Swami Vivekananda’s iconic speech at the World Conference on Religion in Chicago is remembered by all. It was on September 11, 1893 that Swami Vivekanand delivered a discourse full of wisdom. For those who don’t know, it was in this iconic Chicago speech that Vivekananda addressed the audience as “Brothers and Sisters of America.” In the speech that blew everyone away, Swami Vivekananda mentioned the basic but most important things that one should follow in life.
These things included being a patriot, loving all religions, analyzing religion, knowing 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 be against religious conversations.
HERE IS THE FULL TEXT OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S CHICAGO SPEECH IN WHICH HE INTRODUCED HINDIISM TO THE WORLD:
Sisters and Brothers of America
It fills my heart with unspeakable joy to rise up in response to the warm and cordial welcome you have 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 in this rostrum who, referring to the delegates from the East, told you that these men from distant nations could well claim the honor of bringing the idea of tolerance to different lands.
I am proud to belong to a religion which 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 same year that their holy temple was torn to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which housed and still nourishes the remains of the great Zoroastrian nation.
I am going to quote to you, brothers, a few lines from a hymn that I remember having repeated from my earliest childhood, and which is repeated every day by millions of human beings:
Just as the different streams which have springs there in different places all mingle their waters in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths that men take by different tendencies, however diverse they seem, tortuous or straight, lead all of you.
This convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a justification, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Geetha:
Whoever comes to Me in whatever form I reach; all men struggle along paths that ultimately lead to me.
Sectarianism, sectarianism 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 ardently hope that the bell which rang this morning in honor of this convention may sound the death knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all the not very charitable feelings between people who strive for the same goal.
ENDING SPEECH – CHICAGO, SEPTEMBER 27, 1893
The World Parliament of Religions has become a fait accompli, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored for its creation and crowned their most selfless work with success.
My thanks to those noble souls whose great hearts and love of truth first dreamed of this wonderful dream and then made it come true. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiment that has spilled over this rostrum. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their consistent kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth out the frictions of religions.
A few discordant notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. I thank them especially, because they have, by their striking contrast, made the general harmony softer.
Much has been said about the common ground of religious unity. I will not present my own theory later. 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 a Hindu? God forgives. Do I want the Hindu or the Buddhist to become a Christian? God forgives.
The seed is put into the ground, and the 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, transforms them into vegetable substance and develops into a plant.
It is the same with religion. A Christian does not have to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist in order to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the 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 proven to the world that holiness, purity, and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted personage.
Faced with this evidence, if anyone dreams of the exclusive survival of their own religion and the destruction of others, I pity them from the bottom of my heart, and point out to them that on the banner of each religion will soon be written despite resistance. : “Help and not combat”, “Assimilation and not Destruction”, “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension”.
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