Swami Vivekananda and seva: taking "social service" seriously

Beckerlegge, Gwilym (1997). Swami Vivekananda and seva: taking "social service" seriously. In: Radice, W ed. Vivekananda and the Modernization of Hinduism. SOAS studies on South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 158–193.


Bringing together fourteen papers, this book gives new depth to our understanding of the aims and achievements of Swami Vivekananda. It invites us to relate him to movements and individuals outside his native Bengal; it shows how modernizing trends in Indian society wrestled with traditionalfeatures of Hinduism such as caste; and it links his religious and social ideals to thinkers and theologians in the West. The book firmly distances Swami Vivekananda from chauvinist or communal misinterpretations of his work.

Gwilyn Beckerlegge argues legitimately in his paper “Swami Vivekananda and Sev¯a” that Vivekananda’s idea of philanthropy was not a mere western-Christian idea and that Sev¯a was also a part of the Hindu tradition.

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