‘The same divinity dwells in the entire creation’

Swami Vivekananda spurred the old NRIs into engaging in any kind of business like that of selling Indian goods in the United States rather than cajole the white masters to provide them with menial jobs

Books Reviewed:            

  1. A Monk from Bombay - Swami Vivekananda’s historic voyage from Mumbai to Chicago by Radha Viswanathan & Sudheendra Kulkarni, 62 pages and
  2. Swami Vivekananda in Mumbai and Maharashtra by Sudheendra Kulkarni, 180 pages.

Twin publications of the Observer Research Foundation Mumbai. No price mentioned.


These two slim books are put out to mark the 120th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s iconic voyage that commenced from here from Bombay on 31 May 1893 to participate in the Parliament of World Religions that took place in Chicago in September of that year.  Besides the year 2013 also happens to be the Swami’s 150th birth anniversary for he was born on 12 January 1863.


 The present day Mumbaikars and the powers that be need to be awakened to this great man’s presence in Bombay four times in the course of his short lifetime – first and second visits in April and June of 1892, next in the in July 1893 to take the ship to Chicago and last in 1900 after his return.


Mumbai in particular as also Maharashtra have done absolutely nothing either to remember Swami Vivekananda to perpetuate his historic stay not only at this metropolis but in the Maharashtra’s hinterland at Pune, Mahabaleshwar and Kolhapur. The books recount that in Belgaum the small cottage where he stayed for nine days has been preserved as a monument within the main complex of the Ramakrishna Math.  In Goa, where he deepened his understanding of Christianity after intensive interaction with Catholic scholars and priests, the Archaeological Survey of India has undertaken the repair, restoration and conservation of the four hundred year old Catholic Seminary at Raitul/Rachol where he spent three days in its  the various libraries days 15th-17th October, 1892 studying history of Christianity.  Later, in a letter he praised Panjim for its “vibrancy and cleanliness, most Christians here are literate whereas a majority of the Hindus are illiterate.”


The authors very rightly go to point out that we “are proverbially poor in preserving history and historical knowledge. Mumbai itself has forgotten its proud association with the life and legacy of Swami Vivekananda,  one of the greatest spiritual lights and social reformer produced by modern India, a  remarkable Indian who was the first to put Indian  on the world map.”


Swami Vivekananda had reached Bombay in the last week of July 1892 following arduous journeys across the length and breadth of north India mostly on foot.  Because of his deep interest in rock-cut, while in Bombay he visited the hundred plus caves at Kanheri considered to be the largest of the Buddhist caves in western India.  The deep impression that they made on him stirred him deeply, he later spoke at length to his disciples at the Thousand Island Park, USA. He told them that he had great dreams – “One day, we shall have a beautiful place in India with ocean on three sides. There  be small caves to accommodate two each and between each cave will be a pool of water for bathing and pipes carrying drinking water will run up to each one. There will be a great hall with carved pillars for the Assembly Hall and a more elaborate Chaitya Hall for worship. Oh! It will be a luxury.”


 “What can one say about the extreme apathy of the Maharashtra government that it has not deemed it fit to put up even a simple plaque at Kanheri Caves in the famous Borivili National Park which Swami Vivekananda visited in 1893? The beauty of the forests there and the meditative ambience of the ancient Buddhist caves so mesmerised him to express his desire to establish his spiritual monastery there after his return from America.”


 No thought has ever been given to his extremely eloquent and strong views on Shivaji –“It is a pity that in our schools, history of India written by foreigners is taught to our boys. The foreign writers of the Mahratta history can never shake off their bias nor understand the real character and greatness and the inner motives of the actions of Shivaji. There are many Mahratta bhakars or chroniclers who have written about him, but true to their ancient puranic ideal, looked upon him as a God born to relieve his devotees from the oppressions of Mahomedan fanaticism and re-establish Dharma. If our young men with patriot feelings for history of their motherland were to make researches I in finding out and translating these manuscripts, much truer light may be thrown on the greatness of the doings of Shivaji to make valuable addition to our knowledge of the real history of India.”      


