Shri Ramakrishna

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bank Failure : Practical Vedanta

Paris in 1890'sHave you been hearing about bank failures? Sure enough. Well, let me tell you about one that played a part in the life of Swami Vivekananda.


It happened when Swamiji was in Paris, in 1896. Swamiji never missed an opportunity to make friends; many of them were what today we might call VIPs or “big shots.” One of these was an Italian Duchess, the Duchess of Parma, who was then living in Paris.

On this day, the Duchess took Swamiji for a ride in the country out to a suburb for a “change of air,” as they called it in those days. She hired a horse-carriage with its driver, and off they went. (We should tell you first that studying foreign languages was one of Swami Vivekananda’s hobbies, and he recommended it to everyone who could do it. He concentrated on French and learned quite a bit of it.) The Duchess had hired this coachman before, and she now said to Swamiji (in English), “The coachman of this carriage can converse in excellent polished French.” (Something unexpected of a coachman.) While this conversation was going on, the carriage came to the side of the village road. A maid-servant of one of the village families had brought a little boy and girl out for a walk. The coachman stopped the carriage, got out, took the children in his lap and kissed and stroked them, spoke to them awhile, and then got back in the driver’s seat.

Now this was a most unexpected thing. In those days, the end of the 19 century, class distinction was strong. Obviously ,the children were “upper class,” and here was the hired coachman stopping and picking them up as if he knew them! The Duchess was shocked. “Why did you do that?” she asked the coachman.

He turned around and said to her, “They are my children. Have you heard of (Such and such) Bank in Paris?” The Duchess of Parma replied, “That was a big bank, but it has failed.” And the coachman said, “I was the manager of that bank. I watched it fail. To pay back the debt will require several years. Now my ‘neck’ is in the grasp of someone else. I have kept my wife and son and daughter in a rented house in this village. There is just a maid to look after them. With what little I had, I bought this horse-carriage and have taken up driving. I support myself and my family with what I get. But when the debt is paid off, again I will open a bank and be a banker.”

Swamiji, amazed and delighted at this story, said to us all, “This is what I call a Practical Vedantist. This man has understood the essence of Vedanta. Falling from such an estate to this low condition, he is unmoved, steadily going about this work. He is in no way overcome. Thank God for such a power of mind. This man is really a Vedantist.” Swamiji often told the story.

Source: Londone Swami Vivekananda, by Mohendranath Datta
Source: 'Provisions' of Swami Yogeshananda (yogeshananda@vedanta-atlanta.org)

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Unveiling of Statue of Vivekananda at Bangalore

Speech by Shri L.K. Advani delivered on the National Youth Day (Swami Vivekananda Jayanti) after unveiling the statue of Swami Vivekananda at Sri Ramakrishna Square, Bull Temple Road, Basavanagudi 



From Vivekananda


Let’s Empower Young India to Build Stronger India 

Today is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. We joyously observe it as National Youth Day. It is a matter of privilege for me to be invited today to unveil this majestic statue of Swamiji at Ramakrishna Math in Bangalore. It is good to see both the incumbent Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri B.S. Yeddyurappa, and the former Chief Minister, Shri S.M. Krishna one belonging to the BJP and the other to the Congress present on this occasion. All of us should be one in honouring the heroes, martyrs and great personalities of India, transcending our political and ideological affiliations. 

Swami Vivekananda was a luminous star that cast its radiant light at a time when India was passing through one of its gloomiest nights. The defeat in the First War of Independence of 1857, and the bloody suppression that accompanied it, had created despair and despondency among the people. It even generated an inferiority complex in a section of the population, newly educated in English, that the British were ruling India because they were a superior race and had a superior culture. Colonialism of the mind is always the worst form of colonialism. India’s glorious past was being derided, her spiritual heritage and cultural mores were being denigrated, and many Indians had begun to accept that “civilizing” this ancient civilization was a “White Man’s Burden”. 

From Vivekananda


It was at such a grim time that Swami Vivekananda roared like a lion. He awakened Indians from their slumber. He injected patriotism and national pride into the veins of our people. He ignited young minds with words like the ones below: 
 
•    "Brothers and sisters, the long night is at last drawing to a close. Miseries and sorrows are disappearing. Ours is a sacred country. She is gradually waking up, thanks to the fresh breeze all around. Her might no one can overcome." 
 
