11 September 2017 happens to be the 125th anniversary of the speech that Swami Vivekananda delivered at Chicago during Parliament of the World’s Religions. The monk and social reformer played a major role in introducing Hinduism to the West. The logic of the speech delivered in 1893 was clear and its scientific insight received plenty of attention at that time. In fact, following his speech the dignitaries present at the said event gave him a standing ovation that lasted two minutes. In fact, this also earned him the moniker of the cyclonic monk of India. The beauty of this speech is that it is quite relevant even today and there are several things that we can learn from this speech.
The importance of patriotism
During the speech, Vivekananda discussed how India had been a shelter and refuge for people shunned over centuries in their own homelands as well as for ones who were looking for a better life. He waxed eloquent on how India had welcomed one and all irrespective of their race, religion, or creed. In fact, it is this multicultural heritage that has made India such a diverse country. Vivekananda’s pride in this aspect of history is something that we can learn from and exercise it in our life.
Love of all religions
During his speech Vivekananda discussed how people of different religious beliefs and faiths needed to maintain their separate entities and how the country itself needed to assimilate all these people and forge a peaceful entity that was growing in an organic manner. This rings true much more than anything else in this day and age when people are being gunned down for voicing their opinions. It is relevant in this era when there is a general disapproval for the other’s views and beliefs.
One of the high points of his speech was when he described how people of different faiths of his time were happy in their own bubble – how they considered it to be-all and end-all. In his speech, he thanked the USA for its efforts to break down those barriers and create a greater understanding of different religions of the world. This is applicable even now since most of the times we hate a religion or certain parts of the same just because we don’t know much or anything about it, let alone understand it. This surely needs to change. We need to know about things before we can make a judgment as such.
Being acquainted with science
During his speech Vivekananda discussed how Vedas have proven that there was no time when there was no creation and how the same thing has been proven by science that states that the aggregate of cosmic energy is always the same. This shows how important it is to broaden your horizons and keep learning so that you are able to establish a rational connection to your religious beliefs, which appear to be baseless when not backed up by proper logic.
Why are images needed?
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at anyone’s religion is how he or she always has some images in mind. Well, Vivekananda justifies such practices by stating that it is this sense of association that allows them to focus on hand while knowing fully well that the image does not represent God or omnipotence in any way. While people who feel that religion and God are tools of the weak might not agree with such an assertion they do need to acknowledge the fact that they should understand others’ points of views as well. There needs to be understanding and compassion at the highest possible level.