Vivekananda – Action Monk

A cartoon was recently posted in The Print, a shot of that is posted here:

The words of Vivekananda, in the cartoon above, is an understatement. If Indians today, particularly those nationalistic kind, happen to read Vivekananda and understand his views on India and Hindus, they will not like it one bit and may campaign to rub out all SV Roads in India.

Vivekananda’s views on Hindus are pretty contemptuous, if not insulting. The only redeeming factor is, he labored throughout his life to get the “Hindus up to speed.” And he has written about his plans in his innumerable letters.

He considered Hindus to be misers, imbeciles, selfish, and a waste.

He said, “Don’t-Touchism” is the true religion of India and not “Hinduism.”

After reading his two compilations of letters, “Vivekananda on Himself” and “Letters of Vivekananda” I have come to refer Vivekananda as the “Action Monk.” If Vivekananda wouldn’t have been a monk, he would have definitely been an entrepreneur of some sort.

Many of Vivekananda’s letters are fire, and vile and bile on the state of Hindus and the Hindu religion and practices. It’s a wonder that most of those letters are still available and in print. Had he wrote that today, he would have been Trolled out of India.

Besides the virulent nature of his writings in personal letters, there is also equivalent nature of compassion and an absolute trust in the “True Hindu” religion. But the aspect of religion were only reserved for the West and the well-fed. For India, he got people to go out across the country for education. His “First Principal” was to get people out of “Indolence” and into “Activity.”

Also, what one gets from his letters are his plans to develop a network of influences and to set up offices, establishments and institutions everywhere to forward his ideas. He displayed one key trait of an entrepreneur – his ability to raise funds.

His networking with rich and the powerful, and mostly ladies of America, (and UK) also got him lots of support and disciples, many of them followed him back to India and also managed his “Ashrams” and offices in India as well as abroad.

Vivekananda came into prominence on 11th Sep 1893, with his speech in Chicago. He did not waste this instant popularity and parleyed his newfound visibility into gaining further contacts and influences with the rich and the powerful and the benevolent. For the next 7 years it was nonstop networking and fundraising. Out of his busy schedule he also found time to write several books. He made known his intention for writing a book in a letter saying – he should not leave the US without leaving behind some “documentation.”

Vivekananda was obsessed with “failed state of Hindus” and his plans were to galvanise the “dead mass of Indians” into action. In this he showed absolute confidence.

Vivekananda died in 1902, just short of 40. His “kickass” manner may have worked because the new century gave birth to new leaders in India and a new kind of activism. Vivekananda says several times in his letters, referring Indians as great misers who never gave money for anything constructive. But when Mahatma Gandhi arrives in India from South Africa on January 1914 he found a different India. Every one of Gandhi’s prayer meetings were also fund raisers and Gandhi was never short of funds.

The Action Monk may have done his magic.

Vivekananda scope was huge. He bought Hills and acres of land, in India and abroad, to setup his “Math.” One of them is in Kolkatta – Belur Math – my favorite place.

Links to Reading materials, PDFs and Links
Download “Vivekananda on Himself” HERE
Download “Letters of Vivekananda” HERE
Access “All Volumes on Vivekananda” HERE
Link of “Vivekananda Speech in World Parliament of Religion 11th Sep 1893” HERE