31 March 2014

E. P. Chelyshev On Swami Vivekananda

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E. P. Chelyshev or Eugene Petrovich Chelyshev (Russian: Евгений Петрович Челышев, Ramakrishna Mission books' spelling: E. P. Chelishev, born 27 October 1921) iis a Russian Indologist, academician and public figure. His fields of research are— Literary and Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, Indian philology. In 2002,he was awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan.  In 2004 he became the first Russian to receive  the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship by the Government of India. Chelyshev had been an admirer and a researcher of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. He worked as one of the vice-presidents of the Committee for Comprehensive Study of Ramakrishna Vivekananda Movement. A detailed biography of Chelyshev is available at Wikipedia. In this article you'll find E. P. Chelyshev's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

Spelling note: In Ramakrishna Mission books the spelling "E. P. Chelishev". when we worked on the article at Wikipedia, there after some discussions and debates the spelling "E. P. Chelyshev" was finalised. In this site too we have followed Wikipedia's consensus.

E. P. Chelyshev told—

Reading and re-reading the works of Vivekananda each time I find in them something new that helps deeper to understand India, its philosophy, the way of the life and customs of the people in the past and the present, their dreams of the future. ... I think that Vivekananda's greatest service is the development in his teaching of the lofty ideals of humanism which incorporate the finest features of Indian culture. ...

In my studies of contemporary Indian literature I have more than once had the opportunity to see what great influence the humanistic ideals of Vivekananda have exercised on the works of many writers. ... In my opinion, Vivekananda's humanism has nothing in common with the Christian ideology which dooms man to passivity and to begging God for favours. He tried to place religious ideology at the service of the country's national interests, the emancipation of his enslaved compatriots. Vivekananda wrote that the colonialists were building one church after another in India, while the Eastern countries needed bread and not religion. He would sooner see all men turn into confirmed atheists than into superstitious simpletons. To elevate man Vivekananda identifies him with God. ... Though we do not agree with the idealistic basis of Vivekananda's humanism, we recognize that it possesses many features of active humanism manifested above all in a fervent desire to elevate man, to instil in him a sense of his own dignity, sense of responsibility for his own destiny and the destiny of all people, to make him strive for the ideals of good, truth and justice, to foster in man abhorrence for any suffering. The humanistic ideal of Vivekananda is to a certain degree identical with Gorky's Man with a capital letter. Such a humanistic interpretation of the essence of man largely determines the democratic nature of Vivekananda's world outlook. ...

Many years will pass, many generations will come and go, Vivekananda and his time will become the distant past, but never will there fade the memory of the man who all his life dreamed of a better future for his people, who did so much to awaken his compatriots and move India forward, to defend his much suffering people from injustice and brutality. Like a rocky cliff protecting a coastal valley from storm and bad weather, from the blows of ill winds and waves, Vivekananda fought courageously and selflessly against the enemies of his motherland.

Together with the Indian people, Soviet people who already know some of the works of Vivekananda published in the USSR, highly revere the memory of the great Indian patriot, humanist and democrat, impassioned fighter for a better future for his people and all mankind.1

Chelyshev also told—

The name of Swami Vivekananda is very popular in Soviet Russia and he is held in high esteem by our countrymen. Soviet people respect him as a great democrat, humanist and patriot who contributed immensely in the development of national consciousness and anti-colonial liberation movement in India.
They also consider that his message and the message of Sri Ramakrishna, which are really one, are absolutely necessary for the survival of the human civilization which is now in great danger due to the menace of the devastating nuclear war. We believe that it is their message which can bring peace, harmony and understanding to the tormented world of today. They are not simply religious leaders, they are much more than that. They are prophets of peace, harmony and brotherhood. Their message was relevant in the past in India and in the world at large, but it is still more relevant in the present Indian context and in the context of the contemporary world. That is why a lot of Soviet research scholars and thinkers have dedicated to the study of Sri Ramakrishna and particularly Swami Vivekananda. I am proud that I happened to be one of the pioneers of this study in our country and contributed an article on Swami Vivekananda to the Swami Vivekananda Centenary Memorial Volume twenty years ago, published from Calcutta.

I consider it a great honour for me to be associated with any programme connected with Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. I and my colleagues will continue to devote to the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda studies with close co-operation of the scholars of India and other countries I will do my best to contribute to the development of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda studies in the progressive direction. I consider this as a service to the humanity at large.2


  1. Swami Vivekananda Centenary Memorial Volume, 1963, pp.506-18.
  2. World Thinkers on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, editor: Swami Lokeswarananda, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, 2002, p.67

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