Saturday, June 27, 2015

Statue of Spirituality

You can't miss the similarity.  Tourists queueing from early in the morning for the boat ride, few hundred meters of boat ride to visit a symbol that is the country's identity.  Yes - I'm referring to the statue of liberty and the Vivekananda Rock.

The tourists are unmindful of the symbols, they take the message for granted.  Like the Americans who take their liberty for granted, the India tourists take their spirituality for granted.

Before I go on and on about spirituality, I must define it, for there are far too many definitions.  To me, spirituality is to be aware of the contradictions.  That's it.  This definition makes it easy for me to define why India is a spiritual place.  To a foreigner, the contradictions that they see in India are unsettling - the rich and the poor, not too far away from each other in Mumbai; the holy and the unholy in every city and town, that pilgrims throng to have a dharshan of a deity; the terrains, the weather.  India is a complete package of contradictions.  Comprehending them through a limited mind is hard as the mind is known to categorize information.  With opposites side-by-side, unable to comprehend, the mind can just wonder.  Call it an Indian definition.  But that's the moment of spirituality for me.

Coming back to the Vivekananda Rock, the main hall features a statue of Swami Vivekanada.  He stands with a hand to his hip and right foot set on platform.  The posture is that of a king, not a monk.  A monk, who owned nothing, won no wars, held no kingdom stands there like a king.  That - is a contradiction.  He was a  monk who travelled far, wore western clothes, free of any dogma, lectured on religions.  The monk swam these couple of hundred meters of cold water to get to the rock to mediate.  Another contradiction there - from a vigorous physical activity to being passive.

You also get to see a naturally formed impression of a human foot on the rock.  It is believed to be that of the Goddess as a teenaged girl, who is meditating on Shiva for eons.  The legend is that the girl killed a demon and protected the people.  Another set of contradictions there - a fine young girl exhibiting her resolve in meditation and her strength in killing a demon.

Such contradictions make India.  Just as the statue of liberty is a symbol of American identity, I see Kanyakumari as India's identity.

P.S: During our 15-20 minute stay at the Vivekananda Memorial, they were playing Gambhira Nattai, reminding us the posture of Vivekananda and his vision for the country.