Activities of the Chair so far
The D Day
The activities of the Chair were formally inaugurated by Dr.K.Jayakumar IAS the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of the Thunchathu Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Kerala. The D Day was celebrated on 13-02-2014. Dr.A.V George, the then Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of the University presided over the function. Dr. Sheena Shukkoor ,the Hon’ble Pro-Vice- Chancellor delivered the key-note address. Dr.A.V.George in his presidential speech hailed Swamiji as the most effective person of the National struggle of our country. He was definitely a person who had every idea about the cystole and distake of human heart. His appeal to the youth of the country, Dr. A.V George added , galvanized them to concerted action for the resurgence of our country from her, inexcusable inertia and derogatory disposition .Citing from the ‘Song Celestial’ the Pro-Vice Chancellor asserted that Swamiji was a divinely ordained and heavenly mandated monk for re-vamping India, that was the glory once. Dr.Jayakumar, the chief guest, in his scholastic speech explicitated the modern yet ancient philosophy put forth by Swamiji. Particular emphasis was given by him on the analytical approach of Swamiji on the problems of life. The one thing, he said, Swamiji held as an abhorable thing of detestation was lotus eating. He concluded the speech by citing Swamiji’s words “They alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive” Dr.K.Somasekharan Unni, Prof.Satheesh Kochuparambil, Prof.B.Suseelan, Dr.C.V.Thomas Sri.P.K.Firos all members of the Syndicate and Dr. P.S.Radha Krishnan , Director of the School of Letters of the University spoke appropriately by way of felicitations. A very warm hospitality was extended to all the guests of honour. The Chair is proud to place on record that it presented a fairly big ‘Aranmula Mirror’ as a memento to the chief guest.
Dedication of the Library Books
The Chair dedicated the books garnered by it to the Central Library of the University, with the proviso pre conditional, that they will be kept as a different section ear marked. “Vivekananda Section” and make available to the students on demand. This handing over of the books was held at a grand function held at the auditorium of the School of Chemical Sciences, on the 21st March 2014. Dr.D .Babu Paul IAS was the chief guest. Dr.A.V.George, the then Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of the University was the president of the function. In his address, Dr.A.V George observed that Swamiji, as a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna did everything to promote harmony among religions. Were there a Nobal Prize for Peace in those days, Dr. George expressed the hope that Swamiji would have been its recipient. Dr.Babu Paul, the chief guest, during his inaugural speech quoted profusedly from the preachings of Swami Vivekananda .This helped the assemblage to assimilate the Upanishdic philosophy which is held by many with awe on account of its abstrusiveness . Dr.Paul was able to establish that Swami Vivekananda was a Vedantin par excellence. Vedanta, Vivekananda used to say was not a mere parade of high sounding phrases couched in vainglorious verbiage. Nor was it an outgrowth of scholasticism, but a vehicle for visualizing godhead either extrinsically or intrinsically, depending on the innate proclivity of the aspirant. So he called upon the students to study Swamiji’s writings and bestow thoughts thereon. Dr.P.K.Somasekharan Unni, the Convener of the Monitory committee of the Vivekananda Chair, Prof.C.H.Abdul Latheef, both members of the Mahatma Gandhi University Syndicate, and Smt.Valasamma Karunakaran, the Registrar-in-charge made felicitational speeches. Prof.O.M.Mathew, the Chairperson, introduced to the audience the forty and odd donors of the books, who had come to attend the function and presented them each a bouquet in acknowledgement of their invaluable gesture of good will, manifested by their donation of books to the Vivekananda Chair. The list of all the donors is kept in the office of the Chair. As at the previous function of the Chair, Dr.Babu Paul too was presented a memento of an ‘Aranmula Mirror’. A high tea was served to all the participants of the function.
