In this famous speech, Swami Vivekananda spoke of his vision for an end to violence andfanaticism. His message of the 1800's is as timely and fitting now, in the 2000's, as it wasthen, over 100 years ago.
Coincidence of dates
: Most of us involved in spiritual pursuits know of the manymysterious
that seem to come from time to time. Occasionally, one of theseso-called
is so strong as to leave us momentarily speechless. Such acoincidence exists with the date of Swami Vivekananda's message. In the East, the number108 has been described as having great significance (See the article on the meanings of thenumber 108).This first message of Swami Vivekananda in America, often said to be a keypoint of the bridging of Eastern and Western spirituality, and the coming of yoga to theWest, was given on September 11, 1893, exactly 108 years, to the day, before the dateSeptember 11, 2001, the date of the bombing of the World Trade Center. Whether bycoincidence or precognition, it calls out for a closer reading of Swami Vivekananda'smessage and it's appropriateness for our current times.
World Parliament of Religions in 1893
: In recent history there have been great stridesin bridging the spirituality of East and West. Notable among these was the message givenby Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. The World Parliamentof Religions was sponsored by the Unitarians and Universalists of the Free ReligiousAssociation, and was a part of the greater Columbian Exposition held for several months in1893, in Chicago, which was attended by over 27 million people.
Swami Vivekananda’s standing ovation
: Swami Vivekananda's opening talk is abenchmark, 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. Afterthe welcome address of the opening of the World Parliament of religions, SwamiVivekananda 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 totheir feet and according to reports,
went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovationand 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 givenus...
Call for the end to fanaticism
: Swami Vivekananda closed by speaking of humanity’shistory of violence and his hopes for it’s end, “
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horribledescendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earthwith violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sentwhole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society wouldbe far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that thebell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of allfanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitablefeelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
on September 11, 1893:
"Sisters and Brothers of America. [At this moment came the three minute standing ovationfrom the audience of 7,000] It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to thewarm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in name of the mostancient 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.