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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 50, November 30, 2013

Unfortunate Efforts by Communal Forces to Misuse the Name of Swami Vivekananda

Sunday 1 December 2013, by Bharat Dogra



It is clear from the reasons given by a Chicago interfaith organisation for withdrawing support to the 150th birth aniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda in the USA that their main objection was to the very unfortunate domi-nation of this event by some persons and organisations having strong sectarian learnings which cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Swami Vivekananda based on communal harmony.

We in India have also been disturbed by the strong efforts of such sectarian elements to try to appropriate the legacy of Swami Vivekananda although it is clear that Vivekananda stood strongly for inter-faith harmony.

At a time when the 150th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is being celebrated, it is essential to recall the values of universal love and brotherhood/sisterhood which constitute the essence of Swamiji’s message to a world increasingly troubled by fanaticism and revival of religious intolerance in new forms.

In place of the intolerant attitude of religions which placed any one religion in opposition or rivalry to others, Vivekananda emphasised service of other human beings and other forms of life on the basis of all religions.

Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, has written in a recent review of Swami Vivekananda’s work: “Service to humanity is service to God was the main principle of his gospel to social service.”

Swamiji said: “After so much tapasya and austerity, I’ve known that the highest truth is this: He is present in all beings. These are all the manifested forms of Him. There is no other God to seek for. He alone is worshipping God who serves all beings.”

“Humankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of THE RELIGION which is oneness, so that each may choose the path that suits him best.”

“If you go below the surface, you find that unity between man and man, between races and races, high and low, rich and poor, gods and men, and men and animals. If you go deep enough, all will be seen as only variation of the one, and he who has attained to this conception of Oneness has no more delusion.”

These are the basic values of unity of all human beings and equal concern for all forms of life which form the base of Vivekananda’s message to the world. So how is it that religious fanatics and communal elements have been misusing the teachings of Swamiji? This is a question we must ask, because Swamiji’s warning against fanaticism is very firm and clear.

This is apparent, above all, from his famous Chicago speech at the World Congress of Religions in 1893.

So it is very disturbing that people tainted with very serious allegations of communal violence are using the name of Swami Vivekananda on a large scale. This should be opposed by true followers of Swami Vivekananda as this damages his true legacy.

If any efforts are made whether in the USA or elsewhere to carefully check the real credentials of those who associate themselves with Swami Vivekananda then such efforts should be welcomed.

It has also been pointed out in the context of the USA celebrations that there were objections to Baba Ramdev being invited as a chief guest. He has been campaigning for Narendra Modi in India.

It will also be of interest to know what Baba Ramdev had said earlier about Bapu Asaram. As per the widely distributed publicity material of Bapu Asaram’s organisations depicting the picture of Baba Ramdev and Bapu Asaram. Ramdev stated: “I felt gratified by the darshan of Bapu Asaram. Almost everyone in this world has lost hope and needs Asaram. Venerable respected he is needed by the entire world.” Then he called upon the Bapu: “Please keep showing us the path, we will keep following you and one day we’ll reach our destination.”

Baba Ramdev alone can explain what destination he hopes to reach by following Bapu Asaram.

Bharat Dogra

C-27 Raksha Kunj,

Paschim Vihar,

New Delhi-110063

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