Follow up Action
Lectures on different aspects of the philosophy of this master minded monk were conducted by the joint efforts of the Vivekananda Chair and the National Service Scheme Unit of the University, as per the schedule specified under:
1. Baselius College, Kottayam
At a meeting held in June 2014 in the Baselius College Auditorium, Prof. O.M.Mathew expatiated upon Swamiji’s speech at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago. Prof. O.M Mathew drove home that this short but solid speech opened the eyes of the West towards India’s age-old acceptance of other religions as was exemplified by her grant of religious freedom and asylum to the persecuted Parsees and Jews, Prof.Mathew added. Close on the heels of success at Chicago, Swamiji was hailed as the ‘cyclonic monk’ by the Americans. In fact Swamiji was begun to be venerated which sooner than later turned out to be adoration. The lecture was rounded up at the end, by the dynamic interaction both of the teachers and the taught of the College.
2. Catholicate College, Patahanamthitta
In early August 2014, the Vivekananda Chair and the National Service Scheme of the Mahatma Gandhi University Unit jointly held a Leadership Programme in the Catholicate College Pathanamthitta . It was explained both by Prof. O.M.Mathew and Dr.K.Sabukuttan that Leadership Qualities blossom forth to fructification as a result of strenuous cultivation of virtue and other character building habits. The very life of Vivekananda, the speakers pointed out is a testimony to this contention. Prof. Mathew explained that the qualities of leadership came to full fruition in the life of Swami Vivekananda by his devoted study of Vedanta which addressed all men and women in a spirit of camaraderie and charity with no malice at all to anyone. Dr.K.Sabukuttan said that as a part in the process of evolution of character, Swamiji had to undergo a metamorphosis from agnosticism through atheism to advaita .The students made the discussion lively by their facile tongue and pithy remarks.
3. Deva Matha College, Kuravilangad
A couple of months later, a team comprising of Prof.O.M.Mathew ,National Service Scheme chief Dr.K.Sabukuttan, and madam Sreeja of the National Service Scheme Unit of the University addressed a good gathering of students of the Deva Matha College Kuravilangad. The theme chosen by the Chair for discussion was ‘What is Religion’ as held by Swami Vivekananda. Religion, it was highlighted by the Chairperson is no display of rituals only. True they are needed as protective hedges in the early stages of religious growth; but true religion worth its name is identifiable by the spontaneous outflow of love to the creator and of the milk of human kindness. It was his firm conviction that service to mankind is synonymous with service to God. Students expressed that this new insight will usher in a great leap forward in the religious lives of men and women. Dr.K.Sabukuttan added that love, is a term much used indiscriminately as to incur displeasure from different quarters. So the true import of love is not based on carnality but cordiality. He is a good leader who has the later kind of love.
4. Mar Athanasius College, Kothamangalam
The Chair in association with the NSS Unit of the University organized a National Conference at the MA College Kothamangalam. This was held in November 2014 Dr.K.Sabukuttan Co-ordinator of the Chair presented a paper on the Educational Perspectives of Swamiji. Dr.K.sabukuttan delineated the importance, stressed by Swamiji of imparting a system of education which will mould the students in scientific orientation and original thinking which are conspicuously absent in the present day education in India. Further it was brought out that education ought to generate self-reliance in the taught. Swamiji’s view that true education results in bringing out the element of divinity with which very human kid is endowed with at the time of its arrival to this planet of ours, was explicated by the speaker.
5. Marian College, Kuttikkanam
On the eve of the X’mas vacation Prof.O.M.Mathew of the Vivekananda Chair and Madam Sreekala of the NSS unit of the University had the honor of giving lectures to the students of the Marian College Kuttikkanam Idukki. The topic chosen by Prof.O.M.mathew was ‘Man in the philosophy of Vivekananda’The speaker expressed that as a true Vedantian, Vivekananda considered man to be a microcosm. Therefore it could be deduced that man or woman is a mine of energy and power which could either be left dormant or made dominant. God extends his even handed justice in this process. This poteney inherent in the humans can solve the riddles of the world or sow the seeds of ruin. Vivekananda it was recalled, had pointed out that Scientists in their objective stance and the seers with subjective analysis have both converged on the point that man is the Taj Mahal of creation. Madam Sreekala by her talent and lively manner narrated the life and legacy of Swamiji . Then followed the interaction with the students.
