Upon landing in Vizag Airport after a gap of 10 years, what struck me was the  air.

It was serene, sweet and quite blissful. Contrary to the air we breathe in  Kolkata it was sublime and cool.

The city looked clean, no big cacophony and extremely orderly. Everybody  followed the traffic rule. No honking. Vizag appeared to be in equilibrium  and in balance.

My first visit was to the Ramkrishna Ashram at Vizag.

My association with the Ramakrishna Mission started when I was in School. I  had my education at Delhi and my school was a furlong away from the  Mission.

Whenever we felt very hungry, a few of my classmates – would visit the  Mission. Swami Ranganathan ji was the Head of the Mission. He would  welcome us at the Ashram with a broad smile and say “Come my dear –  wait, the Prasad will come. I know you are hungry”.

Within minutes, the Prasad would arrive and me and my classmates were all  delighted to have it.

We never knew much about Ranganathan Ji very much. That he was a great  Swami, a man of great learning we did not know.

Only when we participated in the elocution contest, which the Mission used  to hold for school students in Delhi, we understood the magnificence of his  learning.

Before the elocution, Swamiji would introduce Swami Vivekananda to us.  He spoke in simple language and communicated the essence of Swami  Vivekananda’s teaching and philosophy. We discovered Swami  Ranganathan Ji’s vast knowledge and intellect.

I remember the contest in which I represented my school. And many times our school would win prizes and receive accolades.

Before participation in those contests we were trained by our teachers on  correct pronunciation and accent required to deliver Swamiji’s message.

I still remember the lines:

“Arise! Awake!’ Great Lord! He is at our back! I cannot write any more— onward! I only tell you this, that whoever reads this letter will imbibe  my spirit! Have faith! Onward! Great Lord! … I feel as if somebody is  moving my hand to write this way. Onward! Great Lord! Everyone will  be swept away! Take care, he is coming! Whoever will be ready to serve  him—no, not him but his children—the poor and the downtrodden, the  sinful and afflicted, those who will be ready to serve these, in them he  will manifest himself!……….”

The Ramkrishna Mission at Vizag has a touch of Holy Mother Sarada Devi.  In the month of February 1911, she was passing through Visakhapatnam  on board a southbound train to Chennai.

Enchanted by the beauty of the place, she said “See, see it looks like a  picture”.

In 1924, Swami Shivananda Ji Maharaj enroute to Chennai stayed for a few  days at Visakhapatnam on the request of the local devotees.

Swami Shivananda Ji Maharaj revisited in 1926 and enchanted the local  people with his discourse on Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

In the month of October, 1940, the building of the Ashram was opened.  Beginning with a student’s home the Ashram Complex now comprises Universal Temple, Auditorium, Monks Quarter and the Library.

I sat in the Prayer Room for a while and immersed myself thinking about  the philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

I was amazed at the depth and vision of Swami Vivekananda:  extraordinarily modern, equitable and globally relevant.

I picked up a leaflet which was available near the feet of the altar describing  various activities of the Ashram. It was amazing in the sense that it covered  various services from running school to hospital to training for spiritual  mastery.

As I left the Ashram, I remember listening to a lecture given by one of the  Swamijis from Ramakrishna Math and Mission years back.  Essentially what Swamiji had spoken: : ‘Be spiritual; realize that you are  divine and you will attain the highest perfection by knowing that you  are spiritually immortal, possessing infinite knowledge and bliss.’  The goal is achievable and open to everyone. There is no other way to  be blessed than consciously choosing and struggling to actualize our  real nature.’



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