An Incident, when Maharajah Mangal Singh tried to humiliate Swami Vivekananda, But what is turned out to be is Amazing!

One of many incidents, one is about his meeting with king of Alwar Mangal Singh.

Swami Vivekananda reached Alwar and went to meet Mangal Singh at his palace. When Mangal Singh met Vivekananda he started making fun of him.
 He first asked Vivekananda — “Well Swamiji, I hear you are a great scholar. You can easily earn a living and live a comfortable life, then why are you living a beggar’s life and roaming like a vagabond?”

Vivekananda immediately retorted— “Maharajah, tell me why you constantly spend your time in the company of Westerners and go out on shooting excursions, neglecting your royal duties?”

Everyone present in the court was shocked and taken aback. The king too became confused. He tried to give an excuse, “Well, I like it, I enjoy it”, he continued, “don’t your Indian rishis and munis waste all their lives meditating and worshiping for the same reason?”

Now Vivekananda saw some stuffed animals and paintings of the king’s huntings in the court’s walls. The king used to consider those as his achievements. Vivekananda criticized Mangal Singh saying, “Even an animal does not kill another animal unnecessarily, then why do you kill them just for amusement? I find it “meaningless”.”
 
 Mangal Singh smiled and replied— “The idols you worship are nothing but piece of clay, stones or metals. I find this idol-worship “meaningless””.

It was a direct attack on Hindu belief and Vivekananda had to give a strong reply to it. He started explaining to the king that Hindus worship God alone, using the idol as symbol. But his reply failed to convince Singh. Thereupon, Vivekananda saw a portrait hanging in the wall of the court. Vivekananda approached towards the painting, looked at it, and asked the dewan of the court to take it down from the wall. It was a painting of Singh’s deceased father. When the dewan took the picture down from the wall, Vivekananda asked him to spit on it. All were taken back, The dewan was horrified. The king was furious, “How dare you ask him to spit on my father?”, he cried, in a tone of demanding an explanation.
 
 Vivekananda saw, the king was gripped. He smiled and quietly replied, “Your father, where is he? It is a just a painting— a piece of paper, not your father.”

Vivekananda’s reply followed the logic of the king’s previous comment on Hindu idols. So, he was perplexed and speechless and did not know what to say.
 
 Vivekananda once again started explaining to him, “Look Maharajah, this is a painting of you father, but when you look at it, it reminds you about him, here the painting is a “symbol”.
 Similarly when a Hindu worshiper worships an idol, the idol reminds him about his beloved deity and he feels the presence of the deity in the idol. Here too it is a “symbol”. Maharajah, it is all about anubhuti (feelings and realization).
 
 Now Mangal Singh quickly realized the real meaning of idol worship. He apologized to Vivekananda for his frivolity and rudeness and thanked him for giving him the lesson.


Excerp from biographical film “Swami Vivekananda” directed by G. V. Iyer.