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)

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