Monday, December 30, 2002

Swami Vivekanada's Chicago Address ( AN EXCERPT )

Response to Welcome At The World's Parliament of Religions,
Chicago, 11th September 1893

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.


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