The Monk Who Changed Narendra Modi’s life



NEW DEHLI,INDIA, May 4, 2015 ( by Mohua Chatterjee, Times of India): When Narendra Modi meets an ailing 95-year-old monk during his visit to Kolkata on May 9, he would be keeping a promise made to the guru whose advice led Modi to politics — and, eventually, the country’s prime ministership. Modi and the swami go back a long way. Not many know that Modi had a “prasadi” flower in his jacket pocket when he took oath as Prime Minister on May 26, 2014. It had arrived along with a letter addressing him as Narendrabhai, from Swami Atmasthananda in Belur.

In 1966, Swami Atmasthananda had come to Rajkot in Gujarat to head the city’s RKM ashram. During his stint in Rajkot, a young Narendra, inspired by the life of Swami Vivekananda, reached his doorstep to take refuge at the ashram. He had already spent some years wandering and wanted to train himself for a spiritual life. After spending some time at the ashram under Atmasthananda’s tutelage, Modi told him he wanted to become a monk. But the head monk replied that sanyas (renunciation) was not for him. His work was meant to be among the people and not in seclusion, young Narendra was told. A short while later, he joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a life in politics followed.

The last time Modi visited Atmasthananda, he was still keeping well and the two had a long conversation. The monk blessed Modi, who sat by his feet. When Modi returns to see the swami, he may have to visit him in hospital as the head monk has been ailing since February. Modi has also offered to help RKM get the house where Swami Vivekananada had lived for some days in Aligarh, restored as an ashram. The PM will be going to Belur with updates on these two issues.

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