Resemblance Between Vivekanand’s and Gandhi’s Thoughts
Both Vivekananda and Gandhi were very much aware of the social, moral and religious degradation of their country in the late nineteenth century. Although Vivekanand loved and cherished Hinduism, he did not hesitate to denounce some of the upper caste Hindus’ inhuman treatment of the lower caste Hindus i.e. Shudras, he disapproved of what he called, their “don’t-touchism,” which Gandhi would later censure as the voice of “untouchability.” Criticizing organized religion, he thundered, “If you want religion, enter not the gate of any organized religion.” Like his spiritual predecessor, Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi also loved and cherished Hinduism; but neither of them followed his tradition blindly. Born into Hinduism, both remained within their tradition but only as “critical traditionalists” (ibid.), who rejected whatever was irrational, inhuman or obsolete in Hinduism, such as fatalism, ritualism, sectarianism, rigid caste rules, outdated customs and superstitious beliefs or practices. Both Vivekananda and Gandhi rethought and revitalized their religion not only to purify it from within, but also to make it more contemporary so that it can withstand and cope with the new challenges of a changing world. Although Vivekananda and Gandhi come to the podium from two opposite platforms —one of religion and the other of politics—the contents of what they said and the message they conveyed are not antithetical at all.