Thiruvananthapuram: CPI (M) veteran and opposition leader in the Kerala assembly, V S Achuthanandan, took a dig at the RSS by using a forum of the saffron outfit and criticised its "attempts" to depict Swami Vivekananda as a "pioneer of Hindutva."
Speaking at a function organised by RSS`s cultural forum Bharatheeya Vicharakendram (BVK) here last evening, the octogenarian leader said Vivekananda was in fact a sharp critic of the "life negating idealism of exploitative casteism of the Hindu religion."
He was speaking at the book release of "Swami Vivekananda and Kerala".
Achuthanandan, however, patted BVK and its director and Sangh ideologue P Parameswaran for bringing out a comprehensive volume on the saint-philosopher which not only reflected the RSS`s approach but also accommodated the perspective of others on the life and work of Vivekananda.
"The Sangh Parivar has always tried to confine Vivekenanda in a narrow chamber. They say he is the acharya of Hindutva. Of course, he worked for the unity of Hindu religion and for reforming it. But his greatness is that he lashed out at the life negating idealism and exploitative casteism of the Hindu religion," the CPI (M) leader said.
Recalling that it was Vivekananda who famously dubbed Kerala as "a lunatic asylum" because of the rigid casteism that prevailed here, Achuthanandan said during his visit to the state, he had a taste of the oppressive system as he was barred from entering a temple at Kodungallur for declining to answer priests` query to which caste he belonged.
Vivekananda also inspired the disciples of saint-reformer Sree Narayana Guru to form Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) as a platform for social renaissance in Kerala, he said.
The mission of Vivekananda was creation of a just social order where all people lived in dignity and enjoyed equal opportunity, he said.
He was perhaps the first Indian to learn about and talk about socialism when it started emerging as a political philosophy in Europe, he added.
Kerala Culture Minister K C Joseph said his department would take steps for distribution of the book to all the legislators in the state.
Parmeswaran, who compiled the anthology, said it was Vivekananda, who built a firm foundation for the reform movement and freedom movement in India.
Keralites could take pride in the fact that he had directly influenced them by his visit here and writing and speaking about his experiences, Parameswaran added.