Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed May 26 16:56:58 CDT 1999

On Wed, 26 May 1999, Sunder Hattangadi wrote:

> This is a revelation to me! Vivekananda, who was introduced by Prof. Wright,
> Prof. of Philosophy at Harvard, to the Chairman of the Parliament of
> Religions, as one " who knows more Philosophy than all the Professors here
> combined"; who was hosted by Max-Muller and Deussen, the leading
> Indologists and Sanskritists of the day; who stayed with B.G.Tilak for 10
> days in Pune in 1893 (before he assumed the name of Vivekananda); who could
> discuss Paninian grammar with a scholar from Kerala; who could compose
> inspired poetry in Bengali, English, and Sanskrit; who un-learned the
> Bengali accent so he could chant the Vedas correctly; who learned French in
> 6 mos. to give a scholarly leacture in French, in Paris; who could quote
> verbatim from any volume of the Encyclopedia Brittanica; who read German in
> Deussen's presence and gave him the gist in English flawlessly!!!!!
> Rather than express such banal and flippant assessment, it would be better
> to give the quotes where he has misunderstood the Nachiketa story, and
> where it differs from Shankara's bhashya.
> Vivekananda did not  proofread every lecture that was later published by
> his disciples. The most important works on Yogas he did definititely edit.

Banal perhaps but hardly flippant.  I see Vivekananda as an apologist
for Vedanta to the Christians, colonialized Indians etc. not as a
faithful guide to Vedic/Vedantic teachings.  I mean the thing about Manu?
Come on, I knew that from Amar Chitra Katha comics.  I'm not saying an
apologist wasn't what was needed at the time--it is difficult for us to
realize what an enormous impact contact with the West had--but frankly I
just don't see what his appeal for today.  The whole phenomenon of the
"Hindu rennaissance" and why it still has any attraction for people is
fascinating to me.  But I think that is veering away a little from the
topic of the list.

The episode of Nachiketas is an interesting and important one and as I
said I believe it is often misinterpreted.  But I won't do anyone the
disrespect of giving them a flippant answer so I will write up my thoughts
and post them a little later.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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