Also little has been done to  commemorate the memories of Swamiji’s encounters 1892 and 1901 at Poona with Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, then a fiery journalist editor of newspaper Kesari, later to be known as the greatest leader of India’s freedom movement long before the Gandhian era, described by the British as the Father of Indian Unrest for his Swaraj is my birthright and I will have it;  dramatist, novelist, poet and historian Na. Chi Kelkar, Hari Narayan Apte a towering  literary figure, the renowned social reformer, author and one of the founders of the Indian National Congress Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade, author Prof. Mahadev Gole


 The Swami met with Jamshedji Tata a pioneer of India’s swadeshi industrialisation when both boarded the same ship Empress of India at Yokohama in Japan to sail to Vancouver at Canada.  In retrospect is was not just a chance meeting but it carried the force what psychologist Jung terms  ‘synchronicity’ or ‘the experience of two or more causally unrelated events being observed as happening together’.  The great visionary Jamshedji Nussewanji Tata saw in him a spiritual leader that modern India. The Swami blessed him by saying “How wonderful it would be if we combine the scientific and technological achievements of the West with the asceticism and humanism of India!” He shared with the Swami his plans to build steel industry to accelerate India’s industrial development.  The book reproduces the letter to “Dear Swami Vivekananda” that Jamshedji wrote on 2d November 1898.


On June 4 June 1891, he reached Khetri where he spent five months with Raja Ajit Singh who was deeply committed to Indian philosophy and culture This Raja was the first to give him the name “Vivekananda”, before that he had assumed different names during his nation wide travels.  To protect him from the heat of Rajasthan, the Raja gave him his distinctive sartorial look of wearing the turban in Rajasthani style making it a part of his attire thereafter. It was here that Vivekananda learnt a lesson in Advaita philosophy from a dancing girl.  He had initially declined an invitation to a song and dance performance from his host, the Raja, saying that it would be improper and forbidden for a sanyasi to be present at such events.  The girl, who had heard a lot about him, on hearing of this comment expressed her sorrow by rendering melodiously   the famous Surdas song – “O Lord, look not upon my evil qualities! Thy name O Lord is same-sightedness. One piece of iron is in the image in the temple and another is the knife in the hand of the butcher; but when they touch the philosopher’s stone, both alike turn to gold… One drop of water is the sacred Yamuna another is foul in the ditch by the roadside; but when they fall into the Ganga,   both alike become holy. Thy name, O Lord, is same-sightedness.” 


 This completely overwhelmed the Swami to say that the same Divinity   dwells in the high and low, the rich and the poor in the entire creation. After taking a seat in the audience with the Raja, he admitted–“That incident removed the scales from my eyes. Seeing that all are indeed the manifestations of the One, I could no longer condemn anybody.”  The most significant reason that Khetri occupies in his life is that Raja Ajit Singh became the principal sponsor for his visit to Chicago. In a letter of 11 October 1897 to Munshi Jagmohanlal, he wrote “-Between the Raja of Khetri and I, there are closest ties of love. Certain men are born in certain periods to perform certain actions in combination. Ajit Singh and I are two such souls born to help each other in a big work for the good of mankind...We are as supplement and complement.”   Ajit Singh even got the lower berth voyage ticket the Swami had bought for himself for a first class ticket and also arranged to constantly send dollars to the Swami keeping it a secret and not wanting to publicise it in any way.


In August 1892 while at Baroda Swami Vivekananda met with the renowned painter Raja Ravi Verma at his studio.  When he pointed out certain flaws in his paintings, the painter responded that none had detected them until then adding “You must have been an artist at some point in your life.” The response was –“By the grace of God and my Guru, Saraswati (the Goddess of Knowledge) has been generous towards me.” With his deep understanding of the art of painting in the course of discussions on the New Style of Indian Art,   when some one questioned the shortcoming in the paintings of what was then thought of as the greatest living artist, his host during his stay at Bombay    corrected “The Swamiji is not only a spiritual scholar but an expert in music and other arts.” Later   the Swami himself wrote in his book East and West   that Ravi Verma’s paintings had traces of imitation of western art. He urged Indian artists to develop their own indigenous art traditions in the modern context.


He also travelled to Mysore, Cochin and Madras in the five years 1888-1893 before he boarded from the Bombay Port the SS Peninsular at the age of 29 years on his voyage to Chicago.  He journeyed to Europe between 1895 and 1896 which included three visits to England.


The books provide, perhaps for the first time, a wealth of information that is unknown so far coming as it does out of the many of his intimate glimpses and profound thoughts from the pens of those with whom stayed and talked at length on one-on-one terms during   the course of his many travels from Alwar, Jaipur, Ajmer, Khetri, Kathiawar, Ahmedabad, Junagadh, Porbunder, Dwarka, Palitana, Baroda, Bombay, Poona, Kolhapur. They  goon to add in an entirely different perspective to all  that the Ramakrishna Mission and a galaxy of international intellectuals like Romain Rolland, Max Mueller, Paul Deussen, J.J.Goodwin, Nikola Tesla, John D. Rockefellar, Sister Nivedita, Badrinath Chaturvedi, Rev. L.P.Mercer, V.Brodrov, Philip Goldberg and Harriot Monroe have written in the many volumes on his life and works.


