SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S SPEECH AT WORLD PARLIAMENT OF RELIGION, CHICAGO, 1893


SWAMI VIVEKANANDA’S SPEECH AT WORLD PARLIAMENT OF RELIGION, CHICAGO, 1893


Sisters and Brothers of America, I am obliged with such a great and warm welcome. I thank you all in the name of the most ancient order of monks ,religions; and also on behalf of million of Hindus. I am thankful to lord and my master to spread values of a religion that has taught the world tolerance and universal acceptance both. We believe that each and every religion is true. I feeL greatly honoured to be associated with the nation that has been providing shelter to million of refugees.When the Holy temple of Israelites was demolished by roman tyranny we did provided shelter to the people who came as refugee to southern india. Referring to a hymn from my childhood: "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." A 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."Referring to Sectarianism,that has prevailed for a long period has filled the earth with violence and often with human blood, Civilizations have been destroyed and the nation is set to despair. If it would not have prevailed the mankind would have been lot better. Now its high time and I hope with the power of sword or pen it has fanaticism needs to come to a dead end.



 Major Reason for our Disagreement;15 Sep 1893


You would have heard the speakers saying, "Let us cease from abusing each other,"and also he felt sorry. Here’s a  story which would throw light on the cause of this disagreement. A frog lived in a well and had lived at that place for a long time. Born and bought up there. There is no evident  whether the frog had eyes or not, lets assume that it had eyes, and  with his vision he used to clear the contamination of water by getting rid of worms and bacteria that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. With this habit and passing time the frog became sleek and fat. Now a day came wherein another frog from sea came and fell in to the well. And then a round of questions started between both of them "Hey!Where are you from?" "Another one replied:I am from the sea." "The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?" and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other. "Frog from the sea very calmly replied, "how can you compare the vast sea with your little well?" Then the frog again after taking  another leap asked, "Is your sea so big?" "Out of anger the frog from sea relied:What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well" Frog of the well taking a lead, "nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; you are a liar, so turn him out." That has been the biggest challenge for me all the while. I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I feel really great and would like to thank all the people of America who are trying to break and overcome this barrier and you shall succeed in coming future.

Paper on Hinduism Read at the Parliament on 19th September, 1893 throws light on three prehistoric religion,Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. They have all received tremendous shocks and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength. The Hindus have got  their religion through revelation, the Vedas which are”without beginning and without end”. Now you may think that how can a book be written without a beginning and an end.However we do not consider Vedas as books. They are a source of spiritual laws identified by different individuals  in different times. Just like the law of gravity that even existed before we discovered it, and would have continued to exist if we would not have discovered it, so is it with the laws/rules that prevail in the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations existed even before its discovery. Rishis Who are known to discover these laws, are honoured as perfected beings. Both Men and Women included.if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form in God. In that case God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make Him mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So God would die, which is absurd. Therefore no as such time existed  when there was no creation. God is the ever active providence, who evolves things and puts them to an end with time. This is what a Brahmin would preach every day. Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, what is the idea before me? The idea of a body,nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas say, "No". I am a spirit residing  in a body. The body will die, but I shall not die.Currently I am in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living, I had also a past. The soul was never created, As creation would mean a combination which means dissolution after a certain time. Some are born happy with perfect health, and beautiful body. Others are born miserable, some without hands or feet or other imparities. if they are all created by God, The God is partial; why does a just and merciful God create one happy and another unhappy? There must have been causes, then, before his birth, to make a man miserable or happy and those were his past actions.The Fact cannot be denied  that bodies acquire certain heredity tendencies, but those refer only to the physical configuration, through which a peculiar mind alone can act in a peculiar way. There are other tendencies  to a soul caused by its past actions. And a soul with a certain tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body which is capable for the display of that tendency. So repetitions play a vital role to  explain the natural habits of a new-born soul. And since they were not obtained presently, they must have rolled down from past lives. There is another suggestion. If you ask me about my previous life;I do not remember anything of my past life? This can be easily explained I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness; mut let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would by conscious even of your past life. This is direct and demonstrative evidence. We Hindu’s have a strong  belief  that every soul is a circle with no circumference. but centre is located in the body, and that death means the change of this centre from one body to another. Soul is Free,unbounded. holy, pure, and perfect. The soul will go on evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. Thus it is that the Vedas proclaim not a dreadful combination of unforgiving laws, not an endless prison of cause and effect, but that at the head of all these laws, in and through every particle of matter and force, stands One "by whose command the wind blows, the fire burns, the clouds rain, and death stalks upon the earth." And what is His nature? He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All-merciful. "Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life." Thus sang the Rishis of the Vedas. And how to worship Him? Through love. "He is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life."



