Tag Archives: Vivekananda

#Swami Vivekananda – Leadership

Vivekananda - Faith on Youth

To inspire generations to live and die for a cause !

Not name and fame for self, but the success of the cause.

Not the arrogance that “I” am the best thing to have happened to this mission but the confidence that there would be better people than “me” who will come and work out the mission.

The faith in the youth and inspiring them not to live like mustached babies but to work out the mission like Lions !

That was the leadership lesson of Swami Vivekananda. Pranaams on his Jayanti.

Vivekananda and Communist propaganda

Visions of a Hindu India
Author: Dina Nath Mishra; Publication: Sunday
Date: May 2-8, 1993

Shocked by the events in Ayodhya on 6 December last year and the subsequent political developments, both the communist parties demonstratingly came out lecturing the Sangh Parivar about the real Hinduism through booklets, one by Sitaram Yechury, the CPI(M) Politburo
member, and another by the CPI secretary, A. B. Bardhan.

It is a case of traditional Hindu-haters turning to be real Hindus and pushing Hindus to the category of pseudo-Hindus. Two booklets provided the basis to the left media brigade to shout the same propaganda all over India through print and other media again and again. The whole
edifice of propaganda was demolished by two well- researched articles by Arun Shourie in SUNDAY (Myths about the Swami, 31 January – 6 February, 1993 and Quotable quotes, 7 – 13 February, 1993). The burden of Shourie’s pieces were, as put by Shourie himself in conclusion:
“…lessons upon lessons for friends who suddenly find Swami Vivekanand so quotable. Stray quotations cannot be set up to counter the entire life and work of such a man; as that life and work is the exact opposite of what you have been propagating, the more you lean on Vivekananda, the more he will recoil on you; never forget what you have been saying about a man when you suddenly find him handy, other are not likely to have forgotten; and finally, never proclaim your intention to quote a man before you have read him.”

Shourie’s pieces were too powerful and aggressive to be ignored by the communist parties and hence a laboured rebuttal in SUNDAY (Of Shourie and Vivekananda, 28 March – 3 April 1993) by A. B. Bardhan, who has made the following points:

That they have not jumped suddenly but their approach to Swami’s role and world view are very much positive. In his effort to prove that the communists have not suddenly jumped to quote Vivekananda, but have been doing so for long, Bardhan quotes from a book published by the CPI
titled. Socio-political views of Vivekananda by Benoy Roy in 1970. BenoyRoy was profusely quoted to clarify the party’s assessment of Vivekananda.

* That as Marxists we hail his revolutionary and humanist teachings as inspiring message to the people of India and the world.

* That communists are not alienated and keep themselves aloof from our culture. To substantiate this, Mr Bardhan has marshalled names of communist and other writers including Rahul Sanskrityayan, S.A. Dange, Ram Bilas Sharma and has reminded us of their contributions.

* That Vivekananda was a revolutionary, a socialist and a secular person.

* That Arun Shourie has made a Muslim crusader out of Vivekananda and Shourie’s and she Sangh Parivar’s views are just opposite to that of Vivekananda.

* That there is enough food and ammunition in Vivekananda’s works to last all who are searching for India’s social, cultural and spiritual development. Let no one try to appropriate him for oneself.” Vivekananda is not the monopoly of the Sangh Parivar and Arun Shourie.

* That the communist approach to Vivekananda underlines the enlightenment of the downtrodden, dumb millions, his revolutionary approach to the problem of liquidating the privileges of the propertied classes and giving the toilers their due share in the national wealth,
his preachings against untouchability. and. above all, his teachings purification of the soul – they were all later adopted by different political and social organisations of this country, including the Indian National Congress led by M.K. Gandhi.

Now let us face the facts. On pages 391-392 of the Documents of history of the CPI published in 1971, there is an assessment of Vivekananda by the party. “Although its political philosopher and leader were found subsequently in the persons of Aurobindo Ghose and Bipin Chandra Pal
respectively, its fundamental ideology was conceived by a young intellectual of petit-bourgeoisie origin. He was Narendra Nath Dutt, subsequently, known by the religious nomenclature of Swami Vivekananda. Like Tilak, Dutt was also a prophet of Hindu nationalism. He was also a believer in the cultural superiority of the Indian people, and held that on this cultural basis should be built the future Indian nation’ He preached that Hinduism, not Indian nationalism, should be
aggressive. His nationalism was spiritual imperialism.”

