Great spiritualist Swami Vivekananda' - his 159th birth anniversary is coming up in January, 2020

Vivekananda Rock Memorial in 2016

158th (2019)  birth centenary, Sri Vivekananda

The birth centenary of  great  spiritualist Sri Vivekananda and the Vivekananda Kendra is coming up in January, 2020. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial  at the southern most tip of peninsular India just off the coast of Kanyakumari town Tamil Nadu draws tens of thousands of tourists a year to this coastal town. This well-known memorial to one of India's  most reputed spiritualists and Vedantists  Sri Vivakananda, stands majestically on one of two rock outcrops about 500 meters off the mainland of Vavathurai. During the last 48 years or so, more than 50 million visitors  have visited this memorial  that is located at the confluence of three seas - the The Arabian sea on the west, the Indian ocean toward the south and the Bay of Bengal on the east.

Vivakananda Memorial, Kanyakumari.

Vivakananda Memorial, Kanyakumari.

last 46 years, over 5 crore visitors from world over have visited this memorial
last 46 years, over 5 crore visitors from world over have visited this memorial in  1970,  the reason why this particular rock outcrop was chosen by the followers of Sri Vivekananda and other like-minded people  like socialist Sri Eknath Ranade was it was, here  swamiji   meditated on God and  attained enlightenment.  Further, according to the legend, Goddess Kumari performed Tapas - penance on God Shiva to remarry him.   Though the initiative was taken  way back in January, 1962, on the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s birth centenary  by his admirers during the Congress ministry in Madras (now Tamil Nadu) led by K. Bhaktavasalam, their  efforts were stalled  for a few years by the local Catholic Christian  fishing community who wanted to install a 'Cross' on the same rock. The judicial probe as  ordered by the Madras (now Tamil Nadu) government pointed out  in  unequivocal terms that the rock was Vivekananda Rock, and that the Cross was a trespass.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial

Despite the judicial findings, the memorial  got delayed due to communal ramblings.  After  long deliberations with the  state government  and with  the support of more than 300 MPs, the roadblock  was finally removed. The credit goes to Eknath Ranade, a spiritualist  and  social activist, late Sri Lal Bhahadur Sastry (former PM), the Sri Ramakrishna Mission  and the late Paramacharya of Kanchi  mutt (who knew the then Madras CM  Bhaktavachalam personally well)  for taking the mammoth project forward  after clearing all the impediments on the way.  Nobody can forget the sustained and dedicated role played by Sri Ranade  who sought public subscription from common people across India to meet the financial costs. Within a short period of 6 years, the Vivekananda memorial was opened  in 1970 and dedicated to the nation. The  Vivekananda Kendra was, at last,  officially founded on 7 January 1972 (the 108th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda).  Memorial, a fine mix of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu architecture - the design of  Sri Ramakrishna Math, Belur, West Bengal,  stands as  a great monument to Swami Vivekananda whose trip to Chicago was financed by none other than the great Maharajah of Ramnad.  Swamiji, upon his return from the US after his successful  foreign mission landed in the same state - the Madras Presidency.

Vivekananda Memorial, Kanyakumari.

''Every problem has a solution, every obstacle is an opportunity,” said  Eknath Ranade, who was born  on November 19, 1914 and  whose  birthday is  named ‘Sadhana diwas’. The unique feature of the design  of the meditation hall  (Dhyana Mandapam)  also attached to the memorial for visitors to meditate here, is it showcases  different  types  and styles of temple architecture from all over India and here you find an impressive statue of Vivekananda whose aura is irresistible and his statue is facing Sripada mandapam, yet another structure made of garbha graha,  inner prakaram,   outer prakaram and  outer platform.  These two main structures form the memorial.

Kanyakumari S. India. Location map.

It was late Sri  Eknath  who then  founded Vivekananda Kendra - a service organization dedicated to spirituality. Today,  it is serving in all the states of India and  has  more than 68 schools, four hospitals and over 800 activity centers. Some centers, besides value based education and many charitable activities, the importance of yoga and its value in modern life is  emphasized.

Why does Kanyakumari gain importance among  Hindus across India?   According to the legend  Goddess Kanya Kumari, an adolescent, virgin incarnation of Goddess Parvati,  meditated on God Shiva  on the rock outcrop here to rejoin him so this  area is blessed by her  holy presence.  Hence this place is called Kanyakumari. 

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda.