Swami Vivekananda: A Reassessment
For the first time since Swami Vivekananda's famous address to the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago on 11 September 1893, this provocative study seeks to rescue the historical Vivekananda from the celebrated Swamiji of the legend and hagiography. Using a variety of primary and contemporary secondary sources, including eyewitness accounts in English as well as Bengali, Professor Narasingha P. Sil examines Vivekananda's early life and education, his meeting and relationship with his future mentor Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and the circumstances leading to his embracing monastic life. Analyzing Vivekananda's numerous sermons, speeches, conversations, and letters, Sil exposes the Swami's deliberate distortion of facts and purposive misinformation on, and misleading and tendentious interpretation of, aspects of Hindu society and culture.
The book also takes a hard look at his universally acknowledged reputation as a hypercosmological renouncer who championed the causes of the poor and the downtrodden and thus exemplified the doctrines of socialism at their finest. Sil is the first scholar to critically examine Vivekananda's attitude toward women in general and to probe into his experience with Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita) in particular, and he is the first author to provide a detailed analysis of Vivekananda's popularity as a preacher and lecturer.