•    "Are you prepared for all sacrifices for the sake of our motherland? If you are, then you can rid the land of poverty and ignorance. Do you know that millions of our countrymen are starving and miserable? Do you feel for them? Do you so much as shed a tear for them?" 
 
•    "Have you the courage to face any hurdles, however formidable? Have you the determination to pursue your goal, even if those near and dear to you oppose you? You can be free men only if you have confidence in yourselves. You should develop a strong physique. You should shape your mind through study and mediation. Only then will victory be yours." 
 
•    "I loved my motherland dearly before I went to America and England. After my return, every particle of the dust of this land seems sacred to me."
 
 
As a student in Karachi, where I spent the first twenty years of my life, and as a young swayamsevak of the RSS, which I joined at the age of 14, I was myself deeply influenced by the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda. The influence was all the greater because it was reinforced by one of his greatest disciples, Swami Ranganathananda, who was then the head of the Ramakrishna Mission in Karachi. I used to attend Swami Ranganathananda’s weekly discourses on the Bhagawad Gita, which he would interpret from the perspective of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda. 
 
Vivekananda was not a political personality. He never took part in any political activity associated with India’s Freedom Movement. Nevertheless, he became one of the greatest inspirers of the movement because he re-energised the spirit of nationalism with the mighty force of his ideas and idealism. Let me recall here the words of Swamiji, when he returned to India in 1897 after his hugely successful tour of Europe and America, during which he also delivered his historic address to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. His ship landed in Madras, where he was accorded a rousing welcome. In his reply, he said something prophetic: 
 
For the next fifty years … let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds. This is the only god that is awake, India, our own race… These are all our gods — men and animals; and the first gods we have to worship are our own countrymen.
 
 
 
Swamiji had given this clarion call ‘for the next fifty years’ in 1897. Exactly fifty years later, India won freedom from colonial rule.  
 
Vivekananda captured the imagination of Indians, belonging to both pre- and post-Independence generations, because he was unlike most traditional spiritual leaders of India. Although he was proud of India’s past, he was not blind to the ills that had crept into our society. He did not mince words in exhorting his people: "You rejoice that you belong to the race of the great sages. But until those who belong to the upper classes help to uplift the downtrodden, and until exploitation ends, India will only be a grave. May Mother India step forth anew from the humble dwelling of the peasant! May she appear in the hut of the fisherman! May she step forth from the cottages of the cobbler and the sweeper! May she become manifest in godowns and factories! May the song of New India echo and reverberate amidst mountains and in forests and valleys!" 
 
Swamiji was a Hindu monk who presented the true face of Sanatana Dharma both to Indians and to people abroad. Although he exhorted Hindus to be proud of India’s spiritual heritage, he respected all other faiths and never hesitated to extol their good aspects.  His writings and speeches, especially his celebrated speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, have a universal appeal. With their emphasis on tolerance, harmony and mutual assimilation, they provide the right guidance to today’s world, which is threatened by the ideologies of exclusivism, extremism, terrorism and militarism. 
 
Swamiji’s ideas speak to the modern mind because he was very modern in his outlook. Always open to new ideas, he deeply understood the power of the revolutionary advances in industry, science and technology for bringing about India’s renaissance. He enthusiastically blessed Jamshedji Tata’s idea of setting up an indigenous steel plant in mineral-rich eastern India and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He actively campaigned for the establishment of IISc by sending his worthy disciple Sister Nivedita and three others to England to meet British authorities. 
 
Swamiji urged the youth to be full of faith but free of fear. While he emphasized spiritual strength, he exhorted them not to neglect physical, mental and other strengths in life. He said, “You will be nearer to God through football than through the study of the Gita…You will understand the  Gita better with your biceps, if your muscles are a little stronger.” How relevant these words are to our students and youth even today! 
 
Like many heroic figures in history, Vivekananda died young. He was only 39 when he passed away in 1902. 
 
* * * 
From Vivekananda


Friends, India today is a young country. We have the youngest population in the world today. Our children and our young men and women are our richest resource. They are also the brightest sources of hope for India’s future. I was recently reading Bangalore-based Nandan Nilekani’s book Imagining India : Ideas for the New Century, in which he describes the tremendous “Demographic Advantage” that our country enjoys. But he also cautions that this potential demographic resource can be harnessed only by empowering our children and youth with good education and productive skills.  
 