This is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas, and let us see how it is fully developed and taught by Krishna, whom the Hindus believe to have been God incarnate on earth: "Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward--love unselfishly for love's sake." Similarly, I love and trust the Lord. He is the source of all. He is the only object to be loved and it is my nature to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He wants. I must love Him for love's sake. I cannot trade love." The Vedas teach that the soul is divine and pure, it’s the bondage of matter that holds it; automatically the perfection will be reached when this bond will break, and the word they use for it is therefore, Mukti-- freedom from the bonds of imperfection, death and misery. And this bondage can only fall off through the mercy of God, and this mercy comes on the pure. So purity is the condition of His mercy. How does mercy act? He reveals Himself to the pure heart; the pure and the stainless see God, yes, even in this life it is possible. This is the very centre, the very vital conception of Hinduism.A proof Hindu sage gave about the soul and God, is: "I have seen the soul; I have seen God." And that is the only condition of perfection.

In every temple, if one stands by and listens, one will find the worshippers applying all the attributes of God, including omnipresence, to the images. "The rose called by any other name would smell as sweet.". I remember, as a boy, hearing a Christian missionary preach to a crowd in India. he was telling them was that if he gave a blow to their idol with his stick, what could it do? One of his hearers sharply answered, "If I abuse your God, what can He do?" "You would be punished," said the preacher, "when you die." "So my idol will punish you when you die," retorted the Hindu. The tree is known by its fruits. Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse. Why does a Christian go to church? Why is the cross holy? Why is the face turned toward the sky in prayer? Why are there so many images in the Catholic Church? Why are there so many images in the minds of Protestants when they pray? My brethren, we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing. By the law of association, the material image calls up the mental idea and vice versa. This is why the Hindu uses an external symbol when he worships. He will tell you, it helps to keep his mind fixed on the Being to whom he prays. He knows as well as you do that the image is not God, is not omnipresent. The Hindus have associated the idea of holiness, purity, truth, omnipresence, and such other ideas with different images and forms. But with this difference that while some people devote their whole lives to their idol of a church and never rise higher, because with them religion means an intellectual assent to certain doctrines and doing good to their fellows, the whole religion of the Hindu is centred in realisation. Man is to become divine by realising the divine. Idols or temples or churches or books are only the supports, the helps, of his spiritual childhood." Mark, the same earnest man who is kneeling before the idol tells you,"Him the sun cannot express, nor the moon, nor the stars, the lightning cannot express Him, nor what we speak of as fire; through Him they shine." But he does not abuse any one's idol or call its worship sin. He recognises in it a necessary stage of life."The child is father of the man." Would it be right for an old man to say that childhood is a sin or youth a sin? If a man can realise his divine nature with the help of an image, would it be right to call that a sin? Nor even when he has passed that stage, should he call it an error. Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it. To the Hindu, then, the whole world of religions is only a travelling, a coming up, of different men and women, through various conditions and circumstances, to the same goal. Every religion is only evolving a God out of the material man, and the same God is the inspirer of all of them. Why, then, are there so many contradictions? They are only apparent, says the Hindu. The contradictions come from the same truth adapting itself to the varying circumstances of different natures. It is the same light coming through glasses of different colours. And these little variations are necessary for purposes of adaptation. But in the heart of everything the same truth reigns. The Lord has declared to the Hindu in His incarnation as Krishna,"I am in every religion as the thread through a string of pearls. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power raising and purifying humanity, know thou that I am there ." And what has been the result? I challenge the world to find, throughout the whole system of Sanskrit philosophy, any such expression as that the Hindu alone will be saved and not others. Says Vyasa, "We find perfect men even beyond the pale of our caste and creed.
Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may be the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God. Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realise what the separation has shown to us, that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beggars, and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years.

 Address at the Final Session 27th September, 1893 The World's Parliament:


 Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence. My thanks to those souls with large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realised it and the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter. Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion.
"Help and not Fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."

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