The plan to construct a Vivekananda Memorial in Mysuru, pending since 2010 has caused a divide among sections of the people.
While a section of people opposes the demolition of Maharani’s New Type Model (NTM) Primary School for the memorial by Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama (SRA), the Ashrama authorities claim that the NTM School building is not a heritage structure and it was not set up by the then Maharani.
The memorial is being planned on the land of Niranjana Ashrama at the junction of Krishna Vilas Road and Narayana Shastri (NS) Road and the adjoining land of NTM School on NS Road.
The Ashrama authorities claim that the memorial is not a statue, but it would house Vivekananda Cultural Youth Centre which benefits thousands of youths.
“It is not to install a statue of Vivekananda and offer puja. But, it will have a meditation centre, yoga training centre, vocational training centre and offer spoken English course, coaching centre for competitive examination aspirants and will have a library,” Ashrama authorities say.
The NTM School Ulisi Horata Samiti Okkutta has launched a protest opposing the memorial on the NTM premises.
Swami Muktidananda, president of SRA, Mysuru, and Swami Shantivratananda said that the memorial was a government-approved project, proposed in 2010 to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
“The National Committee for commemoration, chaired by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the project and entrusted the work to the ashrama. The Union, as well as the state government, have sanctioned nearly Rs 12 crore for the memorial,” they said.
“Swami Vivekananda visited Niranjana Ashrama before his voyage to Chicago, for the First Parliament of Religions. When Vivekananda visited Niranjana Ashrama, it included the present land of the NTM School. The present building was inaugurated in 1971 and it is not a heritage structure. We need records to prove that the present NTM School was started by the then Maharani,” they said.
However, the members of organisations opposing the memorial claim that they have no objection to the memorial, but, it was not right to demolish the heritage school.
“It is the first-ever girls’ school started by the Maharani, to empower women. Besides, it is a Kannada medium government school. The building might not be a heritage structure, but the institution is. We urge the SRA to develop the memorial, by protecting the school building,” said former director of Rangayana, Basavalingaiah.
“Let the Ashrama people acquire land somewhere else in Mysuru for the memorial. There are conspiracies to loot public property in the name of mutts and religious centres. Even people’s representatives are blindly listening to pontiffs, rather than the people,” he said.
A protest will be launched at the school from Tuesday.