Chicago Address in Parliament of Religions by Swami Vivekananda.
His Journey to Chicago:
When Swami Vivekananda meditated at Kanyakumari on a rock in the sea, the southernmost tip of India for 3 days and 3 nights, he got the deep conviction that there was a divine plan for the organization of World Parliament of Religions. Strengthened with this new vision, Swami Vivekananda set sail for Chicago from Bombay on 31st May 1893. Swamiji endured many hardships on his way to Chicago
Arrival at Chicago:
Swami Vivekananda arrived in Chicago on 30th July – nearly a 1 and ½ months later. He had no credentials and little money. But help came from unexpected quarters, Prof. John Wright wrote to Reverend Barrows and Swamiji was accepted as one of the delegates in the Parliament of Religions.
Response to Welcome:
In response to the welcome given to Swamiji, he addressed the audience with the opening lines: “Sisters and Brothers of America”. To which he received a thunderous applause.
Significance of the Address:
The immediate effect of his address on the western world was that they came to know the greatness of Indian culture and their respect and gratitude for India increase manifold. The prestige of Indian culture rose to it’s zenith in the eyes of the westerners. Hinduism also got the sense of unity and identity, which it then lacked. The ideology of Hinduism “acceptance of each religion as true, sheltering and fostering them” attracted every mind in the Western world.
Importance of the Chicago Address:
This address came at a time when religious persecution, bigotry, sectarism and fanaticism were at its peak. The world was in need of an integral view of life capable of bringing about an all-round reconciliation of conflicting ideas and ideals of modern age, and fulfilling the aspirations of the human soul freshly emancipated from centuries of superstition and dogmatism, and the world got a much-needed awakening and were aroused by his teachings later on. He reiterated that all the paths/religions lead to the same God.
It’s needed even more now in the present situation where people’s mind is so fickle, where wars are started in the name of religion. This is a universal message which applies to all, and if followed can lead to world peace and harmony.
– Soumil, rk math volunteer, hyderabad