Swami Vivekananda has been one of India’s foremost leaders, and in 1893 represented India and Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. However, it is interesting to know that he visited Goa for his research about religion before his trip to the USA.
Swami Vivekananda visited Goa for two reasons: to take a tour of temples in Goa and secondly to research about Christian history, theology and philosophy. He was acquainted with a doctor, Vishnupant Shirgaonkar from Belgaum who while conversing with Swami, mentioned Goa. Vivekananda was then keen to visit the state. Shirgaonkar wrote to Subrai Naik from Margao, requesting him to make arrangements for Vivekananda’s stay.
Subrai Naik was a well known person from Margao and was a member of the Mathagramasth (natives from Margao). His ancestral house still stands at Abade Faria Road at Comba. A part of his house constitutes Damodar saal in dedication of Lord Dambab. In 1892 as soon as Naik received a letter from Shirgaonkar, he started making arrangements for Vivekananda’s stay.
On October 27, 1892, Swami Vivekananda arrived at Margao railway station. Many people gathered at the station to welcome him; no stone was left unturned in his welcome. Swami Vivekananda stayed in a room opposite to the Damodar saal. When the city was in the know about his arrival, people began visiting Swami to discuss various topics.
Naik later showed Vivekananda the various temples at Ponda – the Shantadurga temple, Kavlem; Mangueshi temple, Mangesh and Mahalsa temple, Mardol. At the Rachol Seminary to research Christianity and the Christian viewpoints, Vivekananda read a variety of books in different languages; had lengthy interactions with the rector, priests, teachers and students of the seminary for around three days.
After a week’s stay Vivekananda left Goa for Dharwad. He was led by a grand procession to Margao Railway Station.