Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Rev. John Henry Barrows was No. 2 in the Organisers of the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 1893, apart from Mr. Bonney, its President.

It may be recalled that Barrows introduced Vivekananda to the audience in the Parliament of Religion. Here is a link to a sort of memoirs-cum-biography of J.H. Barrows, written by is daughter. This blogpost, examines one common trait which they share between themselves. Vivekananda considered that America was a wonderful country for cheating with 99.9% having some motive. About Barrows views about dishonesty of Indians, see below.

I have not yet studied the text fully. The book contains the experiences of Rev. Barrows, particularly his experiences of visit to India, viewed through his eyes.

When an outsider looks at our country and our people, he may write some something good and something bad, all of which need not be 100% true. There is no need to lift them to the sky or be elated ourselves like helium-blown balloons or hate them if they write something obnoxious. We have to retain our individuality and view objectively.

I shall write my blogger's view, as soon as I finish reading it at least cursorily.

ADDED ON DEC. 18, 2007:
Rev. Barrows'Letter dated Feb. 19, 1898 addressed to his daughter:
"... Professor Thayer, of the Divinity School, was very grateful that I had 'pricked that bubble Swami Vivekananda.' ..."

By Feb. 1898, in the eyes of Dr. Barrows, Vivekananda became a bubble to prick.

The letters written by Dr. Barrows to his daughter about his experiences of the Indian tour, show that he had a condescending attitude towards India and its people. Hence we need not give much value for what he states. Example:

"... And there is a want of honesty, common truthfulness, and integrity which saddens one everywhere in India. On our arrival in Madura, we were informed at the station that by special order the jewels of the famous temple would be opened for our inspection the next afternoon. These precious gems are enclosed in a great iron box to which there are six separate locks and keys. Each key is entrusted to a different warden and without the consent of these six men, who live in different places, it is impossible to get at the treasures. So profound is the distrust which the Hindus have of each other that some of the treasures are guarded by more than twenty men in this way, and in Madura one of our American missionaries was asked by the priests of the temple to take charge of the jewels. He refused, and they said to him: 'How does it happen that when we have so many gods, they do not make our people honest? You have only one and He succeeds in your case. What we need is to get a statue of your God Jesus, and put Him in our temple by the side of our deities. Perhaps that will succeecl in making us honest!' ..."

While this is the prejudiced attitutde of Barrows towards Indians, now let us see what Vivekananda wrote about Americans!
On March 27, 1895 Vivekananda wrote to Ms. Isabelle Mckindley from New York.

"...This is a wonderful country for cheating, and 99.9 per cent have some motive in the background to take advantage of others. If any one just but closes his eyes for a moment, he is gone!! ..."

Now who is correct or incorrect? Dr. Barrows is ready to send a statue of Jesus to India for installing in temples for honesty. He found dishonesty everywhere. Vivekananda is finding USA as a wonderful country for cheating, with 99.9% people with motives in background.

Can any of these two (Barrows or Vivekananda) be trusted at all for what they write?

I welcome my readers to say something.

(More to add. Will be corrected and edited further).

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