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Article # 257
Inaugural Address

Author: M.W.Bro.Vasudev J Masurekar O.S.M.,    Posted on: Monday, August 12, 2013
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An Oration delivered by our M.W.Grand Master.

 

[As part of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations, Lodge Sri Brahadeeswara No. 150, had on Saturday, the 12 th January 2013, organized Sri Brahadeeswara Lodge Masonic Lectures. M.W.Bro. Vasudev J.Masurekar, O.S.M, M.W.Grand Master of Grand Lodge of India inaugurated the said Masonic Lectures and delivered the following Oration on Bro.Narendranath Dutt, who later on became Swami Vivekananda, which is posted here for the benefit of the brethren, who were unable to attend the said function.]

 

Today is 12th January, 2013. 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and the seminar is organized by Brahadeeswara Lodge (No.150) on the eve of the Golden Jubilee Celebration of their consecration. A  very  pleasant coincidence. I  therefore choose to base my oration on certain extracts retrieved from the personal writings and biography of Swami Vivekananda, the most celebrated Freemason from India.

 

Swamiji with the family name of Narendranath Dutta was born on 12th January 1863 in Bengal. At his birth , his father had a horoscope made and saw from it that the child was destined to become a wanderer on the face of the earth. The boy had a deep interest in religion and philosophy from his childhood and was a prolific reader of the sacred texts and considered renunciation as the highest ideal to which man can aspire. He completed his graduation from Calcutta University in 1883 and was pursuing studies in law.

 

On February 19, 1884, Narendranath Dutta became a Freemason when he was initiated in Lodge Anchor and Hope, Calcutta. He was passed as Fellow Craft on April 5,1884 and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on May 20, 1884. Bro. W.C. Bannerjee, the most distinguished Barrister-at-Law at that time and the first President of the Indian National Congress and Bro. Nimmay Chandra Basu, the Attorney at Law , were members of this Lodge and also close friends of Narendranath’s father. They were primarily responsible for making him a Freemason. From 1884 to 1886,

 

 Narendra deeply involved himself in realization of his highest ideal. A chance meeting with Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa laid the foundation of the solemn journey, that he was pre-ordained to undertake. When the master touched him and muttered something to himself, Narendra became unconscious. The effect of the touch in his own words “lingered with me for a month like an intoxication”. Thereafter, in Cassipore on 4th January ,1886 while he was meditating, suddenly felt a peculiar sensation in his heart. The experience in his own words , “Probably it was the awakening of the kundalini. I clearly perceived the Ida and Pingala nerves. I felt that I had no body. I could see only my face.” At Cassipore, Vivekananda was born when Shri Ramkrishna transmitted his power to him. Just  prior to  Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa passing  away, he called Vivekananda by his side one day asking him to sit before him, looked steadfastly at him and fell into Samadhi. Suddenly, Vivekananda felt a subtle force like an electric shock entering his body. In a little while he lost outward consciousness and sat motionless. When the consciousness returned he found Shri Ramakrishna shedding tears and said affectionately “Today giving you my all, I have become a beggar”. With this power you are to do many works for the worlds good before you will return.”

 

From 1886 to 1893 Swamiji was travelling all over the country spreading the teachings of his Guru Shri Ramakrishna. During his travels he once mentioned , “We must show the spirituality of the Hindus, the mercifulness of the Buddhists, the activity of the Christians , the brotherhood of the Mohammedans, in our practical lives. We shall start a universal religion now and here”.

 

 In the year 1892, during his sojourn he met the very young H.H. The Raja of Ramnad, Shri Bhaskara Sethupati. The Raja was only 25 years of age, but highly learned with great interest in spirituality. The devout prince, one of the most enlightened of Indian rulers became an admirer and disciple of Swamiji. The two brothers developed a deep bond of friendship. He planted the idea of participating in the “Parliament of Religions” in Chicago in 1893 and also arranged for the finances. The Raja’s of Ramnad (now Ramnathpuram) from ancient times had dominion over Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi. They owe the title ‘Sethupati’ or ‘Lord of the Bridge’ meaning ‘they control the approach to Lord Rama’s Sethu or bridge which extended from Dhanushkodi to Lanka’. This is what Vivekananda said about H. H. Bhaskara Sethupati , the Raja of Ramnad at Pamban on 26.01.1897, “It is impossible for me to express my gratitude to His Highness The Raja of Ramnad for his love towards me. If any good work has been done by me and through me, India owes much to this good man, for it was he who put that idea of attending the Parliament of Religions into my head and persistently urged me on to accomplish it.” The brotherhood between the two was so intense that after the passing away of Swamiji in July 1902 , within six months the Raja of Ramnad suddenly passed away at the age of 35. We are proud to have amongst us the lineal descendants of the Raja of Ramnad as members of our fraternity.

