ON CHRISTIAN CONVERSION
(Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, p. 25.)
[The Indian Mirror, June 14, 1894]
There has been some lively correspondence between Swami Vivekanand and a retired Christian Missionary on the work and prospects of Christianity in India. Among other things, the Swami is reported to have said that “the way of converting is absolutely absurd”;
Missionary doctors do no good, because they are not in touch with the people. . . . They accomplish nothing in the way of converting, although they may have nice sociable times among themselves, &c.
The reverend gentleman took exception to the words, maintaining that speaking the vernaculars well, nobody of foreigners understands, and sympathises with Indians better than Missionaries. The Missionaries are undoubtedly good and well-meaning people; but we think, the statement of the Swami that they are seldom in touch with the people, is not without foundation. With the revival of Hinduism, manifested in every part of the country, it is doubtful whether Christianity will have any sway over the Hindus. The present is a critical time for Christian Missions in India. The Swami thanked the Missionary for calling him his fellow-countryman. “This is the first time,” he wrote,
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?