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Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.
He was highly educated for his time but not exceptionally bright. He became a monk not out of any inner drive but as an escape from the poverty and a sense of helplessness. He had tremendous lust for life. He loved good food,comfort, literature and music.
He wanted to overcome his failures in the 'world of getting and spending' by a spiritual adventure. He invented a mission for himself and had the will to believe in it. He must have said to himself Horace's words,"I will not die ". His good looks and good English helped. The rest is history or mythology.
Vivekananda stood as much against Brahmo reformism as securalist liberalism inspired as it was by Mill and August Comte. Rammohun Ray, 'the first modern man,' envisioned a new India rejuvenated by the Enlightenment tradition.
Roy, a profound scriptural scholar, rediscovered Vedandatic transcendentalism to use it as a weapon in his fight against Hindu polytheism and all that went with it. He successfully campaigned to abolish the horrible custom of sutee or burning of Hindu widows.
He in actual practice was a deist who was for religion within the limits of reason. He abhorred celibacy and monasticism and believed that religion teaches us to live in harmony with Nature.
His followers, known as Brahmos, fought against the caste system and women's liberation. Shivnath Shastri wrote a reasoned polemic "Jatibhed" (1876) against the injustice of the caste system.
Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, another renowned reformist and educationist, was deeply perturbed by the miserable lot of the upper caste Hindu women, particularly widows, many of whom were sold to the brothels. His movement led to the enactment of the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act in 1856. Side by side, there was a development of political consciousness and a demand for more representation.
The young Naren Dutta was initially drawn to the Brahmo movement. But his moment of disillusionment came when he was dismissed from his teaching post by none other than Vidyasagar, who was the secretary of the Metropolitan School.
An anguished Naren became an enemy of the Reformation much in the same way Adolf Hitler became an inveterate anti-Semite after being sacked by his Jewish employer. He came to hate liberal ideas, dismissed women's liberation and defended the caste system.
Vivekananda's position in the caste hierarchy was dubious. He was a kayastha, who are shudras, but under the Raj enjoyed upward social mobility, and came to vie with Brahmins in every field. On their part, Brahmins saw him as a presumptuous shudra poaching in their spiritual preserve, particularly his impious attempt to interpret the Sacred Books.
Vivekananda was angry with these jealous Brahmins but always defended and glorified Brahminism with all its egregious hierarchy. Besides, without justifying caste, he could not have received the generous help of his feudal patrons. He wrote with much eloquence:
"I have seen castes in almost every country in the world, but nowhere is their plan and purpose so glorious as here. If caste is unavoidable I would rather have a caste of purity and culture and self sacrifice than a caste of dollars."
Needless to say the 'purity' and 'culture' belong to the Brahmin and self-sacrifice on the part of shudras. Vivekananda was an apologist and defender of this sanctified slavery which have kept the toiling masses down for millennia.
Elsewhere he writes , "Caste is good. That is the only natural way of solving life." He makes his position clear when he says, "I'm against leveling down caste inequalities. It is a salutary system. We must obey it .Not even one in a million understands what is really is."
However, under the impact of the Enlightenment ideas of liberty and equality, the shudras were coming to assert themselves, particularly in Bombay Presidency and the South. Jyotiba Phule wrote his seminal text "Gulamgiri" in 1885, presenting caste system as a slavery imposed upon the native inhabitants by the Aryan invaders.
Vivekanda exhorted the restive Shudras in a pontifical language, "To non- Brahmins my advice is -- wait, don't be so clamorous. Don't attack Brahmins all the time... Who prevented you from learning Sanskrit and acquiring culture?"
The best way to improve their condition is to learn Sanskrit ,the sacred language! Rammohun Roy, a great Sanskritist rejected Sanskrit as a dead language and considered learning the language ,a sheer waste of time .Curiously enough,Vivekananda who had only smattering of Sanskrit recommended it to Shudras as a means to raise their cultural standard.
Vivekananda was angry with jealous Brahmins but always defended and glorified Brahminism with all its egregious hierarchy
This same regressive attitude colours his ideas related to sexuality and gender. He had normal sexual drives, and it seems he struggled all his life to control it. The monastic ideal is based on the cruel repression of sexuality. Vivekananda made much of 'brahmacharya ' or total abstinence from sex with less-than-satisfactory consequences for himself as well for his followers.
He had a belief that a brahmachari attains almost divine attributes by retaining the seminal fluid and ultimately transforming it into grey matters in the brain. If one goes through his conversation with one of his disciples, one can only be highly amused:
"Chandibabu: Does it help one to control his sexual impulse if one wears a tight undergarment?
"Vivekananda: Hardly ever. Do you know once it was so strong that in desperation I sat on a brazier with live cinders to teach it a lesson? I was badly burnt and it took me quite some time to heal up the burns."

