The Statue has a message

published on September 14, 2013

The Installation of Swami Vivekananda`s magnificent statue at Kowdiar park, Thiruvananthapuram is part of the nation-wide celebration of Swamiji`s 150th Birth Anniversary. The date 11th September coincides with the date on which Swami Vivekananda delivered his epoch making speech at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago.  There is more to it than the coincidence of date. There is also coincidence of time. Swamiji delivered his lecture almost exactly at this time when we are holding this function. Though Swamiji was invited to speak at the beginning of the inaugural session in the morning on 11th September, he went on postponing the historic moment till the evening. He was the 23rd speaker. We have assembled here almost at the exact time and the exact date of the famous Chicago address.

The occasion is the unveiling of Swamiji`s bronze statue. But to me and also to the members of the committee, it is much more than a mere statue installation ceremony. To install a mere statue at best could be an act of hero worship, or a pious act of idolatry. It is not our intention to erect an idol however adorable it might be. This statue is the symbol of a great Concept, a living, vibrant and eternally relevant Concept, which Swamiji through his life and mission, preached and practised. Unlike the innumerable statues standing mute and often abandoned in various parts of the city, this will be a vibrant, eloquent and dynamic powerhouse radiating a sublime message. If it does not, if it is only one among the many statues, I would not consider it worth the effort that a large number of persons undertook for accomplishing this majestic event.

Now, what is the message that vibrates from here? It is the same that emanated from Swamiji`s Chicago lecture. First and foremost, it symbolises the pride that we all feel in being the inheritors of a unique culture that has come down to us down the ages. Though originated in this sacred land of Bharat, it is not confined to a geographical territory. It is a universal culture capable of embracing the entire humanity in its broad sweep of love, tolerance and respect. It does not discriminate between man and man, since it looks upon every human being as ‘potentially divine.’ Swamiji`s entire life was devoted to make it possible for humanity to express this potentiality.  He has stated that, “It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body – to cast it off like a worn-out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God. May I be born again and again and suffer thousands of miseries, so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum-total of all souls.” It is not an individual salvation or God realisation that Swamiji aimed at. It is the lifting up of the entire humanity to a higher level where it becomes one with the Divine. It is this message of the divine life of humanity that should vibrate from the statue when we are dedicating this to the nation on this auspicious evening.
The ultimate goal for humanity as envisaged by Swamiji was a spiritualized way of life on this earth. He was firmly convinced that this can happen only when India recovers her spiritual glory and lives her life in accordance with the spiritual values. According to him spirituality is the central theme of our nation. The nation will live only as long as this life mission is kept alive. That alone will make India’s existence meaningful and worthwhile.

Swamiji believed that the basic quality of spirituality is to get out of the narrow shell and expand to cover the world. Life based on spirituality was the message India is destined to give the entire world. This could happen only when India regained her freedom and became truly independent. He once declared that “for a slave nation the only religion is to achieve freedom. The speeches and writings of Swamiji inspired all our freedom fighters of all hues and colours. From the extreme moderates to the extreme revolutionaries all were inspired by Swamiji’s “lectures from Colombo to Almora.” Mahatma Gandhiji was as much inspired as Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose by Swamiji’s exhortations.

There is no line of demarcation dividing the spiritual values of Hinduism and the nation`s concept of patriotism. It is worth recalling that Shri. Aurobindo an ardent admirer of Swamiji has declared that Sanatana Dharma is our nationalism. That is why our first Governor-General Shri. C. Rajagopalachari declared that “it was Swami Vivekananda who saved Hinduism and who gave us freedom.” Post-independent India has not lived up to the expectations of Swamiji. After decades of independence we are not yet mentally free.  Values of spirituality are rarely observed in public life, it is pushed under the carpet of ‘secularism’. The result is that India has not been able to rise to her full stature and express her unique potentiality as Swamiji envisaged.  

The nationwide celebrations going on in honour of Swamiji’s 150th birth anniversary will be meaningful only if they serve the purpose of realizing Swamiji’s vision about independent India. It is against this background that we have to look upon the installation of this grand statue of Swamiji as the main spring of a vigorous and sustained cultural renaissance. The presence of such eminent personalities on the dais and the mammoth gathering around is a promise that this vision will be realised and the Statue will become a dynamic centre of dedication to duty and commitment to our national ideal ‘Renunciation and Service’.  

On this historic occasion let us all dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly for the fulfilment of those great ideals for which Swamiji suffered and sacrificed all his life. Let us keep Swamiji as our ideal and imbibe the eternal values which he represented in our own life. Let us mould ourselves to be the befitting instruments for the creation of new India as envisaged by the Swamiji. Let that be the ultimate objective of the installation of the grand memorial.

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