Today, on the occasion of National Youth Day, I would like to present five ideas for empowering Young Indians so that they can build a stronger, more prosperous and more secure India. If elected, a future NDA Government at the Centre would pursue these ideas vigorously with appropriate policies and programmes. 
 
EDUCATION FOR MAN-MAKING AND NATION-BUILDING: We have seen how quality education has enriched a small part of India’s demographic resource. Our well-educated and highly talented young professionals have scripted many success stories, many of them in Bangalore itself. These young achievers have made India proud, and raised India’s prestige globally. But imagine how much more India would accomplish when every young Indian is similarly empowered with good education. And by good education I refer to what Swami Vivekananda described it as: Education for Man-Making and Nation-Building. I 
¾believe that it is our moral duty to ensure that every Indian child   grows to her or¾irrespective of caste, religion, class or language his fullest potential. 
   
PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH: Health is the foundation and a pre-requisite for happiness and progress. We should revolutionise the healthcare system in India by ensuring that the basic needs of every citizen are taken care of. Facilities for sports, recreation, adventure, yoga, meditation and nutrition will have to be expanded manifold. Promotion of excellence in sports must be made a national campaign. After all, Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand, Sania Mirza and Abhinav Bindra are popular not only because of their individual achievements. Rather, it is because their achievements make every Indian proud. We should have hundreds of them in the years to come. Similarly, the limitless cultural and artistic talent among our youth should receive adequate opportunities to show their class on the national and international stage.  All this will require a massive rejuvenation of governmental and non-governmental institutions. To begin with, we should create sports facilities in every school, a sports stadium in every taluka, and a youth hostel in every district. 
 
EMPLOYMENT-INTENSIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH
: Today, when job losses have become widespread due to economic recession, the greatest concern of young Indians is employment. Although India has achieved relatively higher rates of GDP growth in the post-liberalisation era, this growth has not resulted in a concomitant increase in employment opportunities. This can lead to ruinous consequences. Our economic policy must therefore ensure productive employment to every able-bodied individual. 
 
PROMOTION OF PATRIOTISM AND NATIONAL VALUES: I have always believed that young people are innately patriotic and idealistic. Their patriotism and idealism can be and should be further nurtured by enabling them to participate in activities that make them more knowledgeable about India’s history, culture, our diverse spiritual and scientific heritage, and our past and contemporary achievements. For this, it is necessary to create immensely more opportunities for our students, especially those belonging to disadvantaged backgrounds, to travel across the country. For example, places like the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari should become mandatory destinations for school excursions. (I played a small role in the establishment of this Memorial in 1970, by assisting Eknathji Ranade, who was the mastermind of this project.) The library movement has to be vastly expanded by promoting good literature. And the power of the Internet must be fully harnessed to promote national integration. 
 
EK KAAM DESH KE NAAM - PROMOTION OF VOLUNTEERISM AMONG THE YOUTH: Like patriotism, the spirit of voluntary service comes naturally in young age. This needs to be nurtured and directed to accomplish big and challenging tasks in nation-building. Is it not possible, by revamping programmes like NCC and NSS, to channelise the enormous energy of our students and youth to achieve goals such as Swachcha Bharat (Clean India), Swastha Bharat (Healthy India), Saakshar Bharat (Literate and Educated India), andSurakshit Bharat (Secure India)? Is it not possible, for example, to mobilize all the resources of the nation – the voluntary service of the youth, the blessings and participation of religious leaders, and the financial, administrative and policy resources of the central and state governments – to undertake a massive nationwide campaign to clean up our holy rivers, the places of pilgrimage, and our own cities and towns, on a sustainable basis? Is it not possible to revamp and vastly expand the scope of NCC and NSS in our schools and colleges so that every student gets to serve the nation in some ways? It is possible. Indeed, it is necessary. 
 
As a first step, even before a comprehensive plan is drawn up by the future Government, I appeal to my young friends to take up in their own neighbourhoods, educational institutions or workplaces a national service campaign that may be called EK KAAM DESH KE NAAM. As a matter of fact, tens of thousands of young people are already engaged in such voluntary activities – tree plantation, blood donation, literacy drive, tuitions for poor students, care of the elderly, promotion of sports, arts and culture, etc. I urge them to write to me about their activities and these shall be publicized on my website www.lkadvani.in
 
As I said, these will be the commitments of a future NDA Government. To aim at anything less would not be a befitting commemoration of Swami Vivekananda’s Jayanti. 
 