6. St.Teresa’s College Ernakulam
In January 2015, Prof. O.M.Mathew and Madam Sreeja were invited by the St.Tresa’s College Ernakulam to address their students. Being a Women’s college of long standing and reputation Prof.O.M.Mathew chose the subject the “Status accorded to Women by Swami Vivekananda”. He pointed out that Vivekanda was never shy to grant women equal status with men. Down from the hoary past period of the Vedas through the Upamishadic stages and the Epics, Indian women were held in high honour.Examples were galore. Swamiji corroborated this contention by adducing the cases of Devi Sita, Kunti,Panchali, Arundadi ,Gargi, Maitreyi et al.Swamiji was ever fond to narrate, as and when occasion warranted, the famous story captioned ‘Vyadha Gita’ of the Epic Mahabharata.This romantic tale very touchingly depicts an ordinary housewife fully dedicated to the service of her life partner, expatiated upon the true tenets of renunciation, to a young yogin,who had no idea of it. Renunciation, this lady told the anchorite is the result of a revolution in the recess of the heart.Therefore externalities have little role in it. Gargi proved to be on par with the invincible Yajnavalkya, in the art and science of polemics. Madam Sreeja engaged the students by a lecture on leadership .She really captured the minds of the students by her commendable communicational capacity.It was quite heartening to both Prof.Mathew ,and Madam Sreeja that a few students proved that they are of stuff which analysts are endowed with.
7. Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam
On the Republic Day of this year,Prof.O.M.Mathew in his capacity as the Chairperson of Vivekanada Chair ,gave a lecture on ‘Religionus Toleration’ as spoken by Swamiji, to the students of the Orthodox Theological Seminary, an institution that trains up the servants of the Church. The Chair presented that Swamy Vivekanada, like his saintly preceptor Sri.Ramakrishna held Jesus as one charged with the spirit of sacrifice for salvaging the lost sheep. Vivekanada had once remarked that if Jesus were alive when he made this comment he would have washed the feet of Jesus the Lord, with his own life blood. The deacons, about one hundred gave rapt attention. The confession of Vivekanda was like a bolt from the blue to the would be clerics. For, they were taught that the theology of Christianity and the philosophy of Vedananda, were apparently irreconcilable .The Chair was gratified to see that the spirit of understanding had been enkindled in the minds of the cleris, consequent upon the exposition of this attitude of Swami Vivekanda.
8. BCM College Kottayam
On the 7th Day of October 2015, the Chairman of Vivekanda Chair, Chief of the NSS unit, Dr.K.Sabukuttan addressed the students of the BCM College Kottayam. Prof.Mathew’s lecture was on the Life and Legacy of Swami Vivekanada. Swamiji’s life, the Chair explained was a chequered one, as it had passed through periods of skepticism, atheism and Vedanta. Conceded that Swamiji finally turned out to be an un relenting Advaithin or Monist. True politics for Swamiji was not politicking or the pursuit after power. It was rather a kind of spiritual discipline. For, India is not a geographic expression for the Indians. It is rather the solace of their lives and it will be a solace in their death. Verily India is a goddess worthy of veneration and worship. His legacy has been the revealing of the royal road to immortality, through self- realization. Referring to Swamiji’s indomitable spirit of leadership Dr. K Sabukuttan said that it was due to Swamiji’s commitment to armayoga, or the path of disinterested action, tempered by the devotion to the Lord Almighty,that he has become immortal in the annals of Indian spirituality. A few aspects of Swamiji’s life are worthy of emulation, said Dr.K Sabukuttan. From the body language of the listeners it could be surmised that they did get at the core of the lectures.
