Beginning with “My dear brothers and sisters of America” at the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, India’s iconic religious philosophers Swami Vivekanda addressed the crowd by representing India and Hinduism. His intention was to eliminate the religious and social status of society and treat each person equally irrespective of religion, nation, color, place of birth, language, etc.
It was also a message to extend a hand for friendship and show them the path of universal brotherhood and work for peace and development of the world. In modern days, his speech serves as a beacon of light for many leaders of the nation representing truth to help form strategies, formulate policies, and take the right decision to develop their kingdom. The teachings of Swami Vivekananda build the personality of brotherhood among leaders and help build bridges with other nations.
The values of his teachings are frequently referred to by many leaders across the globe in present times that include compassion, brotherhood, tolerance, and acceptance.
While we see the world is not settled at peace and living in the throes of sectarianism, fanaticism, and persecution. If Swamiji’s teachings are applied by highlighting key values then the world can be made a better place where people live a peaceful and prosperous life.
In his speech in Chicago Swamiji emphasized the two vital points for peace at the world level which are brotherhood and universal acceptance. Surprisingly or not surprisingly it would not be an exaggeration that the world needs to make a better place to live. If we imbibe these values into our daily cultural practice for which Swamiji stood for then the world be more than a better place.
With the possession of vast Vedic and spiritual knowledge, Swami Vivekananda was much ahead of his times like other great saints. He was a great Yogi in the 19th century, a brahmachari with a sheer vision. Vivekananda showed the path to attain salvation to the people at the point of time when there was cruelty and partiality in society; the world was fighting for religious, and ideological superiority. Throughout his service, Swamiji gave the message of “To Serve man is to Serve God” – as he could see God in each and every human soul, in fact, the human soul is a flake of God.
He not only stressed the teachings of brotherhood but also explained its relevance by the model of “Universal Brotherhood”, which incorporates each human soul and treats them equally irrespective of any form of discrimination.
The World Parliament of Religions in 1893 was organized for 17 days from 11th September to 27th September 1893. Swamiji lectured for 6 sessions and concluded with the road ahead for humanity mentioning “The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.”
Swamiji looked upon humanity holistically but not through compartments with different lenses. With a deep love for the motherland India and his countrymen, Swamiji believed that his countrymen had no identity. He not only preached this message but also practices it throughout his life.
He proved his valuable himself, because of his love for humanity, the countries who called him ‘Black ‘and ‘Niger’ there he addressed as “My Dear sisters and brothers of America”.
Swamiji’s whole life was dedicated to the teachings and he ignited young minds to rise and become a better version of themselves.
The speech at Chicago in 1893 was just a glimpse of one of the core values that he sought to impart. His teachings were extracted from ancient Hindu texts of Vedas that always praising on doing good deeds on Earth. The ancient Indian tradition always believed in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (The world is one family) and the concept of universal brotherhood.
Author: Dr. Neha Sinha, Assistant Professor at Amity University, Noida