Many benefits Ceylon has received from Swami Vivekananda – through his words and works, through his influence and inspiration. One of them is the Vivekananda Society founded ten days after the demise of the Swami; another is the Cultural Centre that we see now, rising steadily within the premises of the Rama Krishna Mission Headquarters. These boons, however, are not confined to the City of Colombo. They have reached areas, rural and remote, which were once contemptuously disregarded as backward, primarily because the paddy they produced was among Ceylon’s economic products, considered an outcaste unfit to be near the table of civilized natives and city nabobs.
Of such of gifts Shivananda stands a shining example, which along with her sister institutions are now shedding light where previously there was darkness. The founder of Shivananda, Swami Vipulananda, himself was a gift to Ceylon, the most valuable among the gifts, from Swami Vivekananda, Vipulananda was Ceylon born and a London B.Sc. who responded to the call and returned, transformed, that he became the promoter, par excellence, of Hindu culture and Tamil learning. Such was the magic of the Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda.
In paying my tribute of homage to his memory, it is my duty, as a follower of Islam, to refer feelingly, to his deep appreciation of Islam’s contribution to civilization and to his many successful efforts to promote Hindu-Muslim unity in India. One of the recent publications of the Ramakrishna Mission – ‘Thus Spake Prophet Muhammad’ – is a token of the spirit of understanding and harmony fostered by the Swami. Another example is the Islam class conducted by a maulavi, that was organized for the spiritual growth of the Muslim pupils concerned, within the premises of Vidyalaya at Vannarponnai and of Shivananda at Batticaloa – a practice and procedure adopted years later by the Government of Ceylon.
I feel particularly fortunate to find myself now in a position to renew my thanks, to re-express my gratitude, to the Ramakrishna Mission for having enabled a Muslim boy in distant Jaffna to learn all his rudiments of an English education during the most impressionable years of his life at Vaidyeshwara Vidyalaya under extremely favourable conditions, in an atmosphere of piety and learning full of tolerance and friendliness, taught by teachers neither bigoted in the varnaachara way nor anglicized in the Macaulayan manner.
Therefore it is that as a citizen, a Muslim, and an Old Boy I feel thrice happy to pay my tribute to Swami Vivekananda and be thus associated on this occasion with some of the most distinguished personalities in Colombo.
The City, nearly seventy years ago, had a glimpse of the Swami when he passed through her Port in the month of June 1893, on his way to the Parliament of Religions held at Chicago. He was then an unknown monk, undistinguishable from the many hundreds of sanyasis who had travelled in transit or sojourned for a while. A few years later, on the morning of the 15th of January 1897 he was welcomed a conquering hero, who had with phenomenal success counter attacked the West from the East. He was conducted in a triumphal procession from the porch of the Grand Oriental Hotel to the pandal at Barnes Place. This was only the beginning of a long march that began at Colombo and ended at Almora.
In Swami Vivekananda, the people saw the person who broke the spell, which over India, the West had exercised with its weird incantation of ‘The White Man’s Burden’ and the strong incense of intellectual arrogance. This spell had created in the minds of the Indian people the many illusions by which their manhood became softened and their servility sugar-coated. Their eyes had been deceived. They had mistaken the iron collar of domination, intended to throttle for the gold chain of civilization, meant to adorn, Swami Vivekananda disillusioned them all.
He convinced his countryman that Providence had certainly not entrusted the West with a civilizing mission and that the White Man had taken upon himself an unnecessary burden offering unwanted bargains. In contrast to the White Man’s Burden, the Brown Man’s Boon was a priceless treasure, – a Gift of God – that of Spirituality which alone could provide “the life giving water to quench the fire of materialism burning the core of the hearts of millions of men” – a gift which India was in duty bound to share freely with others, for, this gift was invested with a special quality – in sharing it, there was acquisition, in dividing there was multiplication. This the Swami stressed in all places and on every occasion. Thus did he recover India’s Self-Respect. And was India’s Freedom recorded.
Before this gift was distributed it was necessary that India should remove from it, the rust and the dust that had accumulated for several decades past. The wheat should be separated from the chaff, the rice from the husk; and essentials distinguished from non-essentials. Kitchen religion should yield place to a man-making and strength-giving religion which should endow man with a dynamic personality in which the attributes of love and mercy would be accorded parity of status with those of justice and power. In the words of Swami Vivekananda:
“Think of the last six hundred or seven hundred years of degradation when grown up men by the hundreds have been discussing for years whether we should drink a glass of water with the right hand or the left, whether hand should be washed three times or four times …. there is the danger of our religion getting into the kitchen… Our religion is in the kitchen. Our God is the cooking pot and our religion is ‘Don’t touch me, I am holy’. It is a sure sign of the softening of the brain when the mind cannot grasp the higher problems of life; all originality is lost, the mind has lost all its strength its activity and its power of thought.”
Instead, Religion should be dynamic for dynamic Faith alone can give Man a dynamic personality. Through this the hand of Man becomes the hand of God. Freed by his Faith from the instincts of aggression and acquisitiveness this Man knows no fear. And yet he is not action-less; for he cannot be meek and mild when he has a duty to perform and a society to create. Though he will stand aside from the world yet he “gives his life and is ever ready to fight the battle of Truth, whenever needed and wherever necessary.”
Thus did Swami Vivekananda bequeath to us a Message of Faith, Fearlessness and Freedom – from Faith to Freedom via Action Fearless, with the watchword, “Awake, Arise and Stop Not till the Goal is Reached.” 

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