Sunday, July 8, 2012

232 Who was loafing and who was not loafing? Who was more courageous? Swami Vivekananda? Or the loafer (as per Vivekananda) Narasimhacharya?

Swami Vivekananda wrote to Alasinga, his disciple-cum-patron at Chennai, from Chicago, on 2nd November 1893.

This letter was very lengthy. Vivekananda thundered and trumpeted his own success at the World Parliament of Religions. I have discussed this letter in other postings at this blog. One quote which I missed earlier, as adequate info. was not available, I am presenting now.

... A boy called Narasimhacharya has cropped up in our midst. He has been loafing about the city for the last three years. Loafing or no loafing, I like him; but please write to me all about him if you know anything. He knows you. He came in the year of the Paris Exhibition to Europe...

This Narasimhacharya, I could not trace earlier. Now, his details are available from the agenda of the Parliament of Religions, 1893. Here is a quote from the programme of the 22nd September 1893:


* Address by Rev. SWAMI VIVEKANANDA.
* Conference on Orthodox Hinduism and the Vedanta Philosophy.


* Address by MR. LAKSHMI NARAIN, of Lahore, India, Secretary of
the Kayasth Community ; Mr. NARASIMA CHARI, a Brahman of
Madras, representing the Sei Vaishnava Sect and the
Visishtadwaiti Philosophy ; Rev. SWAMI VIVEKANANDA, a
Sannyasi, or Monk;And by Mr. MERWIN-MARIE SNELL.
* Conference on the Modern Religions of India.

--Readers will find from the above program that Vivekananda spoke. In the afternoon session, one Mr. Lakshmi Narain of Lahore, representing kAyasth community spoke. Mr. Narasimhachari, representing Sri VaishNava Sect and the visishTAdvaita philosophy spoke.

--The link provided by me in my previous post also contains the photograph of Mr. Narasimhachari, in civil dress, somewhat western. He was in his youth.

--When Mr. Narasimhachari and Vivekananda spoke from the same platform, how Vivekananda could call his co-speaker, a boy? A loafer? Mr. Narasimhachari might not have been as successful as Vivekananda, in terms of orations, but he was quite straightforward in his utterance at the Parliament. I shall quote from the Parliament's speech reproduced in the link.

At the close of the address of General Fielding (who took the
platform in the absence of Commander Ballington Booth), a Brahman, a
member of the School of Philosophy at Madras, Mr. NARA SIMA
SATSUMCHYRA, was introduced, and began his brief address by
referring with high respect to the work of the Salvation Army in
India as more effective than that of any of the churches.
He concluded thus :

Our friends of the Brahmo-Somaj have been picturing to you
Christianity standing with the Bible in one hand and the
wizard's wand of civilization in the other. But there is another side, and that is the goddess of civilization with a bottle of
rum in her hand. O that the English had never set foot in India ! O that we had never seen a single European face ! O that we
had never tasted the bitter sweets of your civilization, rather than it should make us a nation of drunkards and brutes!

--ybrem: It appears that PC Mazoomdar (Brahmo Samaj) in his speech presented Christianity standing with bible in one hand and civilisation in another hand. (The civilisation here referred to the Western Civilisation, which has its own merits and demerits.). Mr. Narasimhachari presented the other venomous example of the same civilisation with Christianity in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other hand. He lamented that English were making India a nation of drunkards and brutes! Narasimhachari's words were golden words, as can be seen from this 21st Century example:

--Rave parties have become common in the Hyderabad City of Andhra Pradesh. Sons of rich politicians, bureaucrats, industrialists, film personalities, whoever have great money to spend money are attending the rave parties happening in Indian cities. Reckless sex, alcoholism, drugs have become common. One live incident: A Police team led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police raided the Tonic Pub, at Jubilee Hills, in Hyderabad, and arrested dozens of persons swinging in an inebriated state, late midnight of 8th July 2012. We today have a pub and pizza culture in Indian cities. Even moral policing by some so-called Hindu militant organisations cannot solve this problem, because they have their own weaknesses.

--Thus Narasimhacharya who spoke with great forthrightness could not have found audience in United States. He might have exhausted his money in the process and struggling for survival. Since, Vivekananda was a co-Indian, co-Hindu, co-speaker on the platform of the Parliament, he might have sought some company and succour from Vivekananda, who was making big bucks from his speeches.

--Question: Did Vivekananda help Narasimhacharya?
Ans: We find three or four letters in the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, which made a mention about "Narasimha", apart from the above loafer reference. From none of them, we can make a deduction that Vivekananda helped Narasimhacharya monetarily or otherwise. I quote from one letter Vivekananda wrote to Ms. Hale from Annisquam, United States:

...I have a letter from Madras which says they will soon send money to Narasimha (Narasimhacharya. Vide the letter dated February 14, 1894.) — in fact, as soon as they get a reply to their letter written to Narasimha. ...

--Even if any help had been given by Vivekananda, that might have been full of disdain and scorn, because the first impression of Vivekananda about Narasimha was that of a "loafer". The help which was to come, might have come from Alasinga, (Madras-Chennai). Though Vivekananda said that Swamiji's Madras friends were sending help, the help could have been from Alasinga, because Alasinga knew Narasimhachari. The point here is, Vivekananda was very prosperous in 1894, 1895 years and it would not have been difficult form him to pay for the passage of Narasimha to India, instead of waiting for the Madras friends to send the succour.

--About Alasinga: Though Alasinga was a person of small means in Madras, it was he who with all sincerity mobilised subscriptions for the expenses of Vivekananda's visit to the Parliament of Religions, while RAjA of khEtri paid his passage. Even after the conclusion of Parliament of Religions, Vivekananda stayed in U.S. and on one occasion asked Alasinga to send money from India. During the second visit of Swami Vivekananda, when he could not make money, he lamented in a letter to Ms. Ole Bull, that he had some hopes from the South (meaning: South India). It was, therefore, no wonder that Alasinga might have sent some support to Narasimhachari.

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