Monday, August 17, 2015


On the morning of the 16th of August 2015, I had the great fortune of yet again addressing a group of students from the Vivekananda Study Circle, IIT Madras as a part of their annual Vivekananda Heritage Walk programme. This programme, currently in its 5th year saw active participation from over 75 students. The Vivekananda Study Circle is an Independent Students Initiative of IIT-M and has been in existence since 1997.

The first time this themed walk was done was way back in 2009, when my mentor Shri V.Sriram and I curated a walk covering a few places in the city associated with Swami Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Math as part of the Madras Week celebrations that year. Though the Ice House (now Vivekananda Illam) remains the most well known of places connected with Swami Vivekananda's stay at Madras, there are quite a few other places (including a couple of private residences) that were visited by him. We had the good fortune of having Swami Atmashraddhananda of the Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (Editor of Vedanta Kesari, the English spiritual magazine being brought out by the Math) accompanying us as part of the tour. Swami Atmashraddhananda had that year brought out a wonderful illustrated book on the history of the Ice House and its connections with the Ramakrishna Math. It was his brain child to do this tour for the members of the Vivekananda Study Circle (IIT, Madras) a couple of years later. The first tour was held in 2011 and has been a regular feature ever since.

The tour this year began with the students assembling at the new shrine of the Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore. After a brief overview of the history of Madras and the antiquity of Mylapore, the narrative went on to cover the story of the origin and growth of the Ramakrishna movement in Madras. The students then went on to visit the Kapaleeswarar temple and the Ice House to complete their tour.

The Vedanta Kesari is one of India's oldest spiritual magazines in continuous publication. Started in 1914, it was a successor to the Brahmavadin, the magazine started in 1895 by a group of Swami Vivekananda's ardent disciples in Madras, led by Alasinga Perumal. The Chennai Math also has an active publication department going back to 1908.

In a remarkable act of conservation worthy of emulation, the Chennai Math has digitised the archives of both Brahmavadin and the Vedanta Kesari, which are available for sale.