It reminds me of J Krishnamurti's real life story of a sudhu who castrated himself with a blunt knife to get rid of it once for all. So by rejecting Rammohun Roy's ideal of a spiritual life within family life, Vivekananda only made himself miserable .To overcome it, he struck a more defiant masculine pose which took its toll on his mental life.He bequeathed this abject fear of the feminine to his followers.
The monks of Ramkrishna Mission remain busy to protect themselves from 'lust ' and transform their valuable seminal fluids into overflowing grey matters. In order to protect their very sacred educational institutions from feminine invasion, they moved court and sought a minority status. All their educational institutions are male preserves, insulated from any feminine interaction. A noble achievement indeed!
Unlike the Brahmos or Vidyasagar, he was no enthusiast for female education. He wanted to see them as sacrificing mothers and sisters -- pure and dutiful but never as a beloved or an individuals pursuing their own ends.This led him to gloss over worst patriarchal tyrannies and oppressions before his Western audience and denounce those who were fighting against heavy odds to redress them.
Pandita Ramabai, one of the early feminists dared to call the bluff. Despite all this, he was far from the projected Hindutva icon who didn't hesitate to take beef to live frugally and considered playing football better than going to a temple. Despite the self-imposed asceticism, he loved to be surrounded by plump white women of wealth and refinement .He was humanist at war with himself.
Tagore in his novel "Gora" models the protagonist unmistakably after Vivekananda, a tormented Hindu fanatic, febrile, struggling desperately to resist love .At the end of the novel his world collapses but he is redeemed by love.
Vivekananda's last years were overshadowed by multiple maladies. This, however, did not lessen his appetite for good food, On the day he died at the age of 39, he had taken Hilsa fish, gourmet Bengali's ultimate delight to his heart's fill. It was a happy death.
---
Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

