I received the following story titled “Funny side of Swami Vivekananda” through WhatsApp.
When Swami Vivekanand was studying law at the University College, London, a white professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room when Vivekananda came along with his tray and sat next to the professor.
The professor said, “Mr. Vivekanand, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”
Vivekanandji looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge.
The next day in class he posed the following question: “Mr. Vivekanand, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with money, which one would you take ?”
Without hesitating, Vivekanandji responded, “The one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters , smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom.”
Swami Vivekanand shrugged and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”
Mr. Peters, by this time, was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Swami Vivekanand’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Swami Vivekanand.
Vivekanandji took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.
A few minutes later, Swami Vivekanand got up, went to the professor and told him in a dignified polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
Moral: Don’t mess with intelligent people.
When I read this anecdote I smelled a rat.
Though Swami Vivekananda visited England twice, he never studied in London.
First of all, Narendranath Datta took the name “Swami Vivekananda” on Christmas Eve of 1886, when he and eight other disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took formal monastic vows and decided to live their lives as their master lived.
Then I checked the timeline of important events in the life of Swami Vivekananda.
Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta), after passing the Matriculation Entrance examination in 1879, joined Presidency College in January 1880. He was the only student to receive first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination.
In 1881, he passed the FA examination (equivalent to the current Higher Secondary, Class XII) from the General Assembly’s Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College).
One day, Professor William Hastie explaining the word “trance” to his students suggested that they should visit Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. In November 1881, Vivekananda met Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa for the first time in Calcutta, at the residences of Surendranath Mitra.
In January 1884, Vivekananda passed Bachelor of Arts examination from the General Assembly’s Institution with philosophy and logic as subjects.
Vivekananda’s father died on February 25, 1884, and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa became his spiritual focus.
So, we find that Narendranath Datta never studied in London.
I remember coming across earlier the same turn of events mentioned above in an anonymous anecdote with M. K. Gandhi as the vanquisher of Professor Peters.
Here is the anonymous anecdote using Gandhi as the superstar published under the title “Did Gandhi trump Professor Peters in a number of interactions?” in the Skeptics Stack Exchange, a question and answer site for scientific skepticism.
When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, there was a professor, whose last name was Peters, who felt animosity for Gandhi, and because Gandhi never lowered his head towards him, their “arguments” were very common.
One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor, in his arrogance, said, “Mr Gandhi: you do not understand… a pig and a bird do not sit together to eat,” to which Gandhi replies, “You do not worry professor, I’ll fly away, ” and he went and sat at another table.
Mr. Peters, green of rage, decides to take revenge on the next test, but Gandhi responds brilliantly to all questions. Then, Mr. Peters asked him the following question, “Mr Gandhi, if you are walking down the street and find a package, and within it there is a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money; which one will you take?”
Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “the one with the money, of course.”
Mr. Peters, smiling, said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?”
“Each one takes what one doesn’t have,” responded Gandhi indifferently.
Mr. Peters, already hysteric, writes on the exam sheet the word “idiot” and gives it to Gandhi. Gandhi takes the exam sheet and sits down. A few minutes later, Gandhi goes to the professor and says, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”
I came across a comment that said: “Story is about Mr. Jinnah. Someone has switched the mainstay to Gandhi“.
So, if you are computer savvy, you can copy the above anecdote to notepad. Then press Ctrl-H.
In the resulting dialog box enter against “Find what:” Gandhi and against “Replace with:” Abdul Kalam. Next press button. In the blink of an eye, all instances of “Gandhi” will be transformed into “Abdul Kalam” and you would have created a new anecdote for Abdul Kalam.
Post the anecdote you created about Abdul Kalam on Facebook. Instantly you will get thousands of likes, and hundreds of witless idiots will blindly copy your post and propagate it on Facebook, WhatsApp, and other social media creating a new episode in the life of APJ Abdul Kalam.
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
The International Women’s Day 2015 celebrated globally today will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.
On this day, the focus is on upholding women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and pay greater attention to women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”
If you ask me to name two good men who stood for the rights of their fellow beings in the last century and made a mark in the history of humanity, I would immediately say: “Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.”
These two passionately devoted men with dreams and visions inspired their people using nonviolent civil disobedience based on their respective religious beliefs.
Mahatma Gandhi called all Indians to break free from the yoke of the British rule and Martin Luther King mobilized his fellow Afro-Americans, who still languished in all the corners of American society and found themselves in exile in their own land, to break free from the shackles of the invisible, but existing slavery.
Four weeks after returning from India, King prepared a draft for an article titled “My trip to India,” April 1959. Ebony magazine published it under the title “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi“.
In that article King notes that Gandhi’s spirit was still alive, though “some of his disciples have misgivings about this when… they look around and find nobody today who comes near the stature of the Mahatma.” Lamenting India’s pervasive economic inequalities, King observes that “the bourgeoise– white, black or brown – behaves about the same the world over,” and he calls upon the West to aid India’s development “in a spirit of international brotherhood, not national selfishness.”
I admit that until the early 1960s, I was not a fan of Martin Luther King, Jr., mainly because I did not know much about him, or I might even say misinformed.
After hearing Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, at the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” on August 28 1963, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 200,000 civil rights protesters, I realized how truly a great man and a gifted leader he was. He began his speech with:
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of materia1 prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. …“
I was spellbound. His soaring close: “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last,” still resonates even today and inspires those who follow his dream.
Here is the full text of his speech “I Have a Dream“:
“I HAVE A DREAM…“
(Copyright 1963, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.)
