Ramakrishna and Vivekananda

Ashish Chandra achandra at WNMAIL.WNDEV.ATT.COM
Mon Mar 15 17:44:36 CST 1999


To answer your first question in one line, Swamiji said this before he
attained recognition in the West. Such is the destiny of our heroes that
they remain unsung until they are sung about outside.

And I don't think you should feel too bad about Swami Vivekananda using
language like "follow him like a dog", you should also not forget some of
the language that Sri Shankaracharya has used to describe his opponents,
including Gautama Buddha. While Sri Shankara may not have used such words
as did Swamiji, the idea is that only age brings about wisdom. The youth of
Swamiji as well as Adi Shankara was probably at play when they went on to
describe their opponents. While I am not quoting this with any
authoritative work to refer to, this can probably be taken as being true
prima facie.

As to why the Pundits of Kashi were opposed to him; why just Kashi, almost
all of orthodoxy; the answer is not so simple. The frontline of criticism
that the Pundits leveled at Swamiji was that he was a Sudra and had no
right to read the Vedas.

What you have said about Swami Vivekananda being a marginal figure is just
about as true as stating that Sri Shankara's teachings are irrelevant
today. And yes, Swami Vivekananda did make the society fall at his feet
although he did profess his distaste for hero worship.

When you go on and make irresponsible statements like so-and-so being a
marginal figure, you are bound to invite the kind of response your comments
have generated. So I doubt they are "simple" comments.

Oddly enough I didn't find it very hard to find people who knew God.  But
then again I was looking for people who had seen Hindu Gods whereas
Vivekananda was looking for a 19th century liberal protestant God which may
be a bit harder to come by.
Honestly, I don't know how he got this reputation for being some kind of
expert on Vedanta.  He was a marginal figure, not very well-versed in the
subject.  Whatever utility he has today is in explaining Vedanta to
outsiders and even there I think you can do much better.
No the problem these days is not a lack of information or guides, but a
lack of people who'll _do_ anything with these resources.

Do you think these are simple statements ? I *do not* take issue with
whether or not Swamiji is the foremost Adviatin since so-and-so. Merely
with such crude characterization of a great leader. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa
has been described to have perfected all the modes of Yoga/Worship, even
non-Hindu ones. But he is known more because of Swami V although SV would
claim the opposite. There may be great teachers of Advaitam today in India
but to envision a change in the way a civilization would be defined takes a
lot more than mere scriptural erudition. Swami V's mission was exactly what
he has done, and not to portray himself, or be portrayed, as any authority
on scriptures.


"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
List archives : http://listserv.tamu.edu/archives/advaita-l.html

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list