಳಿಯಾನು.
As I was observing the proceedings at the function, I was reminded of Gandhiji’s famous saying that ‘In spite of darkness, light persists; in spite of death, life persists.’ Likewise, says Gandhiji, that in spite of evil, good persists. If it is so, so be it. Good shall prevail.
At last light had dawned upon this government and upon this Viveka Memorial. And may that same light dispel darkness on the road some are taking to deny the site for the Viveka Memorial. Amen.
I have read that Mahatma Gandhi had paid his homage in 1921 to Swami Vivekananda saying, “After going through Swami Vivekananda’s works, the love I had for my country became a thousandfold. I ask you young men, not to go away without imbibing something of the spirit of the place where Swami Vivekananda lived and died.”
Apparently those who protested could not understand the “spirit of the place” where, in Mysuru, Swami Vivekananda lived for a few days.
On Friday, 4th February, 2022, I wrote in this column under the headline “A Memorial for Swami Vivekananda. A painful journey. When is the arrival?” I had opened the column with a famous quotation from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
July 6th, 2022 was indeed a ‘historic day’ as Suttur Seer said because it was the best of the day or ‘times.’ It was the day of wisdom, it was the day of light, it was the day of hope. It had dispelled the 12-year-long winter of despair for all those majority of Mysureans who wanted the Viveka Memorial (Viveka Smaraka) at the place where Swami Vivekananda stayed, meditated and interacted with the people.
To go back in time, it was the UPA-Congress government of Sonia Gandhi (UPA Chairperson) and Dr. Manmohan Singh (the Prime Minister) that decided to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on 20th May 2010 at Delhi. Soon the BJP Karnataka government gave the present land to Ramakrishna Mutt (represented in Mysuru by Sri Ramakrishna Ashram) for the purpose of the intended Viveka Memorial. But when Congress government came to power, protests began… and the rest is now history known to all.
The then Congress government, and even the subsequent BJP government, seemed to compromise the greater, nobler and culturally beneficial project for the youths of our city by succumbing to the unconscionable, regressive demands of a section of the people, with their own political ideology. Well, in matters of education, culture, art, music and literature, should political ideology intrude hindering the sublime principle of ‘doing greatest good to the greatest number’?
I have read that ‘People do not know what they want. Therefore, it is the duty of the government to give them what they need.’ Apparently, a communist belief. Unfortunately, here in the case of Viveka Smaraka, the government forgot what the people needed for the last 10 years after giving the land for the purpose.
Let us recall at this time that all the properties, including NTM School, Niranjana Mutt, Shiva Temple etc., measuring an area of 43,402 sq.ft was handed over to Ramakrishna Ashram (RK Ashram), Mysuru under the GO issued by the BJP government of the State on 9th January 2013 after a Cabinet meeting. Congress government came to power in May the same year and then the project got stalled for reasons we all know. There occurred an eclipse on the sun of knowledge and the moon of Hindu culture. Let us hope the curse of this eclipse will now disappear and there is no need for despair anymore.
Incidentally, I saw the architect’s design of the Vivekananda Memorial Cultural Youth Centre and not impressed with its facade, does not seem compatible with the architecture of the old surrounding buildings. At least the signature design of the Ashram should have been there in the facade. As I ruminated this way, I was reminded of the wise counselling that ‘War is too serious a matter to be left entirely in the hands of Generals.’ Did you get me Steve?
Now let me admire and congratulate Swami Muktidanandaji, President (Adyaksharu) of Sri Ramakrishna Ashram, Mysuru, for his perseverance, tenacity, endurance, hard work and above all, tolerance and patience. He is the cornucopia of all these virtues and values and an embodiment of qualities that Swami Vivekananda expected and demanded from his monks. As one who has seen him in close quarters in the matter of Viveka Smaraka, I would say his patience was oceanic. I would say it was because of his Tapas of 10 long years that God blessed him with the boon of Viveka Smaraka, his passion, his dream.
Swami Vivekananda had given the secret of success in these words: “Take up one idea. Make that idea your life, think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. This is the way to success.”
Swami Muktidanandaji, I guess, has followed this mantra of Swami Vivekananda, in letter and spirit, for success and the result is before us. Thank you Swamiji.
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