Swami Vivekananda is world renowned for having represented the Hindu faith in the Parliament of religions in 1893. His address at Chicago is considered the turning point of modern understanding of the Sanatana Dharma. His exposition and representation from there on revolutionised the outlook of the world to Indian thought and ethos.
To briefly highlight, a few devotees get together to raise funds for the Swami’s visit to America. However, on arrival there he learns about the postponement of the parliament, their refusal to accept him as a speaker without a letter authorising his representation from the founder or head of the religion forcing him into the cold streets of Boston. His faith in his revered Master Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa provides the miraculous context of him receiving a letter of introduction from Harvard Professor John Wright, opening the doors for him to speak at the Parliament of religions. This agnostic boy from Kolkatta, at every step of his life from the moment he met his divine Guru, was and continues to be the perfect disciple representing and living the vision of his Master. Yet, on that day in Chicago, as he stood in front of the 400 odd delegates from across various faiths and countries, and an audience of about 7000, as he uttered the words ‘Sisters and brothers of America!’ that changed the history of humanity – never once spoke about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa! In fact in none of his lectures in the Chicago parliament did he even mention Sri Ramakrishna. Yet the whole world reveres Swami Vivekananda as the most ideal disciple who eternalised the divine image of Sri Ramakrishna.
Back home a buzz was created by the other disciples – had Vivekananda become so arrogant that he never once spoke about His Master? Vivekananda even asks a fellow disciple to write notes on Sri Ramakrishna for Max Muller as per his request, making others wonder why he never did so himself. Immature minds began to question until a mature one could clarify – he stood there as a representative of truth in its highest order, to break down the barriers of caste, colour, and creed and to fuse all people into one humanity. To label it in any form would have limited that very scope!
On other occasions he clarified – he was too close to write or speak about his Master; he felt that he was too ‘unworthy’ (used by limitation of language) to discuss his Master; his connect was too sacred to be confined in words!
If Professor John Wright said about Vivekananda – “To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens”, asking Vivekananda to talk about his Master is like a torch light trying to illuminate the Sun. Silence was his only option. Yet in the way he breathed every moment of his life, there remains no doubt in any person’s mind who was Vivekananda’s Master.
In the making of Silappadhikaram as a television serial, I vividly remember the Tamil dialogue of the opening scene of Chinese and Roman traders on the Port of Poompuhar being welcomed by the locals. “Welcome to our land filled with the finest silks and most precious pearls” says the local. “Yours is also the land with the wisdom of the Vedas, the path of Dharma!” exclaims the Chinese. The local smiles to reply – “Indeed! But they are not for sale!”
Written by Gita Krishna Raj | Published under the title ‘The Credentials’ in infinithoughts in January 2017