Vivekananda (was: IA migration etc., - scholarly debate)

Bijoy Misra bmisra at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Tue Mar 24 22:32:59 UTC 1998


I have been off the list for a while and today I notice
this huge discussion on Swami Vivekananda, which looks
to me has little basis on this list.  He was a religious
reformer and tried his best given the social conditions
prevailing in nineteenth century India.  He gave speeches
and composed some hymns.

All missionaries in the world could be denegrated because
of their dogmatic views.  We should keep religion and academy
separate.  Mother Theresa opposed abortion, wanted people
baptised to receive help.  These actions or thoughts didn't
reduce her being a great personality in this century.
So was Swami Vivekanaanda.  He spoke well (I am given to
understand) and he had a special knack to arouse the germ
of Indian thoughts.  Ramakrishna Mission, initiated by him,
has been singularly responsible in compiling thousands of
manuscripts.  His efforts to provide medical help through
missionary efforts have been exemplary and hence he has
found a place in thousands of homes and minds.

But finally, we should examine critical work by scholars
and not speeches by missionaries!  We would get lost
if we try the later..  It's difficult to understand why
missionaries do what they do.  At the same time, more
money is spent in churches and temples than understanding
death or finding roots in Indology.  Why a person needs a
faith to live on, is a different track of discussion (I think)..

Bijoy Misra

On Tue, 24 Mar 1998, Luis Gonzalez-Reimann wrote:

> At 02:15 AM 3/23/98 -0200, Robert Zydenbos wrote:
> >Only after some further study has been made of just how much of V.'s
> writing is actually read and discussed in India (and how it is) will we be
> able to form a proper judgment about whether _V._ really is admired, rather
> than the myth around him that catches people's imagination. Until then, any
> statements that _he_ is 'important', 'relevant', 'admired', etc. etc. are
> without scholarly significance.
> But, is this really a valid parameter?  Does the importance of Christianity
> depend on how well Christians know the Bible?  Or is it the myth around
> Jesus (and the saints) that 'catches people's imagination'?
> Luis Gonzalez-Reimann

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