Those appropriating Vivekananda haven’t read him: Tharoor

New Delhi: Taking a dig at the BJP and other rightwing political parties, acclaimed author and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday said that those trying to appropriate Swami Vivekananda have not actually read him and thus project the celebrated 19th century Hindu monk in a “blasphemous” way.

“Frankly, the way in which the BJP projects Vivekananda is completely ill-founded. In fact, it is not based on close, or even a casual reading of everything that Vivekananda said,” Tharoor said during a panel discussion following the formal release of his latest book “Why I am A Hindu” at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library here.

As moderator Rajdeep Sardesai asked Tharoor about him quoting and citing Vivekannada generously in his book — which dwells on the philosophy of Hinduism as also the politicisation of the faith by a group – in the context of leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi citing Vivekananda, the Congress leader quipped: “Yes, the only difference is that I have actually read him (Vivekananda).”

Tharoor said that anyone who has read Vivekananda cannot possibly put him on the sides of “bigots, chauvinists and the people who are giving Hinduism a bad name”.

“Vivekananda spoke for most part in English and many of you know, and so I actually read the original. I can tell you what he believe in what he stood for,” Tharoor added amid the audience laughter.

“When these people (Hindutva brigade) for example highlight a sentence like ‘Arise, awake and stop not’ and ‘be proud of being a Hindu’, what does Vivekananda want us to take pride in? He wanted us to take pride in precisely this – the acceptance of our faith,” he said.

He said that people in the name of Hinduism “blasphemously citing Vivekanada” are indeed trying to light the fire of inquisition against others.

Earlier, giving a glimpse of his work, Tharoor stressed that Hinduism does not preach tolerance – for that is condescending – but acceptance of others faiths to be equally true.

Calling Hinduism as “universal” and “faith for the 21st century”, he equated the religion with an “open source operating system” on which others could build apps to be deployed in the “receptive hardware of human brain”.