The Parliament of the World’s Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago, as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition. On this day, Swami Vivekananda gave a brief speech representing India and Hinduism. He began his speech saying “Sisters and brothers of America!“.

For outsiders, this may be someone delivering a speech. But the importance of this incidence cannot be understated for the Hindus or Sanatanis or Indians or Bharatiyas.

During that period Hindu was demotivated, Hindu society was filled with self doubts and had started to doubt Hinduism itself. But after the wide acclamation of the speech delivered by Swamiji, just as Lord Ram’s bear warrior (Jambaban) reminded Hanuman of his true strength and Lord Hanuman flew to Lanka, the incident had a similar effect on the Hindus.

In this article, we shall discuss the highlights of the series of lectures Swamiji delivered in the Congress (11th Sept 1893 to 27th Sept 1893). They are as follows:

  1. Hindu taught the world tolerance and acceptance. Hindus believe all religions true and sheltered refugees across religions whether it was Jews or Zoorastrians.
  2. Lord in Gita says “whosoever comes to me, I reach out to him” AND “All paths lead to me“.
  3. A frog in a well things the well to be world and cannot accept the frog from the Ocean that an Ocean is bigger than the well. Thanks America for organizing this Parliament and breaking the wells.
  4. Hinduism is all encompassing. Idolatry, Atheism and every ideology have a place in Hinduism.
  5. Vedas are without beginning or end. Discoveries of multiple persons (many of whom were women) have been folded in the Vedas.
  6. Creation is w/o beginning or end. Science says sum of energies is always constant. Suns, moons and Universe are created and destroyed cyclically.
  7. Hinduism says “I am the spirit, the pure one, where as the body is a dress and will vanish once it gets old“.
  8. Every Jiva is eternal and most sublime. Soul is perfect, infinite and eternal.
  9. The Soul while in the body acquires different samskaras which it carries forward and assumes a bodily form to best fit the spirit soul.
  10. Not all habits of the person are inherited, so they must have come from the samskaras acquired from the previous birth(s).
  11. The habits can be considered the surface of the Ocean. The Rishis have shown in Vedas how to bring out thing from the depths of the Ocean.
  12. Death is hence the change of One Center to another Center (i.e. body).
  13. HE’e everywhere and shall be worshipped only by love: sang our Rishis and Rishikas in Vedas.
  14. Bhagavat Gita says, a Jiva should stay like a lotus leaf inside water. Just as the lotus leaf is never touched by water, a person should give heart to the Lord and hand to work.
  15. Yudhishthira says in Mahabharata “I just love the lord. I love the Lord, because I want to Love Him“.
  16. Nothing should be traded in exchange of Love for Lord.
  17. Freedom from bonds and imperfection is Mukti.
  18. Purity is a condition of his mercy.
  19. Hindu doesn’t believe in getting tied to a particular dogma, but in realizing, being and becoming.
  20. Hinduism believes: Perfection is “one and absolute” though sects (or paths) are many.
  21. Science of Religion will become perfect once it discovers Him – the most perfect.
  22. He is the Super soul of which all the Souls are HIS manifestations.
  23. Why idolatry is a basic human tendency? Human mind associates itself with a form. Every idea in brain is associated with some material or other.
  24. Just as Christians and Muslims associate themselves with Cross or Crescent, Hindus associate themselves with various idols.
  25. Idol worship is the way of worship for an average Hindu. As (s)he becomes purer (s)he does mental prayer and the Highest stage is when Lord (the supreme truth) is realized. Hindu therefore moves from a lower form truth to higher. Hence idol worship is a lower level of truth and Perfection is the highest level of truth.
  26. Unity in variety is the unchangeable law of nature and Hindu accepts it whole heartedly.
  27. Conflict between religion arises when trying to interpret truth in different ways just as the same light coming across differently colored glasses becomes different.
  28. Lord Krishna says in Gita, “I am the common thread(truth) holding the necklace of pearls (different religions)“.
  29. Lord Buddha or Lord Jaina preached atheism, but the goal(in Buddhism or Jainism) of the Human is directed to achieve the Central truth i.e. bring the God out of a man/woman.
  30. Hinduism divides itself to 2 forms – Ceremonial and Spiritual.
  31. There may be caste in Ceremonial form of Hinduism but there is no caste in spiritual form of Hinduism.
  32. As long as there is weakness in heart, cry goes out from heart, there shall be faith.

Swamiji attracted widespread attention in the press, which called him the “cyclonic monk from India”. The episode is a glorious harbinger in the history of India.

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