Thank you.
 

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Reminiscences of Swami Shivananda

Swami Shivanandaji or Mahapurush Maharaj was a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the second President of the Ramakrishna Order. The following reminiscences of Swami Shambhavananda are taken from the book Mahapurush Maharaj as We Saw Him, published by Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata, pp. 157-164. 

      Great men are essentially simple. To all outward appearance they are so simple that we often underrate them. But once we begin to live with them or come into intimate contact with them, their greatness, slowly but surely, unfolds itself before us.

      I was indeed very fortunate, not only to have seen, but also to have had close personal contact with two such great men in the holy dawn of my spiritual life in the Ramakrishna Order. They were Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj, the spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna, the then President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, and the Vice-President Swami Shivanandaji Maharaj, who was called Mahapurush by Swami Vivekananda himself and hence was popularly known as Mahapurush Maharaj both to the monks of the Order and to the devotees.

      After the inauguration of the Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home in Madras in July 1921, both the Swamis came to the Bangalore ashrama along with their party. As the news of their visit had been circulated earlier, the monks and brahmacharins of the ashrama and also the local devotees were eagerly awaiting their arrival. Swami Nirmalanandaji Maharaj, the then President of the Bangalore ashrama, received them with due respect and accorded them a hearty welcome. We the ashramites naturally felt immensely pleased and proud to have the two divine souls in our midst.

      Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj (popularly known as Maharaj) was mostly indrawn. He loved solitude and hence could not always relish the company of people. Blessed was he who was lucky enough to have the slightest touch with his life characterised by solemn samadhi and tapasya. He was, as it were, the very personification of spirituality and had the power to infuse spirituality into others as well.

      Mahapurush Maharaj was, however, of a different type and temperament. Though he also spent long hours in meditation, he could also mix with all and talk to them on religious subjects, and especially on Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

      It was the usual custom in our monasteries during those days, as it is even now, for the monastic members and the devotees to sing devotional songs after the vesper services every day and also have Rama Nam sankirtan conducted on ekadashi days. Some members of the party of Maharaj were good musicians. They used to sing bhajan in the evening, in the prayer hall of the ashrama, and Mahapurush Maharaj also would often join the chorus. This would invariably enthuse the party as also the listeners.

      Regularity and discipline were very significant in the life of Mahapurush Maharaj. Even as early as 3 a.m. he could be found seated in deep meditation which continued till daybreak. He would then go out for a morning walk, mostly to the Lal Bagh, about a mile away. On his return he would meet Maharaj and both of them would then receive pranams of other monks and devotees.

      After breakfast he would attend to his correspondence. Though Swami Anantananda was his attendant, he would himself carry out most of his duties and work without depending on him. A little later in the day he would go to the garden in the company of Maharaj. Both of them took a very keen interest in the garden, since they loved gardening.

      They stayed at Bangalore that year for a little over three months. Taking advantage of their presence, the elite of the local society arranged for occasional religious talks and bhajans in devotees’ houses. Mahapurushji gladly joined in all these functions, delighting the minds of the devotees.

      I had the good fortune to render some personal service to Mahapurushji during his stay at Bangalore. That gave me an opportunity to come into close contact with him and thus get acquainted with some of his noble traits. Bangalore is situated at a height of about 3,200 feet above sea level and so has an equable climate. Every morning I used to spread his warm clothing and blankets in the sun before leaving for the market. On my return I used to bring them back to his room and stack them up after duly folding them. One morning, I had gone for shopping after spreading the clothes as usual. When I returned, however, I did not find any of them in their place. I thought that someone else might have taken them inside. Later on I came to know that all of them had been stolen! Naturally I was very much upset. But I was completely surprised to find that Mahapurushji never took me to task! He took this loss just as a matter of course. His love and affection for us was so great that our acts of omission and commission were always pardoned even without our asking for it. This incident increased my respect and devotion for him.

      In Bangalore a big flower show is arranged during the first week of August every year. This flower show is perhaps the biggest in South India. Thousands of people visit the show. The superintendent of the government gardens specially invited the two Swamis to the show, and they visited it along with other monks. The glorious assembly of hundreds of varieties of flowers immensely pleased all of them, and especially Maharaj, who was a specialist in gardening.

