Swami Vivekananda's Fiery Takedowns of Predatory Evangelism Must be Made Prescribed Reading for our Children
Notes On Culture

Swami Vivekananda's Fiery Takedowns of Predatory Evangelism Must be Made Prescribed Reading for our Children

An annotated exposition of Swami Vivekananda's doughty takedowns of Christian Missionary Perfidies

JK

Wherever I go in the world, I see Jehovah’s Witnesses standing on the roadside with pamphlets in various languages. I have seen this both in United States and Europe. Every year the church sends crores of rupees to India to convert Hindus and Love Jihadis target Hindu girls. To Hindus, who are used to multiple panthas living together, multiple darshanas accepted as scripture and as followers of various gurus with radically different styles, this intolerance is an alien concept. Swami Vivekananda, using the concept of Ishta, explains why various sects never quarrelled in India.

In a speech delivered in Jaffna, following his address at the Parliament of Nations, Swamiji noted

The Shaivite does not say that every Vaishnavite is going to be damned, nor the Vaishnavite that every Shaivite will be damned. The Shaivite says, this is my path, and you have yours; at the end we must come together. They all know that in India. This is the theory of Ishta. It has been recognised in the most ancient times that there are various forms of worshipping God. It is also recognised that different natures require different methods.

According to Hindu tradition, based on various proportions of sattva, rajas and tamas, we all have different nature. Based on that nature, there are different method of worship and hence what works for you may not work for me. Most of us understand this innately, without understanding the yogic aspects behind this. Swamiji warns that the idea that there is only one way for everyone is “injurious, meaningless, and entirely to be avoided.”

Woe unto the world when everyone is of the same religious opinion and takes to the same path. Then all religions and all thought will be destroyed. Variety is the very soul of life. When it dies out entirely, creation will die.

Swamiji then introduces the Sanskrit word Ishta. He calls it my way. Now my way is good for me, but probably not for you. Similarly your way is good for you, but not for me. Christian missionaries hate this. For them, your way is the highway to hell and my way is the only way. Hence the Hindus have to be converted either by force, by incentives or through educational institutions. They talk of love, but the goal is the destruction of our way of life, because it is different from theirs.

You see extreme versions of this even now. John Allen Chau, the missionary was killed in Andaman on an adventure to convert the natives. Here are some places missionaries have been found since time immemorial: they are found in crossfire in war zones. They have served as spies. They show up in hostile countries with the Bible speaking of love. Mother Theresa fooled an entire generation with her story of compassion.

Next, Swamiji counters:

Their love does not count for much. How can they preach of love who cannot bear another man to follow a different path from their own? If that is love, what is hatred? We have no quarrel with any religion in the world, whether it teaches men to worship Christ, Buddha, or Mohammed, or any other prophet. “Welcome, my brother,” the Hindu says, “I am going to help you; but you must allow me to follow my way too. That is my Ishta. Your way is very good, no doubt; but it may be dangerous for me. My own experience tells me what food is good for me, and no army of doctors can tell me that.

In India, we have the freedom to worship the formless or a thousand forms, to go to temples or perform pujas, do Japa, or yoga. But “the moment you quarrel, you are not going Godward, you are going backward, towards the brutes.”

Due to this concept of Advaita, everyone and everything, apparently contradictory ideas can live in harmony. This is the one lesson that India has to offer to the world. This is a concept that missionaries will never understand. They will never understand what Ishta is. The intolerance that they exhibit and the religious persecution around the world are because they don’t have the concept of unity in everything. Swamiji says:

If you go to other countries and ask Mohammedans or people of other religions to build a temple for you, see how they will help. They will instead try to break down your temple and you too if they can. The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy.

More bitingly, Swami Vivekananda called out the innate Christian perfidy acting out in the pictures shown in textbooks for schoolchildren. As Maoists mysteriously kill Hindu swamis and rape victims miraculously appear, there is little discussion on the material created and distributed by the missionaries. Their literature needs to be collected and displayed for it will expose them for what they really are: peddlers of hate in the name of a Palestinian Jew who preached love.

What is meant by those pictures in the school-books for children where the Hindu mother is painted as throwing her children to the crocodiles in the Ganga? The mother is black, but the baby is painted white, to arouse more sympathy and get more money. If all India stands up, and takes all the mud that is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean and throws it up against the Western countries, it will not be doing an infinitesimal part of that which you are doing to us.

This caused Swamiji to ask a rhetorical question, “What have the Hindus done to these disciples of Christ that every Christian child is taught to call the Hindus “vile”, and “wretches”, and the most horrible devils on earth?.”

The missionary tactics have not changed since the days of Swami Vivekananda. If anything, they have escalated a great deal and the Christian Church has acquired frightening levels of political and bureaucratic power. As Maoists aligned with missionaries mysteriously kill Hindu swamis and rape victims miraculously appear, there is little discussion on the material created and distributed by the missionaries. Their literature needs to be collected and displayed for it will expose them for what they really are: peddlers of hate in the name of a Palestinian Jew who preached love.

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