Tuesday, January 22, 2008

131 REPLIES TO COMMENTS of Somdatta Bhattacharya

This blogpost deals with 1) monks and fun. 2) Supreme service rendered by Vivekananda 3) His (superhuman) powers. Shri Somdatta Bhattacharya said... on Jan. 18, 2008:
Dear multisubj yb,
Thanks a lot for pointing out this letter of Swamiji. Now we can be certain that he was a normal human being after all and not the heartless monster that some people make him out to be. Don't you think after all he did for the benefit of mankind that he was entitled to his share of fun? And mind you, despite all this he lost none of his powers, for it was possibly around the same time that he demonstrated the incredible feat of memorizing the first 11 volumes of the Britannica. So go on digging up all the sleaze, its only going to add to his glory, for how many people do you find accomplishing such tremendous feats without forsaking their sense of fun? Yeah, he had taken the vows of a Sanyasin and that you are going to say precluded him from such indulgements, but for me, after what he had done, Swamiji had transcended those vows, for he had achieved whatever those vows are meant for.
So keep up the good work.


Now we can be certain that he was a normal human being after all and not the heartless monster that some people make him out to be. Don't you think after all he did for the benefit of mankind that he was entitled to his share of fun?


1. Swamiji is perfectly entitled to his share of fun as long as he does not wear ochre robes and special turbans and preach/glorify chastity. The West heard his oratory because he was wearing ochre-robes and turban which presented him as a 'sarva sanga parityaagi'. The world over people believe that monks wearing ochre robes do not live for fun and that they have powers to cure diseases. The second visit of Swamiji to UK and USA was a failure because he went around allopaths, homoeopaths, magnetic healers, etc. for his own dyspepsia, red patches on chest, heart, kidneys etc. Many of his Western devotees dropped out because they could not believe that a Swamiji too suffers from diseases, because he preached in his Raja Yoga that yogis will live 150 years. Swamiji preached Yogic exercises to the Americans and Europeans, but he himself had the fun of dumbels and golf.

2. Swamiji had his fun to the full extent by preaching meditation to inebriated women at Ridgely Manor Resort, Thousand Islands, Annisqualm etc. He had his fun in Switzerland and Germany, sharing alcohol with Prof. Deussen. When asked about alcohol consumption by monks, Swamiji mentioned that his vows were only against kaamini and kaanchanam (women and gold).

This is a question of interpretation. His basic idea of buying land for the Belur Math was for carrying the relics of his Guru as per his own admission. He wrote to Shri Swami Ramakrishnananda from Belur Math, on Feb. 25, 1898:

"...Today we take possession of the land we have bought, and though it is not practicable to have the Mahotsava on it just now, I must have something on it on Sunday. Anyhow, Shriji's relics must be taken to our place for the day and worshipped. ..."

In the same letter:
"... Our congratulations for the successful carrying out of the Mahotsava (Big celebration of Shri Ramakrishna's birthday.) in Madras. Hope you had a good gathering and plenty of spiritual food. We are all so glad that you have girded yourself to teach more of spirituality to the Madras people than those finger twistings and kling phat (Cryptic Mantras or sound formulae.) you are so fond of. Really your lecture on Shriji (Shri Ramakrishna.) was splendid. ..."

Swamiji's view of mantras is only a KLING PHAT!
The idea of charity was a parallel track to satisfy foreigners while seeking donations, who might have not donated, if the ostensible purpose was only storing the relics of Shriji and building a monastery. (For this reason only Ms. Henrietta Muller the principal donor for the Belur Math seems to have shifted to Theosophical Society, calling Vivekananda bogus. Apparently, this doubt went up because, he purchased the land in his personal name. Later he was persuaded to transfer the land to a Trust by Mrs. Bull and Leggett.).

Today, also the institutions started by him collect donations globally and receive grants from the Government of India and do some charitable service. If this is the greatest service to the mankind, then there are hundreds of institutions which do similar service globally.

Charity is only an intermediation between those who have money and those who need money. This the intermediary does after deducting his own expenses such as cost of buildings, coaches, couches, cots, furniture, servants, garlands, granite, marbles, air conditioners etc. At the same time, the intermediaries claim minority privileges, special privileges, exemptions from laws, regulation etc.

The charity is not a real solution for the poverty of Indian poor. Equality is a right which the Indian poor deserve. The true solution is redistribution of income and wealth by removing right of property and undertaking drastic socio-economic restructuring such as Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Fabianism, Gradualism etc. What is to be adopted is to be thrashed out by brainstorming of Indians. What orators/writers/social workers can at the most do is motivate voters to elect such a Government to the Lok Sabha, and get persons with such ideas as Prime Ministers and Presidents. After 40 years of rule in West Bengal, Jyoti Basu had realised after 40 years that it is not possible to do anything really good, by assuming power at State level and he is ready to invite Capitalists and even foreigners.