Now Mr Bardhan, please tell me: Was Vivekananda a believer of Hindu nationalism or was he a secular person of your variety? Were you right then or now? Was he an intellectual of petit bourgeoisie origin, or were his ideas food and ammunition for various developments of the nation as claimed by Benoy Roy and which was quoted in your rebuttal? Was Shourie not right in accusing you and your colleagues for suddenly alighting upon Swami Vivekananda?

I will give you yet another instance. Please turn to page 393 of the party document, where the following appears. “Thus an intelligently rebellious element which otherwise would have been the vanguard of the exploited class in a social struggle had to give in to national preoccupations and contribute itself to a movement for the immediate overthrow of foreign rule, not for progress forward, but in order to go back to an imaginary golden age the fountain-head of India’s spiritual
heritage … In their religiousness and wild spiritual’ imperialism they embodied the reactionary social forces.”

Mr Bardhan. my simple question is: Was Vivekananda a revolutionary or a reactionary as your party document says? Do you stand by your party document or a single comrade’s view expressed in Socio-political views of Vivekananda:” …his revolutionary approach to the problem of liquidating the privileges of the propertied classes and giving the toilers their due share in the national wealth… ” Where do you stand? Did he overlook the immediate overthrow of foreign rule or has he a very special position in inspiring the freedom fighters of the Freedom Movement as mentioned in your rebuttal?

You quoted Mahatma Gandhi in defence of your new-found love for Vivekananda. I am quoting your party document: “The extremists, now called non-cooperators. have had better success than moderates in drawing the masses under the influence of nationalism … But they could not develop the potentiality of the mass movement by leading it in accordance with its economic urges and social tendencies. Their tactics was to strengthen the nationalist movement by the questionable method of exploiting the ignorance of the masses. And the best way of exploiting
tire ignorance of the masses was to make a religion of nationalism. This tactics led to the appearance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the political horizon, and the eclipse of all other politico- social tendencies in the shade of Gandhism.”

So, is it not the same as the charge you are levelling: that Shourie and the Sangh Parivar are making a religion of nationalism? And mixing religion with politics, the “crime” which Mahatma Gandhi also committed?

Veteran communist leader R. Palme Dutt wrote in 1931 that “to all that is young and generous in India the name of Gandhi is an object of cursing and contempt, the name of Judas”. This must be strongly combatted by the communists.

No, Mr Bardhan. the Sangh Parivar and Arun Shourie did not and do not monopolise Vivekananda. While you threw Vivekananda in the dust bin like a rotten egg, calling him a “wild spiritualist”, the Sangh Parivar found in him the biggest asset in the exercise of nation-building. The relationship of Vivekananda with the Sangh movement is very much like a mother-son relationship. Dr Hedgewar, the RSS founder, was a Tilakite.
The second Saranghchalak, Sri Guruji, was in Ram Krishna Mission for two or three years around 1935. One of the most revered central leaders of the RSS, Baba Saheb Apte’s life-long pet sentence was: “Vivekananda is like Gita for the RSS.”

Vivekananda’s literature has always been staple intellectual diet for swayamsewavaks since the early 40s. When the centenary year of Vivekananda was approaching, the RSS entrusted to Eknath Ranade the job of compiling Vivekananda’s thoughts into a handy volume. Ranade adopted it as a one-dimensional mission and brought out the vision of Vivekananda in a book titled, “Rousing call to Hindu nation”, first published in 1963. The 168-page book costs Rs 2. Since then, it has been translated into all Indian languages and underwent numerous reprints.
Over a million copies have been sold so far among the RSS people. Add to that booklets brought out by various publications. “Rousing call to Hindu nation” has been like a textbook and motivating vision for all swayamsevaks. Mr Bardhan, you have flaunted a quotation of lower caste
exploitation and taunted if Shouries and the Sangh Parivar agree to it. Let me add here that the textbook I just spoke about contains admonitions of the upper classes of India. There are numerous quotations like that you have quoted and is not tactical.