 

On 31st May,1893 Swamiji began his journey to America to attend the Parliament of Religions at Chicago. 2nd November 1893 was a day of tryst with destiny for India. Dawn of the Vivekananda era for the whole world to sit up and take notice. He said in the Parliament of Religions, I quote : “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true.” Swamiji’s appraisal of his own speech in his words was “In my first speech in this country , in Chicago, I addressed that audience as “ Sisters and Brothers of America” and you know they all rose to their feet. You may wonder what made them do this, you may wonder if I had some strange power. Let me tell you that I did have a power and this is it – never once in my life did I allow myself to have even one sexual thought. I trained my mind, my thinking, and the powers that man usually uses along that line I put into the higher channel and it developed a force so strong that nothing could resist it.”

 

The day after the speech was delivered, all newspapers in America and other parts of the world wrote volumes about this wonderful Hindu Monk. The extract from New York Times, one of the major dailies are as follows:

      

    ‘But eloquent as were many of the brief speeches, no one expressed

     as well  the spirit of  the Parliament (of religions) and its limitations

     as the  Hindu Monk. I copy his address in full , but I can only suggest

     its effect upon the audience; for, he is an orator by  Divine right, and

     his strong  intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and

     orange was hardly  less interesting than these earnest words and the

     rich rhythmical  utterance  he gave them.”

 

Herald – The largest circulating newspaper then wrote :

 

     “His fine intelligent face and his deep musical voice, prepossessing

       one  at once in his favour…  He  speaks without notes, presenting

       his facts and his conclusions  with  the  greatest art  and  the most

       convincing  sincerity and rising often to reach  inspiring eloquence.

       Vivekananda  is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament

       of Religions. After  hearing  him, we feel how foolish it is to send

       missionaries to this learned nation”.

 

From November 1893 till end 1896, Swamiji was travelling all over America preaching Vedanta and Vedantic philosophy. When Vivekananda was facing difficult days in America in 1893, one Mr. G.C. Connor, the brother who had examined him at initiation in Lodge Anchor and Hope in Calcutta in 1884, gave letters of introduction to certain Freemasons in Chicago and called upon the brethren to take care of him. In his memoirs of sojourn in America, Swamiji said “ In America the beds are very soft and cosy. You do not even see such things in India but there have been many nights when I could not sleep in those soft beds thinking of the extreme poverty of my own people. I have then spent nights on the floor tossing without any sleep or rest.” Swamiji returned to India in December 1896 after visiting England , France and Europe.

 

From January 1897, till April 89, he travelled to the length and breadth of our country. He said “ I preach only the Upanishads. If you look, you will find that I never quoted anything but the Upanishads and of the Upanishads, it is only that one idea – ‘strength’. The quintessence of the Vedas and Vedantas lies in that one word ‘strength’.” A new awakening for the youth was sweeping India. He said,” My hope of the future lies in the youths of character- intelligent, renouncing all for the service of others and obedient – who can sacrifice their lives in working out my ideas and thereby do good to themselves and the country at large. If I get ten or twelve boys with faith of Nachiketa, I can turn the thoughts and pursuits of this country in a new channel.”

 

The second visit to the west began in July 1899 covering England and America both east and west coast, then France and returning to India only in December 1900. He had a severe attack of asthama in Shillong during the tour of East Bengal and Assam in April 1901. Slowly his health started deteriorating and was almost bedridden right from his day of return from Shillong. Yet he made a trip to Kashi in February, 1902 and returned to Calcutta in April feeling very weak. In one of his last speeches he said, “This boy born of poor Brahmin parents in an out-of-the-way village…. Is  literally  worshipped in lands, which have been fulminating against heathen worship for centuries. Whose power is it? Is it mine or yours? It is none else than the power, which was manifested here as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa …. Here has been a manifestation of an immense power, just the very beginning of whose working we are seeing, and before this generation passes away, you will see more wonderful workings of that power. It has come just in time for regeneration of India.”

 

Swamiji’s last words on 4th July 1902 at Belur , “ If there were another Vivekananda, he would have understood what Vivekananda has done! and yet, how many Vivekananda’s shall be born in time.” Before I conclude I would like to read, the following extract from one of his brilliant speeches which is my personal favorite:

 

    "Break Not, Pull Not anything down, but  build; Help, if you can, if you

     cannot, fold  your hands and stand  by and  see  things go on. Do not

     injure, if  you cannot render help. Say not, a word  against any man's

     convictions, so far as they are sincere. Take  man  where  he stands

     and  from there give him a lift. If it be true, that  God is the centre of

     all religions, and  that  each of  us is moving towards HIM along one

     of these radii, then it is certain that all of us must reach that centre.”

     “ And at the centre where all the radii meet , all our differences will

      cease ;  but, until  we reach there,  differences  there  must  be. All

      these radii converge to the same centre. One according to his

      nature , travels along one of these lines and another , along another ;

      and if we all push onward along our own lines, we shall surely come

      to centre ; each of us is naturally growing and developing according

      to his own nature; each will in time come to know the highest truth,

      for after all, men must teach themselves."

 

Brethren, Lodge Sri Brahadeeswara deserves praise and congratulations for planning and establishing a Masonic Lecture Series. I have great pleasure in Inaugurating the same and wish the Lodge all success in this laudable endeavour.

The Author is the M.W.Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India.He is an erudite Masonic Scholar and a great Orator. It is always a treat to hear his illuminating and informative speeches.


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