9. St.Xavier’s College for Women Aluva
A couple of days afterwards, the Vivekananda Chair along with Dr. P.K Somasekharan Unni, Chairman of the Monitoring Committee on the activities of the Vivekananda Chair, and Dr.K Sabukuttan, the Chief of the NSS Unit of the University engaged the students of St.Xavier’s College Aluva in connection with a one day camp, organized jointly by the Vivekananda Chair and the NSS Unit. The Principal Rev. Sr.Reethamma V.A presided. Dr. P.K Somasekharan Unni inaugurated the meeting. Both Prof. O M Mathew and Dr.K Sabukuttan lectured on allied subjects. The theme of Prof.Mathew was the ‘Life and Legacy of Swamiji’. Prof. O.M Mathew suggested that Swamiji with the help of History, highlighted the future of India, through her past and then present. Despite many an odd our Country shall be the cynosure of the comity of nations, in the to be born tomorrow. Prof. Mathew further called upon the students to develop a healthy body and wholesome mind. They are indispensible ingredients to life divine in this mundane existence. Finally, Prof. Mathew emphasized that it was a dictum of Swamiji that to know is to approximatise Reality and thereby taste immortality which alone is the true mission of human life. Taking the cue from Swamiji’s life, Dr.K Sabukutan expatiated upon the challenges and responses attending the life of a leader. In the midst of these two opposites, one would be swayed away. But the true leader stands firm like the pole star. So spoke Swamiji Vivekananda, Dr. K Sabukutan said. It is gladdening that the students by their dynamic disposition, kept the assembly alive.
NATIONAL YOUTH DAY
The Chair is very proud to place on record that the 153rd Birthday of Swamiji and the inauguration of the Vivekananda lecture series for the year 2016 were held in a very grand style on the 11th of January 2016. The venue was the Assembly hall of the University. The honorable Vice –Chancellor Dr.Babu Sebastian presided over the function. In his presidential address, the Vice Chancellor called upon the students to make Swamiji the real hero of their lives. His character, Dr.Babu Sebastian said, is worthy of emulation for its integrity and honesty. His marvelous services to mould India of diversity into one of unity and nationhood are living episodes in the annals of our country, Dr Babu Sebastian appreciated.
The Chair was uniquely fortunate to have Princess Aswathy Thirunal Lakshmi Bai of Kawadiar Palace, Thiruvanathapuram to deliver the keynote address. The Princess lauded the commendable genius of this young monk who had exemplified all that have been spoken high by our ancients. The Princess expatiated the Vedantic vision of Vivekananda as enshrined in his oft quoted dictum, “Arise, and Awake” taken from the Kathopanishad. The Princess adored the versatility of Vivekananda. She was honored with the presentation of a memento.
Another novel feature of the function was that a teen-aged singer Miss Jessie Hillel of Indian origin but presently living in Australia , who had honoured our invitation enchanted the audience by her melodious music. The Chair presented her a certificate and a memento.
10. SNM College Maliankara,Ernakulam
In response to the invitation of the authorities of the Sree Narayana College Maliankara, Ernakulam the Chair in March 2016, addressed the students of this citadel of learning. The theme that the Chair chose was Vivekananda’s views on Education and the role of women in moulding the destiny of every human being born into this tiny planet of ours. Prof O.M Mathew in the course of his lecture incidentally indicated that Vivekananda seemed to have imbibed the ethos of the English poet William Wordsworth, who versified ‘ the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’. It was stressed upon that for Swamiji women should not be branded the weaker sex;but on the other hand the source of spiritual and moral beatitude. For Swamiji, the ‘Aradhanareeswara’ concept of our forefathers has been one of par excellence, regarding the dignity of women. Swamiji has emphasized on many an occasion that while man, the sterner sex symbolizes cogitation, woman, the weaker sex speaks for action. Judged by the response of the students, the Chair felt that they had received Swamijis words as if they were of divine provenance.
