The Soul of Vivekananda: Hinduism, Not Hindutva

swami vivekananda

The idea of picturising Vivekananda just as an old school master of Hindutva is where we commit the mistake. Forever it has been said that Vivekananda established the road to Hindutva just because the right wing brigade uses him to establish a monopoly over Hinduism in the name of Hindutva. The roof of Hinduism has been interpreted in a very evil and disastrous manner by the right wing brigade and more than that, those who oppose Hindutva, spoil the good side of Hinduism. We cannot forget that the nation we live in attained its pride for the diversity it keeps between its boundaries. It is also not be ignored that in more than many areas, Hinduism had some evil constructs which were later opposed by the practical people of the same religion. From the Vedas to Upanishads, no book encouraged the people of this nation to build something called as Hindutva. Rather, the Hindutva we see would be firmly criticised the Vedas and Upanishads themselves. When Savarkar build the idea of Hindutva, he was criticised by the followers of Aurobindo Ghosh and Vivekananda, which says about the reality of the dilemma we are told to believe in.

The monk named Vivekananda is presently seen merely as a chess piece (black or white) by the Hindutva extremists while those who have hardly read him or have truly kept him as an opposition have seen him as a dart board so that they can surround the saffron with their own ideology. If we study his teachings, in almost every area, we would find him standing in an opposite pole to that of Hindutva. Savarkar constructed Hindutva to be against the Moslems of the nation. He blamed the Moslems and called them “less Indians” and never accepted the idea of inclusiveness. It is visible when he killed Gandhi using Godse, just because Gandhi wanted an inclusive nation. Today the right wing parties we see in our nation have the seed of that Hindutva which hates to be inclusive. We keep Vivekananda right next to Savarkar just because we believe in what we are told and not on the consciousness. The mistakes we commit is the reason we are in this dark pit where we could be easily hypnotised. Vivekananda would have been the first one to go against Hindutva for he believed in making an Hinduism which approves inclusiveness, never prefers to entertain exclusive identity. To be honest, to understand diversity one must read and understand Vivekananda.

In one of his speeches Savarkar said, “Their [Muslims’ and Christians’] holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine. Their mythology and Godmen, ideas and heroes are not the children of this soil. Consequently their names and their outlook smack of foreign origin. Their love is divided”. We can clearly see the exclusive mindset and the propaganda flourishing to poison a nation. Never the same has been said in the Vedas or Vedantas or the Upanishads. Swami Vivekananda said – “Vedanta understands that and therefore preaches the one principle and admits various methods. It has nothing to say against anyone—whether you are a Christian, or a Buddhist, or a Jew, or a Hindu, whatever mythology you believe, whether you owe allegiance to the prophet of Nazareth, or of Mecca, or of India, or anywhere else, whether you yourself are a prophet—it has nothing to say. It only preaches the principle which is the background of every religion and of which all the prophets and saints and seers are but illustrations and manifestations”. The idea of Hindutva is a new born baby which became the demon for the subjects it got.

From the edges of Hindutva, we see its barren teachings on tolerance and modernity. According to Hindutva, development should happen by being cynical and to spread the market just to defeat other communities and the illusion it kept was an “illusion of nation development”. They had to breed the illusion to survive for they cannot attack the thinking of the followers of Hinduism rather, if they could inculcate “nationalism”, it would be easier to capture a nation which has always lived for its pride. On the other hand, Vivekananda for the first time preached for education of the youth. He firmly believed that the nation would wake up only when there would be education of the mind, body and soul. No matter how much we deny, we cannot survive without a sound mind, a conscious body and a pure soul. Sadly, today we give our complete effort to blend both of them just to have a happy conclusion with our objective attained. The nation has lived on the ideology of the latter to have a sound nation with proper debates and cultural efficiency.

The “so called dogmas” associated with the ideologies of the present have made a conclusion of Vivekananda being the man from whom the present Hindutva originated. It is like saying the universe exists for the first atom it had and that atom decided the uniqueness of the vast universe we wonder about. An absolute lie/illusion! Vivekananda believed in accepting the manifestations of religion and we can’t disassociate with the beliefs to debate on beliefs. For once we have to be in religion to have a healthy debate. One can be an atheist and yet he would find Vivekananda as a manifestation of conscience. In one of his letters Vivekananda said,

“At first it is to be cleared that I do not belong to any group or community. Every community is great to me. I love all of them and tried to extract the truth and goodness from among them – throughout my life … Those who have grasped the real meaning of religion do not quarrel with its different manifestations.”

One doesn’t have to be a rocket science expert to understand what he said and how he was way different from the preachers of Hindutva. For the Moslems, Vivekananda has always been a good advocate. He was sad when he heard about the communal riots before Independence and spoke of the unfortunate Hindus who still go so blind that they could not see the beauty of diversity and tolerance. He believed that the Moslems have the same right to stay in India and be equal to the Hindus and if someone uses Hinduism to oppress Moslems, than he has no right to call himself/herself as a Hindu. Today, when the “so called Communists” criticise him in all the wrong manners, I find them to be no different from the Hindutva humbugs. They are just two sides of the same coin. It is he who first instituted the idea of communal harmony when he spoke that the Hindus and Moslems cannot survive without one another. They have to be the same body to be a conscious human.

Today when we speak of Ram Mandir, one group attacks the other either to establish the supremacy of one ideology or to claim the religion as their own copyright. Even before the establishment of this debate in such a hot manner, Vivekananda ended it by saying that one cannot cage almighty who is made of five elements of this universe inside an idol and between brick walls just to establish the supremacy of Hindus being greater than Moslems. Today the Hindutva humbugs and those against them often forget that Vivekananda believed that beef eating has always been a part and parcel of Hinduism. Swamiji said, “You will be astonished that according to previous norms all the true Hindus were beefeater. Eating cow-meat was a precondition to be a true Hindu. Slaughtering cow was a norm in some festivals. Today we think that he is idolized for he crafted Hinduism but it is a narrow vision. He crafted the society and to understand him one has to read him without being a critic of narrow vision. I agree in some areas he was rigid but it is to be understood that no matter how great a monk becomes, he is a human and humans are gray, not black or white.

Kabir Deb is a published writer and poet. Born in Haflong and completed his Masters on Life Sciences from Assam University. His work has been published from different national and international magazine like Different Truths, Counter Currents, Reviews, Cafe Dissensus, Spillwords magazine and his works rely on political activisvm. He recently won the Reuel International Poetry Prize in 2019.




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