His Deep Spiritual Connection with the Himalayas is Memorable
The great Swami Vivekananda, who passed away on July 4, 1902, at the young age of 39, at Belur Math near Kolkata, spent a very happy and peaceful time in the hills and dales of the Uttarakhand region. On the occasion of his death anniversary, it would be apt to reflect upon his special bond with the Himalayas, especially of the Kumaon region.
Vivekananda set up the Advaita Ashram in Mayavati in Kumaon. On May 1, 1897, Vivekananda founded the “Ramakrishna Mathh” in Calcutta (now Kolkata). This was the organ for propagating religion and “Ramakrishna Mission” was the organ for social service. This was the beginning of an organised socio-religious movement to help the masses through educational, cultural, medical and relief work.
He had always been attracted by the Himalayas. During his tour of the Swiss Alps the idea to found an Ashram in similar conditions in India took shape.
Vivekananda made several visits to Almora. After the passing away of his Guru, Ramakrishna, he travelled throughout India teaching Vedanta, and in 1890 he had walked from Nainital to Almora. He spent several days meditating in a cave on a mountain close to the Kasaar Devi temple. The young Narendra (later to be known as Vivekananda), while scaling the wilderness of Kumaon, is believed to have said that he had seen the macrocosm in a microcosm.
Located twenty two kilometres from Champawat and nine kilometers from Lohaghat amid an old tea estate, Mayawati shot into prominence after the Advaita Ashram was established here. The ashram attracts spiritualists from India and abroad. It has a press of its own and the first editions of Swami Vivekananda’s works were published from Mayavati, besides Prabuddha Bharata, the monthly journal. The Ashram provides boarding and lodging to visitors. It attracts the spiritual minded from all over India and abroad. There is also a library and a small museum at Mayawati. In Almora, he inspired Captain Sevier and his wife along with Swami Swarupananda, his disciple, to commence looking for a place to house an Ashram. They found it in Mayavati, 6,400 feet above sea level, surrounded by mountains on three sides, one side opening to a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Himalayan range. The Advaita Ashram was inaugurated in March 1899. Vivekananda paid the Ashram a visit in January 1901 and stayed for a fortnight.
On his arrival at Almora, Vivekananda received an address of welcome from the citizens of Almora, to which he made the following reply: “This is the land of dreams of our forefathers, in which was born Pârvati, the Mother of India. This is the holy land where every ardent soul in India wants to come at the end of its life, and to close the last chapter of its mortal career. This is the land which, since my very childhood, I have been dreaming of passing my life in, and as all of you are aware, I have attempted again and again to live here; and although the time was not ripe, and I had work to do and was whirled outside of this holy place, yet it is the hope of my life to end my days somewhere in this Father of Mountains where Rishis lived, where philosophy was born … I sincerely pray and hope, and almost believe, that my last days will be spent here, of all places on earth. Inhabitants of this holy land, accept my gratitude for the kind praise that has fallen from you for my little work in the West”.( Extract from: “The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda”/Volume 3/Lectures from Colombo to Almora ).
It is interesting to know how when Narendranath went to Dakshineswar to meet Ramakrishna for the first time,Ramakrishna warmly welcomed Narendra and asked him to sit on a mat spread on the floor. Then Ramakrishna asked him to sing a song. Narendra gave his assent and started singing a devotional song.When Narendra finished singing, Ramakrishna suddenly became emotional, grasped Narendra’s hands and said, “Ah! You have come very late. How unkind of you to keep me waiting so long! My ears are tired of hearing the futile words of worldly men. Oh, how I have longed to pour my spirit into the heart of someone fitted to receive my message!”
Narendranath was so impressed with this meeting that he kept coming back. During Paramhansa’s last days, when Narendra was alone with him, Ramakrishna looked at him and went into Samadhi. Narendra felt the penetration of a subtle force and lost all outer consciousness. When he regained it, he found the Master weeping. He said to him “Today I have given you my all and I am now only a poor fakir, possessing nothing. By this power you will do immense good in the world.”
The story about Narendra getting the name Vivekananda from his master is very interesting too. Vivekananda’s name means “the bliss of discrimination”. Though Narendra had a discriminating mind and soul, it was his heart which needed to be purged of sentimentality, felt Ramakrishna. When Narendra was initiated, the name that was revealed to him by his guru was Vivekananda –discrimination that is bliss.
Uttarakhand will always take pride in Vivekananda’s spiritual kinship with this Himalayan region.
Thursday, 04 July 2019 | Jaskiran Chopra | Dehradun
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