Swami Vivekananda’s iconic speech at the World Religion Conference in Chicago is remembered by all. It was on September 11, 1893 that Swami Vivekanand delivered the wise speech. For those unfamiliar, it was in this iconic Chicago speech that Vivekananda addressed the audience as “Brothers and Sisters of America.” In the speech which blew everyone away, Swami Vivekananda had mentioned the basic but most important things that one should follow in life.
These things included being patriotic, loving all religions, analyzing religion, being familiar with science, knowing the importance and necessity of rituals, being aware of the roots of Hinduism, being aware of the purpose of science, being aware of the cause of the fall of India, and to be against religious conversations.
HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S CHICAGO SPEECH IN WHICH HE INTRODUCED HINDUISM TO THE WORLD:
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 from a hymn which I remember repeating from my earliest childhood, and which is repeated daily by millions of human beings:
As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, Lord, the different paths that men take through different tendencies, however diverse they appear, crooked or straight, all lead yours.
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, I reach him; all men struggle along paths that eventually 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 goal.
CONCLUDING SPEECH — CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 27, 1893
The World Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence and brought success to their most selfless work.
My thanks to those noble souls whose big hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then made it come true. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiment that has overflowed this rostrum. My thanks to this enlightened public for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of any thought that tends to soften the frictions of religions.
A few discordant notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. I particularly thank them, because they have, by their striking contrast, made the general harmony softer.
Much has been said about the common ground of religious unity. I’m not going to risk my own theory now. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come through the triumph of one of the religions and the destruction of the others, I say to him: “Brother, your hope is impossible.
Do I want the Christian to become Hindu? God forgives. Do I want the Hindu or the Buddhist to become a Christian? God forgives.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth, air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become earth, or air, or water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops according to the law of its own growth, assimilates air, earth and water, converts them into vegetable substance and becomes a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian must not become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of others while preserving his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: it has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produces men and women of the most exalted character.
Faced with this evidence, if anyone dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that on the banner of each religion will soon be written despite the resistance : “Help and not fight”, “Assimilation and not destruction”, “Harmony and peace and not dissension”.
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