Vivekanand's happy death at 39 with hilsa fish in his last meal reminds me an identical episode when India, a century ago, was invaded by plague, claiming at least five crore population. In 1921 J. T. Marten, ICS, the then Census Commissioner of India noted in his report, "The disease [plague] wrought great havoc amongst the aboriginals. When first attacked, many of them, especially the Santals, would sit in the sun with practically no covering on; then, when they began to feel worse,and to think that their life was likely to be short, they decided that it should at least be gay and took a good drink of liquor and a hearty meal of goat's flesh. This treatment is exact antithesis of that generally recommended, so it was inevitable that a great many cases amongst the aboriginals would develop into pneumonia and end fatally." Quoted by A. K. Biswas in UNDERSTANDING BIHAR, Blumoon Books, New Delhi, 1998, p. 25.
Aakanksha Sinha said…
Just wanted to let you know that Kayastha aren't shudras. If you speak mythological, kayastha trace their origin from lord chitragupta while if your trace historically, kayasth have long held roles that required high education. Shudras by classification help menial labour roles. I think it's a huge mistake on your behalf. In fact Vivekanand has mentioned that he had similar standings as kshatriyas when it came to caste system.
Anonymous said…
I was not sure that people use to urinate so beautifully as they use their cleverness so as to justify their thoughts. Swami Vivekananda is a so much respectable figure in the history of India , without reading a book of him without understanding his thoughts and deeds and love towards motherland , this ungrateful creatures successfully urinate on internet and the non- conscious readers also believe on it as if it were true....... I strongly condemn this and every words of this article are merely a false and nasty mindset is there behind this.
mr.k said…
To reject all you BS only this statement of the greatest "Sudras" uplifter Dr.B.R.Ambedkar:-
B. R. Ambedkar said, "the greatest man India produced in recent centuries was not Gandhi but Vivekananda."
Unknown said…
Despite the profound knowledge about Religions he acquired, Swami Vivekananda was accepted by Kulin Brahmins of then Calcutta willy-nilly. ....After the death of Swamiji, a prominent Brahmin personality ( I have forgotten the name but his surname was Mukherjee) in Calcutta was cordially invited by his disciples to attend the funeral procession. But that person outrightly declined the invitation, citing the reason and said "woh to Kayeter chhele ( He is a son of a Kayastha Family.) .........." The Kulin Brahmins always used to look down upon non-Brahmins, forget the Shudras.
Gita said…
Just one comment to Bhaskar Sur, “Get a life”
Anonymous said…
Jesus, that was a painful read. Have you ever heard of breaking down a passage of text into paragraphs?
Anonymous said…
To Buaskar Sur- With All Due Respect-आप पूर्वाग्रह से ग्रसित लगते हैं सर... आपके जैसे स्वामी जी के बारे में सोच रखने वाले गिनती के ही लोग होंगे...
Anonymous said…
What a pure form of BS. And how cuninin to misinterpret Vivekananda and his works.
Clearly shows that this article is written by some crackhead..
Anonymous said…
You bhaskar Asur. !!!!!!
Anonymous said…
I understand your state of mental imbalance or maybe you are a born dumb-head. You people often seem to forget that spitting towards the sky, makes your spit fall on your face. You can only be pitied upon.
Nikhil said…
Dont believe in these fake authors who write whatever they think about swami vivekanand
Swamiji is one of the greatest man of india said br ambedkar and these stupid creatures withot knowing anything post such information
hazard said…
Very entertaining Vivekananda bashing done by an ignorant fool. Get a life. Read some books.
Dr Santhoshi said…
The only beautiful thing in your entire post is Swamiji's Divine Photograph..
Parmeshwar said…
This gentleman is delusional in his comments about Vivekananda. Obviously trying to make a name for himself by taking a cheap shot at someone whose character and work has been rigorously examined and scrutinised. Preposterous similarity drawn with Tagore's novel Gora. Simply blaberring of a deranged and perverted individual.
Anonymous said…
This verbal diarrhoea is far from reasonable. The fool mentions Kayastha as Shudras while we are the purest to walk on this earth. Kayastha were made far after Brahma Ji created the Varna system, thus we cannot be contained in one of the petty four Varnas.
Anonymous said…
A very good article!
Anonymous said…
What you probably mean is that you WISH Swami Vivekananda was a shudra. Unfortunately,the kayasthas are a highly educated caste who are literally quasi- Brahmins. They are landholders who are allowed to be scribes and therefore took up reputed adminstrative positions. "Dutta" or "Dutt" means 'the giver'. In Punjab, 'Dutt' is a Mohiyal Brahmin Surname. Just a humble request to you to represent facts, not opinions; and to not misrepresent history.
Anonymous said…
Was Swami Gay?
U K Basak said…
I fell really sorry for you. Swamiji is the most relevant at this time when we have so many miseries. Get some briefs about our Vedanta and Upanishads before looking at Swamiji's life and teachings. You may start here- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGKFTUuJppU.
Swapan said…

Vivekananda is mere Hindu Propaganda who just propagated a caste-apartheid religion called Hinduism. For Dalits and Adivasis he is always a ZERO. Dalits and Adivasis should boycott Vivekananda by counter-propoganda. Dalits and Adivasis shoulld never accept themselves as part of Hinduism. Period.
Anonymous said…
What's amusing is that vivekananda called Kerala a Lunatic Asylum when he visited it in 1892. Of course kerala was a Lunatic Asylum back then with untouchability widely practiced and avarnas not allowed to study. But the irony of it was that where he came from was no better. India was a Lunatic Asylum back then and even after a century cow belt states still remain the same!
Anonymous said…
Dogs bark away but heavens remain unshaken.
S. DEY said…
A Brahman is defined as a person who realised Brahma.
Gautam Buddha defined a person who does not accepts or shares any material thing with other as Brahmin.
Parashuram killed his mother and destroyed Kshatriyas whose offspring remaining in womb (KAYA in Sanskrit) were later called KAYASTHAS,mythological descendants of Chitragupta.
And Nagar Brahmins were descendants of Bengali Kayasthas according to copper plate records.
Michael Faraday was from ablacksmith class who were Engineers by talents.
Kayasthas like Narendranath Dutta were opposed to dogma based religious exploitation by Clergy Classes prevailing in non NEOHUMANISM based exploitation by pseudoprists.
Krishna Daipayan Vyas was a Kaibarta(fisherman class to which Satyabati belonged) who immortalised Shruti from extinction by writing it in scripts that was in India and was unknown to Aryans.Garga was Brahmin,his brother Nanda was a Baishya(Ghose or Yaduvamsha that later extinced by infights)and Sree Krishna was a Kshatriya which gives an idea of the then social evolutio.Today let us embrace NEOHUMANISM without which we are bound to be marginalised in the human society with inferiority complex misguiding our natural logics.
Anonymous said…
Who the hell told you kayasthas are shudras?
Lol You have no clue about kayasthas. Kayasthas are belong to upper caste and there are many Kayastha kings and landowners. In bengal they are zamindars and always were considered on the same level of brahmins. You are just a retarded piece of shit who has no clue about anything. Get a life faggot.
NNNN said…
संतों की कोई जाति नही होती । कृपया हमारे संतों, महापुरुषों को जाति,वर्ग से बाहर ही रहने दें ।
Unknown said…
Brahmins were always jealous of Kaysthas because Kayasthas were far superior to Brahmins
Swami Vivekananda said about him being Kayastha