In his letters from abroad to his friends and disciples back in India Swamiji spurred them into engaging in any kind of business like that of selling Indian goods in the United states rather than cajole the white masters to provide them with  menial jobs.


 The authors also draw attention to three strange coincidences on 9/11 spanning three centuries:

(a) 1893 Swami Vivekananda’s first address at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago, 

(b) 1906 Mohandas Gandhi, adopts path of Satyagraha in South Africa,   

(c ) 2001 The terror strikes at the Twin Towers of World Trade Centre, New York.




3 years ago

OMG ! The same divinity dwells in Wendy Doniger too !!!

Narendra Doshi

3 years ago

Dear Nageshji,
Thanks for your write-up. It was refreshing with many unknown information.

Sensex, Nifty may head further lower: Thursday closing report

Nifty may go below the recent low of 5933

Yesterday after market hours, the government unveiled the data on inflation where the annual consumer price inflation eased more than expected to a 24-month low. However the indices had lost their upward momentum of past two days right from the beginning of the session.


The Sensex opened at 20,479 while the Nifty opened at 6,088. Soon the indices hit their respective high at 20,504 and 6,094. This was the only while when the indices were in green and soon they started with their southward journey. By the close of the session the Sensex hit a low of 20,165 and closed at 20,193 (down 255 points or 1.25%) while the Nifty hit a low of 5,991 and closed at 6,001 (down 83 points or 1.36%). The NSE recorded a volume of 48.98 crore shares.


The government will unveil data on inflation based on the wholesale price index for January 2014 tomorrow.


The government has tried to pass laws in the parliament's last session but the house has frequently been adjourned amid rowdy scenes over the creation of Telangana state. Even today the Lok Sabha witnessed a chaos when a lawmaker fired pepper spray in parliament in protest against a bill on a new Telangana state.


Standard Chartered Bank estimates that the government will announce on Monday gross borrowing for 2014 - 15 of Rs5.8 trillion - Rs6 trillion, based on the government's fiscal deficit target of 4.2% of GDP. However the bank also estimates the government will end 2013-14 with a cash surplus of about Rs1 trillion, despite the cancellation of the Rs150-billion auction, as national small savings fund collection had exceeded the budgeted amount by Rs361 billion as of end-December 2013.


A United Nations report said that the government is unlikely to meet fiscal deficit target of 4.8% of the GDP in the current fiscal due to low growth and high subsidies. With regard to economic expansion, the report said, India is expected to grow at 4.8% in the current fiscal but would rise to 5.3% in 2014-15 on increased domestic demands and other factors. On exports, the report said it is likely to pick up in the coming quarter due to depreciation of the local currency in India.


US indices closed in the negative on Wednesday. Market now awaits data on retail sales and the initial-unemployment claims from the US.


Except for NZSE 50 (up 0.07%) and Straits Times (up 0.15%) all the other Asian indices closed in the red. Nikkei 225 was the top loser falling 1.79%.


European indices were trading in the red. US Futures were also trading lower.


SEBI clears new norms on corporate governance; mutual fund policy

Among other major decisions, SEBI board also cleared the much-awaited long term policy for mutual funds, which includes various proposals including potential tax benefits, for the future growth of the sector

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Thursday cleared new norms for corporate governance and a long term policy with various proposals, including potential tax benefits, for mutual funds.


The new norms for corporate governance require listed companies to justify salaries paid to its chief executives, put in place a whistle-blower policy and have orderly succession plans.


The new norms were cleared by the SEBI board in Delhi and the relevant provisions would be incorporated in the listing agreement soon, SEBI chairman UK Sinha said.


Speaking to the reporters after the board meeting Sinha also said that any decision on the lapsed ordinance that granted greater powers to SEBI needs to be taken by the government.


Among other major decisions, SEBI board also cleared the much-awaited long term policy for mutual funds, which includes various proposals including potential tax benefits, for the future growth of the sector.


