On the 11th of September, 1893, the halls of the Art Institute in Chicago were abuzz with praises and admiration for the sun of India, Swami Vivekananda, clad in befitting orange and yellow robes. Like the blazing, radiant sun, he rose above the horizon of all kinds of discrimination, and emanated strength with every word like a ray of glimmering hope and determination and filled the entire ambience with the warmth of oneness.
Swami Vivekananda was born as Narendranath Dutt in the hub of India’s freedom struggle, West Bengal. He was a man of indomitable will which was evident in not just his words but also his demeanour.
His speech that commenced with the words,
“Sisters and brothers of America…”,
Became the harbinger of a universal fraternity, irrespective of the differences in beliefs and religions that men belonged to. This opening statement of his unforgettable address to the Parliament of Religions itself made clear his perspective of creating a united and tranquil world, where brethren would lead a dignified and peaceful life without the fear of being punished, mocked at or discriminated with for belonging to a certain religious community or society.
As an orator with exceptional clarity of thought and unwavering delivery of speech, Vivekananda spread the message of tolerance towards all religions and sects, hence firmly implanting in the minds of the West, the glory of Indian secularity and Hindu tolerance towards every other belief as a truth while still being proud of their legacy. 12,925 kilometres away from the motherland, his magnificent vision of unity and brotherhood, echoed like the pride of Indian culture and its greatness as a country to have sheltered all those who had been humiliated elsewhere in the world and nurtured them as their own. Secularism in his view, was the art of being proud and confident of one’s religious sentiment and at the same time, being tolerant enough to respect the sentiments of other religions.
He not only raised his voice against physically exerted fanaticism and sectarianism, but also condemned the use of print media and other sources of communication as a means to incite and foster hate and aggression against religions in any part of the world when he said,
“I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”
The noble and invincible ideology of universal fraternity that Swami Vivekananda wielded, was unique in the sense that in front of a gathering of the elite leaders of various religions of the world, it stood out as the most majestic pillar, aiming to touch the sky of freedom and peace with its flag of respectful acceptance of differences in theological belief, fluttering gracefully in the wind of change. His call for tolerance towards each other banished any violence or undue pressure in the name of religion, for no religion preaches hate. He viewed religion as the literal meaning of the Hindi translation of the word, ‘dharma’ which means a set of routine and dutiful actions, a way of living life in the right way, one that would be guided by good deeds and lead the follower to good results.
And hence, he proclaimed the necessity for creating a code of universal brotherhood, and founded the Ramakrishna Mission, to unite people who believed in serving humanity
with no feelings of hate or prejudice against anyone.
For he said and believed,
“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”