[Advaita-l] Swami Vivekananda on Shankara

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 19 08:53:57 CST 2004

--- S Jayanarayanan <sjayana at yahoo.com> wrote:
> The following website gives a quote from Vivekananda about Shankara:
> http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/15042001/Art06.htm
> "About the activities of Sankaracharya, even Vivekananda had
> observed:
> 'And, such was the heart of Sankara that he burnt to death lots of
> Buddhist monks by defeating them in argument. What can you call such
> action on Sankara's part except fanaticism.' (Complete works of Swami
> Vivekananda, Vol. III, p. 118, Calcutta, 1997)."

I discovered that the quote is incorrect and deliberately misleading.
Even the reference is false, sorry for bringing it up on the list. The
quote is in Vol.7, p.118, of the Complete works of Swami Vivekananda,
where Swamiji is talking about the intellect of Shankara and the
compassion of the Buddha:

"And such was his (i.e. Shankara's) heart that he burnt to death lots
of Buddhist monks - by defeating them in argument! And the Buddhists,
too, were foolish enough to burn themselves to death, simply because
they were worsted in argument! What can you call such an action on
Shankara's part except fanaticism?"

The additional sentence that was left out of the misquoted quote -
regarding the foolishness of the Buddhists - completely changes the
meaning. Instead of implying that Shankara had directly involved
himself in the burning of the Buddhists, it now says that the Buddhists
committed self-immolation due to their humiliating defeat by Shankara.

> Can someone verify if the above quote is correctly attributed? I find
> it appalling that Vivekananda would say something to this effect
> about
> a saint from his own religion. The quote is not even historically
> factual, which makes it all the more shocking.
> -Kartik

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