One-fifth of the mankind is represented by Indians. By international standards, most Indians are poor with the exception of some Mumbaiwalas, Kolkatawalas, Delhiwalas, Chennai-Hyderabad-Bangalore-Ahmedabad and other -walas. When BJP said India is shining or Manmohan Singh says that fundamentals are good, they lie. The ground realities are different. Actually the conditions of 1898 (the times of Vivekananda) and 2008 have not changed much except that the population has gone from 30 crore to 110 crore, notwithstanding cellphones, computers, cricket, Abdul Kalam and Aiswarya Roy. For the same reason Ashrams beg foreigners for donations to maintain 44 orphans in 2008, which they did in 1898. The orphans of 1898 lived 1 to 100 years and died. The orphans of 2008 will also live 1 to 100 years and die by 2108. The begging will go on in the next Century. It is immaterial whether the begging is done by Christian Missionaries or the Hindu Ashrams.

Reference ibid (same letter quoted above):
"...I received your letter of recommendation for the young man with the old story of "having nothing to eat, Your Honour"; only added in the Madras edition: "got a number of children too", for generating whom no recommendation was needed! I would be very glad to help him, but the fact is, I have no money; every cent I had I have made over to Raja, (Rakhal or Swami Brahmananda.) as they all say I am a spendthrift and are afraid of keeping money with me. I have, however, sent the letter to Rakhal if he can find the way to help your friend, the young man, in having some more children. He writes that the Christians will help him out if he becomes a convert, but he won't. Perhaps he is afraid that his conversion will make Hindu India lose one of her brightest jewels and Hindu society the benefit of his propagating power to eternal misery! ..."

If Swamiji did not want to help the young man, well and good. No problem. Why pass caustic and circastic comments using words such as 'brightest jewels' etc? Did the young man say that he would convert to Christianity? In fact, the young man wrote that he won't convert to Christianity even if the Christians would help!

Facts: Here Vivekananda wrote that he was a spendthrift and was afraid of keeping money with him. This may not be true. He was getting Rs. 100/- per month from the ruler of Khetri, apart from Rs. 100/- per month for his mother. He brought some amount from abroad. Earlier he was ready to hire a Bungalow at Almora @ Rs. 80/- for the season, as Ms. Henrietta Muller was uneasy with the large rent.

THIS QUOTE best explains:
I can tell you, honest friend, what to believe: believe life; it teaches better than book or orator. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).


Somdatta Bhattacharya said...

Dear multisubj yb,
Sorry for costing you time and money. If I could I would have withdrawn that post of mine from the comments section of this blog as well. It was written in haste and was unfortunate as I clarified in my next post, to which you have replied in the one of your earlier posts. There your tone was much more deferential though you still seem to mistake Swamiji's concern for Christina's health as a desire to ogle at her.
Dear multisubj,
Since you seem to be pouring over the complete works so diligently, why don't you go through some of his more serious works, rather than his letters many of which seem to have been written with a great deal of frivolity ("hot time in this old town") which tends to get misinterpreted. Why don't you try reading up his Jnana Yoga lectures and write critiques on those, rather than wasting your time over mundane matters. Look, maybe Swamiji did all the things that you accuse him of, but he also happened to be the person who gave those lectures, and that in my opinion is what will matter in the long run. If there is one school of religious thought which has the strength of withstanding the onslaught of modern science, even maybe of transcending it, it is the Vedanta and it was Swamiji who brought it to the fore. If there is one religious school that not only espouses but actually lays down the rationale behind universal brotherhood of men, something sorely needed in the present day, it is the Vedantic school. And if there is one body of thought that says that all religions are to be nurtured alike as glorious attempts at reaching out for the supreme truth that underlies them all, it is the Vedantic one. So instead of vilifying Swamiji, why don't you divert your energies towards these accomplishments of his so that we can have a more meaningful dialogue.

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

Friend: If you wish, I shall reply to your comments in detail.

In the meantime for the sake of clarity: 1. I do not intend to accuse or vilify Vivekananda. I am too small a man for that. 2. In the meantime pl. read my post No. 130 which covers Rasbihari Bose, Netaji, Khudiram Bose, Prafulla Chaki, Gandhi and Aish. You will appreciate the object of my blogs.

3. Exploring truth, conveying truth without hurting others is an extremely unpleasant exercise.

4. This world revolves around fiction and not facts. Revolves around preachings and practices. Kindly clarify whether you will permit me to explore and write about Swamiji's memorising the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Multisubj Yb TruthSeeker said...

The phrase 'preachings and practices' in the above comment, kindly read as "preachings and not practice". Thank U.

Somdatta Bhattacharya said...

You can write about the encyclopedia britannica memorisation but nothing else, as I wish to treat that post of mine as null and void. I would also request you to delete that post from wherever it appears on your blog.