History, Philosophy

Dayananda,Vivekananda & Sri Aurobindo – Trinity of Indian nationalism


Hinduism has witnessed two remarkable trinities who made  astounding impact on Sanathana Dharma.

First trinity comprises Shankara Charya, Ramanuja Charya and Vallaba charya, exponents of Adwaitha, Dwaitha and Visistadwaitha philosophies,  in 8th-10th centuries. Hinduism, which was on the verge of collapse with the impact of Buddhism, was saved by those trinity and successfuly defended with new schools of philosophies like vedanta and vaishnava bhakthi from socio-cultural attacks of Buddhism.

In the end of 19th century, Hinduism had to face  similar scenario of “pre shankara charya age”, and was in crisis due to various  cultural attacks in the form of blasphemy, conversions and missionary expansions. Mother India (Bhawani Bharti) , to defend and save herself,  bore another trinity in the form of Dayananda, Vivekananda and Aurobindo.

Trio, second trinity of Hindu reformism and renaissance, made a great impact on contemporary Hindu society to great extent with their charismatic knowledge and influence. In this article, iam trying to explain  similarities and differences in their idealogy. I feel, it is my immense pleasure  to write something(which I know) about those great personalities who stood as real inspiration for my staunch nationalistic stand.

Vedas :  Dayananda,Vivekananda & Sri Aurobindo expressed their devotion and attachment to Vedas and termed they were  real source of Hinduism. But, Dayananda gave much importance to Vedas by leaving Upanishads. While, Vivekananda  stressed  importance for Upanishads than Vedas. Sri Aurobindo, has gave equal importance to Vedas and Upanishads. But, Aurobindo, being a exponent of Integral yoga and life divine theory with the vision of ‘Superman’, have some reservations on Vedanta philosophy explained by Shankara Charya.

Puranas : Dayananda rebuked puranas and their creation of various avatars of shiva Vishnu and Kaali. According to Dayananda, Rama and Krishna were great human beings and infact divine personalities but not gods/avathars. While, Vivekananda, despite raised several questions on authenticity and validity of Puranas, could not discard Puranas from Hinduism. Here, Aurobindo made an interesting interpretation. He opined, Puranas were more as a poetry or valuable literature which made an attempt to explain the historical hindu events and avathars. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, Puranas  have explained the esoteric vedic spirit and philosophy of sanathana dharma by using both fiction and non fiction.

CULT  :  Dayananda did not preach any particular cult like Vaishnava,Shaktha or Shaiva and he vehemently opposed Idol worship to the core. Being a pupil of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda has viewed god in both ‘sakaara’ and ‘niraakara’. But, he has supported idol worship particularly Kaali. Here, we could find striking similarity between Vivekananda and Sri aurobindo. Both were kaali worshippers, Vivekananda trated his Guru Sri Ramakrishna as an avathar of Rama and Krishna,  while Sri Aurobindo viewed his spiritual collaborator ‘Mirra’ as an avathar of Kaali/Durga.  Here, another interesting aspect here is, some inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram also refer Sri Aurobindo as divine incarnation of Sri Krishna.

Vivekananda and Aurobindo on Dayananda : An interesting aspect here is, they never met,  though they were almost  contemporaries. Swami Dayananda, who was busy in touring India, met Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in Calcutta. Nothing unusual/interesting conversion recorded neither from Aryamaj nor from RK Muth in that great meeting of two revered sages. Swami Vivekananda, after arriving India by accomplishing Mission chicago, toured extensively from Almora to Colombo. He has gave lectures on vedanta in various Arya samaj branches across India. Vivekananda has shown great respect towards Swami Dayananda for his efforts of reigniting vedic spark. But, swami Vivekananda could not welcome Dayananda stands of opposing idol worship and meat eating. Sri Aurobindo, as like Swami Vivekananda,  has also shown huge respect and devotion towards Swami Dayananda. He  even wrote a series of articles on Dayananda, which later published as ‘Bankim Tilak Dayananda’. Here, we could find some similarities between Dayananda and Aurobindo, as both have admonished the present Hindu ritual system. In one of the articles, Sri Aurobindo referred present Hindu system as ‘Vulgarized and Buddhicised edition’ by re-echoing the words of Swami Dayananda.

Sri Aurobindo on Vivekananda : It was Sri Aurobindo, who gave concrete and final shape to concept of  patriotic nationalism advocated by both Dayananda and Vivekananda. Aurobindo has made plethora of references on Vivekananda in his series of articles published in Karmayogin magazine. Sri Aurobindo Ashram has published a special booklet on Aurobindo references and quotations on Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramahasa.  Sri Aurobindo, who could not meet Vivekananda personally,  is said to have guided by Swami Vivekananda through Yoga during  his stay at Alipore Jail. There were huge number of interesting indirect relationships and impact between Aurobindo and Vivekananda. Aurobindo was aided by Vivekananda brother and pupil Sister Nivedita in Vandematram movement. We do not know, why Nivedita took part in active politics by keeping away from RK Muth. Why she had to accompany Sri Aurobindo ?  Was it a wish of Vivekananda ? We cannot rule out above questions by considering  Vivekananda appearance to Sri Aurobindo in Alipore Jail when he was in deep sadhana.

Mrunalini Devi, wife of Sri Aurobindo, was direct disciple of Sharada Matha and also a  devotee of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda. Sharada Matha, holy mother and wife of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, used to refer Mrinalini as daughter in law by treating Sri Aurobindo as her son. Sharada Matha, during Sri Aurobindo’s  incarceration in Alipore Jail,  prophesied Sri Aurobindo’s acquittal and  spiritual enlightenment. I will give another interesting version,  there were slight  ideological differences between Aurobindo followers and Vivekananda followers in Bengal.  Sri Aurobindo, who came across those differences,  has stressed his pupils not to oppose Ramakrishna movement and even asked not to maintain conflicts with RK Muth at any cost. This was a perfect instance of Sri Aurobindo’s  respect and devotion towards Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Holymother.

Aryasamaj, RK Muth and Aurobindo Ashram views on Hindu Nationalism :  Aryasamaj, among those organizations, is the only organization which claim itself as a champion of Hindu thought or Hindhutva or vedic revivalism. RK Muth and Aurobindo Ashram try to say that both Vivekananda and Aurobindo ideologies were not just confined to  Hinduism and beyond that. Like RK Muth & Aurobindo Ashram, most of the popular movements of Hindu renaissance and reformisms, including ISKCON, reluctant to  prefer the tag of Hinduthva /Hindu nationalism due to various socio-cultural-political issues and popular misconceptions.