      Swami Sharvananda who was the President of the Madras Math at that time, expressed his desire to worship Mother Durga in the image. Maharajji agreed and arrangements were made for it. Maharajji started for Madras along with Mahapurushji and others on the 4th of October. That was his last visit to Bangalore as he entered into Mahasamadhi on the 10th of April the following year in Calcutta.

      Many are inclined to think that Swami Brahmanandaji Maharaj brought Mahapurush Maharaj to Bangalore and other places of South India in 1921, and introduced him to the different branches of the Math and Mission and also to the monks of the Order and to the devotees, so that he might guide their destinies as his worthy successor. Later events lend support to such a surmise.

      Mahapurushji came to Bangalore again in 1924. Before coming there he stayed for a time at Coonoor in the Nilgiris for recouping his health. Taking advantage of his stay there, the devotees of Ootacamund and nearby, embarked on starting an ashrama there. Two acres of land were made available for this purpose by a washerman of that place. To satisfy the long felt desire of the devotees Mahapurush Maharaj laid the foundation stone of the ashrama on the 11th of July 1924. More than once he had gone there to advise and encourage the devotees to start an ashrama. On his way to Bangalore from the Nilgiris, he broke his journey at the Nattarampalli Ashrama (on Chennai-Bangalore national high way) for a few days and gave initiation to a few devotees, much to their delight. This helped greatly in the spreading of the message of Sri Ramakrishna in that part of the country.

      During those days after spending a long time in meditation in the early hours, Mahapurush Maharaj would have religious discussions with sadhus and devotees. The discussions were continued in the afternoon also. It was a part of his daily routine to attend the evening service at the temple. Like a humble devotee he would stand with folded hands while the arati went on. He would also later take part in the chorus bhajan.

      In that year he also initiated a few devotees. Being specially invited to the Anna-Vasathi-Sangham of the Bangalore Cantonment, he went there along with elderly monks. The organizers of the meet and the other devotees there felt greatly inspired by his presence. He prayed for the success of their work and pleased them all with his simple religious instructions. One of the sannyasins who had accompanied him, delivered a lecture, which was followed by bhajan and kirtan.

      The Kaveri was in spate that year, rendering thousands of people homeless. Mahapurush Maharaj was greatly moved to learn about that catastrophe. Almost immediately the Madras Math started relief work to give succour to the flood-stricken people. The president of the Bangalore Ashrama also left for Kerala with two other monks on a similar work. Consequently the whole responsibility of the ashrama automatically devolved on Mahapurush Maharaj, who managed things efficiently. Since I was an old inmate of the Bangalore Ashrama and knew the local conditions, the responsibility of many work came and fell on me, and I too carried on all the work according to his instructions. This again gave me a good opportunity of close personal contact with him. I was really charmed by his benevolence and large-heartedness as also by his absence of pride.

      I used to regularly do physical exercise in order to keep good health. Mahapurush Maharaj used to encourage me in this respect also. He was so pleased that he gave me thirty rupees to buy Terry’s Chest Developer, which further increased my enthusiasm for improving and developing my health.

      His presence at the Bangalore Ashrama definitely helped to intensify the spiritual atmosphere there. Under his inspiration, bhajan, meditation, puja and chanting became a significant part of our daily routine. Those devotees who were blessed with initiation by him during those days, remained loyal and sincere, and also later on, rendered great help and service by spreading the message of Sri Ramakrishna.

      I particularly remember a devotee who came to Bangalore from Madras. He arranged for a special worship of Sri Ramakrishna and took initiation from Mahapurushji. As a token of respect he offered some costly clothing as dakshina, as also Rs. 1,001 in cash, which was a fairly big sum in those days. But Mahapurush Maharaj did not accept them; instead he distributed them among the various branches of the Math and Mission. He would often say, ‘It is Sri Ramakrishna who is really the world-teacher, preceptor and Guru. I am only a servant of the Lord, and His messenger,’

      Though he had become the venerable President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, there was no change at all in his simple and unostentatious way of life. Here let me narrate an incident from his life which corroborates the statement made above. As the President of the Order he found it necessary to remove the head of a particular ashrama. In doing so he did not consult the trustees of the Math and the Mission, though it was constitutionally necessary to do so. The trustees took this as a serious mistake and reversed the decision. This would have been a terrible blow to the ego and self-respect of anyone, but Sri Mahapurush Maharaj however took the whole thing calmly as if nothing serious had happened. He continued to be simple and childlike and showered his love and affection as before on the Swami who was reinstated, showing not the least sign of bitterness. This behaviour of his struck us all as really remarkable.

