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 Swami Vivekananda's 120-Year-Old 9/11 Speech & Religious Intolerance
Date Sent: August 03, 2013

The Hindu Swami’s 120-year-old speech on religious tolerance and primacy of man has been hailed as one the greatest orations in history. Yes, it was 9/11 day 120 years ago.

9/11 is a hallmark of "Religious Intolerance" of the modern world. In today's world of intolerant religions (both Christianity and Islam openly preach and promote philosophy of "Mine Is The God and Yours The Devil") the message given by Swami Vivekananda 120 years back is worth pondering.

Here are some eternal truths about the God and the Religion (any religion for that matter including Hinduism) -

1) God is about "Selfless Love" or "The Divine" or "The Absolute".

2) God Is "Divine Purity".

3) God is absolutely beyond religion. God does not follow any particular religion nor does he promote any one of them. God has no interest WHAT-SO-EVER in which religion or faith you follow.

4) God does not send anyone to heaven or hell based on their faith or belief. Barbaric are those who believe in such stupid concepts. It is Only the Karma that rules.

5) Religions are mental blocks and "Dogmatic" religions are absolute hindrances in the process of merging your "Self" with the universal "Self".

6) Entire Universe runs on the Will of the God, at the same time God does not determine or interfere in daily events of your life. It is ONLY the "Law of Karma" and the "Trigunas" [Sattva (purity), Raja (Activity) and Tama (Inertia)] that govern the "human existence" (not any particular Agent or Prophet of the God)

7) Intolerant and Dogmatic religions can never lead humanity to the God. They are binding blocks on the path to the God.

The other day I saw a car license plate while driving on a USA road - "God please save me from your followers" - How so true!

My personal view about religion? - Leave your religion behind if you want to achieve God. Certainly follow it if your objective is to subjugate and conquer others.

Yogi Swami Vivekananda says:

"If you want to be religious, enter not the gate of any organised religion. They do a hundred times more evil than good, because they stop the growth of each one's individual development.... Religion is only between you and your God, and no third person must come between you. Think what these organised religions have done! What Nepoleon was more terrible than those religious persecutions? If you and I organise, we begin to hate every person. It is better not to love, if loving only means hating others. That is no love. That is hell! If loving your own people means hating everybody else, it is the quintessence of selfishness and brutality, and the effect is that it will make you brutes." -The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume I, Topic 'The Gita III']

Yogi Swami Vivekananda
Yogi Swami Vivekananda

Napoleon who had conquered half of the world is said to have prosaically died of stomach cancer on a God-forsaken island in the South Atlantic. Thousands and thousands of books, covering every aspect of Napoleon's life and career have been written, more books than on any other historical personage except Jesus Christ. At the end he was exiled to the island of off the coast of Africa. Six years later, he died, most likely of stomach cancer.

One may conquer people and lands, but one CANNOT conquer their own Karma or their mind. The death tells them they are no different than a slave. Jivanmukta (enlightened soul) is the only one who has conquered this universe...You may find a Jivanmukta sitting by a trash-can unaware of the world around them (Read about Swami Siddharudh Swami), but they are in an eternal blissful state. Unlike eternal miserable state emperors, slaves and common people go thru most part of their lives.

The current issue of Intelligent Life, the culture-technology-lifestyle sibling of The Economist, poses the question “What was the greatest speech ever?” Six writers were asked to give their choices. Mark Tully, BBC’s former bureau chief for India, has chosen Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the first World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893....

Writes Mark Tully in his piece to explain why he chose this speech as the greatest of all time: “Vivekananda’s speeches at Parliament resonate today for the many who claim to be spiritual but not religious; who reject religion based on faith and seek experience of God. He said: ‘The Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realizing—not in believing, but in being and becoming.’ And, looking to the future, he said, ‘It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity… Its whole scope, its whole force will be centered in aiding humanity to realize its own, true, divine nature.’ That is the religion so many seek today.”

