Vivekananda Exposed Christian Missionaries; Ramakrishna Mission Today Supports Christ
Swami Vivekananda is famous for his Chicago speech and his association with Rama-Krishna (RK) Mission. There is also another part of his life. He widely criticized Christian Missionaries for their conversion tactics and constant attack on Belief and principles of Hinduism. Bengal became a nursery for Christian missions. K.C. Banerji, M.L. Basak, Lal Behari De and Madhusudan Dutta were among few born to rich Bengali Brahmins but converted to Christianity. They even became forerunners in propagation of Christianity in Bengal. Brahma Samaj of Keshub Chandra Sen was different from Brahma Samaj of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Raja posed biggest opposition to Christianity while Keshub turned to biggest admirer of his times. In this article we will like to know about the views of Swami Vivekananda on Christianity.
The Bible failed to impress Vivekananda. He said that the sayings, precepts, or doctrines which the New Testament preaches were already in existence among the Jews before the Christian era, having come from different quarters, and were being preached by Rabbis like Hillel and others.
The miracles of Christ also failed to impress Vivekananda. In fact, they repelled him strongly. What were the great powers of Christ, he asked, in miracles and healing, in one of his characters? They were low, vulgar things because he was among vulgar beings.
He even criticized Christians and said that they go wrong only when they insist that Christ is the only saviour. Yet it was Christ that Vivekananda found missing from Christianity. He wondered which Church, if any, represented Christ. All churches were equally intolerant, each threatening to kill those who did not believe as it did. The person of Christ rather than his teaching had become more important for Christianity. He had been turned into the only begotten son of God. Christian baptism remained external and did not touch the inner man. It aimed at instilling some mental beliefs and not at transforming human behaviour. Most men remained the same after baptism as they were before it. What was worse, the mere sprinkling of water over them and muttering of formulas by a priest made them believe that they were better than other people.
Swami Vivekananda was aware of what Church did to Galileo and other advocates of Science in Europe. He said that Christianity had spread with the help of the sword since the days of Constantine and tried to suppress science and philosophy. Hindus have nothing to gain from Christianity as it is only a system of superstitions. Hindus should not get frightened when the missionaries threaten them with hell; in fact, hell is better than the company of a Christian missionary.
There came a Christian to him once recalled Vivekananda, and said, “You are a terrible sinner”. Vivekananda said, “Yes, I am. Go on.” He was a Christian missionary. He said, “I have very good things for you. You are a sinner and you will go to hell.” I said, “Very good, what else?” Vivekananda asked him, “Where are you going?” “I am going to heaven”, he answered. Vivekananda said, “I will go to hell.” That day the Christian missionary gave him up.
If Christ could help people become good, why has he failed in the Christian countries where he has been worshipped for so long? Here comes a Christian man, continued Vivekananda. The man said, “You are all doomed; but if you believe in this doctrine, Christ will help you out.” In Vivekananda’s opinion, “If this were true – but of course it is nothing but superstition – there would be no wickedness in Christian countries. Let us believe in it – belief costs nothing – but why is there no result? If I ask, Why is it that there are so many wicked people? They say, We have to work more. Trust in God but keep your power dry!”
The missionaries were highly critical of the Vedas which Hindus have always held in the highest esteem. Vivekananda upheld the Vedas as depositories of divine wisdom. Rather than processing the Vedas in terms of the Bible, as the Brahmos had started doing, the Bible should be weighed on the Vedic scale and prove its worth. So far as the Bible, he observed, and the scriptures of other nations agree with the Vedas, they are perfectly good, but when they do not agree, they are no more to be accepted. On another occasion he said, “It is in the Vedas that we have to study our religion. With the exception of the Vedas every book must change. The authority of the Vedas is for all time to come; the authority of every one of our other books is for the time being.”
Brahmins were the next target of missionary attack. Vivekananda stood by these custodians of Hinduism. “The ideal man of our ancestors”, he said, “was the Brahmin. In all our books stands out prominently this ideal of the Brahmin. In Europe there is his Lord the Cardinal, who is struggling hard and spending thousands of pounds to prove the nobility of his ancestors and he will not be satisfied until he has traced his ancestry to some dreadful tyrant who lived on a hill and watched the people passing by, and whenever he had the opportunity, sprang out and robbed them.”
