Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The mundane view of Indian/Hindu history was surrounded by a few myths espoused and perpetuated by few historians both Indian/alien. As we celebrate the 67th Independence Day of the nation on 15th August, it is time to recall the one Monk that showed the world what real India was. He is Swamy Vivekananda whose 150th birth anniversary we are celebrating next year. Swamy Vivekananda was the chief protagonist of the rich Indian culture to the West at the end of the 19th Century. His influence on M.K.Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose, who were in the forefront of Independence movement, was enormous. If Subhash Chandra Bose considered him as the “maker of modern India” Gandhi admitted his love for India increased a thousand fold because of his teachings. RabindranathTagore told French Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland,
” If you want to know India, study Vivekananada. In him everything is positive. Nothing is negative.” But negativism in viewing Swamy Jee's teachings is fast catching up in India. Reason is simple. If you analyze characters in Ramayana or Mahabharata from a “jaundiced” view you can present the characters as you wish them to be. A book titled “Ramyana Visha Vriksham” (Poisonous Tree of Ramayana) was authored in a regional language in India (Telugu). Though it is out of context here, I thought it appropriate to mention it here for the benefit of those still skeptic about his teachings.

Over a period of time a few myths about India were sought to be perpetrated by various researchers of world religions, authors and self-serving religious bigots even in India. These myths were sought to be debunked by Swamy Vivekananda through his speeches and actions. His efforts in this direction are appropriate to be discussed at a time when India is redefining Hindu Nationalism versus pseudo secularism. Let us see the five myths about India and how Swamy Vivekananda tried to dispel doubts in the minds of cynics.

Myth No.1: Aryans invaded India and ruled over aborigine Dravidians

The first myth was that Aryans invaded India and ruled over the Dravidians, the only aborigines. This is one of the most distorted versions of Indian history and was used by colonial rulers to divide India on caste prejudices and rule. In the Volume III of The Complete Works of Swamy Vivekananda (Lecture from Colombo to Almora), Swamy Jee's views on the subject were elucidated. He demolishes the theory by quoting from the history of contemporary American, England and Portugese who held Africans as slaves and how they kept children born to them in slavery. Here the Swamy Jee, tries to throw the ball in their court. He asks them whether they think if it were a repeat of their history of today they are surmising as having happened in India thousands of years back. He emphatically says “ as per the truth of these theories there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, that the Aryans came from anywhere outside of India” He debunks the theory that Shudras were all  aborigines by questioning the very logic. He further debunks the theory that the Shudras were all non-Aryan as equally irrational. He explains that The Mahabharata gave the right explanation that there was only one Varna in the beginning of Satya Yuga, the Brahman and depending on occupations the society got divided itself into different caste groups. He further elaborates that at the beginning of the new Satya Yuga all these castes would become one again, the Brahman.

Myth No.2: That India (Hinduism) has myriads of Gods and worships Idols

This myth is still prevalent in contemporary India maliciously spread by pseudo secular political, religious groups and self-serving NGOs. In many of speeches Swamy Jee denounced the myth unambiguously. In his famous speech before the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Swamy Jee emphasizes that indeed superstition was a curse but bigotry was a bigger menace. He questions why people following other religions look towards Sky while praying and why there are so many images of the Lord in their Temples of Faith.He further elaborates that by the law of association the material image calls up the mental idea and vice versa and that is the reason a Hindu uses an external symbol when he worships. “Is it wrong if a man wants to realize his divine nature through a material image?”, he asks. About the many Gods in Hinduism he says that unity in diversity is the plan of nature. While other religions have fixed dogmas to pray the Lord, Hindus recognized the fact that the "The Absolute" can be realized through the relative and all images/idols are mere pegs to hang the spiritual ideas.


The other three myths about Hinduism busted by Swamy Vivekananda will be discussed in future blogs.