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Learning from Vivekananda

The article “Being ‘Hindu’ and Being ‘Secular’: Tamil ‘Secularism’ and Caste Politics” by M S S Pandian (EPW, 4 August 2012) is well written and provides useful information on the efforts of rationalists and the Dravidian parties in regard to, among other issues, caste-based discrimination and the tyranny of the priesthood. Rationalists have, for a long time, claimed credit for their role in these matters. But a reading of Swami Vivekananda’s complete works will open our eyes to his pioneering work in these areas.

It was Vivekananda who gave a modern definition to the word “atheist” as someone who does not believe in “himself”; not the conventional non-believer of god. He repeatedly stressed that service to the poor, downtrodden and weakest sections of society regardless of caste, creed, religion, gender or nationality, is service of god.

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