If the World's Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character.
The World’s Parliament of Religions
Topic: Interfaith Pathways
“Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, “Brother, yours is an impossible hope.” Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But one must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve one’s individuality and grow according to one’s own law of growth.
If the World’s Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: “Help and not fight,” “Assimilation and not Destruction,” “Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.””
— Swami Vivekananda [Address at the Final Session, Chicago, September 27, 1893].
Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: [ʃami bibekanɔnd̪o] (About this sound listen); 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta, was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century. He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission. He is perhaps best known for his speech which began, "Sisters and brothers of America ...,"in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.
The World's Parliament of Religions
Swami Vivekananda, Final Address at The World's Parliament of Religions (Chicago: The Parliament Publishing Co., 1893).
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The World’s Parliament of Religions
At the World’s Parliament of Religions, convened during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (September 11-28, 1893), Swami Vivekananda’s greeting enthralled the 5,000 delegates, “Sisters and brothers of America!”
In 1894, riding the wave of enthusiasm for Hinduism that he had helped create, Swami Vivekananda founded the first American Vedanta Society in New York.
The Ramakrishna Order, with headquarters in Kolkata (Calcutta), is one of the largest and most respected religious orders in India today. The Order was inspired by the great Bengali saint, Sri Ramakrishna. Shortly before his death in 1886, Ramakrishna encouraged his young disciples to formally renounce the world by giving them the ocher cloth of renunciation. He entrusted the care of these young men to his foremost disciple, Swami Vivekananda, who later, in 1897, founded the Ramakrishna Order.
— Vedanta Society websites.
Other Swami Vivekananda Quotes
“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 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 their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
— Swami Vivekananda [Response to Welcome, Chicago, September 11, 1893].
“This is the whole of religion. Doctrines or dogmas or rituals or books or temples or forms are but secondary details.”
“We believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions to be true.”
— Swami Vivekananda.
“Let positive, strong, helpful thoughts enter into their brains from very childhood. Lay yourselves open to these thoughts, and not to weakening and paralyzing ones.”
— Swami Vivekananda.