Monday 14 January 2013

The greatest Indian in Mysore

A few days ago the birthday of one of the greatest Indians,  Swami Vivekananda, passed almost unnoticed. Several events of the past, including the brutal rape of a girl in Delhi, the beheading of an Indian Jawan in Jammu and Kashmir had overshadowed the anniversary  
Politicians as usual barely paid lip service to this great Indian. Perhaps none of them knew that the Swami had spent a considerable amount of time in Karnataka and it is from here that he went to Chicago in the United States where he delivered the world famous address of his at the world conference of religions.
When he was in Karnataka, the Swamy had stayed at Bangalore, Mysore and Belgaum where he had meditated, given discourses and mingled with the local populace.
It was in 1892 that Vivekananda came to Bangalore. He stayed there for some time before he came down to Mysore in November the same year.
He had met the Dewan of Mysore, K. Seshadri Iyer, at Bangalore and the Dewan had invited him to come to Mysore. Of the sixteen disciples of  Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, six, including Vivekananda, had come to Mysore.
Vivekananda had accepted the invitation of the Dewan and came to Mysore where he stayed in the royal city for over two weeks. He  met the reigning monarch and went away to the US deeply impressing one and all with his simplicity, scholarship and keen sense of  right and wrong.
Initially, he stayed at the Niranjana Matha before he settled down at the Dewan’s mansion next to the matha and stayed there. The then Dewan, Seshadri Iyer, was deeply impressed with Vivekananda and he also introduced the young ascetic to the then Maharaja, Chamarajendra Wodeyar.
The place where Swami Vivekananda stayed in Mysore is now a memorial. He also gave a public discourse in Sanskrit at Sadvidya School.
Vivekananda attended a religious meet in the Amba Vilas Palace where a discussion on Vedanta was going on. Vivekananda was one of the invitees and he left everyone, including the Maharaja, stunned with his depth of though and simplicity of  philosophy. The Maharaja then made Vivekananda the State guest. Vivekakanda advised  the Maharaja on several issues of religious and public importance.
When the maharaja died in December 1894, Vivekananda was in the United States. He wrote from there saying,  “The Maharaja of Mysore is dead-one of our greatest hopes”.
The Niranjan Matha is located on Seethavilas Road. It has been renovated. However, there is a funny story about the building. Though the Mysore City Corporation in 2007 announced a grand project to renovate the building, the plans had to wait. Why? Nobody knew who owned the building.
It was then discovered that the Department of Public Instruction was the custodian of the property. Thus it was the Department  that had the authority of the property when plans for its revival was initiated.
This building is an important cultural structure as it was here that Vivekananda conducted regular prayer meetings and also held classes in Sanskrit.
It is from Mysore that Vivekananda went to United States to attend the World Conference of Religions. Vivekananda had gone to the meet to represent India. He brought the house down by beginning his address with “My brothers and sister of America”.
Not one to be put down by deliberate acts of slight or provocation, he noticed that some Hindu texts had been paced at the bottom of a group of books. Christian texts had been placed on top.
When this was pointed out to Vivekakanda, he did not bat an eyelid and said Hindu texts has to be at the bottom as they are the foundation of all other texts. Remove them and the rest come tumbling down.

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