VISION on the Rocks of Kanyakumari-Swami Vivekananda

Adapted from a Painting by the Late Rev. Swami Jitatmananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order
  • Author, who focuses on translating Swami Vivekananda’s ideas into new social, institutional and educational models, tells of Swamiji’s meditation at Kanyakumari and the resulting inner vision for the future of Bharat.

The longest night seems to be passing away, the sorest trouble seems to be coming to an end at last; the seeming corpse appears to be awaking … only the blind cannot see, or the perverted will not see, that she is awakening, this motherland of ours, from her deep long sleep. None can resist her any more; never is she going to sleep any more; no outward powers can hold her back any more; for the infinite giant is rising to her feet.” – Swami Vivekananda 

These were the prophetic words of Swami Vivekananda in one of the first speeches he made on Indian soil after his triumphant return from the Parliament of Religions at Chicago (1893), and a three-year whirlwind tour of the United States and England.

Where did these words come from? Were they the empty inspirational talk of a good speaker or did these words emerge from the depths of a profound unity between the Man (Swami Vivekananda), the Message (of Awakening India), and the Nation (a slumbering India waking up to its future Destiny).

To understand this, let us go back a few years in Swami Vivekananda’s own life.

A couple of years after the passing away of his Guru – Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – the young Naren, aged 23 years (the name Vivekananda would come much later), already filled with the highest spiritual realizations, was now being impelled by a deep urge to discover his own country. 

Through a period of six years, till 1893, Naren, the spiritual seeker, also became an explorer of his own Motherland. Thus, he traveled as a nameless pilgrim across the length and breadth of this country – free from plan, free from caste, free from home, and devoid of social status – God being his only companion.

Through these travels, over a period of six years, Swami Vivekananda encountered first-hand, the grinding poverty of this country – the result of centuries of plunder by conquerors from outside India. Furthermore, he came face-to-face with the utter loss of faith and self-esteem of a once proud civilization, whose very language – Sanskrit, was being washed away by a foreign tongue. 

He saw further, the decay of once meaningful spiritual and religious practices into fossilized dogma that prevented creative thought.

But he also saw, at the same time, a great civilization lying dormant, waiting to wake up, trapped within the encrustation of poverty and dogma. He also found that the great and universal ideas of India’s Upanishadic roots – the discoveries made by India’s spiritual scientists hundreds of years ago – were waiting to be brought out of obscurity for the welfare of all mankind within and beyond the borders of India. Most important, he saw that India was not an ancient civilization condemned as dead by its conquerors. 

Rather, it was a civilization waiting to rejuvenate itself in the full bloom of youth 

Swami Vivekananda, then barely 29 years of age, sought to reconcile this profound contradiction in his heart. His love for his countrymen seared his heart and created within, a terrible yearning for a solution, a way forward for his India.

It was in this state of mental turmoil, that Swami Vivekananda, the wandering sannyasi, reached the southernmost tip of India at Kanyakumari. On impulse, the young man plunged into the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean and swam to a rock where he sat for meditation.

Three days and three nights, Swami Vivekananda entered into a mighty meditation as he plunged into India’s past, its present, and its future. He sought to reconcile the contradictions he had faced, and equally important, sought a direction for the blazing fire of renunciation and compassion that consumed his vast heart.

Three days and nights later, Swami Vivekananda emerged with a deep inner vision for India’s future, and peace and clarity in his heart. 

It is this inner vision that has steadily unfolded in India through the lives of many patriots and children of India over the past 125 years – through the struggles of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore, Rajagopalachari and the hundreds of revolutionaries who were jolted into action by his words. It has also inspired thousands of monks and dedicated individuals – to offer their very lives for the welfare of fellow countrymen. 

It is this inner vision which is still unfolding, calling upon each of us to partake in and contribute to it.

None can resist her any more; never is she going to sleep any more; no outward powers can hold her back any more; for the infinite giant is rising to her feet.” – Swami Vivekananda

Thus, it is at the rock at Kanyakumari, that a new India was born. And it is from here that a new India will be built by generations of builders – past, present, and future. 


1. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 3. Lectures from Colombo to Almora, Reply to the address of welcome at Ramnad.

Swami Vivekananda’s Swadesh Chetana is an overview of his nation building vision. It also carries a section on Swami Vivekananda’s travels across India including the culmination in a meditation on the rock at Kanyakumari, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. To see audio visual in English and Hindi (38 minutes) 

To read all articles by author

Author: Srinivas Venkatram is the founder of Illumine – an “ideas in action” Lab that focuses on translating Swami Vivekananda’s ideas into new social, institutional and educational models. Illumine’s projects and interventions have reached more than 4 million users/ beneficiaries in society.

On this channel, Srinivas offers an interpretation of Vivekananda’s ideas, through the lens of Citizenship and Nation-building. For more, visit the Reflections on The Lion’s Roar.

Copyright V Srinivas

Sri Ramakrishna Math School, Madurai. 2016.

Vivekananda Kendra Jirdin school, Along, Arunachal Pradesh, 2013.

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