07 May, 2021

‘His Inclusiveness Is A Powerful Myth’

Vivekananda comes across as a Hindu supremacist, and not so much a social reformist

‘His Inclusiveness Is A Powerful Myth’

In his third book in the quartet on Hindu identity and self-images, academic-author Jyotirmaya Sharma busts many myths around Swami Vivekananda. He comes across as a Hindu supremacist, and not so much a social reformist. Excerpts from an interview with Satish Padmanabhan: 

The book seems to suggest that Vivekananda was a right-wing Hindu leader. Is that correct?

This book, like the previous two (Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism and Terrifying Vision: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India), is an attempt to delineate a genealogy of Hindu identity. In this context, Vivekananda provides the most influential restatement of Hinduism. His religious nationalism is the decisive influence behind Hindu nationalism. Also, unlike many writers, I do not distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutva. For me, Hindutva is merely the politically dominant face of Hinduism today.

So the Sangh parivar appropriating him politically—for instance, Narendra Modi in the Gujarat elections recently—is quite valid...

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