The imposing gothic structure of St Xavier’s College, Kolkata standing with all its charm must have often impressed you as you zoomed down Park Street in your car.
But have you ever wondered if this was the original college that has catered to millions of students down generations? Well, in reality St. Xavier’s College was established twice – 1835 to 1846 and 1860 to date.
The first one winded up after eleven years of its establishment in July 1835 by a group of English Jesuits on Portuguese Church Street. In January 1838, the college was shifted to a rented house on Park Street. From there, the college was once again transferred to another rented house on 28, Chowringhee Road (where Indian Museum stands now) in January 1841. Following a dispute with the local Church administration, the English Jesuits went back to their country in October 1846.
The present St. Xavier’s College is the second one that was set up later in January 1860 by a group of Belgian Jesuits at the amalgamated 10 &11 Park Street (now 30 PS). After the death of Esther Leach, the “Queen of the Indian Stage” in 1843, the famous Sans Souci theatre was bought by the Bishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Joseph Carew and the Belgian Jesuits started the SXC in 1960 with 40 students under the leadership of Fr. Henry Depelchin.
Fr. Depelchin bought four Horse-drawn carts (as you in the picture) to transport students to the College.
Waves – Story Bank is Father Felix Raj’s tenth book, published by the SXUK Alumni Association. The book contains 75 inspirational stories. The foreword to the book has been written by Prof. Suranjan Das, the Vice-Chancellor of Jadvapur University, Kolkata. Felix Raj has authored and co-authored nine books and has written numerous articles in journals, magazines and newspapers.
In his foreword Prof. Suranjan Das has said, “What is striking about Fr. Felix Raj is his ability to strike a balance between administrative and social responsibilities and academic interests. Surely his collection of stories will enable us to gain new strength in confronting the current challenges plaguing the human society.”
The book was formally launched by Prof. (Dr.) Dhrubojyoti Chattopadhyay, Vice-Chancellor of Sister Nivedita University at St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata on December 3, feast of St. Francis Xavier. In his speech, Chattapadhyay remarked on the relevance of the book in the context of the paradigm shift in the perception of education today.
He ruled the fact that today’s youth is more interested in the prospective value of their education rather than the humanistic. They enroll for courses keeping in mind what their takeaways will be after completion of their course of studies. For them, the value of the spiritual and moral education has taken a backseat. But, Father Felix Raj’s book tries to instill in the learners some of those lost or rapidly receding values in the form of interesting stories that communicate some spiritual message. He made special mention of some of the stories in which these emotions have been expressed.
Introducing his book, Fr. Felix Raj said, “Every story that I have compiled in this book is a wave from the sea of my heart to embrace every reader so that they are touched and transformed. The stories can be used in lectures, in sermons, articles and even for recollections and retreats. You can read one story a day as food for thought.”
No matter whether we are writing a biography or a novel, delivering a lecture or preaching a sermon, our lives revolve around the stories we have heard, read and narrated. Stories are moods; they are powerful vehicles; they matter. When you tell a story you spark a connection. That is how our ancestors have passed on their priceless heritage from generation to generation.
From the days of simple pictures inscribed on cave walls to today’s multimillion dollar movie blockbusters, our drive for telling stories has been encoded in our DNA. We connect quite powerfully through stories. Our lives are filled with stories that we all are part of. We, as human beings, irresistibly and instantly connect with one another through the magical power of stories.
We are drawn to stories, because they are the index of our mind. They are universal in meaning and purpose. They help us to share our varied emotions – joys and sorrows that design the bouquet of life. They each come with a message and influence our thought processes and decisions. They make us human and teach us wisdom. They shape our perspectives. Everyone is a story and every story belongs to someone. Stories take us on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. As Justine Musk says, “Whoever shares the greatest stories rules the world.”
“Have you ever stood or sat on a sea shore? If you have, you will certainly understand what I intend to share with you through the pages of this book. If you haven’t, then read this book, it will take you to the shore to watch the mighty ocean and its army of waves embrace the land incessantly,” Fr. Felix Raj said.
Waves are caused by the winds blowing on the surface of the ocean or even lakes. This happens all the time. The wind has no effect on a perfectly calm sea. But, as it begins to slide over the surface of the water, it causes eddies. Small ripples are formed and they find their way to the shore and then break on the shore.
