From the article:
Swami Vivekananda at the
World Congress of Religions
September 11, 1893
In this famous speech, Swami Vivekananda spoke of his vision for an
end to violence and fanaticism. His message of the 1800's is as
timely and fitting now, in the 2000's, as it was then, over 100 years
COINCIDENCE OF DATES: Most of us involved in spiritual pursuits know
of the many mysterious coincidences that seem to come from time to
time. Occasionally, one of these so-called coincidences is so strong
as to leave us momentarily speechless. Such a coincidence exists with
the date of Swami Vivekananda's message. In the East, the number 108
has been described as having great significance (See the article on
the meanings of the number 108: http://www.swamij.com/108.htm
first message of Swami Vivekananda in America, often said to be a key
point of the bridging of Eastern and Western spirituality, and the
coming of yoga to the West, was given on September 11, 1893, exactly
108 years, to the day, before the date September 11, 2001, the date
of the bombing of the World Trade Center. Whether by coincidence or
precognition, it calls out for a closer reading of Swami
Vivekananda's message and it's appropriateness for our current times.
WORLD PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS IN 1893: In recent history there have
been great strides in bridging the spirituality of East and West.
Notable among these was the message given by Swami Vivekananda at the
World Parliament of Religions in 1893. The World Parliament of
Religions was sponsored by the Unitarians and Universalists of the
Free Religious Association, and was a part of the greater Columbian
Exposition held for several months in 1893, in Chicago, which was
attended by over 27 million people.
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S STANDING OVATION: Swami Vivekananda's opening
talk is a benchmark, in that he was one of the earlier teachers to
come to America from the East, and the first swami to visit America.
Most notably, this was his first talk in America. After the welcome
address of the opening of the World Parliament of religions, Swami
Vivekananda spoke, and started with these few words: "Sisters and
Brothers of America." The 7,000 people in the audience,
immediately feeling the depth of his sincerity, rose to their feet
and according to reports, "went into inexplicable rapture with
standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three
minutes." He went on, "It fills my heart with joy unspeakable
to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have
CALL FOR THE END TO FANATICISM: Swami Vivekananda closed by speaking
of humanity's history of violence and his hopes for it's
end, "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 honor
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."
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S MESSAGE
on September 11, 1893:
"Sisters and Brothers of America. [At this moment came the three
minute standing ovation from the audience of 7,000] 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 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 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 honor 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 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 childhood, 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,
though whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through
paths which in the end lead to me.'
"Sectarianism, bigotry, and it's 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 honor 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."