What Swami Vivekananda said about Missionaries and Christianity at Detroit

  • By Dr Sukanya Ray
  • August 2018

While the leading press and intellectuals in the US recognised that even the most materially advanced nation of the West had lessons to learn in religion, spirituality, and ethics from persons of Swamiji’s calibre and genius that India still produced, the orthodox clergymen resented Swamiji’s rejection of the Christian doctrine of the original sin in the World’s Parliament of Religions as also his rejection in the same forum of the superiority of Christianity over all other religions of the world or for that matter, its finality in all matters that concerned the religions of the world.

In the days following the World’s Parliament of Religions when Swamiji, in his public lectures in Detroit during February to March 1894, sought to correct the US   misperception of India such as resulted from the slanted representation of India by some Christian missionaries, the orthodox clergymen, with axes to grind, intensified their attacks against him, calling him a heathen and branding India—the country he hailed from—a benighted country.

He did not reply to her words of denunciation, but chose other occasions to give the US a true picture of India as also to warn the US against the pitfalls of her ‘current’ Christianity, underlining in the process the need for the US to go back to Christianity as preached by Jesus Christ. Such is the backdrop against which the present article gives an analysis of truth Swamiji taught the US about India and Christianity, and in the process it reflects on the course Swamiji outlined for the truly progressive development of the civilisation and human beings in the U.S.

The last-mentioned point that Swamiji made, that India as a spiritually charged and inspired nation had no need of Christian missionaries to preach to them, was meant to make it clear to the Christian preachers that he was unhappy with the work that they had been doing in India. His disapproval of the missionary work in India was on the following counts:

To read full article in PDF. For your convenience have highlighted in the PDF important paras.

Authors are Dr Sukanya Ray and Dr Anil Baran Ray.

This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To know more http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription 

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