The study of Vivekananda convinced Eknath Ranade to build the Vivekananda Rock Memorial temple at Kanya Kumari – the rock where the Swami had meditated in 1893 before going to Chicago. This grand memorial came up only after crossing hundreds of hurdles set up by almost all political parties and many groups. Literally, crores of people contributed to the dream of the rock memorial. Should I remind you, Mr. Bardhan, that all the state government had contributed to that end, barring the one you had in Kerala led by E.M.S. Namboodiripad, despite the best efforts of Eknathji. Let me remind you that when Ranade approached Jyoti Basu for help, the latter questioned. “How dare you come to me for Vivekananda, I am a communist”. But finding Eknathji persuasive, Jyoti Basu told him, “Meet my wife, she had gone to Kanya Kumari when I went to the Ernakulam convention.” Comrade Kalyana Sundaram of Tamil Nadu greeted Eknathji thus: “You have defeated me by coming to me because I was telling my friends that you will not come to me as you know I am a communist. You know I am very much inspired by Vivekananda”. Eknathji had collected signatures of more than 50 per cent MPs to remove the hurdles in the construction work. In the process. The only enthusiastic support that came from “your camp”, was that of comrade Renu Chakravorty, MP, who got a few signatures of other communist MPs, too.

There is no need of reminding you from how many textbooks you removed Vivekananda in West Bengal when you came to power in that state. No, Mr.Bardhan, there is no intention of monopolising Vivekananda. He was not an RSS member. He was the finest Hindu model produced at the end of last century after waves and waves of Hindu awakening from Bhakti Movement to 19th Century renaissance in Bengal and other places. His vision was basically Hindu and was meant for the whole of humanity. You can very well quote Vivekananda provided you apologise for calling him names. Till then, you are just ineligible to quote him.

As to your challenge that Arun Shourie’s and the Sangh Parivar’s vision of Vivekananda is that of a crusader against Islam, etc. I can only say that you believe your own propaganda that the party’s reflexes do not work and are generally delayed by at least 50 yews. Did you concede your
mistake of 1942 before 1970? You were confused about Vivekananda as late as 1990. You started rethinking about him in the late Sixties In a half-hearted manner. It was under your pressure that many references of the word ‘Hindu’ were removed from the latest edition of the eight volumes on Vivekananda, though they existed in earlier editions. Let me remind you that the son of Bipin Chandra Pal substituted the word. “Hindu” with “Indian” in the works of his father. Even today, your acceptance of Vivekananda is not general in nature but partial and that is why you say: “We have never pretended to be Vedantists, and have remained Marxists … as Marxists….we hail his teachings (and) …..inspiring message….” There is a definite anti-Hindu trait in saying. “We are not Vedantists” and yet you quote Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech in
full, which is nothing but uniquely Vedantic. And that is Arun Shourie says: “Stray quotations cannot be set up to counter the entire life and work of such man.”

9/11 – Tale of Two Worldviews – Swami Vivekananda at Chicago and the WTC Tragedy

9/11 marks an important date in World history. It is a day when history was witness to two world views in action in one country, albeit over a difference of one century.

Swami Vivekananda made his historic speech at Chicago on this day, 1893 in the World Parliament of Religions. He won over the audience as well as the Americans as he presented the Hindu philosophy and spoke about how the Hindu nation gave refuge to the persecuted Jews and Parsis. He also warned about the dangers of fanaticism and bigotry.

A century later, On 9/11, 2001, on the same day, a sample of religious fanaticism was demonstrated to the world – “the destruction of the World Trade Centre in America”.

As Vivekananda said

“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair.”

For the sake of world peace, the philosophy of “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah ” and “Ekam Sat” viz, the the Hindu view of life should gain currency and it can happen only by a strong, resurgent Bharat .

Text of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Address at the World’s Parliament of Religions Chicago, 11th September 1893

“Sisters and Brothers of America, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us.

I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.

I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.

I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me.” 

