One of the most magnificent architectural marvels of India will mark its 51 years on 2nd September, 2021. There are numerous monuments in India and outside India which aim towards making us relive our history but none quite match this one. Kanyakumari may be considered as the only living hallmark of purity and unity in India. The way Sangam at Prayag is sacred because of the mingling of holy waters from three scared rivers, Kanyakumari too signifies the holy mingling of three oceans, the Ganga Sagar, the Sindhu Sagar and the Hindu Mahasagar. This is the place where East and West connect through the rising sun, the place where North and South unite, where goddess Kanya stands at the southernmost landmass to meet her Lord, Shiva, whose hearthstone is in the Northern mountains of Kailash. These are only the geographical and sacred significances of this place, but one man made it the Mahasangam of the people of India. The mission which was much beyond any caste, creed or colour was made possible by one-man, honourable Eknath Ranade Ji. It is a living symbol of unity in India because the whole nation desired and contributed for it. It is also one of the few memorials where all the organisations united and people from every state participated for the inauguration of this marvellous creation. The rarity of the situation where almost all state governments and central government contribute is what makes this a focal point. For the people who visit this memorial, it may just be sightseeing but the work done to reach at this point is what puts life into this place. Especially during times like these where a pandemic has divided us, this memorial gives us the inspiration to unite and offers a ray of hope. Eknath ji wanted this memorial to become a nucleus so he could complete his life mission of uniting people together. Failing to do so he will fail his life mission by letting this memorial be a pile of rocks. Somehow, he had to finish this task and perpetuate Swamiji’s message. It wasn’t a huge task for him to plan things to go his way but the execution would take up some important years in his life. This memorial couldn’t be a building of stones but was meant to be a harbinger of Swamiji’s works. He had to sustain the importance of this monument so people could experience the same Sadhana and peace that Swamiji did on 25th December of 1892. The bigger challenge was to blunt the memorials construction by including the Christian community and also gather support from all the state governments. Eknath ji had to also battle many remarks which would’ve stopped this cause but his efficiency proved to work and under three days he was able to present Lal Bahadur Shastri ji, then home minister, with the signatures of 323 MPs. The permission was granted and now began the biggest challenge, collecting donations. We should also keep in mind that India was under a lot of economical stress at the time due to the recent war with China and any form of fundraising would’ve raised concerns. But Eknath ji was determined and started with his journey. The first donation came from Swami Chimyananda from Mission Chimyananda. Following this Eknath ji went around India talking to big industrialists like Birla’s and also inspired his own friends to contribute. He was successful in collecting donations from the most crucial regions of the country, from Sheikh Abdullah in Jammu and Kashmir to Hokshie Sema of Nagaland. Even other state governments donated 1 lakh each to help build the memorial. The most eye-catching topic of the memorial is the donation from the communist leader and also the Deputy Chief Minister of West Bengal at the time, Jyoti Basu. Keeping aside the ideological and political differences, Eknath ji convinced Jyoti Basu that his works weren’t so different from Swamiji’s. Both of them worked of the poor and represented the oppressed and downtrodden but due to his membership with the Communist Party, Basu couldn’t indulge. But Eknath ji went on and convinced Smt. Basu who donated 1100 Rupees to the cause. This may not be a huge amount but the involvement of each political ideology was now successful.
On September 2nd 1970, the Vivekanada Rock Memorial was formally inaugurated by V.V. Giri, President of India. the inauguration continued for two months and was also visited by the Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi. Following this Vivekananda Kendra was established on 7th January 1972 to give this memorial life and form the nucleus as Eknath ji hoped. Today Vivekananda Kendra conducts activities all over India with the aim to spread Swamiji’s messages through education, research, yoga, development programmes for people from all ages.
Karyakarta at Vivekananda Kendra,
Chanakya Puri Vistaar