Accommodation and Exclusivism

Bhagavad-gītā 4.11 | October 11, 2013 |

English; Kanhaiyadesh

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Can you throw some light on the philosophy of Vivekananda? I have read that he was a contemporary of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. What is his philosophy? Is it bona fide?

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

Does that make him bona fide? Well, why Vivekānanda? There are so many - this ānanda, that ānanda; there are so many people. Why not concentrate on the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa given in Bhagavad-gītā? Is what Vivekānanda says the same as what Kṛṣṇa says? Well, Vivekānanda went to America. Śrīla Prabhupāda went to America. Vivekānanda brought back one woman from the West. Śrīla Prabhupāda made hundreds and thousands of people from the West follow all the principles of pure bhakti along the principle of Bhagavad-gītā: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. So, we can see that Śrīla Prabhupāda did what Kṛṣṇa said and Vivekānanda didn’t. So why give any importance to him? Of course, he is famous in the world, but so many people are famous. Vivekānanda sai d, whatever his philosophy might be… Of course, his guru’s philosophy was yata mata tata patha — as many paths… as many opinions, that many paths - which directly contradicts what Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā: sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. His guru was eating beef, so what kind of paramparā is that? That’s documented. In the name of proving that all paths are the same he followed Islam and ate beef for some time. So, if you want to think he is bona fide, you can follow him and go wherever he is going. But we want to go to Kṛṣṇa. People who eat meat like Vivekānanda and smoke… Of course, there are śāstric provisions for eating meat, but in general that should not be done. Those who do, they’re… That’s tāmasic, that’s in the mode of ignorance. We can’t think that there’ll be any good result from doing that; even if they are famous. There are so many famous swamis in the world today. They are almost all bogus. 

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