Speech by the Rev. MAXTIN LUTHER KING
At the “March on Washington”
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree is a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still badly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of materia1 prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality — 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright days of justice emerge. And that is something that I must say to my people who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.
They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.
We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their adulthood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only.”
We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulation. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.
Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go hack to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream … I have a dream that one day in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today … I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside. Let freedom ring …
When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.“
I came across the above fabulous photo on the internet. Do you like it? What message does it convey?
Here are some photographs I came across while surfing the net.
The vow of Hindu-Muslim unity
Talking about communal harmony on April 8, 1919, Mahatma Gandhi said:
“If the Hindu-Muslim communities could be united in one bond of mutual friendship and if each could act towards the other as children of the same mother, it would be a consummation devoutly to be wished. But before this unity becomes a reality, both the communities will have to give up a good deal, and will have to make radical changes in ideas held herefore. Members of one community when talking about those of the other at times indulge in terms so vulgar that they but acerbate the relations between the two. In Hindu society, we do not hesitate to indulge in unbecoming language when talking of the Mohammedans and vice-versa. Many believe that an ingrained and ineradicable animosity exists between the Hindus and
“When both are inspired by the spirit of sacrifice, when both try to do their duty towards one another instead of pressing their rights, then and then only would the long-standing differences between the two communities cease. Each must respect the other’s religion, must refrain from even secretly thinking ill of the other. We must politely dissuade members of both communities from indulging in bad language against one another. Only a serious endeavour in this direction can remove the estrangement between us.” (25:201-202)
He made the members present take a vow as under:
“With God as the witness, we Hindus and Mohammedans declare that we shall behave towards one another as children of the same parents, that we shall have no differences, that the sorrows of each shall be the sorrows of the other and that each shall help the other in removing them. We shall respect each other’s religion and religious feelings and shall not stand in the way of our respective religious practices. We shall always refrain from violence to each other in the name of religion.”
We have to remember that India got its freedom from the British yoke not only because of Mahatma Gandhi but also because of numerous other visionaries who toiled for the independence of the country and thousands of martyrs’ who sacrificed their lives even before he was born.
It was a stroke of destiny that Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi was called Bapu – the “Father of the Nation”.
The first reference to Mahatma Gandhi as Father of the Nation goes back nearly 70 years when Subhas Chandra Bose referred to Gandhi thus in a radio address from Singapore in 1944.
Erstwhile Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru too had, in his address to the nation upon Mahatma Gandhi’s death, referred to him as Father of the Nation:
“Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father of the Nation, is no more.”
Is Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Father of the Indian Nation’?
If yes, when did Mahatma Gandhi become the ‘Father of the Nation’?
Who conferred the title of ‘Father of the Nation’ on Mahatma Gandhi?
Did the above questions ever arise in your mind?
An 11-year old schoolgirl from Lucknow, Aishwarya Parashar, read a lesson about Mahatma Gandhi in her social studies textbook that said Mahatma Gandhi is referred to as the “‘Father of the Nation” and was curious to know the year when Mahatma Gandhi was conferred with this title.
Nothing was mentioned in the textbook. She asked her teachers and her parents. None of them had any knowledge about it. Even Google did not have any information. Aishwarya’s parents suggested that she send a Right to Information (RTI) petition to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The PMO sent a reply saying that they had no specific information regarding the same and forwarded her application to the Ministry of Home Affairs which too had no answer and they, in turn, forwarded the girl’s application to the National Archives.
The National Archives too did not have any information. They told her that “there are no specific documents on the information sought” by her and if she wanted to research on this subject, then she can come there and the organisation would make available all the required documents to undertake her research.
According to media reports, the National Archives did not have public records regarding the concerned subject.
Patriotic Aishwarya then wrote to the then President Ms Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to issue a notification declaring Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Father of the Nation’.
After some time, Aishwarya filed an RTI petition seeking to know the action taken by the president and the Prime Minister on her plea.
The petition was referred to the Home Ministry with instructions to explain the action taken on her plea. The Home Ministry responded:
“Mahatma Gandhi cannot be accorded the ‘Father of the Nation’ title by government because Article 18 (1) of the Constitution does not permit any titles except educational and military ones.”
In a similar vein, according to reports, when a demand to confer the title of ‘Father of the Indian Constitution” on Dr Ambedkar was made in 2004, the then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, in a letter to the Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit wrote:
“It is not, however, feasible to formally confer the title of ‘Father of Indian Constitution’ on Dr Ambedkar, since Article 18 (1) of the Constitution specifically provides that “no title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the state.”
Advani further said:
“I may clarify that although Mahatma Gandhi is popularly known as “Father of the Nation,” no such title was ever formally conferred on him by the government.“
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) focusing on respect, appreciation and love towards women and to celebrate the achievements of women in economic, political and social arena without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments of women, and for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
This day was originally known as the International Working Women’s Day. In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” seeks to strengthen international community’s commitment to put an end to violence against women – a gross human rights violation that affects up to 70% women.
As part of the effort the UN leads to fight violence against women, UNiTE campaign, the United Nations Secretary-Generals Ban Ki-moon’s “Unite to End Violence Against Women” calls on all governments, civil society, women’s organizations, men, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing this global pandemic.
The song “One Woman” written for UN Women and performed by acclaimed singers and musicians from China to Costa Rica, from Mali to Malaysia spreads a message of unity and solidarity. The song is a rallying cry to inspire listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality, and overcome violence and discrimination against women.