Over a century year ago on this very day,Swami Vivekananda received a standing ovation at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago after he had introduced Hinduism and propagated world peace.
At an event on Tuesday to commemorate the 119th year of his address,members of Ramakrishna Mission that the great saint of the 19th century founded,spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and former President A P J Abdul Kalam recounted the “positive spirit” that was present in Vivekananda.
While Kalam quoted extensively from Vivekananda’s historic speech at the 1893 conference in Chicago and asked the current leadership of world countries to emulate his positive approach in dealing with issues,the Dalai Lama said the saint’s spirit was still alive in the hearts and minds of people.
‘Awakening India’,part of the celebrations to commemorate 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda,brought leaders of various religions on one
platform where they urged for peace and harmony among all communities.
Vivekananda,Kalam said,had denounced hatred among communities and sectarianism and noted that the world has progressed a long way in combating the threats that has come along but more needed to be done on this count.
Referring to the sub-continent,which has seen many conflicts,the former President said associations like SAARC and ASEAN needed to be further strengthened so as to bring about greater cooperation among countries.
Kalam and Dalai Lama echoed each other’s view when they spoke about the importance of education in solving major problems that the globe faces and create awareness among people on all issues.
The Tibetan spiritual leader praised India,saying it is a “living example” of how people from all religions of the world including the home-grown ones live together.
Though there are some exceptions when “minor scuffles” happen between members of two communities,the Dalai Lama said India has shown the way on how many religions can co-exist.
He also asked religious leaders to have “far-sighted vision” and pitched for modern education to be “realistic”.
The historic speech of Swami Vivekananda
‘Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. l thank you in the 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 the 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 the southern India and took refuge with us in the 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 boyhood,which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:
As the different streams having there 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,through whatsoever form,I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.
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.’