Waves, tall and short, keep on marching like an army of stories towards the shore. As the waves embrace the shore, the sea incessantly kisses the land. Caught in the tight intoxicating embrace of the waves, the sands of the shore submissively erode and drift away with the waves.
Ramakrishna, the spiritual teacher of Vivekananda, desired to see his disciple dedicate his life for the welfare of the society. After the death of Ramakrishna in 1886, NarendranathDatta (pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) and other disciples founded their first monastery at Baranagar.
In 1888, NarendranathDatta left the monastery as a parivrajaka (“wandering monk”). Between 1888 and 1893 he travelled extensively in several states of India. During his years of wandering Vivekananda had experienced the sufferings and problems faced by common people. He was eager to deliver his people from the shackles of suffering.
In 1892, he went to South India. He visited Ramanathapuram and then Rameswaram to offer worship at the temple. He finally reached Kanyakumari on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1892 prior to his Chicago visit.
In Kanyakumari, standing on the sea shore, he spotted a large mid-sea rock. He asked the fishermen to take him to the rock. They asked him for money. The Wandering monk did not have any money with him and so he tied the turban around his waist and swam across the ocean and reached the rock. He did not mind the shouting and screaming of the boatmen.
The Holy man sat on the rock and started meditating on India’s past, present and future. His meditation on the “last bit of Indian rock” (later known as the Vivekananda Rock Memorial) continued for three days from 25 to 27 December. Here he had a “vision of one India” and came up with a solution in the form of resolution, which is popularly known as the “Kanyakumari resolve of 1892″…”. The purpose of the ‘resolve’ was also to organize sannyasins for the welfare and upliftment of common masses of India.
Of all the services that the royal family of Sethupathis, the dynasty of Ramanathapuram, has done to India, the most historical one was that of financing the visit of Swami Vivekananda in 1893 to Chicago, to address the Parliament of World Religions.
It was BhaskaraSetupati as the Raja of Ramnad, who had earlier decided to go to US to attend the Parliament of Religions as the representative of Hinduism; but after meeting with Swami Vivekananda, he decided that Swamiji was the right person to attend the conference. Swami graciously accepted the Raja’s offer. It was as if divine dispensation that the monk would declare to the world the worthiness of the East.
When Swami Vivekananda returned from USA after his grand success, as he was about to land at Rameshwaram, the overjoyed Raja was waiting with his entourage to give him a royal welcome at Pamban; preparations had been made at the landing wharf with a pandal decorated with great taste.
Because of the achievement of Swamiji and as well as the regard, the Raja had for him, he bowed his head and offered his shoulders as steps for Swami Vivekananda to get down from the boat.
But, Swamiji tactfully avoided this offer, by jumping from the boat to the land. Then the Raja unyoked the bullocks from Swamiji’s ceremonial chariot and pulled the conveyance himself manually with his entourage, till it reached his palace.
The spirituality of the monk and the humility of the king are outstanding and exemplary. Swami’s life teaches us that God is our light and strength. There is nothing to fear when God is with us. Godliness and Humility are the hallmarks of true discipleship.
Swamiji’s favorite message to the youth of India was: “Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached. You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”
Swamiji advised his followers that the moment we realize God is sitting in the temple of every human being, the moment we stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him or her – that moment we are free from bondage, everything that binds us vanishes, and we are totally free.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari is a sacred monument built in 1970 in honour of Swamiji on a 4-acre rock half a kilometer in the sea where the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal merge with the great Indian Ocean. The 133-feet statue of the renowned Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar is placed in front of the Vivekananda Rock. Vivekananda dedicated most of his life trying to awaken the inner soul of man.
Swami Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu religious and spiritual organization in May 1897, which forms the core of a worldwide spiritual movement known as the Ramakrishna Movement or the Vedanta Movement.
Jesus said: Reconcile with your brother: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift “(Mathew 5:24).
Be a servant: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave” (Mathew 20:26).
Jesus came to serve: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”(Mathew 20:28).
No Servant is greater than Master: Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”(John 13:14-16).
God is Spirt: “…the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, norat Jerusalem, worship the God. You worship you know not what: we know what we worship… But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the God in spirit and in truth: for the God seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24).