Indian art and culture have a long tradition of being influenced by spirituality. Additionally, one of the architectural wonders with a beautiful aesthetic is the Vivekananda Rock Monument. It is also a geographical interest because it is situated where the three major water bodies that encircle India’s southernmost point converge.
According to Swami Vivekananda, even after he passed away, he would carry on his unfinished work by inspiring future generations to do the same. We still see it happening. The methods Swamiji accomplishes it are endless. One such enduring source of inspiration is Kanyakumari’s stunning Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
In its current form, the Vivekananda Memorial honours both Swamiji and Shri Ekanthji Ranade, whose dedication to the job he undertook was motivated by intellectual conviction as opposed to sheer faith.
The Swami Vivekananda Memorial at Kanyakumari, a singular symbol of togetherness and purity, is another representation of the nation’s shared ambition. All of the nation’s architectural splendour is harmoniously and happily incorporated into the Memorial. Because the entire country desired, laboured, and contributed toward it, it is a symbol of unity. There were attendees from all 50 states at its inauguration. Additionally, it is a memorial that was created with the help of primarily RSS swayamsevaks, blessed by the Ramakrishna Mission, designed by Paramacharya of the Kachi Kamakoti Peetham, and for which Swami Chinmayananda of the Chinmay Mission made the initial donation. It had the support of every national, spiritual, and cultural organisation. Additionally, all state governments and the federal government made contributions to the Memorial. Thus, the memorial became a focal point just as Kanyakumari is a meeting point for three seas.
The Kanyakumari Committee was established in 1962 to put up a memorial on the rock and a pedestrian bridge linking to the rock in honour of the centennial of Swami Vivekananda’s birth. The Ramakrishna Mission in Madras started organising this memorial almost simultaneously. However, a substantial portion of the neighborhood’s Catholic fisherman did not take this news well. They erected a large Cross on the rock so it could be seen from the water.
Hindus in the area began to protest because they said the rock was a place of worship for them. The Madras (now Chennai) administration requested a court investigation, and the results were unambiguously clear: the rock was Vivekananda Rock and the Cross was a trespass. The Cross was surreptitiously taken down in the middle of all this strife
throughout the night. The situation became tense, the rock was deemed a banned location, and armed guards were posted there.
The authorities became aware that the rock was becoming a source of contention, with Christians claiming it to be St. Xavier’s Rock and Hindus claiming it to be the Vivekananda Rock. Even though the rock was designated as Vivekananda Rock, it was decided that no memorial would be built there. M. Bhaktavatsalam, the then-chief minister of Tamil Nadu, decreed that only a tablet stating that the rock was connected to Swami Vivekananda could be erected. On January 17, 1963, the tablet was affixed to the rock with government approval.
On September 2, 1970, Indian President Shri V.V. Giri opened the Rock Memorial and urged his countrymen to answer the nation’s call.
In a single lecture he gave in 1966, Eknathji defined Kanayakumari’s uniqueness in exquisite detail.
He delivered a series of motivational talks on the Vivekananda Rock Memorial to the initial group of Vivekananda Kendra employees, which helped to clarify the purpose of the VRM and VK (Vivekananda Kendra).
The establishment of the memorial was greatly assisted by Eknath Ramkrishna Ranade, a renowned Indian social and spiritual reformer and a prominent pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) who was greatly affected by Swamiji’s teachings. In order to gain support and gather money for the memorial’s construction, he
established the “Vivekananda Rock Memorial Organising Committee,” which quickly established multiple branches around India. Ranade went on to gather signatures from 323 Members of Parliament in support of the memorial after facing political obstacles, including rejection of the concept by Humayun Kabir, the then Minister of Education and Culture, as well as by Chief Minister of Madras state, Minjur Bhaktavatsalam. As a result, the project was approved by the then Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial was built in about six years, in 1970, with the assistance of about 650 labourers. In that year, it was both inaugurated and dedicated to the country.
Ranade established the spiritual group “Vivekananda Kendra” next to the monument on January 7, 1972. The organisation founded on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda has grown to encompass 600 branch locations throughout more than 18 states in India and more than 200 full-time employees. The organization’s operations include teaching
yoga lessons and hosting conferences on rural development.
The design of the memorial clearly combines traditional and modern Indian architectural forms, particularly a fusion of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal style of architecture. While the Memorial Mandapam resembles the Sri Ramakrishna Temple in Belur, West Bengal, its entrance was designed in the Ajanta and Ellora architectural traditions. It contains a life-size bronze statue of Swami Vivekananda by renowned sculptor Sitaram S. Arte, which depicts him holding his renowned “Parivarjak” pose. As it is claimed that Goddess Devi Kumari graced the area with the touch of her holy feet, Vivekananda Rock is also known as “Sripada Parai.” The impression on the rock is actually brownish in colour and
resembles a human footprint. This projection is considered and referred as Sri Padam and a shrine called ‘Sri Padaparai Mandapam’ was constructed at the spot.
The main sanctum sanctorum, or “Shripada Mandapam,” which is contained inside an outside platform, is one of the memorial’s two primary constructions. A “Garbha Graham,” a “Inner Prakaram,” and a “Outer Prakaram” are also included in this square hall. The “Vivekananda Mandapam,” which was constructed in Swamiji’s honour, is the other major building. The “Dhyana Mandapam,” “Mukha Mandapam,” “Namashtubhyam to the Son of Jagadamba,” and “Sabha Mandapam” are the sections that make up this edifice. The “Dhyana Mandapam,” or meditation hall, was designed with the fusion of several Indian temple architecture traditions. The mandapam contains six adjoining rooms that allow guests to sit, unwind, and meditate in a serene environment. The Assembly Hall, or “Sabha Mandapam,” is made up of a corridor, an exterior courtyard, and a statue part called
the “Pralima Mandapam.” Swamiji’s statue is positioned such that he may see the Shripadam directly because of this.
Conclusively to experience this spiritual sojourn and enrich yourself with the history and the architecture, visit in your next vacation.