For those who might be unaware, at a ceremony held in 2021, a statue of the world famous Swami Vivekananda was unveiled in Harrow.
The bust now sits outside Harrow Arts Centre, located on Uxbridge Road. The project to erect the statue began when the local community approached the late councillor Mrinal Choudhury with the idea of a sculpture for the high number of Hindus in the area.
Choudhury, who also served as the Mayor of Harrow, was a treasurer of the charity London Kalibari and commissioned the work of Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and one of the most celebrated spiritual leaders of India.
Swami Vivekananda was born Narendranath Datta in Calcutta in 1862. He was a disciple of Ramakrishna, who played a significant role in shaping his spiritual beliefs.
Vivekananda attempted to combine Indian spirituality with Western material progress, and was a key figure in the introduction of yoga to the Western World.
He travelled extensively through the United States, Europe and England to help raise the profile of Hinduism as a major world religion.
One of the highlights of Vivekananda’s travels was his appearance at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893, where he represented Hinduism.
With his deep spiritual insight, eloquence, and role as India’s spiritual ambassador to the Western world, Vivekananda is regarded as a highly important and influential figure of modern India.
Vivekananda made two successful trips to the UK in 1895 and 1896, during which he lectured and gained a significant following. During his first trip, he met Margaret Elizabeth Noble, an Irish woman who would later become known as Sister Nivedita. Nivedita became a disciple of Vivekananda and played an instrumental role in his work in India.
During his second visit to the UK in May 1896, Vivekananda met Max Muller, a noted Indologist from the University of Oxford who wrote Ramakrishna’s first biography in the West. Vivekananda’s work in the UK helped raise awareness of Hinduism and Indian philosophy in the Western world, and his contributions continue to be recognized to this day.
The statue of Vivekananda is carved in Portland stone and is the only public stone sculpture of the Hindu philosopher in Europe. The bust was created by QEST Scholar Tom Nicholls, who is renowned for his work in sculpture and has received many accolades for his contributions to the field.
The unveiling ceremony at Harrow Arts Centre was attended by The Mayor of Harrow at the time, Ghazanfar Ali, Deputy Mayor Sasikala Suresh, Minister for Coordination at the Indian High Commission Manmeet Singh Naran, and Swami Sarvasthananda of Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, UK.
The statue in Harrow is a testament to the lasting impact of Swami Vivekananda’s work, both in India and around the world.
It is continuous reminder of the importance of interfaith awareness and understanding, as well as the contributions of Indian philosophy to the world at large.