January 12, 2007

Vivekananda’s Mysore connect

Elsewhere, folks worship the ground on which he once tread. Here he was, staying with us in Mysore for full fifteen days, and we couldn’t care less. My reference is to Swami Vivekananada, who visited Mysore in 1892 at the invitation of the then Dewan of Mysore, Sir K Sheshadri Iyer. The building he stayed in (close to Maharani NTMS School on Sheshadri Iyer Rd.) is now in a shambles.The place stinks, what with emptied liquor bottles, cigarette butts and mounds of garbage left behind by people who engage in revelry. “One would wonder if the Swamiji ever stayed there”, says a Star of Mysore report by BRS (is that my friend, Mr Srihari?).

You’re right, BRS, going by the state of neglect of the place, the man who had stayed there might have been some plain Vivek A Nanda. Irony is that the story of such criminal neglect is repeated in the media on every anniversary day of the swami. And his 145th birth anniversary fell on Jan.12. To cite the SoM story of that day, the place has been turned into a public toilet and garbage dump. The only mitigating factor is that a part of the premises that is adjacent to a municipal school is kept reasonably clean because the students take turns to sweep the floor.

That the place comes under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation is hardly a plus point. But then blaming the city corporation alone doesn’t absolve residents of their responsibility. Here was an opportunity for civic initiative by proactive NGOs and other public-spirited individuals. Why, even the very media that keeps recycling the story of monumental neglect every year could launch a fund-raising drive, mobilize interest groups and lobby the government for a plan of action.

To start with, a plaque saying - Vivekananda Stayed Here - 1982 - could be placed (at the Lions’ Club or Rotary initiative) at the much neglected structure. Local tourist operators ought to be encouraged to take visitors to the place as part of their conducted city sight-seeing tours. This way, the city corporation would be shamed into keeping the place clean, even if they don’t do anything else.


blue dot green said...

Sometimes it is only after witnessing such blatant misuse of a historic place, that people later discover their worth and city's need for them. Places have soul too, and discovering such historic places, is the urban equivalent of discovering one's own soul. Its very encouraging that an awareness of this need is beginning to grow in India.

Anonymous said...

I can well visualise a time in the near future when the Mysore Palace is displaced by tall monster concrete corbuncles (flats of course for teaming returning NRIs) and a tourist guide addressing a group of visitors from Bangalore(who are breathing hard in a smog)pointing to the corbuncles and saying, 'here in a palace not in a distant past lived the Wodeyars, and one Nalvadi Krishnadevaraja Wodeyar built palace which many said was beautiful, but in reality was a stone age relic'. That is progress and a sign that Mysore had 'come of age'.brr