News Column

Silicon Valley and the Swami in a Cosmic Coincidence

April 19, 2013

It's a cosmic coincidence Silicon Valley-style.

The SV150, an annual report card from this newspaper for the top 150 publicly traded companies in the Bay Area, arrives this weekend. But take a look at #SV150 on Twitter and things get very strange.

First, from @mercbizbreak and the paper's very own Jeremy Owens: "Holy cow, my board is completely red as tech stocks get destroyed on Wall Street. #SV150 down 2.1 %."

Then this, from @Hindu_Lawyers: "We are what our thoughts have made us so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far. #SV150."

Turns out, 2013 is not just the year Apple (AAPL) tops the SV150 for the second year in a row -- it's also the 150th anniversary of the birth of Hindu visionary Swami Vivekananda, the man behind that tweeted quote.

Who'd a thunk it?

"It's like some sort of harmonic convergence," said Pravrajika Virajaprana, a Hindu nun at the Vedanta Society of Northern California, whose San Francisco center was founded in 1900 by the Swami himself on his historic visit to America. "I think it's awesome that you're celebrating these 150 companies while we're celebrating 150 years since Swami Vivekananda was born.

"This is a

very special year for us," she added, "because of his connection to the Bay Area. He lectured in Oakland and Alameda and even camped two weeks in what's now Samuel P. Taylor State Park. We're trying to honor Swami this year in many different ways."

From his birthplace of Calcutta to Chicago, where the swami famously introduced the West to Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1893, it's party time. Many Indians consider Vivekananda to be a saint, and while many Spandex-wearing, mat-carrying Californians may not know it, the swami is credited with bringing yoga to the West as well.

Heck, the other SV150 seems downright boring by comparison. "Chipmakers stumble! Consumer tech sector soars!"


So what would the swami make of the Tale of Two SV150s?

"He'd be the last person who'd want you to be reverential about this," said Pravrajika Vrajaprana, a Hindu nun based in Santa Barbara where the yearlong celebration includes an interfaith gathering on Memorial Day and panel discussions on spiritual life. Swami "was not a pious guy. He said you'll get more religion by playing football than by reading religious tracts all day long. He had a wonderful sense of humor and he was definitely not the put-your-head-down-and-hands-together kind of guy.

"He'd love the story about the coincidence of the two SV150s."

Source: (c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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