"The long term policy includes all aspects - including enhancing the reach and promoting financial inclusion, tax treatment and obligation of various stakeholders to deal with the public policy objectives of achieving sustainable growth of the mutual fund industry and mobilisation of household savings for the growth of the economy. The recommendations of long term policy has been bifurcated in two buckets, tax incentive related proposals and non-tax related proposals," SEBI said in a release.


The recommended tax incentives for mutual fund schemes are...

  1. A long term product such as Mutual Fund Linked Retirement Plan (MFLRP) with additional tax incentive of Rs50,000 under 80C of Income Tax Act may be introduced.
  2. Alternatively, the limit of section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, may be enhanced from Rs1 lakh to Rs2 lakh to make mutual funds products (ELSS and MFLRP) as priority for investors among the different investment avenues. RGESS may also be brought under this enhanced limit.
  3. Similar to merger/ consolidation of companies, the merger/ consolidation of equity mutual funds schemes also may not be treated as transfer and therefore, may be exempted from capital gain taxation.           

SEBI board also decided to ensure that mutual funds achieve a reasonable size and play an important role in financial inclusion, while enhancing transparency. Here are the objectives decided by SEBI for this...


(i) Capital Adequacy i.e. minimum networth of the asset management companies (AMC) be increased to Rs50 crore.

(ii) The concept of seed capital to be introduced i.e. 1% of the amount raised (subject to a maximum of Rs50 lakh) to be invested by AMCs in all the open ended schemes during its life time.

(iii) EPFOs be allowed to invest upto 15% of their corpus in Equities and Mutual Funds. Further, the members of EPFOs who are earning more than Rs6500 per month be offered an option for a part of their corpus to be invested in a Mutual Fund product of their choice.

(iv) Presently, Navratna and Miniratna Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) are permitted to invest in public sector mutual funds regulated by SEBI. It has been recommended that all CPSEs be allowed to choose from any of the SEBI registered Mutual Funds for investing their surplus funds.

(v) In order to enhance transparency and improve the quality of the disclosures, it has been decided that AUM from different categories of schemes such as equity schemes, debt schemes, etc., AUM from B-15 cities, contribution of sponsor and its associates in AUM of schemes of their mutual fund, AUM garnered through sponsor group/ non-sponsor group distributors etc. are to be disclosed on monthly basis on respective website of AMCs and on consolidated basis on website of AMFI. 

(vi) In order to improve transparency as well as encourage Mutual Funds to diligently participate in corporate governance of the investee companies and exercise their voting rights in the best interest of the unit holders, voting data along with rationale supporting their decision (for, against or abstain) be disclosed on quarterly basis on their website.
This is to be certified by Auditor annually and reviewed by board of AMC and Trustees.

(vii) Towards achieving the goal of financial inclusion, a gradual approach to be taken such that initially the banked population of the country may be targeted with respect to mutual funds investing. SEBI will work towards achieving the goal that the basics of capital markets and financial planning may be introduced as core curriculum in schools and colleges. Printed literature on mutual funds in regional languages be mandatorily made available by mutual funds. Investor awareness campaign in print and electronic media on mutual funds in regional languages to be introduced.

(viii)   In order to develop and enhance the distribution network PSU banks may be encouraged to distribute schemes of all mutual funds. Online investment facility need to be enhanced to tap the internet savvy users to invest in mutual funds. Also, the burgeoning mobile-only internet users need to be tapped for direct distribution of mutual funds products.


The SEBI board also cleared new KYC registration agency (KRA) regulations that would make it easier for the investors to comply with know your client (KYC) requirements across various segments of the capital markets.


The approval by SEBI board to the new corporate governance norms follows months-long discussion among various stakeholders on draft regulations released last year.


The new norms seek to check excessive salaries paid to top executives of listed companies by requiring them to justify such payments, as also all related party transactions with entities linked to promoters and directors.


The companies would also need to adopt a whistle-blower policy for employees, while the number of directorship a person can hold on company boards would be capped, among various other measures to safeguard the interest of minority shareholders.


The new norms provide for greater oversight by minority shareholders and independent directors and check any unjustifiable payments to related parties.


They also seek to bring in a greater alignment of CEO salaries with the performance and goals of the company, while requiring disclosure of ratio of remuneration paid to each of their directors and their median staff salary.


Similar provisions have been made in the new Companies Act.


SEBI had earlier said that "on average, the remuneration paid to CEOs in certain Indian companies are far higher than the remuneration received by their foreign counterparts and there is no justification available to that effect".


Through these measures, SEBI is seeking to adopt better global practices without increasing the cost of compliances, so that confidence of the investors is brought back to market.


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