VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL DEDICATION
Thousand Island Park, New York
Friday, July 31, 2009
Remarks by Swami Yuktatmananda
WELCOME & INTRODUCTORY REMARKS
I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you who have come to witness the dedication of this new VIVEKANANDA ROCK MEMORIAL. I especially thank our participants for joining us today, to help make this a memorable occasion in the history of the Vivekananda Cottage and Thousand Island Park.
I also take this opportunity to thank several people: First, we thank the Thousand Island Park Corporation and staff for their invaluable help in making the creation of this monument possible; Second, our thanks to Mr. Roger Roch for his excellent and artistic construction of the monument bases, both here and at the Vivekananda Cottage; and finally, our gratitude to Mr. Richard Greene, and the Thousand Island Park Nature Trail for the signs and markings that they have placed along the Trail.
My appreciation also to Ellen Detlefsen and the Tabernacle Association for inviting me to conduct the worship service at the Tabernacle this Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. That will give me an opportunity to address the Thousand Island Park community and dwell a little bit more on Swami Vivekananda, his universal, interfaith teachings, and their significance for us here at the Park. I thank them and look forward to that opportunity this Sunday.
MESSAGE BY SWAMI YUKTATMANANDA
Before introducing our participants, I wish to personally make a few brief remarks about this historic and important place.
It was here, in this serene and peaceful spot, on August 7,1895, that Swami Vivekananda sat in deep and profound meditation just before his departure from Thousand Island Park. Those who have studied a little of the spiritual traditions of the East, particularly Hinduism and Vedanta, will understand the significance of such meditation, during which such spiritually awakened persons become fully identified with the Divine within themselves and within Nature. It is said that the place of such an occurrence becomes endowed with special spiritual vibrations that make the place holy. Those who visit, meditate, and pray at these holy places can partake of those vibrations and experience peace and blessedness that will help propel them on their spiritual path.
The recorded history of Swami Vivekananda in Thousand Island Park is well known to thousands, perhaps millions, of followers and admirers of the Swami in India and all over the world. It was at Thousand Island Park that the Swami lived for seven full weeks; here he continuously experienced a state of profound peace; here he expounded his universal teachings; and here he guided a number of disciples toward experiencing spiritual heights. It was also here that, in a divine mood, Vivekananda wrote his now famous poem, The Song of the Sannyasin, which is nothing less than an all-renouncing monk’s personal testimony to the divinity of humankind. We will later hear a musical rendering of the poem by the choir of our Center.
Swami Nikhilananda, founder of our Center, procured and established the Vivekananda Cottage as a permanent place of pilgrimage. In his biography of Swami Vivekananda we find the following passage:
“One cannot but be amazed at the manifestation of Swami Vivekananda’s spiritual power at Thousand Island Park. Outwardly he was a young man of thirty-two. All his disciples at the cottage, except one, were older than himself. Yet everyone looked upon him as a father or mother. He had attained an unbelievable maturity. Some marveled at his purity, some at his power, some at his intellectuality, some at his serenity, which was like the depths of the ocean...When had he acquired all these virtues which had made him, at thirty, a teacher of men?”
In answer to this question the author later explains that Vivekananda was not an ordinary person like us, but someone born to fulfill a divine mission. Swami Vivekananda himself said that he was “at his best” in Thousand Island Park. Considering who he was, this statement could lend itself to some deep reflection.
Along with this memorial, this summer our Center has placed in front of the Vivekananda Cottage a similar monument and plaque on which we quote these words of Swami Vivekananda himself:
“It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body—to cast it off like a worn-out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God.”
So we gather here today in a brief ceremony, to pay homage to the legacy of a great world teacher, and dedicate this Vivekananda Rock Memorial in remembrance of the blessings that were conferred here more than 110 years ago. So, on behalf of all of you, on behalf of the many who will come here in the future, and on my own behalf, I place a garland of flowers on this image of Swami Vivekananda as our offering, with a prayer that he continues to be present here, and bless and inspire everyone in their spiritual journey.
(Swami places garland on the memorial plaque.)