There’s an SV Road everywhere in India, at least in big cities. And a whole lot of other stuff. Its how things work when you’re famous. Its reached a point when famous creeps also have roads and memorials named after them. So “Akbar Road” - after our famed Mughal Emperor who was a patron of the arts - is pretty close to “Aurangzeb Road” - his descendant, who was famed for killing music.
I have a friend named Z (name changed). We met over a chess game about 7 years ago. Z is American, white, tech, and with a strong belief in his faith - Christianity. We got chatting on this religion, God stuff at some point. He asked me for some recommendations on good reads on Hinduism. Well, it was a situation....for me.
I’ve grown up in a Hindu family, nuclear. No one ever asked me to do anything in particular because of it. I’d drift into temples as part of family outings, chapel in school etc. At some point, maybe age12 or 13, I asked myself what this God - religion thing was about and then that was that. Let’s say, the subject and I parted company.
The situation caused me to ask around with those who knew more. Read up a bit and packaged the recommendations with some text - that the price of good education, there’s always your own two-bits to add to anything, even when ignorant. And away to Z.
Z came back with his own homework. The point of intersect was ‘this guy’. People choose their faith, any faith, because in their view its the best. Nothing chauvinistic about it. It’s true everytime we choose - its the best of what we have available. “This guy” amongst all others he’d studied from different faiths, made the biggest impact.
Z knew I’m a non-God/religion guy and we had some extended exchanges around this, flavored with my pop knowledge of Hinduism. No strings attached. It was fun and I learnt a bit about life because of him. A also learnt about “this guy”.
Z and I have never met in person, the games were on-line. We’re friends. And I see him as a good human being. From diametrically different contexts of life, growing up,living, religion, we have had some rocking interactions of considerable depth. And I ended up reading about “this guy” - that I hadn’t done with any seriousness before, in my life. He was just a name of a road, till then. Here’s a link to a brief speech he gave at Chicago in 1893 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Its simple, inclusive, warm, wise. His beliefs articulate many of my own. I think he would have loved to be part of that chat, to observe his beliefs in practice in that microcosm of life, between Z and I.
“This guy” is Swami Vivekananda. Its his 150th birth anniversary today. This is my two-bit tribute to the great man.
The real tribute is that I know I’m already walking down The S V Road.