Chapter 11: ‘Secular forces’ tried to obstruct construction of Rock Memorial’, Ranade ji marched ahead saying –‘Act, act in the living present, Heart within and God overhead’
Whenever we think of Banaras Hindu University, the only name that comes to our mind is that of its Chief Viswakarma Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya , Somanath Temple reminds us of Sardar Vallabhai Patel.
Likewise, whenever we think of Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari, one remarkable individual who was the main propelling force behind the conception and speedy execution of this sacred monument will always be remembered.
Shri Eknath Ranade who was a Swayamsevak of the RSS and who had served in various capacities in the RSS right from 1926 till he was assigned by Shri Guruji Golwalkar, the Sarsangchalak of the RSS, to look after the gigantic task of construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari in 1964. Eknath Ranade was indeed a Mahapurusha cast in a very grand mould.
In 1962, Shri. Dattaji Didolkar was the RSS Prant Pracharak of Tamil Nadu. When he was visiting Kanyakumari during the course of his State-wide tour, the RSS Swayamsevaks believed that Swami Vivekananda’s legacy need to be honoured in a right way.
Idea of putting up a MEMORIAL on the rock off the shore of Kanyakumari where Swami Vivekananda sat and meditated for three days on 25, 26, and 27 December 1892.
In order to achieve this objective, an All India Vivekananda Birth Centenary Committee consisting of prominent persons in the country was created in 1962. In January 1964, Guruji Golwalkar nominated Eknath Ranade to devote his whole time attention to the proposed Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari.
The first step Eknath Ranade took on being asked to take charge of the Rock Memorial work was to ensure that this effort had the full support of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.
Next, he saw to it that he was made the Organizing Secretary of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee so that he could officially be in charge of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial mission in Kanyakumari.
From that moment, this great and sacred project took off with immemse speed, and clarity.
Another vital management decision that Eknath Ranade took was to requisition the services of a remarkable Swayamsevak Shri Venkataraman in November 1964.
Shri Venkatraman had been earlier a Sanghpracharak in Madurai from 1955-57.
The first obstacle that Eknath Ranade had to cross was from Shri Bhaktavatsalam who was then Chief Minister of Madras State. He took a stand that he would not allow the memorial to come up on the mid-sea rock on the flimsy ground that it would pose a hazard to the environment by spoiling the natural beauty of the Rock.
He was also concerned about hurting the religious sentiments of the Catholic fishermen in the area. Bhaktavatsalam’s view was also endorsed by Humayun Kabir, the then Union Minister for Cultural Affairs, who too had to give his clearance for this project.
On Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri’s advice, Eknath Ranade camped in New Delhi. In three days, he collected the signatures of 323 Members of Parliament in a show of all-round support for the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, which was presented to the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who in turn directed both Humayun Kabir and Shri. Bhaktavatsalam to give their immediate clearance for the construction of the Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari in 1964 .
Shri Bhaktavatsalam had given permission only for a small 15″ x 15″ shrine. Knowing his reverence for the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Shri Eknath Ranade approached the latter for suggesting the design of the Rock Memorial. Shri Bhaktavatsalam unhesitatingly agreed to the larger design approved and proposed by the Paramacharya of Kanchi!
Thus all political hurdles for the construction of the Memorial were removed in one stroke by the shrewd and Statesman-like move of Eknath Ranade.
On 6 November, 1964, the first stone was cut. Ranade ji often used to declare to those around him almost everyday: ‘All that I have seen teaches me to trust the CREATOR for all I have not seen’.
Eknath Ranade communicated his idea and image of Swami Vivekananda to some distinguished artists and sculptors. He also asked them to read THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA so as to have for themselves a clear picture of Swami Vivekananda in their minds.
The famous sculptor D P Roy Chowdhury who had sculpted the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Marina Beach came on board but he insisted that once he had made the sculpture, it should be accepted without any modification.
Eknath Ranade did not agree to that pre-condition. Accordingly, Eight Sculptures were got done, out of which two were finally selected.
The one with Swamiji’s eyes focussed on the Sripadam, was installed on the Rock Memorial facing the Sripadam.
The biggest and the most formidable and ever present challenge, however, was that of organising the financial resources required for the whole operation.
He often used to brush aside the pessimistic discouragement of others around him whose belief in his Sacred Mission was not as strong as his own and went ahead with his fund-raising campaign repeating to himself the words of a great poet:
‘Act, act in the living present, Heart within and God overhead’. No wonder Eknath Ranade succeeded magnificently where others would have failed miserably!!
EKNATH RANADE FERVENTLY BELIEVED THAT THE VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL WAS A NATIONAL MONUMENT OF TIMELESS SIGNIFICANCE AND THAT EVERY INDIAN SHOULD BE INVITED TO CONTRIBUTE TO ITS CONSTRUCTION. SHRI EKNATH RANADE LAUNCHED THE CAMPAIGN OF SALE OF ONE-RUPEE FOLDERS THROUGHOUT THE NATION, WHICH WERE USED TO MOBILISE THE DONATIONS OF THE COMMON MAN, STARTING FROM AS TINY AN AMOUNT AS ONE RUPEE. BY LAUNCHING SUCH A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR COLLECTING JUST AN AMOUNT OF RUPEE ONE FROM EVERY WILLING CITIZEN, EKNATH RANADE SUCCEEDED IN RAISING AN AMOUNT OF RUPEES ONE CRORE.
THUS BY HIS GRAND VISION EKNATH RANADE ENSURED THAT MILLIONS OF COMMON PEOPLE WHO WERE LATER GOING TO VISIT THE VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL COULD HAVE A LEGITIMATE PRIDE THAT THEY TOO HAD CONTRIBUTED THEIR MIGHT TO THIS SPLENDID NATIONAL MONUMENT.
He also approached and succeeded in persuading almost every State government to make a decent contribution towards the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. What is amazing is that he succeeded in making even the States of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh participate in the work of construction of the Memorial.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial was inaugurated on 2 September, 1970, and dedicated to the Nation by V V Giri (1894-1980), the President of India.
Eknath Ranade was indeed a Mahapurusha who combined in himself the qualities of gentleness, strength, simplicity and faith. By his life and example he showed that making the simple complicated is common place; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s indeed creativity.
He demonstrated that simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought and that simplicity of character is no hindrance to subtlety of intellect. He showed that life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing. True eloquence consists of saying all that should be said, in the manner and measure required — that only and nothing else. Eknath Ranade did just that and became immortal
Source: excerpts from tribute to Eknath Ranade on Haindava Keralam
Dr Sindhu Prashanth