19 April, 2021

‘The Poor And Afflicted’: Vivekananda’s Many Gods

Much of the life-blood of our freedom struggle doesn’t conform to Nehruvian republican ideals. Swamiji’s life must be seen in its socio-political context.

‘The Poor And Afflicted’: Vivekananda’s Many Gods

There is a scene from the late-’60s mushy and nationalistic Bengali film, Subhashchandra, that is worth recalling in a less innocent age. The moustachioed head of the local thana in Cuttack walks into the book-lined room where a teenage Subhas Chandra Bose is engrossed in his studies. Brandishing his baton menacingly, he glowers at the numerous photographs on the wall—including one of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, the author of Anandamath, and one of martyr Kshudiram Bose, who was executed for killing an Englishman. The policeman then turns his disapproving gaze on Subhas. “You’ve overlooked one,” interjects the boy insolently and points to another wall. The camera focuses on a portrait of Swami Vivekananda. The policeman stares at the photograph...

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