150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda

Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the above lines are the first few lines of his opening talk in the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago on Sept 11, 1893, which made him very popular in America.

If you don’t know, then I would also like to mention that the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is celebrated as the National Youth Day of India. In his 40 years of lifetime, he could achieve so much that we can’t even imagine. All of his messages have deep impact on us. If I see myself, I have already completed about 25 years of my life and have done nothing for my country yet. Therefore I thought that at least I should spread some words about him today. Today I would like to write about Swami Vivekananda’ contribution to Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. There is a great bond between Swami Vivekananda, who was a great saint-philosopher and Indian Institute of Science, which is a premier research institute of India.

In 1893, Jamsetji N. Tata and Swami Vivekananda met first time, while travelling on a ship from Japan to Chicago. At that time, Swami Vivekananda was going to represent Hinduism in the World Parliament of Religions, while Jamsetji N. Tata was going with an idea to bring steel manufacturing technology to India. In that casual meeting, Swami Vivekananda discussed Tata’s plan to bring steel manufacturing technology to India and gave him suggestion to develop the steel manufacturing science within India. They never met after that journey. But these words struck a chord in Jamsetji’s heart. Five years later, Jamsetji’s response came in a letter to Swami Vivekananda.

Dear Swami Vivekananda ,
I trust, you remember me as a fellow-traveler on your voyage from Japan to Chicago. I very much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India, and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels.
I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of Research Institute of Science for India, of which you have doubtless heard or read. It seems to me that no better use can be made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency, and devote their lives to the cultivation of sciences – natural and humanistic. I am of opinion that, if such a crusade in favor of an asceticism of this kind were undertaken by a competent leader, it would greatly help asceticism, science, and the good name of our common country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of galvanizing into life our traditions in this respect? Perhaps you had better begin with a fiery pamphlet rousing our people in this matter. I should cheerfully defray all the expenses of publication.

23rd November 1898

Jamsetji N. Tata

At that time, Swami Vivekananda was busy starting the Ramakrishna Mission and did not accept the offer, but Jamsetji N. Tata still continued working on this Institute. Unfortunately these two great souls died many years before this Institute was born. In 1909, five years after the death of Jamsetji N. Tata and 7 years after the death of Swami Vivekananda, the Indian Institute of Science was born and  is today the pride of the nation.