Sunday, November 4, 2007

#105, leave the peasants and labourers to look to their own problem

The general impression is that Swami Vivekananda did great service to the peasants and landless. This is because of his sloganistic approaches.

I am unable to trace from his Complete Works, even a single instance where he met the peasants, agricultural laborers or the urban poor. The only one instance we come across his meeting workers, is about his cooking food and serving to the workers engaged in constructing the Belur Math Building, during his last days.

Very little is found in Vivekananda literature which discusses the real life grass root work place problems of the peasants, agricultural laborers, rural artisans and other workers.

The following paragraph of his letter dated Feb. 21, 1900 to Swami Akhandananda, his brother-disciple, from California, USA gives an indication about his approach to problems of the peasants and workers.

"... The moment they will come to understand their own condition and feel the necessity of help and improvement, know that your work is taking effect and is in the right direction, while the little good that the moneyed classes, out of pity, do to the poor, does not last, and ultimately it does nothing but harm to both parties. The peasants and labouring classes are in a moribund condition, so what is needed is that the moneyed people will only help them to regain their vitality, and nothing more. Then leave the peasants and labourers to look to their own problem, to grapple with and solve it. But then you must take care not to set up class-strife between the poor peasants, the labouring people, and wealthy classes. Make it a point not to abuse the moneyed classes. " — The wise man should achieve his own object. ... "

Vivekananda's softness to the rich is very clear. What Vivekananda could not recognise was that it was not due to lack of awareness that the rural poor were not able to resurrect themselves, but owing to NON AVAILABILITY OF WHEREWITHAL required for the CLIMBING IN THE SOCIAL LADDER. Land was locked up in the hands of zamindars and big farmers. Money was in the hands of Merchants who bought produce cheap. Vivekananda did not realise that there was no use of empty preaching!
When Vivekananda says that "wise man should achieve his own object", what it means? His own object seems to be different from helping the rural poor and peasants. At the time of writing this letter to Akhandananda, Vivekananda was working very hard giving lectures to mobilise Dollars in USA for his personal purposes (Second visit). He, therefore, apparently did not want Akhandananda bring up new problems to him (Vivekananda) by starting peasant or rural-poor movements.

Now, let us juxtapose the work done by Swami Sahajananda Saraswati, a Hindu monk of Bihar. He was also a sanyasi who should have spent his days in giving lectures. But the work done by him was real hardcore. Here I furnish a link below of a speech by Shri M.V. Nadkarni, former Vice Chancellor of Gulbarga University: This is a news item from Deccan Herald reporting at Gulbarga. A paragraph about the work of Swami Sahajananda Saraswati:

"... Referring to Swami Sahajananda Saraswati in Bihar, he said, the seer had organised the downtrodden and exploited people against landlords.

He played an important role in getting land for the landless. But he never organised the exploited and downtrodden classes in the name of Hindu religion, he averred. ..."

Economic and Political Weekly dated April 22, 2006 contains an article on "Political Economy of Agricultural Distress". I furnish below a link to it for the readers who want to read the article in full:

A quote from the article:--

"... While the organisation of the peasants beganunder the aegis of the Congress, the movement acquired somecohesiveness under the leadership of the socialist leaders suchas Sahajananda Saraswati and Indulal Yagnik or N G Ranga. Thecommunist entry imparted militancy and anti-feudal ideology tothe peasant struggles. "

The autobiography of Swami Sahajananda Saraswati is worth reading. I read its Hindi version. No version is available on the Internet. Printed set of six or seven volumes if on sale but its price US# 137 and odd is very high and domestic Indians cannot buy.

Important: Not that Swami Sahajananda Saraswati does not have his own shortcomings. Every one of us have our own drawbacks and weaknesses. Since this blog post is about work done to help peasants and rural poor, I am confining to it.

This blog post, may please not be viewed as finding fault with Vivekananda, because he was working in 1900 in a different set of environment.


Anonymous said...

"...The peasants and labouring classes are in a moribund condition, so what is needed is that the moneyed people will only help them to regain their vitality, and nothing more. Then leave the peasants and labourers to look to their own problem, to grapple with and solve it. "

The above-cited portion of SV's letter is vaguely worded. It could be a mistake in copying. Anyhow it spoils the essence of what you write in your blog.

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

I have again compared my typing with the Vivekananda's letter available on the Internet at different web sites. The vagueness appears to be in the original letter. Anyway, what Vivekananda intended, according to my perception, that rich people need not help the poor beyond "enabling the poor to gain their vitality".

In the environment of 2008 where the peasants and marginal farmers are commiting suicides, the Governments seem to be doing more that what Vivekananda intended. The rich-- both farmers and industrialists are silent.

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

"more that what Vivekananda intended" should read as "more than...".

Thank U for ur valuable comment.

Vinod Kumar said...

Swami Vivekananda always supported for upgrading poor and needy labourer . If you his biography deeply , you remember that his feeling during his life is always to service the below poverty line people and he always felt sad to see the condition of Indian labourer and want to make them like Japan's labourer .
Mr. Multisubj Yb you have done good try to write on Swami Vivekanada . I regard your work on the Great personality Swami Vivekananda . Keep Writing