230 Rev. Barrows - Give me beef
2016 India is agog with countrywide demands for ban on cow-slaughter, and ban on beef eating. For millions of Indians, Swami Vivekananda is the role model. They are eager to produce hundreds of Vivekanandas. But many Indians do not know about Vivekananda's three B's slogan: Bhagavad Gita, Biceps, Beef. Here is one conversation, from the Reminescences of Dr. John Henry Barrow which suggests that Swami Vivekananda was not averse to consuming beef.
*July 17, 1897 *
Dr. John Henry Barrow's reminiscences of Vivekananda (9/11/93)
Dr. Barrows says:
"After the first session of the Parliament of Religions I went with
Vivekananda to the restaurant in the basement of the Art Institute, and
I said to him, 'What shall I get you to eat?' His reply was "Give me
--The Outlook - was the name of the magazine, which published the report.
Year of publication was July 1897.
--Dr. John Henry Barrows (Reverend Barrows) was one of the chief organisers of the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 1893.
--9/11/93 refers to the date of reminiscence of Rev. Barrows. This date was the same as the date on which Vivekananda gave his first speech at the Parliament.
Some questions which arise:
1. Why did Rev. Barrows withhold this information in his mind for three years+ (from 1893 to 1897) without disclosing?
Why did he suddenly burst out in 1897?
2. Why did Barrows choose Vivekananda for company, to dine in the restaurant?
Probable answer: Barrows wanted to cultivate VivekAnanda for spreading Christianity in India. But this did not bear fruit. But the bonhomie continued till 1897. By that time, Vivekananda started his own business of speech-making, yoga classes, and established some relationships with aristocratic women of the United States. Vivekananda became Barrow's competitor in U.S., instead of helper in India.
3. Rev. Barrows disclosed the news of Vivekananda's beef-eating in July 1897. Prior to that he was in India, probably for spreading Christianity. Vivekananda, seems to have arranged for his reception in India and accompanied him to some places. His letter to Ms. Hale, dated 28.4.1897 from Darjeeling, shows that relations got burst between the Reverend and the Swamiji.:
" ... Dr. Barrows has reached America by this time, I hope. Poor man! He came here to preach the most bigoted Christianity, with the usual result that nobody listened to him. Of course they received him very kindly; but it was my letter that did it. I could not put brains into him! Moreover, he seems to be a queer sort of man. I hear that he was mad at the national rejoicings over my coming home. You ought to have sent a brainier man anyway, for the Parliament of Religions has been made a farce of in the Hindu mind by Dr. Barrows. ..."
Thus, the breakdown of relations between Vivekananda and Rev. Barrows, made Barrows to disclose to the Outlook news Paper about Swamiji's beef eating in Chicago and got it published by using his influence.
Yet, we cannot say that Barrows created an imaginary incident of Vivekananda asking for beef. Vivekananda did not hide his support for meat and beef eating by Hindus. Swamiji's 3Bs: biceps, bhagavadgita and beef, as a formula appears in one of his biographies by his own disciples. In those days, communications were not well-developed. Hence, very few Hindus knew it.
Had Vivekananda helped Barrows in spreading Christianity in the vast sub-continent of India, the Reverend would have conveniently ignored Vivekananda's asking for beef.