Vivekananda Express moves through California

Indian American youth trace Swami Vivekananda’s journey

By Dileep Thekkethil

The Hindu Swyamsevak Sangh (HSS) is organizing a series of trips for Indian American youth and professionals, titled “Vivekananda Express,” which explores some places in the United States associated with Swami Vivekananda, to commemorate his 150th birthday.

According to a statement by the HSS, around 100 youth were part of a trip to the First Unitarian Church of Oakland where Swami Vivekananda delivered an iconic speech in the year 1900.

The speech is known to have inspired many residents of Berkeley as they came in contact with the message of Vedanta delivered in his speech, which later led to the establishment of Vedenta Society at Berkeley, said the statement.

The “Vivekananda Express” also plans to visit San Francisco and Alameda, among other places, associated with Swami Vivekananda.

According to the HSS, Sairam Tyagarajan who is an employee at Cisco and one of the organizers of the Vivekananda Express trip is quoted as saying, “Swami Vivekananda was indeed one of the foremost cultural ambassadors of Hinduism and India to America and his message naturally connects with the youth.” He added, “this is what makes him an icon to Indian American youngsters.”

In the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, participants were shown the wooden chair where Swami Vivekananda sat while he waited for his turn to deliver his speech and also the podium through where he stood to deliver the speech.

Sowmya Bhatia, a high school student from Cupertino is quoted as saying by the HSS, “of late, we have been reading quite a bit about Swami Vivekananda, but it is indeed a special feeling to have visited the place where he spoke, he sat and moved about. It was as if I were experiencing the moment when Swamiji stood up to speak.”

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