      We had the good luck to have Mahapurush Maharaj again in our midst at Bangalore during 1926. From Madras he went to Ooty where he stayed for about five months and then came to Bangalore on the 22nd of October. Swamis Gangeshananda, Apurvananda and a few others accompanied him.

      This time also his visit resulted in giving a fillip to the Ramakrishna Movement in the Mysore State. Under his direct inspiration and guidance the devotees of Mysore City established an ashrama in a rented house on the Dewan’s Road. Swami Siddheswarananda was appointed its President.

      Since Mahapurushji loved bhajan and kirtan, arrangements were made for the singing bhajans in the evenings after the vesper service. Different bhajan parties would come to the ashrama and take part in the bhajan. At the close of the bhajan, offered sweets as prasadam used to be distributed.

      This article will become rather long if I am to state all the details regarding how Mahapurush Maharaj impressed us, how we received him on all the occasions of his visit and how the various incidents connected with him were unforgettable. I shall close this memoir by telling how I found him at the Belur Math when I met him in 1930.

      Though he was very much delighted to see me at the Math, I was very sorry to find him ailing. My mind went back to those days at Bangalore when I had seen him full of peace and radiance. The thought of the old days came to me time and again and made me very sad. I found that his love and affection for all had increased greatly. He would often enquire of me whether I suffered from any inconvenience and would take all possible steps to make me happy and comfortable. One day he sent me to Dakshineswar along with another Swami as a guide. On my return he affectionately enquired how I liked the visit. I told him that I really enjoyed my pilgrimage to Dakshineswar. Every nook and corner of the sacred place was very familiar to me as I had read the Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita earlier. Only Sri Guru Maharajji was not there, in human body! I had actually felt his absence. Sri Mahapurush Maharaj said, ‘The place is very much alive, it is a holy place of pilgrimage and is a great help to increase one’s enthusiasm for a heightened spiritual life.’

      After all these long years, whenever I look into the past and think of my holy and happy association with him in 1921, 1924, 1926 and 1930, my heart gets filled with a sense of gratitude to him. Though I did not have the power then to realize his high spiritual nature, I have always cherished him in my heart as the personification of love, purity and affection. 

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ramakrishna Math, Ulsoor - Bangalore Events

Friday, August 03, 2007

Swami Siddheswaranandaji

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Guru Poornima, Mysore

Friday, July 27, 2007

Swami Vivekananda on Shivaji

The Lion of Vedanta Looks Back
From the Archives of The Vedanta Kesari
The Echoes of Teachings of Swami Vivekananda
BY DR. M.C. NANJUNDA ROW
IV
(An Evening-talk on Sivaji).

It was a beautiful moonlit night and Swamiji was sitting in the verandah of the bungalow of the late Mr. Bhattacharjee on the South Beach of Madras (already referred to), conversing in Hindi with Mr. Munshi Jagamohanlal, the private secretary of the Maharajah of Khetri. This gentleman had been sent by the Maharajah to trace out the whereabouts of the Swamiji and to fetch him back to Khetri to bless the newly born son and heir to the State. When Swamiji was at Khetri about a year previously, the Maharajah of Khetri had begged of him to confer the boon of a son and Swamiji while he was in one of his higher moods had actually blessed him saying that God had granted his prayer. So the Maharajah wanted Swamiji back in his palace at any cost and could not remain contented until he saw him. When I went over there after my office work I prostrated before Swamiji and took my seat; and suddenly Swamiji began to sing a Hindi song in praise of Sivaji in his own masterly way, the last two lines of which were:—

दावा द्रुमदंड पर चित्ता मृग झुंड पर, भूषण बितंड पर जैसे मृगराज हैं ।
तॆज तम अंशपर काह्न जिम कंसपर, त्यॊंमिलेच्छवंसपर शर शिवराज हैं ॥


(As forest-fire is to the forest trees, a leopard to the deer-herds and a lion to the stately elephants; as the sun is to the darkness of the night, as Krishna was to Kansa, so was king Sivaji, a lion, towards the hordes of Mlechchas.)