11. Alphonsa College Pala, Kottayam
As desired by the Alphonsa College Pala the Chair gladly went over to this temple of learning, to speak on Swami Vivekananda . The Chair after elucidating in brief the remarkable and resourceful life of this sannayasin, Swamiji’s Chicajo address was taken up for paraphrasing. The Chair pointed out that, in this historic speech lasting only for seven or eight minutes, Swamiji stressed upon the absolute necessity of religious toleration as espoused by Indian philosophy . Swamiji had made it clear that religion ,as we have today ,is only a path to realise Truth. Therefore, it is natural that there would be many and varied religions, suiting the temperament time and clime. It would be therefore foolish to fight over formalities and forms of religion. Swamiji went one step further. He said that the word ‘toleration’ is not comprehensive enough; so he preferred ‘acceptance of the religion’ to be used. The audience seemed to have nodded to his notion.
12. K G College Pampady, Kottayam
The Chair had been to the KG College Pampady to deliver the lecture to the students regarding the dream and dynamism of Swami Vivekananda. This was in the middle of March 2016.It is irrefutable, the Chair explained, that Vivekananda was definitely a dreamer;but the speaker cautioned the students not to be moved by the idea of Vivekananda as a lotus eater and that he indulged in riveries . Just the opposite, as he was made of solid stuff. His dream had wings with of course strings attached to mudane existence. Although Swamiji did not spell out the words of the English romantic poet Keats that “if winter comes can spring be far behind” Vivekananda’s views on the future of India echoes these words. In one of the speeches of Vivekananda, the Chair recalled, he spoke the following words. “Will India die? If so, the apotheosis of man, which is the cream of human civilisation would turn out to be a sad tale told by an idiot signifying nothing . No. It shall never happen. Contrarily India would come out of the inertia and slumber and recover with new vitality as the mythical Phoenix of Greek lore, from its own ashes”. No doubt, here we see Vivekananda the seer. In fact he was not a prophet of doom or the probable; but the seer of the certain .It is this sprit that impelled him to speak so. Simultaneously his dynamism drove him to contrive an organization to be the torch bearer of Vedantic action. This resulted the Chair explained to the students, in the formation of the Sree RamaKrishna Mission. The students were enthused by the achievements of Swamiji in moulding modern India.
13. Assumption College, Changanacherry
In association with MG University NSS and Vivekananda Chair, world youth day was celebrated in the Assumption college on March 29th 2016 .Prof O.M Mathew delivered a motivational speech. The students were really enthralled by the philosophy of Vivekananda. They seem to have been terribly carried away by Swamiji’s narration of ‘Nachiketas’ of the Upanishad, who stands for unflinching devotion a disciple ought posses. In fact, Swamiji had said that a student can rise up to dizzy heights by cultivating this characteristic.
14. B.K College Amalagiri, Kottayam
By the close of the month of March 2016 the Chair had the opportunity to familiarize the students of the B.K College on the life and mission of Vivekananda. The lecture was not pinpointed to any specific aspect. It was rather one of general genre. Nevertheless the Chair specified Swamiji’s metamorphosis from agnosticism to the advaita or monism as a sequal to his studentship with Sree Rama Krishna. Also, the Chair explained the efforts of Swamiji to propogate the time-hounered philosophy of Vedenta, from Kashmir to Kanayakumari and from Kalighat to Kutch braving many odds . In the course of the lecture the Chair emphasised on Swamiji’s self surrender to his Master and his devotion or ‘sradha’ the unswering faith in the words of the preceptors and the sayings of the divinely inspired sages. In contradistinction, the Chair contended that these noble features that had made this nation of ours one of veneration, have dwindled to insignificance making our country unwholesome. Gauged by the reaction of the students, the Chair felt that the personality of Swamy Vivekananda has had magical effect on the mind of the students.