"I trace my descent to one at whose feet every Brahmin lays flowers when he utters the word (yamay dharmarajay chtragipatay ve namah)

If we take a puranic view, Brahmins hierarchy is much lower than that of a Kayasthas.Kayasthas trace their descent from God Chitragupt directly and thats the reason why Kayastha kul gave birth to personalities like Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhash bose, Srila Prabhupad and many more to name
datatamx said…
This guy who had written adverse things about the most precious Hindu Monk Swami Vivekanand is senseless, illiterate person. I feel pity fir him because he has not understood the Vedant philosophy never opened the Upanishada books. He is less then a donkey . Even a donkey can be more clever and sensible. Please visit www.Belurmath.org
Unknown said…
Mr.Bhaskar Sur,I PITY YOU because you have lost your Senses.To become a Normal Person,please Meditate for an Hour Daily at 5am. It will Purify Your Body,Mind and Soul.Divinity will remove your Ignorance, Illusions. You will Realize how much Enlightened is the Divine Soul of Swami Vivekananda.You may live in Peace for the remaining period of your Life.(V.M.Sridhara).
Anonymous said…
I felt so bad after reading, should had never read this article. This writer should be blocked for deliberately posting wrong and misleading interpretation.
Nittur M Vijayan said…
Swamiji never opposed hierarchical cast system in India. When he travelled trough 'Kerala' in a bullock cart, he came to know many 'Hindus' converted to 'Christianity' to attain higher social status. Swamiji got annoyed and called my birth place 'Kerala' a lunatic asylum. No one can tolerate such a comment about their birth place, how 'great' they may be!
Anonymous said…
All nonsense has been written in this article.First you need to read complete works of swamiji. He was strongly against castism and promoted women empowerment.Rk mission has a women branch known as Sarada sangha which has only women devotees . Please stop spreading nonsense in the name of Swamij Vivekananda because of your ignorance
Rangarajan Sampathkumar said…
Someone rightly commented as Bhaskar Asur. Ugly and negative outpourings from a perverted mindset by the author
Unknown said…
What utter nonsense. If 'counterviews' imply publishing lies and perverted fantasies then this column doesn't deserve as much attention as it gets. The Ramakrishna Mutt serves the interest and emancipation through Shri Sarada Vidyalaya schools and educational institutions. The values instilled in those institutions for girls to believe in themselves and stand up for what is right, is like none other in this country. Swami Vivekananda was the architect of the mutt and shaped the course of what it must deliver. To write such deplorable articles about a visionary like him is, to say the least, an insult on even to lowest-kind-of-journalism.
Arun Kumar Singh said…
Disappointed after reading the article which has blown up the importance of a few facts of Vivekananda’s life and based on them attempted to paint a distorted picture of Swamiji. I agree that he justified caste system but even Gandhi did that. However, both these great men struggled all their life to improve the lot of Dalits and reject the inequities of that ancient institution. As regards his attitude to women he always acknowledged his debt to them. The fat white women who supported him were his true admirers who through their support helped him achieve his life’s mission. He accorded them place of honour and responsibility in his organisation. Sister Nivedita was a pillar of support to him who started school for girls. It is patently wrong to say that Swamiji was against women’s education. Let’s understand that a great personality like Vivekanand or Gandhi have multi-layered thought process as well as action. Gandhi too did not make a frontal attack on caste system. That doesn’t make him supporter of caste atrocities. Vivekanand through Ramkrishna Mission set upon liberation of all marginalised humanity irrespective of caste, creed or gender.
Anonymous said…
Kayastha are always considered as kshatriya
As per indian government and does not qualify for any reservation(OBC,ST & SC).
And swami vivekanand belongs to bengali kayastha family which is considered equal to brahmins in bengal.

