29th March, 1894.
Your letter just reached me here. I am in a hurry, so excuse a few points which I would take the liberty of correcting you in.
In the first place, I have not one word to say against any religion or founder of religion in the world — whatever you may think of our religion. All religions are sacred to me. Secondly, it is a misstatement that I said that missionaries do not learn our vernaculars. I still stick to my statement that few, if any, of them pay any attention to Sanskrit; nor is it true that I said anything against any religious body — except that I do insist on my statement that India can never be converted to Christianity, and further I deny that the conditions of the lower classes are made any better by Christianity, and add that the majority of southern Indian Christians are not only Catholics, but what they call themselves, caste Christians, that is, they stick close to their castes, and I am thoroughly persuaded that if the Hindu society gives up its exclusive policy, ninety per cent of them would rush back to Hinduism with all its defects.
Lastly, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for calling me your fellow-countryman. This is the first time any European foreigner, born in India though he be, has dared to call a detested native by that name — missionary or no missionary. Would you dare call me the same in India? Ask your missionaries, born in India, to do the same — and those not born, to treat them as fellow human beings. As to the rest, you yourself would call me a fool if I admit that my religion or society submits to be judged by strolling globe-trotters or story-writers’ narratives.
My brother — excuse me — what do you know of my society or religion, though born in India? It is absolutely impossible — the society is so closed; and over and above, everyone judges from his preconceived standard of race and religion, does he not? Lord bless you for calling me a fellow-countryman. There may still come a brotherly love and fellowship between the East and West.
- ^Reverend R. A. Hume, the Director of a Mission in India, who wrote to Swami Vivekananda from Auburndale, Massachusetts, on March 21, 1894, in an obvious attempt to draw him into a public debate. Mr. Hume was born in India and started his letter with “Swami Vivekananda, my fellow-countryman from India”. His thesis was that the Missionaries were justified in what they did in India and how they spoke about her abroad and that Swamiji was misrepresenting India and the Christian Missionaries in Detroit and other places in the U.S.A. — Ed.