“In India, on the other hand, the greatest princes seek to trace their descent to some ancient sage who dressed in a bit of loin cloth, lived in a forest, eating roots and studying the Vedas. Our ideal is the Brahmin of spiritual culture and renunciation.”
As he heard the malicious propaganda against Hinduism which missionaries were mounting in America and saw their methods of raising money, he hit them hard. He warned the missionaries about the effect which their propaganda was having on the moral and mental health of people who listened to them.
There was a corollary to Vivekananda’s defence of Hinduism and critique of Christianity, particularly of the Christian missions. He called upon Hindu society to open its doors and take back its members who had been alienated from it by foreign invaders. Christian as well as Islamic missionaries were taking advantage of Hindu orthodoxy which was reluctant to receive those who had been forced or lured away from the Hindu fold but who were now ready to return to the faith of their forefathers. Vivekananda viewed this orthodoxy as nothing but a blind prejudice induced by the Hindus’ deep distrust of imported creeds.
Swami Dayananda, the founder of Aryasamaj laid stress on Swadeshi and Swarajya and forcefully identified Christianity as a crude cult suited to savage societies. He authored 13th Chapter in Satyarth Prakash as a critical examination of the principles and beliefs of Christianity based on Bible. The missionaries themselves watched him for some time, for it appeared as if he was making things uneasy for them.
Swami Dayananda gave birth to a new movement – Shuddhi (purification) of those who had been enticed away from Hindu society at one time or the other. It sent a wave of consternation through the missionary circles and restored Hindu confidence. Dayananda’s work was continued after his death by the scholars of the Arya Samaj. Compared to the South India and East India, the progress of Christianity has been very, very slow in the North. The credit for reversing the trend in the North goes overwhelmingly to the lead given by Maharishi Dayananda and the Arya Samaj he founded.
Swami Vivekananda was an ardent admirer of Aryasamaj Shuddhi Campaign. The Bengalee newspaper Dated 7th, August, 1901 mentions Shuddi of Babu Bhawani Kishore Bhattacharya, a Bengali man born in respectable Brahmin family. He was converted to Christianity when he was Boy. Under the auspices of Aryasamaj he was purified in Ripon College. The ceremony was attended by many noble persons with full sympathy and enthusiasm. He was attracted towards Aryasamaj by reading preachings and tracts authored by Thakur Kahan Chandraji Verma, the President of Aryasamaj. The Shuddhi Ceremony was greeted by reading a letter of none other then Swami Vivekananda who expressed his fullest sympathy with the movement and deep sorrow for his inability to preside on account of ill health. This news is mentioned in a book named Christ a Myth authored by Thakur Kahan Chandji Verma.
Vivekananda’s views on Christianity were to be adopted by RK mission. Vivekananda, who was Shri Ramakrishna’s dearest disciple had viewed Islam and Christianity not as religions but as doctrines of the sword. But just contrary to his belief they went totally against him. Today the RK Mission has become a world-wide network, and a wealthy institution patronized by the high and the mighty, not only in India but also abroad.
Presently Ramakrishna Mission celebrates Christmas on 24th December eve. Just ignoring what Swami Vivekananda had said about Christianity. They wanted to promote the secular image of their mission. It is nothing more then keeping the educated followers of Mission unaware about the Truth. They have never thought that Christian missions in Bengal are engaged in converting poor Hindu tribals to Christianity by unruly means and tactics. They never thought that Church representatives visit uneducated villages of Bengal and try to prove that Christianity is best and all practices of Hindus are pagan worship and thus superstitions. They never thought to utilize their funds and powers to save Hinduism in Bengal. No to forget the mission once went to court o prove themselves that they are not Hindus.
1. Sita Ram Goel, HISTORY OF HINDU-CHRISTIAN ENCOUNTERS AD 304 TO 1996,Voice of India, New Delhi
3. Thakur Kahan Chand Varma, Lahore,Christ A Myth, 1933,P. 192-193
4. Swami Dayanand, 13th Chapter, Satyarth Prakash, Sarvdeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Delhi.
Featured image courtesy: rkmdehradun.org and Scroll.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely of the author. My India My Glory does not assume any responsibility for the validity or information shared in this article by the author.
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Dr Vivek Arya is a child specialist by profession. He writes on Vedic philosophy and History and draws inspiration from Swami Dayanand. Admin facebook.com/arya.samaj page on Facebook.