Triggers for this particular blog post: 1. Swami Vivekananda Birth day 12th Jan. 2017. 2. News reports about Swami Vivekananda scoring low marks in his Intermediate and B.A. Title: "Do you know Swami Vivekananda scored 46 per cent in English". Click to go to http://indiatoday.intoday.in/education/story/swami-vivekananda-scored-average-in-english-examinations/1/852811.html and study the news. This news has also appeared in Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle, ND TV, Economic Times etc. It is based on PTI inputs. 3. A new book titled "The Modern Monk: What Vivekananda Means to Us Today", by author Mr. Hindol Sengupta. A Penguin publication. The book is available for purchase @ Rs. 279 for paperback, and Rs. 399 regular. Link to buy:Click to go to Amazon.in and buy. Note: I have myself not purchased the book, or read the book. By giving this link, I do not get any commission or incentive. Shri Hindol Sengupta, is also author of another book titled "Being a Hindu", also available with the Amazon. The introduction to the book, as per Amazon.in:--
He loved French cookbooks, invented a new way of making khichdi, was interested in the engineering behind ship-building and the technology that makes ammunition. More than 100 years after his death, do we really know or understand the bewildering, fascinating, complex man Swami Vivekananda was? Vivekananda is one of the most important figures in the modern imagination of India. He is also an utterly modern man, consistently challenging his own views and embracing diverse, even conflicting arguments. It is his modernity that appeals to us today. He is unlike any monk we have known. He is confined neither by history nor by ritual and is constantly questioning everything around him, including himself. It is in Vivekananda’s contradictions, his doubts, his fears and his failings that he recognize his profoundly compelling divinity—he teaches us that to try and understand God, first one must truly comprehend one’s own self. This book is an argument that it is not just because he is close to God but also because he is so tantalizingly immersed in being human that keeps us returning to Vivekananda and his immortal wisdom.
This book was launched on 10th Jan. 2017, at Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi, in the presence of Swami Shantatmananda, President, Ramakrishna Mission, Delhi, Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, New Delhi, Shri Ram Madhav, National General Secretary, Prof. Y.S. Rao, Chairman, ICHR, Ddr. Kapil Kapoor- Eminent Indic Scholar, Smt. Tulsi Badrinath- Vivekananda Scholar, and Swami Samarpananda- Best Selling Author and Vivekananda Scholar.
Before going further with the news, we shall have some quotes from the book of Shri Hindol SenGupta:-
"...Born in the family of a rich lawyer, he was able to get pretty much the best available education ? including studying at the famed Metropolitan Institution school in Calcutta. This was perhaps why he spoke and wrote English with the fluency of the British ..."
"...For a man whose erudition and English language skills were impressive enough to captivate thousands, not least the Americans at the Parliament of Religions and afterwards, his marks were dismal. ..."
"...He took three university examinations - the entrance examination, the First Arts Standard (FA, which later became Intermediate Arts or IA) and the Bachelor of Arts (BA). His scores in the English language were 47 per cent at the entrance level, 46 per cent in FA and 56 per cent in BA..."
"...His marks in other subjects like mathematics and Sanskrit were also average. ..."
"...It is Vivekanandas modernity that appeals to us today. He is unlike any monk we have known. He is confined neither by history nor by ritual, and is constantly questioning everything around him, including himself. ..."
ybrao-a-donkey's personal perceptions & views, which are not intended to be imposed on others:-
I am a layman, trying to learn things from this strange world. I may falter. My readers can always correct me.
CONTRADICTION AND WONDER
1. According to his devotees, Swami Vivekananda had photographic memory, extra-orinary super-human brilliance, super-natural grasp an intellect. He could read and comprehend a book, just by seeing it. His biograhies (hagiographies?) quote instances of his returning books to the librarians on the same day, and answering the bewildered librarians who asked him questions about the contents of the books he took. According to his biographies, he has mastered Encyclopaedia Britannica, and answered questions from it instantaneously. Such a genius, how could he score, such a low marks as 46, 47 and 56, in Intermediate and B.A.? Okay, English is a foreign language. Mathematics is a complex subject. How could he score so low in Sanskrit?
2. Everybody knows that probably worldwide, examinations are memory-centred, memory-oriented. Even if we cannot accept this 'global' nature of examination, as far as examinations of India are concerned, most of us view, that they are memory-centered. It is common in Indian Educational Institutions to make students memorise by rote. In my mother-tongue- Telugu language, it is called 'baTTi', 'bhaTTi', may be a reference to a lime-kiln or something. Corporate Colleges, and Tutorial Colleges in India have minted millions, by making Intermediate Students to study through rote for Medical Entrances, Engineering Entrances, I.I.T. Entrances, M.B.A. Entrance Examinations. Everybody knows that Examinations mean ABILITY TO REPEAT, WHAT IS GIVEN IN BOOKS, WITHOUT SEEING THEM. Or else, there would have been examinations, WITH BOOKS (now with cellphones, internet etc.).
There is also a dubbed Tamil to Telugu film by name 'Sarvar Sundaram' in which its Hero Late Nagesh repeats his rote of Androcles and Lion story "Long long ago,so long ago, how long ago, no one can say, there lived a slave called Androcles...", (or similar lines as far as my poor memory goes.
Question: You seem to be a pessimistic cynic and a dirty fellow. You might have failed in YOUR exams. or scored low. You want to throw your blame on Great persons like Swami Vivekananda?
