New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday remembered Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago in the United States on this day in 1893.
On September 11, 1893, more than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda gave a speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago and presented India’s human values to the world.
Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Modi said, “9/11 has a special connection with Swami Vivekananda. It was on this day in 1893 that he gave one of his most remarkable speeches in Chicago. His speech gave the world a glimpse into the culture and ethos of India.
It is believed that Swami Vivekananda introduced the concepts and ideals of Vedanta to the western world. He became popular in the West after his famous speech at the World Parliament of Religions.
He was also the main disciple of the 19th century Indian mystic Ramakrishna and the founder of Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.
Swami Vivekananda was considered a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and brought it to status as a major world religion in the late 19th century.
Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, January 12, is also celebrated as National Youth Day in the country.
Here are the excerpts of Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago, September 11, 1893, from the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission website, Belur Math:
“Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with unspeakable joy to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome you extended to us. I thank you on behalf of the oldest order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you on behalf of millions and millions of Hindus of all classes and sects.
My thanks also to some of the speakers on this rostrum who, referring to the delegates from the East, have told you that these men from distant nations could well claim the honor of carrying the idea of tolerance to different lands. I am proud to belong to a religion that has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We not only believe in universal tolerance, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation that has sheltered the persecuted and refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.
I am proud to tell you that we have gathered into our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to southern India and took refuge with us in the very year their holy temple was torn to pieces. by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion that has housed and still nourishes the rest of the great Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines of a hymn which I remember having repeated since my earliest childhood, and which is repeated every day by millions of human beings: water in the sea, thus, O Lord, the different paths that men take through different tendencies, as diverse as they appear, twisted or straight, all lead to You.
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 marvelous doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whoever comes to me, in whatever form either, I reach it; all men struggle on paths that ultimately lead to Me.’ Bigotry, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful land. They filled the earth with violence, flooded it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent entire nations to despair. Without these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time has come; and I earnestly hope that the bell which has rung this morning in honor of this convention will sound the death knell of all fanaticism, of all persecution with sword or pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between people who are heading towards the same objective.” (ANI)