It was a long song as I learnt it afterwards; but I who had learnt in my school days that Sivaji was a cunning unprincipled freebooter, ‘an upstart robber,’ a marauder and a treacherous mur-derer, suddenly interrupted Swamiji and asked him how that praise and those lines were justified in the case of Sivaji. Was he not a mere child of fortune, a marauder who collected similar men like himself and succeeded in establishing a kingdom by sheer cunning and treachery? Swamiji imme-diately gave up his singing and saw me full in the face, his face being lit up with the fire of indignation and said, “Shame on you, Doctor. You are a Mahratta and still that is all you know of the greatest king that India had produced within the last three hundred years; one who was the very incarnation of Siva, about whom prophecies were given out long before he was born; and his advent was eagerly expected by all the great souls and saints of Maharashtra as the deliverer of the Hindus from the hands of the Mlechchas and one who succeeded in the establishment of the Dharma which had been trampled under foot by the depredations of the devastating hordes of the Moghals. This is what comes of your reading Indian History written by foreigners who could have no sympathy with you, nor could they have any respect for your culture, traditions, manners and customs which they could not understand. Is there a greater hero, a greater saint, a greater bhakta and a greater king than Sivaji? Sivaji was the very embodiment of a born ruler of men as typified in your great Epics. He was the type of the real son of India representing the true consciousness of the nation. It was he who showed what the future of India is going to be sooner or later, a group of independent units under one umbrella as it were, i.e., under one supreme imperial suzerainty.” I was simply thunderstruck and seemed to myself so small, so foolish and so ignorant; still the spirit of enquiry in me could not be put down even by those eloquent and fiery words of indigna-tion which Swamiji gave expression to, for I thought whatever might be said of Sivaji there could be no explanation for his treacherous conduct towards Afzul Khan, the great Pathan commander sent from the court of Bijapur, whom he is said to have killed under circumstances which any one who has a spark of morality in him could not but abhor. Still with some amount of hesitation but with a mischievous curiosity to find out how Swamiji could condone this treacherous deed of Sivaji, I begged of him to tell us something about the real life-history of Sivaji and what he thought of his one act which had been considered the greatest blot in his life and on account of which his character had been painted so black.

Then Swamiji began to give a brief account of the life of Sivaji, with great feeling and enthusiasm and we listened to the same with great eagerness and rapt attention; for so engrossing and interesting it was to listen to those soul-stirring words of Swamiji who spoke at the time with so great an earnestness and yet with so much pity and kindness. It was a pity there was no one to take down all that he spoke that evening in shorthand, nor did I make any notes at the time either, for my mind was so absorbed in following his narrative that the idea of taking down any notes never entered my brain. Yet the indelible impressions he made on even our callous hearts that memorable evening do still persist though somewhat dimmed, and the following is but an imperfect reproduction of those impressions.

“Doctor,” began Swamiji, “it is a pity that in our schools, History of India written by foreign-ers alone is taught to our boys. The foreign writers of the Mahratta History can never shake off their bias nor understand the real character and greatness and the inner motive of the actions of Sivaji. We cannot blame them for their beliefs which more or less depended on the writings of the Mussalman chroniclers who out of spite and hatred, denounced Sivaji as a falim or freebooter. On the other hand there are many Mahratta bakhars or chroniclers who have written about him but who, true to their ancient puranic ideal, looked upon Sivaji as an incarnation of God born to relieve His devotees from the oppressions of Mahomedan fanaticism and to re-establish the Dharma. Naturally the foreign writers leaned on the side of the Mussalman chroniclers and considered the account given by the Mahrattas as mere superstition. But fortunately there are many independent Persian manuscripts dealing with the history of Aurangzeeb, Sivaji and the Bijapur kings. They corroborate the account of the Mahratta chroniclers so far as facts are con-cerned, though they do not share in their belief of the superhuman nature of the exploits of Sivaji. And if young men who have any patriotic feeling towards the history of their motherland were to make researches in finding out and translating these manuscripts much truer light may be thrown on the greatness of the doings of Sivaji and of many others who helped in the formation of the great Mahratta Confederacy and it will be a valuable addition to our knowledge of the real His-tory of India.” (November 1914, p. 218-219)