K.N. Panikkar’s article “Vivekananda’s legacy of universalism” (April 9) was well written. But I did not like the reference to the RSS. Swami Vivekananda was for serving the needy. The RSS is also for the same. Vivekananda said we need youth who can dedicate their lives to society. The RSS shakhas ensure exactly that. Vivekananda said we should eradicate the caste system. The RSS is striving to do the same.
On what basis does Mr. Panikkar make the charge that the ideology of the sangh parivar is rooted in religious hatred? Organising Hindus does not mean hating anyone. The RSS talks about dharma. And dharma does not mean religion. Hindu dharma does not mean Hindu religion. It is a set of principles that is suitable for universal well being.
S.L. Radhakrishna Holla,
Before making a strong statement against the RSS, Mr. Panikkar should have read the organisation’s vision and mission. It stands for the preservation of dharma, which is ensuring the oneness of human race. It has been the basic tenet of the Hindu way of life for ages. This is the meeting point between Vivekananda’s mission and the RSS vision. That the RSS has been painted in a different colour by politically driven elements is another matter.
Ekam sat, viprah bahudha vadhanti — there is only one truth, only men describe it in different ways. As a follower of the Bhagvad Gita and Swami Vivekananda, I have found no sectarian or chauvinistic values in the teachings of either. The article brings out the truth and dispels the myth that Vivekananda was a sectarian monk as claimed and propagated by many right-wing organisations.
P.J.S. Sudhakar Naik,
Vivekananda’s words “truth alone is my god; the entire world is my country” reflect the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Chapter 6, Verse 72 of Maha Upanishad says: ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam (only small men discriminate saying: one is a relative, the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family). Vivekananda’s message of universalism will help in establishing harmony and peace.
Universalism is an often misunderstood concept and hence it is important to clearly understand what Vivekananda means. Universalism from a Marxist point of view would be incompatible with the interfaith harmony that the world needs today. All religions are not the same; they are different and the diversity should be respected. Caste has left India more divided today than reformed. It is important to separate caste from religion. Caste is not a problem of Hinduism but that of India’s socioeconomic structures which have nothing to do with religion.