Swami Vivekananda’s 120-year-old 9/11 speech

Most literate Indians are aware of Vivekananda’s speech (I hope), or at least its beginning: “Sisters and brothers of America”. What is less known is that the several thousands of delegates—most of them Christians—were so impressed with this 30-year-old Hindu monk’s words that he was invited to speak five more times over the next fortnight at the congregation. As Tully notes, New York Herald said, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions.” “He was relevant then and is relevant today for his constant affirmation that all religions are paths to God, and his call for tolerance,” writes Tully.
What was so dazzling about that speech?

It’s just 458 words long, so could not have lasted more than five or six minutes (It was also delivered extempore). Vivekananda speaks on one single theme: what he believes is the core value of Hinduism, and the most precious one. “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance,” he says. “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 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.”

To go back a little. The way that Vivekananda arrived at the vast hall of Chicago’s Art Institute is itself quite an incredible story. After the death of his Master, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda had lived the life of a wandering mendicant for nearly seven years, travelling the length and breadth of the country. The more he saw the wretched condition of the Indian masses, the more convinced he was that what they needed was less religion and more spirituality (Don’t be put off by that word, Vivekananda’s version of “spirituality” was pragmatic, robust and even physical). Centuries of oppression, poverty and obscurantism had crushed the Indian spirit. What they needed first and foremost, he decided, was inner strength, a confidence that could help them achieve their potential. God, he felt, need not be worshipped on an empty stomach. Two square meals a day were far more important than a visit to a temple, and those meals could come only when a man realized the power inherent in himself, his own divinity, that God resided inside him, as He did in all Creation (If you take “God” and “divinity” out of this observation, it is fundamentally no different from a humanist/atheist argument).

Money earned literally through begging door to door, and donations from three South Indian kings, enabled Vivekananda to reach Chicago in July 1893. On arrival, he learnt to his dismay that no delegate would be admitted to Parliament without proper credentials from a bona fide organization. Vivekananda was a lone monk representing no organization, and even if he had been, the last date for registration of delegates was past. In addition, the Parliament was two months away. He had neither the money to return to India nor to live for two months in Chicago and take a chance at gate-crashing the convention. Unwilling to accept defeat, and being told that Boston was a cheaper city than Chicago, he boarded a train to that city. On the way, a wealthy lady co-passenger got into a conversation with him, and was impressed enough to invite him to come and stay in her country home. Vivekananda accepted gratefully, and through his hostess, happened to meet J.H. Wright, a professor of Greek at Harvard. The young monk’s calm wisdom astonished him, and he wrote to the chairman of the committee for the selection of delegates, a friend, and bought him a ticket to Chicago. But when he reached Chicago on 9 September, Vivekananda discovered that he had lost the address of the committee.

Walking the streets, he kept asking people about the Parliament, but no one knew anything, and he spent the night in an empty boxcar in a railroad freight yard. Next morning, he started off on his quest again in the richer neighbourhoods of the city. After hours of being shooed away by butlers who saw only a bedraggled foreign beggar when they opened the door, he sat down, exhausted, on the pavement. Miraculously, the door of a mansion across the road opened and the lady of the house appeared, and asked him whether he was a delegate to the Parliament of Religions. Mrs George Hale, whose family would become lifelong friends of Vivekananda, invited him in, and after he had cleaned up and eaten, took him over to the office of the committee and had him registered.

The convention began the next day, 11 September. Yes, it was a 9/11

As speaker after speaker representing all the major religions of the world gave lengthy speeches from prepared texts, touting the superiority of their particular faiths, the young man from India realized that neither had he ever addressed such a large gathering (nearly four thousand people), nor did he have any written speech. Frightened now, he kept postponing his turn on the stage, till he had no further excuses left, and had to go up and face the audience.

With his very first lines, he established his credentials with a simplicity and pride ….

In his concluding address on the last day of the convention, Vivekananda again stressed harmony and acceptance. “Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if anyone 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 each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth… Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world… 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.”

Read full article here: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/bCxLFO6mXEnWV5jYzweoII/Vivekanandas-120yearold-911-speech.html

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