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time has come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Audio of Swami Vivekananda’s speech ( though the voice is not his )  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxUzKoIt5aM


Why Lisa Miller should look at Vivekananda!

S Gurumurthy
First Published : 23 Aug 2009 10:15:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 23 Aug 2009 10:26:23 AM IST

The Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, says this: `Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names.’ A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur’an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal.” This is no monk of the Ramakrishna Mission discoursing on the spiritual teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who had experienced the truth of all three faiths -Hinduism, Islam and Christianity — as valid for their respective faithfuls. It is Lisa Miller, Society editor in Newsweek, in her column (August 15, 2009), “We Are All Hindus Now”. By “We” she means Americans.
Lisa Miller is highly concerned that Americans, while remaining true to their Christian faith otherwise, have begun to think and act like Hindu faithfuls. Here is an account of the interesting rendezvous between modern America and ancient Hinduism and its potential for global religious harmony .
From melting pot to WASP The choice of “We” for Americans by Lisa Miller is intentional. It is calculated to reinstate an attempted debate in the US on “the challenges to America’s national identity” that had failed to take off. Samuel P Huntington, who had prognosticated the clash of faiths and civilisations in the 1990s, later wrote a book in 2002 titled Who Are We? — a question addressed to Americans. Huntington’s answer to the question was that the core American identity — `America’s Creed’ as he puts it — was WASP, that is, White (in race) Anglo-Saxon (in ethnicity) and Protestant (in faith). All other identities, Huntington says, are subordinate. But, unlike his earlier work on clash of civilisations that had set off a furious debate within and outside the US, his theory on WASP as American identity did not.
Now, some history. For over two centuries, the American identity was based on the metaphor of `the melting pot’ where all identities eventually, inevitably melt to become the unique American porridge. The theory of `the melting pot’ is traced back to 1782 when a French settler in New York, J Hector de Crevecoeur, envisioned the US as not merely a land of opportunity but as a society where individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men whose labours and posterity will one day cause change in the world.
But, the metaphor of the `melting pot’ received a jolt after Islamist terror struck at the US from within. The US identity was alternately seen as a `bowl of salads’, where all identities remain, but in the same bowl, that is, the US. But “where is the dressing to cover it all?,” asked the dissenters of the `Salad Bowl’. The result was Huntington’s WASP as the core American identity; but that failed to click.
Now in her article, Lisa Miller seemingly answers Huntington’s titular question “who are we” derisively, yet provocatively. She says `we are `Hindu’ — that means, not WASP! Her conclusion “let us all chant OM”; the emphasis on `us’ can even incite.
The crisis of national identity in the US is evident in the article. Lisa Miller is no novice in matters of faith; she is a specialist. She writes a weekly column “Belief Watch” in Newsweek. Says her bio, `she reports, writes and edits stories on spirituality and belief; she wrote The Politics of Jesus, a cover story in Newsweek (March 10, 2006) on the impact of religion in the midterm elections in the US.’ See why she fears that the US might get Hinduised.
Hinduised America?
After describing how Hindus accept all Gods and all forms of worship as valid, Lisa Miller says: “The most traditional, conservative Christians have not been taught to think like” the Hindus do.
“They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false; Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Shortly, what Lisa Miller says about the two faiths is this: Christianity regards all non-Christian faiths as false, but Hinduism recognises all faiths as valid, as valid as the Hindu creed itself. But, she does not stop at this comparison. She laments that most Christians in the US are beginning to think and believe the way the Hindus do. She says: “recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity.”
Lisa Miller goes on to show how Americans are deviating from the fundamentals of Christianity.
