Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari

Vivekandanda Rock Memorial
Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari
In January 1962, the people of Kanyakumari thought that as Swami Vivekananda’s birth centenary was being celebrated, it would be meet if they put up some memorial on the rock where he had meditated and discovered the mission of his life. They also naturally concluded that there must be access to the rock from the shore.

A few people in Kanyakumari came together for this purpose and formed the Kanyakumari Committee whose objective was to put up a memorial on the rock and a pedestrian bridge leading to the rock. Almost simultaneously, the Ramakrishna Mission in Madras had similar thoughts.

When the Kanyakumari Committee and the Madras people joined together, the whole atmosphere in Kanyakumari was surcharged with the idea of the memorial. However, this news was not taken kindly to, by a sizable population of the local Catholic fishermen. They put up a big Cross on the Rock, visible from the shore.

The second phase of the Memorial for Swami Vivekananda was not an afterthought in Shri Eknath Ranade’s mind. The establishment of Vivekananda Kendra—the Living Memorial alongside the stone structure of the Rock Memorial—was mentioned as early as 1964.

After the groundwork of about nine years, Vivekananda Kendra was officially founded on 7 January 1972 (the 108th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda by the Hindu calendar). On that day, as the sun rose, a saffron flag with Om inscribed on it was unfurled in the serene atmosphere on the Vivekananda Rock Memorial to hearld the founding of the Vivekananda Kendra: a spiritually oriented service mission of non-monastic order.

The tradition of penance was to be continued by young men and women coming as Karyakartas of Vivekananda Kendra to spread the immortal message of Swami Vivekananda: A hundred thousand men and women, fired with the zeal of holiness, fortified with eternal faith in the Lord, and nerved to lion’s courage by their sympathy for the poor and the fallen and the downtrodden, will go over the length and breadth of the land, preaching the gospel of salvation, the gospel of help, the gospel of social raising up, the gospel of equality.Since then, everyday, at sunrise the saffron flag with Om is hoisted on the Rock Memorial and lowered at sunset.

The twin objectives of Vivekananda Kendra are man-making and nation-building. With great foresight, Shri Eknath Ranade decided that Vivekananda Kendra was to be a cadre-based organisation. Young men and women whose hearts long to serve the nation would be provided the opportunity and the right platform to serve God in man.They would be properly trained and would be posted to different parts of the country. After their training of five years, they would be called as Jeevanvratis—those who have taken the vow of service for life. These Jeevanvratis would work without any salary. However, their wellbeing—Yogakshema—would be taken care of by society. For that purpose, Eknathji devised a patron scheme, where patrons would donate regularly for their Yogakshema. The Jeevanvratis would be the backbone of the organisation.
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