Monday, July 16, 2007

#60, West they have now attained to Kshatriyahood, from which the next step is Brahminhood;

-Sometimes Swami Vivekananda speaks/writes very wisely. And sometimes, he uses strange logic. When he express his modern ideas, there is no problem. The strangeness enters when he tries to support his outdated beliefs. Or sometimes, though there are good cogent/logical arguments to support his actions, probably because of lack of time, or his very nature of spontaneity, he uses a weak reason to bolster his actions. Swamiji believed in the traditional Caste system. He did not like the system of a person getting his caste by birth. The contradiction is the two things cannot go together because of divergence between theory and practice.

The above comments and the following discussion is based on reminiscences recorded by Shri Priya Nath Sinha, a boyhood friend of Swamiji.

In one conversation Shri Sinha questioned the justification of teaching Mantras to the Westerners.

A straight reply could have been to say that they cannot be concealed from humanity; they cannot be the privilege of priests by birth. Instead Swamiji used a round about route of circumlocution.

"...The qualities of being a Brahmin or a Kshatriya are dying out from the country; but in the West they have now attained to Kshatriyahood, from which the next step is Brahminhood; and many there are who have qualified themselves for that. ..."

*What are all these hoods?

"...Did you not hear that the nephew of Aghore Chakravarti of Baghbazar became a sweeper and actually used to do all the menial services of his adopted caste? Was he not the son of a Brahmin? ..."

*Is a born/adopted sweeper not entitled to learn meditation or mantras?

There are about 20 conversations in Priya Nath Sinha's reminiscences. In most of these he raised very pertinent questions to Swamiji. The replies given by Swamiji appear to be excellent when read prima facie. But when studied in depth, their shallowness comes out.

Vivekananda wants Bengalees to stop wearing European shirts. According to him, the Europeans wore them as underwear! They did not like to be seen wearing them outside.

Comment: Europeans and Americans may appear in full suits of several pieces because of cold climate. In India, there is no need of so many pieces. Even the monk-hood dress including his turban worn by Vivekananda consumes lot of cloth, which poor people in India cannot afford. Besides in a hot humid climate semi-nudeness gives instant relief. Gandhiji realised all these and just preferred to wear a loin-cloth like the poor Indian of those days. Wearing a European shirt or a Bengali kurta or just a tea-shirt or a cut banian, these things could be left to individuals depending on the climate, choices and preferences.

(To be continued. This will be subject to corrections and modifications).

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