The ‘India problem’ under the surface at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

by | Aug 18, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — It has been over a century since Swami Vivekananda introduced the tenets of Hinduism to a Western audience for the very first time. Vivekananda’s speech at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions — part of the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago — was a message of tolerance, mutual respect and universal acceptance.
The parliament, often referred to as the birth of the modern interfaith movement, held its ninth-ever conference this week at the McCormick Place convention center, with Hindus of all stripes present among diverse faith groups from across the world.
But some say Vivekananda’s legacy of inclusiveness is far from what they enjoyed at the parliament. Instead, Hindu organizations say they were uniquely singled out for their views on the contentious Indian political atmosphere, leaving some Hindus wondering why they must be tied to the politics of India at an event centered on cultivating harmony between the world’s religious communities.
From the monks of the Ramakrishna Mission and the educational efforts of Vivekananda Vedanta Society to the familiar “Hare Krishna” chanting of ISKCON, the Hindu presence at this year’s Parliament was philosophically and spiritually diverse.
Daily kirtans — musical devotional chants — and yoga nidra allowed those unfamiliar with the tradition to experience the many forms of worship and intellectual exercises that form the Sanatana Dharma t …

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