New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday remembered Swami Vivekananda’s speech at Chicago in the US on this day in 1893.
On September 11 in 1893, more than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda delivered a speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago and introduced the world to the human values of India.
Taking to Twitter, PM Modi said, “September 11 has a special connection with Swami Vivekananda. It was on this day in 1893 that he delivered one of his most outstanding speeches in Chicago. His address gave the world a glimpse of India’s culture and ethos.”
Swami Vivekananda is believed to have introduced the concepts and ideals of the Vedanta to the Western world. He became popular in the West after his famous speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions.
He was also the chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swami Vivekananda was considered as a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and bringing it to the status of major world religion in the late 19th century.
Swami Vivekananda’s birthday on January 12 is also observed as National Youth Day in the country.
Here is the excerpts of the address of Swami Vivekananda at the World’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago, September 11, 1893, from the website of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math:
“Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honour of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.
I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: ‘As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.’
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: ‘Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me.’ Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.” (ANI)