So please do not write this fake article against swami vivekanand who always worked for betterment for india

Kayastha always gives not takes

Ex - First president of india
Second Prime Minister of india
Shri Jay parkashji leader of youth
Shubash chandra bose founder of indian
Army.

INDIA IS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT KAYASTHA
JAI CHITRAGUPTA MAHARAJ !!
JAI HIND !!


Unknown said…
THESE KIND OF ARTICLES ARE VERY MUCH MISLEADING AND THESE KIND OF MEN JUST WRITE THESE THINGS ONLY TO GAIN POPULARITY THROUGH THE OTHER SIDE OF COIN.ALL THE THINGS WRITTEN HERE ARE ABSOLUTELY FALSE AND I STRONGLY RECOMMEND TO REPORT THIS ARTICLE.
Who is this idiot?????? What is his education??? On what subject???
Only texts and personal opinions based on some others' opinion without references!!!
Only two things are clearly visible in these paragraphs of rubbish excreta, he writes good English (or got it written by someone who does) and an ordinary Facebookian where anybody can write any number of craps on anything.
Negative slanderous propaganda of great people by some stupids are posted in social media to cleverly attract comments, mostly negative, to be in limelight.
Anonymous said…
The Brahmin as used by swami vivekananda means totally different from what we understand in normal caste system parlance.
Swami says brahmin is one who is enlightened and has experience of the divine within himself. A Brahmin can be born of any caste or religion or social identity. Unfortunately what swami means is totally misunderstood. Hence need for better vocabulary for spirituality. The same old words mean different things to different people. These words have lot of baggage and need to be discarded. Sri Aurobindo hence avoided such repetition of words like Brahmin that mean different things to different people.
Most people understand Brahmin as in the rigid caste system as someone superior to other humans but the word Brahmin in
spiritual lore means one who knows the divine in himself and others and treats all equally. It is true equality based on inner realization of oneness rather than social or intellectual understanding of oneness. The realization of oneness and equality through
Inner realization of divine within all humans is far concrete than any intellectual or moral understanding of equality. One can see others as oneself. There is no other . No intellectual or moral reasoning is necessary. Those who have e such a concrete realization of oneness are the true Brahmins is what vivekananda means . Not based on birth.
Anonymous said…
Useless article written by lunatic person .
Anonymous said…
It is slightly concerning how so many comments are expressing ire and even downright bashing the author for mistakenly equating Kayasthas with Shudras. I understand the need to correct a factual error but a lot of retaliations are implying that Kayasthas are somehow better and above Shudras, hence "pulling down Kayasthas to the Shudras' level" is almost insulting. It's disturbing and shows that even after some 150 years of social reforms our mentality about castes is vastly unchanged. Our caste shouldn't be our identity because it is not a real parameter which can define the capability of its holder, it is nothing but a social construct-imaginary and void, hence nothing to be "proud" of.
@rishabhnotes said…
Withdrawing from sex is one's personal decision. By no means it makes the other person subject anti-feminist or in a way minisculing women. You Sir, the person who wrote this is dickhead nothing more than that. Get yourself equipped with more genuine text not in history, anywhere the things that you mentioned were experienced by contemporaries of Swami Vivekananda. His work is well written and established to help any human being to height of their potential.
Read his text on marriage in same family, in book "The complete yoga" divided into four parts Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakta yoga, jnana yoga.
He wrote in lengths that we are merely the result of our belief and culture what is accepted in one culture is clearly not accepted in others. But anyway man like you glamoured by upheaval of social media are succumb to think that you are the only protecting force for women even there is no need of thing in some regard. This post of yours is an evidence of your stupid mind and limited useless thinking which no nothing than a failed attempt to self satisfaction by degrading a revered and phenomenal man of Indian Culture who was not worshipped by Indians but all over the world.
Anonymous said…
Obvious RSS follower coming for aid of RSS. But wat a childish reasons to defend sawarkar.

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