Inter collegiate Quiz Competition
Vivekananda Chair launched its activities of this session with an Inter Collegiate Quiz competition on the life and mission of Swami Vivekananda. Fourteen teams from various colleges participated in this event held on the 11 th of November 2016 at the Ettukettu Auditorium. The response was quite enthusing and encouraging. Almost all the students were well prepared. In fact there was neck to neck competition. Yet 3 teams namely-Morning Star Home Science College,Angamaly(Deepa Unnikrishnana&Pearl Jo An.K),Assumption College,Changanacherry(Keziah Sara Varghese&Krishnapriya) and M.A.College,Kothamangalam(Akhila P.V,Ashly Thankachan) annexed the the first, second and third cash prizes of Rs 1500,1000, 500. All the participants were extended hospitality by the Chair.
Intercollegiate Elocution Competition
On the 18 th of November 2016 an Inter –Collegiate elocution competition was held on the theme “Vivekananda, the Harbinger of National Renaissance . Twelve participants comprising girls and boys participated. The auditorium was resonant with their vibrant voices. It was quite hilarious as the audience encouraged them with the shouts of appreciation and clappings of exuberance. Ashin Paul(St.Thomas College,Pala)Dinta David Pynadath(Morning Star Home Science College,Angamaly) and Mariya.K.Paulachan(Sacred Heart College,Thevara) who came out victorious were presented with a purse of Rs.1500,1000 and 500 respectively. The Chair was happy to provide lunch for all the participants. The judges appraised their performances very judiciously.
One Day Seminar-Mar Thoma college,Thiruvalla
The Chair in hands with the NSS held a one day seminar at the Mar Thoma College,Thiruvalla to a fully packed audience in the college auditorium. The subject was “Vivekananda, the Man and Missionary”. It was appreciable that the students very earnestly interacted with the Chair with a view to elicit more information on the marvelous mission of the saintly monk Vivekanada. Undoubtedly the students picked up the gauntlet thrown by the Chair.
One day Seminar@ The Sacred Heart College,Thevara
The Sacred Heart College,Thevara,Cochin graciously invited the Chair to hold a seminar on the Life and Mission of Swami Vivekananda. The Chair spared no efforts to inculcate in the earnest students the spirit of service,patriotism and accomadation of other religions propagated by Swamiji. It was emphasized by the Chair that Sree Ramakrishna the God intoxicated man of the 19 th Century and the bearer of his banner Swami Vivekanada were the two load stars in the firmaments of the resurgent India. The students seemed to have appreciated this stand as could be judged by their cheers and clappings Some of the students in their remarks eulogized to nth degree the work of Swamiji. The finale was marked by the pledge the students took that they would sooner than later form Vivekananda Study Centers.
Symposium @ St.Thomas College,Kozhenchery
The next symposium by the Chair on Swamiji was at the St.Thomas College,Kozhenchery on the 28 th of November 2016 in collaboration with the NSS unit of the College. Students from the nearby Colleges also had attended. The Chair explained to the students that the Indian ethos was the impelling spirit of Swamiji. Nevertheless the Chair pointed out that Vivekananda as a dispassionate student of Indian History had no qualms in announcing that the malady of anamnesis or unbehoving forgetfulness of the pristine past of the Motherland was hovering over the heads of his generation. Still Swamiji was no prophet of doom. So he expressed the hope that the winter that has numbed his generation would soon give way to the spring time of spiritual sprouting and that India- the land of sages and seers would become a beacon of light for all the nations. The interaction of the students was quite heartening. Further they pledged to carry on the legacy of Swamiji by forming study units in their citadels of learning.
On to the Morrow
Vivekananda Chair is quite proud to place on record that by its many and varied ventures, it has been able to realize at least partially the grand and great ideals that impelled the men of vision to re-activise the Chair. The Chair is absolutely optimistic that with the continued co-operation of the higher ups of the University, it will bring laurels to them, fame to the founding fathers, and success to the students. In the days to come, the Chair shall certainly undertake novel ventures as it believes in the Vedantic motto of action and devotion in the back drop of knowledge.