The following incident is taken from the book, Swami Vivekananda: The Friend Of All. It’s published by Swami Sarvabhutananda. The incident is presented on the occasion of his 154th Birth Anniversary (January 12, 2017).
It was 1891. Swamiji was staying at Mount Abus as a guest of a Muslim lawyer. He invited him saying, “If you would condescend to live with me, I shall feel myself greatly blessed. But I am a Mussalman. I shall, of course, make separate arrangements for your food.” Swamiji didn’t hear a word of that.
One day, Jagmohanlal, the Private Secretary of the Raja of Khetri, came to the lawyer’s bungalow and was quite surprised to see Swamiji, a Hindu sanyasi, there. Unable to conceal his wonder, Jagmohanlal said to Swamiji, “Well, Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk. How is it that you are living with a Muslim?”
Swamiji, who couldn’t stand any differentiation on the basis of religion and caste, sternly replied, “Sir, what do you mean? I am a Sanyasin. I am above all your social conventions. I can dine even with a Bhangi. I am not afraid of God because He sanctions it. I am not afraid of the scriptures for they allow it. But I am afraid of you people and your society. You know nothing of God and scriptures. I see Brahman everywhere, manifested even through the meanest of creature. For me, there is nothing high or low. Shiva Shiva!”
Every word of Swamiji rained fire while Munshi Jagmohanlal stood mesmerized before his towering personality.
The above incident conveys a lot more than it seems. On the surface, it speaks about Swami Vivekananda’s intolerance to religious division. But from what he told Jagmohanlal, we also get to know about his opposition to any sort of casteism, especially from the line, “I see Brahman everywhere…”
Similarly, by saying, “But I am afraid of you people and your society,” and “For me, there is nothing high or low,” he has also revealed that social class doesn’t exist for him. And he did walk his talk. This is evident from the incident where he happily accepted food from a person belonging to the so-called lower caste outside a railway station in Rajasthan.
This and many other such incidents from his life clearly show his forward and liberal thinking even more than 100 years ago.
– By: Keyur Seta