Ans: I do not claim any photographic memory. Nor did I make librarians to wonder. Nor did I master Encyclopaedia Britannica. Unfortunately, I have not studied in any Day College. All my education is either in Evening Colleges or through Distance Education, that too while working in a Bank or after retirement. In India, our Private Sector Corporate Employers, and even some Govt. Organisations look down upon Evening College Graduates, and Distance Education Students. This bias is a different subject. But, my own personal experience with examinations, is "mixed". That means, there are occasions, when II scored an All-India rank, or a gold-medal. Or sometimes, I scored only 43%. For example, I could not cross the 55% barrier in M.A. English, despite trying twice. I may try again, if I live longer.
Questions: What will you say about the oratorial powers of Swami Vivekananda, which made the Heads of the Chicago Parliament of Religions 1893, gape with wonder and applause?
The audio file in circulation, as the Speech rendered by Swami Vivekananda, at the Chicago Parliament of Religions 1893 may not be the original recording. Swami Vivekananda, prepared and made a fresh speech to a gramophone Company, when he entered into a contract with an American Speech Promotion Company for Stage Performances, in return for Dollars. I have tried to obtain/trace a text of the original speech given by Swami Vivekananda at the 1893 Chicago Parliament of Religions. I am not successful. It appears that they have not preserved it. My readers can try to get it from the Official successors to the Parliament of Religions. Govt. of India can also try. What a present web site of a Parliament of Religions seem to hold on their website, is the text and audio files they received from the Indian Monasteries of Swami Vivekananda. These papers / files the present website of Parliament of Religions might have collected in 1993 on the occasion of their own Centenary, or the Centenary of Swami Vivekananda.
Question: What might have happened for the original speech text/recording of Swami Vivekananda?
ans: Dozens of persons were sitting on the dais of the Parliament. Dozens of persons spoke. Among them Swami Vivekananda was one . He might have made a great speech. But, the organisers cannot foresee that a great speech was going to be made, and ever-readily switch on the gramophone recorder to record it. At that time, he was not a VIP on the stage. For the same reason, they might not have employed English shorthand writers to get a verbatim text of a speech delivered by a representative from a black and un-independent serf-colony country like India. Besides, on the stage there were many other representatives from India, like Chakravarty, Mazoomdar (Brahmo Samaj), Narasimhachari (Shri Vaishnavism), Virchand Gandhi (Jainism), Lakshmi Narayan (kAyastha representative), Dharmapada (Buddhism) et al. It should, therefore, be inconceivable that the Organisers of 1893 Chicago Parliament of Religions got audio-recorded / English shorthand taken-down by stenographers, only for the first speech of Swami Vivekananda, excluding others from India. It is a different thing that they might have made some gramophone recordings/stenographic recordings of their own American/European Christian Speakers, compulsorily, ever-readily. At that particular moment Swami Vivekananda was not a celebrity, to make organisers to arrange recording, unless Swami Vivekananda himself has pre-arranged at his own expense, using private audio-recorders to record his speech LIVE.
The relations between Rev. Barrows, the Second-top organiser of the 1893 Chicago Congress of Religions, and Swami Vivekananda were very cordial initially. It appears that Rev. Barrows wanted to use Vivekananda (and of course Mazoomdar) as a tool for spreading Christianity in India. Hence, they seem to have encouraged Swami Vivekananda, in the early days of Swamiji's stay in U.S.A., by giving him prominence and publicity. Later, the relations seem to have strained, because Vivekananda tried to earn Dollars by contracting with Speech Promotion Companies, later by making independent speech ventures with the help of American rich-aristocratic women, while at the same time trying to maintain cordial relations with Rev. Barrows.
For this reason only, Vivekananda apparently advised his disciples in India, to welcome Rev. Barrows when he visited India. Unfortunately, this visit of Rev. Barrows resulted in souring of relations between Vivekananda, probably because Rev. Barrows used the visit to spread Christianity and convert Indians. Finally, Rev. Barrows, called Vivekananda a 'bubble'. According to Vivekananda, Christian Missionaries, and Mazoomdar, out of their jealousy tried to tarnish image by spreading false stories. It is difficult to say who is right or wrong.
In those days, telecommunications were poor. There was no airmail. Letters exchanged through Sea Mail take some months to reach. The Indians who sent Swami Vivekananda to United States, particularly the South Indians from Chennai, had great expectations from him. Raja of Khetri, Raja of Ramnad (Tamil Nadu), Alasinga (Chennai) et al. bore his expenses. Hence, they expected "success" letters from him, of the following type. Swami Vivekananda wrote from Chicago to Alasinga, on 2nd Nov. 1893:-
"... From that day I became a celebrity, and the day I read my paper on Hinduism, the hall was packed as it had never been before. I quote to you from one of the papers: "Ladies, ladies, ladies packing every place — filling every corner, they patiently waited and waited while the papers that separated them from Vivekananda were read", etc. You would be astonished if I sent over to you the newspaper cuttings, but you already know that I am a hater of celebrity. Suffice it to say, that whenever I went on the platform, a deafening applause would be raised for me. Nearly all the papers paid high tributes to me, and even the most bigoted had to admit that "This man with his handsome face and magnetic presence and wonderful oratory is the most prominent figure in the Parliament", etc., etc. Sufficient for you to know that never before did an Oriental make such an impression on American society. ..."
The ORATORIAL SUCCESS STORIES of Swami Vivekananda were profusely fed to his disciples, by Swami Vivekananda himself, who did it with gusto, obtaining the help of Speech Promotion Companies, who arranged Media Publicity for him. Aristocratic Elite American Women, who were elated by the praises which Vivekananda showered on them, also helped him in getting accommodation, money, publicity, and new disciples.
GIST AND LESSON FROM ALL THE ABOVE DISCUSSION
We should not ENLARGE A PERSON LARGER THAN LIFE SIZE, simply because we blindly love him. Similarly, we should not BELITTLE A PERSON, simply because we hate him. Every action, analysis and deduction, should be supported by reason.
To continue. सशेष. ఇంకా ఉంది.