“Americans”, she says, “are no longer buying” the view that Christianity is the only true religion and all other religions are false. She cites a 2008 Pew Forum Survey and says that 65 per cent of “us” believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life”. This includes 37 per cent evangelicals — “the section”, Lisa Miller points out, “most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone”. She adds. For the Hindus who believe in rebirth, the soul alone is sacred; for the Christians, who do not believe in rebirth, their body is as sacred as the soul; yet a third of the Americans, up from six per cent in 1975, cremate their dead like Hindus. Worse, a fourth of the Americans believe in rebirth, according to Harris 2008 poll, like Hindus. More. And some 30 per cent of the Americans, up from 20 in 2005, say “they are spiritual, not religious”; this marginalises the Church. She implies that these are just consequences of the American Christian distancing from the basic tenet of Christianity as the only true faith and all other faiths as false.
`Semitic’ propensity for conflict But, what is wrong if American Christians refuse to regard the other faiths as false? Is it not the right approach to accommodate other faiths in a world of diverse faiths? Two-thirds of Christians in America believe in Christianity and, at the same time, they do not view other faiths as false. She knows that those Americans, who do not hate the other faiths as false, still believe in Christianity.
But she does not seem to regard mere belief in Christianity Christian enough, unless the faith extends more to dismiss — that is hate — all other faiths as false. This view directly flows from belief that the sacred text of Christianity, which proclaims it as the only true faith and others false, is inerrant. This is what has come to be known as fundamentalism. Lisa Miller’s view clearly seems fundamentalist. This leads to how this fundamental tenet has been the very source of intolerance.
The Encyclopaedia of Britannica, compiled mostly by Christian intellectuals, says that in the very view that Christianity is the only true faith and other faiths are false inheres intolerance. It says, “Christianity, from its beginning, tended toward an intolerance that was rooted in its religious self-consciousness. Christianity understands itself as revelation of the divine truth that became man in Jesus Christ himself….To be a Christian is to `follow the truth’ (III John); …He who does not acknowledge the truth is an enemy “of the cross of Christ” (Phil 3:18); he “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25) and made himself advocate and confederate of the “adversary, the devil” (I Pet 5:8). Thus one cannot make a deal with the devil and his party — and in this lies the basis for the intolerance of Christianity (15Ed. Vol4. Pp.49192). That is, recognising other faiths as valid amounts to making “a deal with the devil”. The fundamental command to regard other faiths as false, which is what, in Lisa Miller’s view, makes one a true Christian, has the propensity and potential for conflicts; it has actually led to violent conflicts in history. This propensity and potential is shared by the three monotheistic faiths — Judaism, Islam and Christianity. That is why the Fundamentalism Project of Chicago University found that the “traits of fundamentalism are more accurately attributed to” sacred text-based Abrahamic faiths — read the monotheistic ones — “than to their cousins” in the East, namely Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Confucianism (Fundamentalisms Observed, University of Chicago, p820). This brings the discourse closer to India.
Hinduised Christianity?
While Lisa Miller complains about Hinduisation of the (`Semitic’) Christianity in the US, the secular intellectuals object to semitisation of Hinduism in India! The seculars who complain about semitisation dare not name any faith as `Semitic’, even though, by `Semitic’, they can mean only the Abrahamic. Scholars like Sitaram Goel and Konrad Elst say that the label `Semitic’ is “hopelessly inaccurate” for the Abrahamic faiths besides sounding anti-`Semitic’ to the Western ears. Yet the Indian seculars insist on the word `Semitic’ for the Abrahamic faiths. Keeping aside the label issue, move on to the core of the debate and its history. Dr Karan Singh first characterised the rise of Hindutva in 1990s as semitisation of Hinduism; later, the secular intellectuals appropriated the label! The Ayodhya movement, which gave birth to the ideology of Hindutva, had challenged the views of Indian seculars who had, for decades, derided Hinduism as “illiberal” and “inequitable” and successfully de-legitimised Hinduism in the Indian public domain. But, the rise of Hindutva in 1990s made it tough for them to continue their anti-Hindu line; so they not only U-turned, but also fell in love with Hinduism and, more, certified it as “liberal”! They went on to distinguish the “liberal” Hinduism from the “illiberal” and “semitisised” Hindutva; they castigated Hindutva for importing `Semitic’ features into the liberal, tolerant Hinduism. But, surprisingly, in the entire debate, the seculars would not name the “illiberal” and “intolerant” `Semitic’ faiths — read the Abrahamic faiths — nor say what objectionable features of theirs Hindutva imports into Hinduism! Here the secular scholars in India have been less than open and honest, while Lisa Miller has been brutally explicit and honest. She says that Hinduism is polluting the American Christian beliefs.
