‘Not many knew Vivekananda when he stayed here’


There is a room in Margao that has been retained as it was 120 years ago. The residents of the house neither use the room nor the furniture and items in it.
The house is on Abade Faria road and the room is maintained as if it were a temple. In a manner of speaking, a temple it is, for it is the room where in October 1892 Swami Vivekananda stayed in during his visit to Goa when on his 'Bharat Darshan'.
Vivekananda was in Belgaum and it was his desire to learn about Christian theology that brought him to Goa, at that time a Portuguese colony. In Goa he was hosted by Sanskrit scholar Subrai Naik. Vivekananda stayed at the Naik house in Margao and to this day the Naik family has maintained the room as a memorial to him.
"Vivekananda's host in Belgaum was known to Subrai and requested him to receive Vivekananda at Margao railway station. Not many knew of him at that time, but after Vivekananda's stay here, when he was returning a large procession accompanied him to the station," Pradip Naik, who is Subrai's great great great grandson and, who now lives in the house, told TOI.
The room is fully furnished and even has the items that Vivekananda used to perform puja during his stay. A statue of goddess Laxmi remains in the room and is only taken out to perform puja. There is also a portrait of Vivekananda, which is an enlarged copy of the photograph that Vivekananda left behind with Subrai before departing from Goa.
"People do come to see the room, but the room remains closed and is opened only on certain occasions," Naik said. The Naik family, Pradip in particular, did make an attempt to keep the room open for the public, but due to security reasons it had to be closed again.
During his stay in Margao, Vivekananda visited the Catholic Seminary at Rachol, a few kilometers from Margao, where he studied Christian theology and philology for three days at the seminary library.
"His portrait is displayed in the seminary library as it was there that Vivekananda studied Christian theology. Since this year we are marking the 120th anniversary of his visit to the seminary, an exhibition on Vivekananda is currently on at the institute's entrance," philosophy dean Fr Victor Ferrao said.
The exhibition shows the rock memorial at Kanyakumari, Vivekananda's life, works, encounter with Ramakrishna and other philosophical ideas and statements.
Besides researching in the seminary library, Vivekananda also interacted with the staff and students of the seminary, with Subrai Naik, who spoke Portuguese, acting as a translator for Vivekananda.
While in Goa Vivekananda also visited the Shantadurga temple at Kavlem, the Mhalasa temple at Mardol and the Mangueshi temple at Manguesh.
On having completed his Bharat Darshan Vivekananda left for the United States to attend the parliament of world religions. It was his speech at this conference, that he began with the salutation "sisters and brothers of America" that brought Vivekananda worldwide fame.
"It was through his speech at Chicago that Vivekananda triggered the western interest in Indian spirituality," Ferrao said.
On Saturday there will be programmes across the country commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Vivekananda. Goa will have a state level programme in Panaji and another in Margao. [TOI]