“Tolerance, Acceptance, Co-existence”: BJP’s Hindutva Maligns The Hinduism Vivekananda Spoke Of

Let’s take this opportunity to compare the Hinduism preached by Swami Vivekananda in Chicago with the Hindutva preached by the BJP.

128 years ago, on this very day in 1893, Swami Vivekananda stood up in the world’s first religious parliament in Chicago, and introduced Hinduism to the world. Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Dutta, was the chief disciple of the 19th-century mystic Ramakrishna and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission. He’s revered across India and is best known in the United States for his groundbreaking speech.

PM Modi today recalled the speech by Swami Vivekananda and said it “beautifully demonstrated the salience of Indian culture”.

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu also tweeted a quote from the speech and recalled that Swami Vivekananda “introduced India to the world at Chicago in 1893”.

Many leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took the occasion of the anniversary of the speech delivered by Swami Vivekananda to further highlight the greatness of Hindu religion. However, they conveniently missed on the important parts of the speech which talked about tolerance, co-existence, sectarianism, bigotry and much more.

As we look back at the philosophically enriching and pathbreaking speech, let us also take this opportunity to recall the various facets of Hinduism described by Swami Vivekananda in his speech and compare them with the ideals of the contemporary “Hindutva” of the ruling BJP.


” I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.”

As Swami Vivekananda talked of the religion he represented i.e. Hinduism, he rightly highlighted the history of the religion which preserved the values of “tolerance and universal acceptance”. When he noted that Hinduism not only believed in “universal toleration” but also accepted “all religions as true”, we had a history to show to the world of other religions coming to this land and flourishing without persecution. In a Hindu majority civilisation, religions like Buddhism, Islam, Christianity etc. not only survived but co-existed peacefully.


Vivekananda at the Chicago gathering. Credit: Parliament of Religion, 1893 [Public domain]


In the BJP’s rule, the minorities have been living in fear of persecution for the last few years. Mob lynchings have become a new normal and do not surprise or shock the people anymore. As recent as the day before yesterday, September 9, a 22-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death with sticks and rods by several men in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli. On Sunday, September 6, a Christian priest and two others were beaten up by a mob inside a police station in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur city on Sunday. On August 8, rabid anti-Muslim slogans pierced the air at a rally organised by Hindu nationalist groups at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi. Some of them were highly communal and inflammatory. It is so bad that The Siasat Daily published a curated list of hate crimes against Muslims in the month of August only.

It was under the nose of the BJP’s top leadership that the national capital Delhi saw the worst sectarian violence last year since the partition in 1947.

Under the BJP’s rabid “Hindutva”, the majority has become more intolerant, in total contrast of what Hinduism stood for, according to Swami Vivekananda’s speech.

Sheltering Persecuted & Refugees

“I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.

As Swami Vivekananda highlighted the fact that he came from a country that has always welcomed the persecuted and refugees, he said: I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shat­tered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

As the Taliban took over neighbouring Afghanistan last month, and thousands of Afghans attempted to flee to other countries from the barbaric regime, Indian foreign ministry’s announcement to prioritise Hindus and Sikhs as a key focus of the repatriation efforts from Afghanistan invited criticism from all corners.

However, it was not the first time when the Indian government differentiated between the refugees on the basis of religion. In a controversial ammendment to the Citizenship Act (CAA) in 2019, which caused mass protests across the country, the Indian government decided to provide a pathway to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians, and arrived in India before the end of December 2014. The law, however, did not grant such eligibility to Muslims from those countries.


Protestors participate in a demonstration against Citizenship (Amendment) Act in New Delhi. PTI


The motto of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family)” from Hinduism, which is often cited by the PM on global platforms and was clearly visible in spirit in Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech, was conveniently thrown out of the window by the current regime in aforementioned instances.

Vivekananda on Sectarianism, Bigotry & Fanaticism

“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descen­dant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with vio­lence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.

Swami Vivekanand, in his speech, targeted religious fanaticism which resulted from sectarianism and bigotry. He highlighted how they have drawn human blood, destroyed civilizations and sent nations to despair.

As recent as yesterday, the BJP appointed one Prashant Umrao as its spokesperson for the state of Uttar Pradesh. Umrao has history of peddling fake claims and misinformation that could fan religious tensions. With an impunity from the ruling party, he has often targeted the minorities, especially the Muslim community through his social media posts.

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, one Hindu priest Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, has time and again made incendiary speeches and blurted out poison against Muslim community. He, however, has not faced any action for his words that are very much capable of stoking violence. Although three FIRs were registered against him after he made indecent comments about women, including those in the BJP.

Yogesh Kumar, the prime accused in planning a mob violence over alleged cow slaughter that led to the killing of a police inspector and a youth in Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh in 2018, won a panchayat election this year. Out on bail, Kumar, along with other members of Bajrang Dal, was accused of spearheading the mob after putting the cow carcass in a trolley in an attempt to cause wide-scale riots.

On the front of controlling sectarianism, the BJP government has not only failed, but has been seen standing behind the accused on many instances. The right wing party’s Hindutva fails the Hinduism that Vivekananda spoke of.


A man being beaten by a mob in Chand Bagh area during Delhi riots in February 2020. (Reuters)


Action, not just mere words

If the Narendra Modi-led BJP really wants to upheld the legacy of Swami Vivekananda and follow the Hinduism he preached, it should right away bring a legislation against the lynchings of those in minority and end the menace that has engulfed the Indian society in the last few years.

If the saffron party really believes in the motto of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, it should make ammendments to the Citizenship Ammendment Act (CAA), and remove the barriers of religion and nationality for refugees to get the Indian Citizenship.

If the BJP’s Hindutva is not rabid and bigoted as it claims, it should ensure strict actions against those who make incendiary speeches to spread communal hatred, and distance itself from those who thrive on hate for minorities.

Taking these basic and minimum actions will make Indians believe that the BJP cares about Swami Vivekananda and the Hinduism.

Because as preached by Vivekananda in his speech, the wonderful doctrine in the Geeta says: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”





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