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