A century and half ago, a child was born
on Makar Sankranti day,
Vireswar was the name his mother gave
She had prayed to Siva for a son.
Naughty and subject to fits of rage,
he was totally beyond control,
Exasperated mother lamented loudly
It is His demon, Lord Siva has sent.
After hearing a discourse on Ramayana,
Once he was so impressed
that he spent hours in a banana grove
hoping to see Hanuman there.
Wandering monks used to fascinate the boy
He gave one monk his new cloth.
If locked up in a room when a monk appeared,
he would throw out of the window anything of use.
He was fond of playing meditation at home
Sometimes the neighbourhood boys joined
One day when a cobra appeared, others fled
With his eyes shut he sat through.
His father was an Attorney and for the clients —
Hookahs were segregated by caste
Once he took a whiff from each smoking pipe
To find out what difference it makes.
You must have guessed it by now, if you haven’t,
It was Datta Narendranath
It was Naren who became Vivekananda —
the greatest monk on earth.
(The writer is Retired Professor of Medicine and Head of the Department of Chest Diseases, CMC and Hospital, Vellore. Email: debidasray1@ yahoo.co.in)