Many may not know that it was Swami Vivekananda who pointed out to Jamshedji Tata the existence of an iron-ore mine in a place where the pioneering industrialist would later decide to build a steel plant. The place is now called Jamshedpur, the steel city of India. It was also on the saint's advice that Tata decided to set up the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore to provide quality scientific education to Indian students.
Such nuggets of information and glimpses into the life, philosophy, and teachings of Swami Vivekananda figure on Vivek Express, an expo on wheels portraying the saint's many achievements, that chugged into the central railway station on Sunday for a nine-day visit to the State.
People from all walks of life visited the coaches after the former Union Minister of State for Railways O. Rajagopal and Additional Divisional Railway Manager V. Rajeevan inaugurated the exhibition.
Later, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the erstwhile royal family of Travancore, visited the train, accompanied by those from the Ramakrishna Mission. He showed a keen interest in the photographs, write-ups, and souvenirs. The train was flagged off by the then Union Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee, from Howrah in West Bengal on January 12 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. A tribute from Indian Railways, the exhibition train is also aimed at spreading the message of religious harmony and universal brotherhood.
Of the six coaches, only two had exhibits. The pictures and articles on the first coach chronicle the childhood, education, and travels around the world of Swami Vivekananda, who was born Narendra Nath Dutta. The exhibition tells how, even as a child, Narendra was inclined towards yoga, meditation, spirituality, and philosophy.
It traces the story of the Ramakrishna Mission and how he set up the organisation that now is devoted to spiritual and educational activities across the country. The association of Vivekananda with Sri Ramakrishna is covered extensively from the time they met in 1881 to Sri Ramakrishna's final days. Photographs of Vivekananda's ancestral house in Simla Street, the Baranagar monastery, and the Swami Vivekananda temple at Belur Math are included.
On the second coach, displays on his famous address starting ‘Sisters and brothers of America…” at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, the rousing reception at the Sealdah railway station on his return, and his universal teachings and signature are included.
The train will be berthed on platform one of the station till Tuesday and the public can visit the exhibition between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Entry is free. The exhibition train will visit Kollam and Ernakulam.