Adhere to Swami Vivekananda’s Hinduism,’ US lawmaker at Hindutva convention

Raja Krishnamoorthi   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

U.S. lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi told participants at the World Hindu Congress (WHC) to adhere to Hinduism as interpreted by Swami Vivekanda and reject all forms of hate.

The Congress, publicised also as a commemoration of Vivekanada’s speech at the Parliament of World Religions 125 years ago, is being organised by affiliates of the Sangh Parivar.

The U.S. Congressman from Chicago, who addressed the conference in the face of a campaign that urged him to dissociate from it, said: “I decided I had to be here because I wanted to reaffirm the highest and only form of Hinduism that I’ve ever known and been taught — namely one that welcomes all people, embraces all people, and accepts all people, regardless of their faith — including all my constituents. I reject all other forms. In short, I reaffirm the teachings of Swami Vivekananda,” Mr. Krishnamoorthi said.

‘Fake badges’

A group of protesters raised slogans against “Hindu fascism” later, minutes before Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat was to take questions on the theme “Collective efforts for Hindu resurgence”. Organisers said the protesters entered the venue with fake badges.

A group of attendees tried to assault the protesters, while another tried to prevent it. “We should have bashed them up,” senior leader and former BJP lawmaker Vijay Jolly, who was present in the melee, shouted, even as the police took away the protesters. An attendee was also taken away by the police.

Those who spoke on the theme before the disruption suggested ways to unite all Bharatiya religions — one named them, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. The panel was moderated by Dattatreya Hosabale, Joint General Secretary of RSS and Mr. Bhagwat was a speaker.

As Mr. Hosabale announced that Mr. Bhagwat would not speak and sought questions from the audience, six protestors seated in two groups started shouting, “stop Hindu Fascism” and “RSS turn around, we do not want you in town.” A group of attendees started shouting counter slogans. Organisers said the protestors entered the venue with fake badges. Vice President of India M. Venkaiah Naidu is scheduled to address the convention on Sunday.

Mr. Krishnamoorthi, a practicing Hindu, said the concerns raised about his presence at the convention were “serious and sincere.” He said it was because of Vivekananda’s legacy of equality and pluralism that “I stand before you as a Hindu, as an American, and as a United States Congressman.” “When we embrace ahimsa, we recognize there is no place for prejudice, no place for violence, no place for hate - not here in America, not in India, not anywhere in the world, and not in Hinduism,” he said.

“… We were there to protest the conference, the organiser, the speakers, and the attendees and their support for the current and historic violence that’s been propagated by the RSS and other similar organisations,” one of the protestors told PTI. They also told the PTI that they were hit and spat on by attendees.

In a pamphlet, the protestors said “Chicago South Asians for Justice demands that the leaders attending the WHC stand against the current actions and the history of violence that the Hindu nationalist government has aided and abetted against margnialised communities.”

Campaign group Avaaz took out a full page advertisement in the Chicago Tribune appealing the participants to stop the Narendra Modi government’s plans to strip millions of residents in India of citizenship. Ricken Patel, CEO of Avaaz said this was “an appeal and not a protest.” The ad featured a picture of Vivekananda and a quote from his Chicago speech: “Sectarianism, bigotry, and fanaticism have long possessed this beautiful earth..but their time is come.”

“The tolerant traditions of Hinduism have made India’s impossible democracy of over a billion people possible. But stripping millions of Muslims of citizenship and voting rights, even if they were born in India, or have lived in the country for decades, is a grotesque betrayal of faith and country. Prime Minister Modi and Hindu nationalists are opening the door to a dark and brutal future for their country,” Mr. Patel said.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 2:31:33 PM |

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