Lisa Miller’s logic seems to be: what is the Christianity left of Christianity if Christians do not believe it to be the only true faith and see other faiths as false. In Lisa Miller’s view, while Hinduism accepts all faiths as valid as itself, a true Christian has to believe that only his faith is true and that even Hinduism, which accepts other faiths, is a false faith. But the secular scholars in India have no guts to say about the `Semitic’ faiths what Lisa Miller says about the Hindu faith.
The need to de-semitisise The charge of semitisisation of Hinduism by the seculars is political, not theological. The real issue is the need for de-semitisising the `Semitic’ — that is Abrahamic — faiths. Beginning with Swami Vivekananda’s expositions on inter-religious harmony the discourse of the Hindu school has been a continuous plea for `de-semitisising’ the `Semitic’ faiths. Vivekananda even wanted India to be “junction of Vedanta brain and Islamic body”; that is India, with Hindus and Muslims, should have a body, organised and united like the Muslims, and a mind liberated by Vedanta — namely a society organised on Vedanta as the core thought. That is, organised Hindus and de-semitisised Muslims! His was a call for the de-semitisisation of all `Semitic’ faiths; mention of Islam was just the context. The `de-semitisisation’, which Vivekananda had pleaded for, seems to have started in Christianity in US with American Christians beginning to accept, like Hindus do, the other faiths too as valid. Yet, despite that being a welcome development, Lisa Miller is clearly frightened of the de-semitisation process.
But unless the `Semitic’ faiths `de-semitisise’, they will not be able to contain their inherent propensity for conflict. When a faith says that the other faiths are false, as in Lisa Miller’s view Christianity does, it is an invitation for conflict with other religions. In contrast, if each religion accepts that other religions are as true, will that not put an end to clash between religions? This is conflict avoidance. This has been the very fundamental of Hindu approach to other faiths. A religion — read Hinduism — which believes that all religions are as valid as itself, has no potential for conflict with other religions. And a religion — read a `Semitic’ faith — which believes that its faith and God alone, are true and all other religions as false, has all propensity for conflict with other religions.
Once a faith is declared to be false, does it not become an object of hate? How then can religious harmony be achieved if some religions declare other religions to be false?
This is where opinion-makers like Lisa Miller need to rethink. What she sees as the USP of Christianity — namely Christians believing in their faith as the true faith and other faiths as false -has the propensity and potential to dynamite global religious harmony; more so because Christianity is the largest faith in the world. Her logic equally applies to what Islam also believes in, namely that Islam alone is true and all others including Christianity false. And that is what inspired the terrorists to attack the US on 9/11. If Christians are mandated by their Text to think that theirs is the only true faith and others as false, Islamists too are mandated by their Text to think likewise.
Where will the two conflicting and explosive mandates against all other faiths lead the world? Here is where the Hindu view that all religions are true is not only relevant, but seems to be the only way out of the dangers of religious fanaticism. The Hindu faith itself is different from the Hindu view of other faiths. By saying that each faith is sacred for its followers, a Hindu does not cease to be a Hindu. Likewise if a Muslims or Christians say that all faiths are as valid as theirs, they are no less Muslims or Christians. They remain Christians or Muslims and accept others faith as valid; they only become less sectarian.
It needs no seer to say that the features of `Semitic’ faiths, which tend to promote conflict with other faiths, need to be given up — that is, the `Semitic’ faiths need to be de-semitisised. That is the only way out of the current drift towards religious and civilisational clashes. This is what Swami Vivekananda had warned the world, particularly the West, on September 11, 1893, exactly 108 years to the date of the religious terror strike at the US on September 11, 2001. The young Indian monk, who was just 30 then, pleaded before the august audience of religious elders of the world against “sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism” which, he pointed out, “have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair.” How far-sighted a warning?
Yet, Lisa Miller seems to lament, instead of celebrating, the decline of bigotry and sectarianism in her faith. And the Indian seculars are still impeding, instead of enabling, the emergence of the non-conflicting Hindu thought as the global mediator between different faiths. Will Lisa Miller look at Vivekananda? Will our seculars and leftists heed him?
From THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS 23, August 2009