12 January 1863 is a landmark day in the history of an evolving India, as it was then that a spiritual trailblazer-to-be was born. His pre-monastic name was Narendranath Dutta, affectionately called Naren by his peers, and subsequently the Swami Vivekananda — a title suggested for him by Ajit Singh, the then Maharaja of Khetri.
‘Vivekananda’, born of the conjunction of two Vedic words ‘Viveka’ and ‘Ananda’, literally translates into the ‘bliss of discerning wisdom. The word, in short, is the principal aim of the Indic life and encapsulates the destiny of humankind.
On the occasion of the 157th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an ardent follower of the Ramakrishna Mission, visited Belur Math in Bengal in what he called a ‘pilgrimage’ facilitated by the graces of the swamis of the order.
Modi’s tryst with the Ramakrishna Mission goes back to the mid-1960s when, as a teenager, he, inspired by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, arrived at the Mission's Rajkot branch and expressed his desire to join the order.
But the then head of the branch, Swami Atmasthanandaji, dissuaded him from doing so saying, he was ‘not meant’ for sannyas, and that he should instead dedicate his life to social work by being amidst the people. The interaction with Swami Atmasthanandaji had such a profound impression on Modi that the PM remembers it to this very day.
It is this reverence for the Ramakrishna Mission and its ideals that keeps drawing Modi back to his ‘roots’. Here are some pictures from his stay at the Belur Math: