Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Memorial at Limbdi
From Sabarmati Ashram we went for lunch at the “Silver Cloud” restaurant. Trupti Aunty and Nayana Aunty had worked hard to find good restaurants in all the cities we were to visit on the trip. They had called the managers and fixed the menus and times for all of our meals – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. So in a nice air-conditioned room we all enjoyed a delicious lunch.
We then headed to Ramakrishna Mission at Limbdi. Rain started. The roads had lots of potholes due to heavy rain over the few weeks before we arrived. The bus was sometimes traveling at 5-km/hour and going over bumps. At each bump, all the boys seated in the last row would jump up and down, and the laughter with each jump only grew louder and louder.
As we were traveling, Swami Adibhavananda of the Limbdi Ashram was eagerly waiting for us and even inquired through phone calls about when we would be reaching there. Finally, we arrived at Limbdi. Swami Adibhavanandaji, whom people lovingly call “Bapa”, sent a young boy on motorcycle to escort us. The boy asked me to get on his motorcycle and I had a chance to ride it. Swami Adibhavanandaji asked us to go to the palace first. On the way, you could see Swami Vivekananda’s statue prominently in the city center with “Arise! Awake!…” written in Gujarati. We then saw the palace. In this small Limbdi town, the palace stands out as a gorgeous structure. It was in this palace that Swami Vivekananda stayed for several days. Swamiji had held spiritual discussions in the “Durbar Hall,” an assembly hall of the palace.
We all climbed several steps to go to the Durbar Hall. While going up we saw an excellent exhibition of Swami Vivekananda’s pictures. One painting of Swami Vivekananda with the Maharaja seemed like it had just been painted. It was amazing to see that the colors had still remained intact over all these years.
It was Maharaja Thakur Saheb of Limbdi Shri Yashwantsinhji who had hosted Swami Vivekananda. He was a very learned and cultured king. He had visited England and America and he advised Swami Vivekananda to go to the west to teach Sanatan Dharma.
Upstairs, there was a beautiful shrine in the Durbar hall. The experience was sitting in the hall was thrilling. Imagine! Swami Vivekananda held spiritual discussions in this very room. The atmosphere was serene and pleasant. We all sat down in awe and offered our salutations to Thakur, Maa and Swamiji. We sang the bhajan “Jaya Vireshwar” and quietly did japa. The melodious singing of Pranam Mantras in perfect tune and filled with devotion, created a very inspiring atmosphere. All forgot their tiredness.
A Brahmachari led us to the Limbdi Ashram where Swami Adibhavanandaji was waiting for us. He had asked devotees to prepare 54 plates filled with a banana, a sweet, and fresh dates. We all enjoyed this loving hospitality. Swami Adibhavanandaji made sure that we enjoyed the snack. A few devotees were serving all of us with love.
It had started to rain again, and the huge bus could not come to the door. Swami was concerned about us getting wet so he asked couple of people to give us rides in the ashram’s cars. The rest of us walked through the muddy road with umbrellas and ponchos. We finally got into our bus and started on our journey to Rajkot. Despite the inconveniences, all were very happy and felt that they were lucky to be in the room in which Swami Vivekananda had stayed.
One student had a stomach problem, but luckily we had four physicians with us. They were ready with all needed medicines, and they immediately took care of him.
One thing I forgot to mention was that every morning on the bus, we started our journey with saying “Jai,” and then singing “Sri Ramakrishna Suprabhatam” with students and myself leading over the bus’s megaphone. Afterwards, whenever we had the chance, we recited Shanti Mantras, sang dhoons, bhajans and Gita Chapters 12 and 15. With all of the singing, we did not feel the tiredness of the long bus rides. Also, we had delicious snacks, which were brought to us by Jaymeen Uncle, Trupti Aunty, Nayana Aunty, and Apexa Aunty. Thus we filled our stomachs and minds with satisfaction and joy.