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Window Seat: Can we make our monuments accessible?

17/01/2021 at 7:00 AM

Dr Mrinal Chatterjee

Many of our old temples, mosques, churches and historical monuments are not easily accessible for people with disability. There are stiff stairs and places that persons with physical disability cannot move without difficulty and/or danger.

To build an inclusive society, we must think about them. Making physical access to buildings and movement in public places easy is one of the important steps that could be taken.

All historical monuments which have public access need to be retro fitted to be accessible to people with disability. It is heartening that some temple authorities are doing that. For example, the management of Jagannath Temple of Koraput, called SabaraShreekhetrahave recently constructed ramps and made available wheel chairs so that persons with orthopedic problems can go to the top platform of the temple. Other temples and monuments should followsuit- without damaging the aesthetic appeal of the monument.

Similarly roads and especially footpathsneed to be barrier and clutter free and should be designed for easy movement of wheel chairs.

Prabudha Bharata

January 12 was the birthday of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). He was born in an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family in Kolkata and named Narendranath Sen. He grew up as a restless and intelligent young man and found his mooring as he became a disciple of RamkrishnaParamhansa, a socio-spiritual guru. He was renamed as Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and its spread abroad. He contributed to the concept of Indian nationalism as a tool to fight against the British empire in colonial India. He established Ramkrishna Mission as a socio-spiritual organization aimed towards service and social reform.

His birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day across the country.

Not many outside Ramkrishna Mission and Math know that he inspired to publish a journal, which is presently regarded as India’s longest running English journal. Name of the journal is PrabuddhaBharata (Awakened India). It has just completed 125 years. On January 2021 it has published the first issue of its 126th year of existence.

It is an English-language monthly journal of the Ramakrishna Order, in publication since July 1896. It carries articles and translations by monks, scholars, and other writers on humanities and social sciences including religious, psychological, historical, social and cultural themes. It has a section for book reviews where important publications from university presses from around the world are reviewed. It is edited from AdvaitaAshrama, Mayavati, Uttarakhand, and published and printed in Kolkata.

PrabuddhaBharata was founded in 1896 by P. Aiyasami, B. R. RajamIyer, G. G. Narasimhacharya, and B. V. KamesvaraIyer, in Madras (now Chennai), at the behest of Swami Vivekananda, with whom the founders had been closely associated before he went to America in 1893.

Swami Vivekananda suggested the journal’s name, and encouraged the founders through his letters to them. The editor, B. R. RajamIyer, was only twenty-four years old.

The first issue of this monthly journal appeared in July 1896.

Since then it has been published without interruption with the exception of one month, when its editor RajamIyer passed away suddenly in 1898- just after two years of the publication of the journal.

Swami Vivekananda, then in Almora, asked his English disciples, Captain Sevier and his wife Charlotte to assume the duties of publishing the journal. The Captain had a press, type and ink transported from Kolkata.

The journal, which had missed a number, was now brought out from Thompson House in Almora, with Swamiji’s disciple, Swami Swarupananda, as the editor.

Captain Sevier meanwhile, at the behest of Swamiji, looking for an ideal place for an Ashram in the Himalayas, He found one in Mayavati in the district of Champawat, (presently in Uttarakhand) 6,400 feet above sea level which became the AdvaitaAshrama.

The journal with the press was relocated there in March 1899. PrabuddhaBharata continued to be published by the monks and few local people.

In 1914 a separate building was erected nearby for the journal and the press. From 1923 the printing was done in Kolkata, while the editorial office remaining at Mayavati.

The journal has been published without interruption for all these years. The present editor of the journal is Swami Vireshananda.

To read the January 2021 issue of the journal see: https://advaitaashrama.org/read/

Photo: PrabudhaBharata Jan 2021 and March 1897issue

Tailpiece: Husbands for Sale

A store that sells “New Husbands” opened in a city, where a woman may go to choose a husband.

There are six floors and the value of the products increases as the shopper ascends the floors.

A woman goes to find a husband.

Floor 1 – These men have jobs.

She continues to the second floor..

Floor 2 – These men have jobs …and love kids.

She continues upward…

Floor 3 – These men have Jobs, love Kids, and are extremely good looking..

‘Wow,’ she thinks, but goes to the fourth floor.

Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love kids, are good looking and Help with housework.

She exclaims, ‘I can hardly stand it!’ Still, she goes to the fifth floor…

Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love kids, are very handsome, Help with housework, and are very romantic in nature.

She is so tempted to stay,nevertheless, she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 6 – You are visitor number 31,456,012 to this floor…. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists only as proof that women are impossible to please!!!

Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

Part-2 of the story.

The store’s owner opened a “New Wives Store” just across the street.

The 1st Floor has a signage: Wives that listen to men.

The 2nd, 3rd, 4th,5th and 6th floor have never been visited by men.

Tailpiece: the real reason for wearing the mask

Are you aware that once you are admitted into the ICU for COVID 19, your wife will be holding your phone for 14 days?

Wear your mask.


Journalist turned media academician MrinalChatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. Odia translation of an anthology of essays titled Mahatma Gandhi: Journalist and Editor, originally published in English is releasing by mid-January 2021.


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