| by P Chandrasekhar
( April 14, 2012, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Swami Vivekananda had expressed the idea of attending the Parliament of Religions in Chicago for the first time in Bombay. Later, he had discussions with his disciples in Khethri and Madras also. They then started the preparations accordingly. The Maharaja of Khethri entrusted Shri Jaganmohan to make all arrangements for Swamiji. Jaganmohanji reached Bombay and Shri Alasimha Perumal from Madras also reached Bombay to give assistance to Swamiji.
Swamiji started his journey on May 31, 1893, in a ship called Peninsular. The captain of the ship developed good relations with Swamiji and very often invited him to visit many parts of the ship, including the engine room. During his journey Swamiji visited Colombo, Malaya, Penang, Singapore, Sumatra and Hong Kong.
There is a very big Buddhist temple at Canton near Hong Kong. In the temple, there is a magnificent statue of Buddha surrounded by 500 statues of the first five hundred disciples of Buddha. Among them one statue is of the Emperor of China in a posture of obeisance to Buddha. After visiting this temple Swamiji went to see a model Buddhist Monastery in a different area. One interpreter and three persons accompanied him. Usually the monasteries are forbidden area for the outsiders. So when Swamiji and others approached the monastery, some bhikshus came against them with lathees in hands. The interpreter told Swamiji to run away otherwise the bhikshus would beat them. Saying this he also started running. Swamiji caught hold of his hand and asked to say the Chinese word for Hindu saint. The interpreter said some word, Swamiji could not get the correct pronunciation, but he said it loudly to the Buddhists. Hearing this they stopped suddenly and prostrated before Swamiji. After that they asked Swamiji to give them something. Swamiji asked the interpreter what it was. He said it was kabaj Swamiji thought it was kavacham, in Sanskrit. He tore some paper into small pieces and wrote pranavam – ohm – on it and gave to them. The Buddhists were satisfied and with reverence they placed the papers on their heads. This shows the degree of bhakti the Chinese had towards a Hindu Sanyasi. By the middle of July Swamiji reached the port of vancouver in America.
Swamiji was an ardent student of history. His grasp and analysis of history was amazing. Madam Calve, the famous musician said about this feat, “Science philosophy and history had no secrets from Swamiji. He would discuss all sorts of questions and was able to give the exact text of a document and the dates of many events.”
Swamiji had expressed his opinion regarding China, some sort of a prophecy, during his American tour. “The Taoists and the Confucianists in China are so inextricably mixed up with the Buddhist form of religion as to be cataloged with Buddhism.”
“In China the royal power, centralised by the genius of Confucius has been controlling and guiding the priestly power for more than twenty five centuries. But now Lamas of Tibet, the spiritual heads of the royal family, are subdued by the Chinese Emperor”
“I see before me the body of an elephant, there is a foal within, but it is a lion-cub that comes out of it. It will grow in future and China shall become great and powerful. But remember China is a sleeping giant, when she shall open her eyes it shall be directed towards India.
In 1894, when Swamiji commented on China, It was not a big power, on the contrary, Japan, a small country compared with China, attacked China in 1894 and China had to cede the islands of Taiwan and Penang to Japan. This control over China continued until Hara Takashi became Prime Minister of Japan in 1918. Even after that Japan continued to occupy a vast area of China, in three phases, up to 1941. After this China slowly grew to a big power and a superpower by 1960, and it invaded Bharat in 1962, alas to make us remember the words of Swamiji in 1894. Today, China is a big threat to us, controlling Tibet and a vast area of the Himalayas, including Kailash and claiming that Arunachal Pradesh is part of China.
We have to remember the words of Swamiji: “Any amount of legislation made in the Parliament cannot make efficient and good men of values. A system, howsoever effective it is, will become obsolete and orphaned if efficient people are not created in the society.”