At Vivekananda-related colleges, academics split over PM Modi’s ‘meditation’

Academicians affiliated with the Ramakrishna Mission were split over PM Modi’s 45-hour meditation at Kanyakumari, with some calling it a ‘cheap’ gimmick and others arguing that such a feat requires strength of will

Updated - June 03, 2024 08:43 am IST

Published - May 31, 2024 07:34 pm IST - Kolkata

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial for meditation, in Kanniyakumari.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial for meditation, in Kanniyakumari. | Photo Credit: ANI

Academics associated with the Ramakrishna Mission — founded by Swami Vivekananda in 1897 — are divided over Prime Minister Narendra Modi sitting for meditation, like the monk, at Kanyakumari, with some calling it a “cheap” stunt and some others supporting him.

On Thursday evening, after finishing campaigning for the last phase of elections that will take place on Saturday, Mr. Modi began a 45-hour long meditation at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, where the monk had meditated in 1893.

“It is the place where Swamiji meditated for three consecutive days and the central theme of his meditation was the uplift of his motherland, India. For the first time, anybody, most importantly a monk, wept for the deterioration of his motherland and his people, and meditated to have a way out to pull her up from that degraded condition. After the construction of a temple and meditation hall on that rock, named after Swami Vivekananda, any individual can go there, pay respects to Swamiji and practice meditation. The Prime Minister could have done that,” Professor Susobhan Sengupta, who teaches history at RK Mission Residential College in Narendrapur, said.

“But taking media persons to capture him meditating has a different meaning for me. He did the same in 2019 at Kedarnath. Present-day political leaders have neither any morality nor any conscience. For capturing and retaining power they can go at any length. And in a country where the majority of the voters are half-educated, these cheap stunts pay,” Professor Sengupta said.

Also Read : New Sankalps from the Sadhana in Kanniyakumari

Retired professor Achintyam Chatterjee, who taught political science at the same college and is now a guest teacher there, said that while Mr. Modi’s meditation can be considered a political gimmick by some, it requires strength to carry out such a gimmick and that by promoting meditation, the Prime Minister was adding a new dimension to politics.

“I think this is a brilliant step. Even if you consider this a gimmick, this kind of gimmick is tough, it needs strength. Mr. Modi has added a new dimension to politics, he has shown that politics and meditation go side by side,” Professor Chatterjee, who himself made recent meditation trips to two Ramakrishna Mission-related ashrams in Uttarakhand, said.

“Ramakrishna Mission has always advocated meditation because without meditation you cannot see your own mind. You can get what you deserve only when you uplift yourself, and you can uplift yourself only through meditation. I think the Prime Minister’s meditation will only attract a vast majority of people, particularly the younger generation, towards meditation - something good for the country,” the retired teacher, who is now a faculty member of the civil service classes at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Kolkata, said.

A professor who teaches English at the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belur, who did not want to be named, wondered why there should be such an outcry over an individual, “albeit a very very important person”, meditating at a location associated with Swami Vivekananda.

“Vivekananda doesn’t ‘belong’ to any person, community, or ideology. Neither does meditation. Working for 27 years at a renowned institution run by the Ramakrishna Mission has shown me how deeply the ethos of secularism runs here. Braggadocio, self-advertisement, discrimination, are all replaced there by dedication to work, and making do with whatever is available, to make the world a better place for all. If someone wishes to meditate, so be it. If they prefer to labour quietly for social betterment, so be it. I think Swamiji would agree,” the English teacher said.

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