Swami Vivekananda held distinct views on Indian nationalism and freedom. He took an ethical or spiritual view towards freedom. Swami was quite direct in criticizing the Christian missionaries who took to proselytizing Indians without a full understanding of the social and material conditions that plagued them. When Swami says, "One cannot worship or meditate on an empty stomach," it is a statement about how external imposition fails to understand conditions of being. Swami made a distinct case towards embracing the Hinduism that was intrinsic to India. Rather than seeing it as a form of paganism or something that was demonized in many aspects of the West, Swami reverted back to this tradition in advocating a unique form of nationalist identity. Swami spoke of the Advaita Vedanta within Hinduism, the oneness of spiritual identity. When Swami speaks of Hinduism, he articulates a vision that is universal in its reach. It pulls into it the basis of all the Western religious expressions, including Christianity. It is in this point where Swami takes a very distinct approach to what defines nationalism and freedom. Swami pivots towards indigenous religious expression in making a humanist argument against one religious form of the good dominating another.
Swami viewed political freedom as coming from a spiritual understanding of being in the world. Individuals could not find political freedom and nationalist identity unless there was a firm spiritual foundation from which such ideals could be revered. Swami defined nationalism and freedom as arising from an understanding of self that stresses universality of religious experience. From this point, there could be no spiritual or ethical justification for one nation occupying another. Accordingly, political freedom arises from spiritual awakening.