Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech of 1893 Summary Notes

Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech of 1893 About the Author

Swami Vivekananda (12 January, 1863- 4 July, 1920)was an Indian Hindu monk, and a chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. Vivekananda played a key role in the introduction of Indian Yoga and Vedanta philosophy in the West. He taught a philosophy of traditional meditation and selfless service.

The excerpt from the speech educates us on the cause of variance in religions and overcoming this variance through virtues of tolerance, harmony and peace. Swami Vivekananda had been an inspiration for the youth of his time, and continues to be an inspiration for the youth of today.

Swami Vivekananda heard about the World’s Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. His friends and admirers in India wanted him to attend the Parliament. He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. Another seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses.

Swami Vivekananda, however, wanted to have an inner certitude and divine call regarding his mission. Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock-island at Kanyakumari. With the funds partly collected by his Chennai disciples and partly provided by the Raja of Khetri, Swami Vivekananda left for America from Mumbai on 31 May, 1893. Swami Vivekananda was overwhelmed by the grand welcome accorded to him at the World’s Parliament of Religions, to which he responded through his mesmerizing speech.

Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech of 1893 Summary

On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered an iconic and eloquent speech at the Chicago Convention of Parliament of Religions. Introducing Hinduism to the world in 1893, Swami Vivekananda spoke about intolerance, religion and the need to end all forms of fanaticism. Such was the effect of the remarkable message that he was given a two – minute standing ovation. The extracts from his speech still continue to play a relevant role in society.

Response to Welcome

Swami Vivekananda began his speech by addressing the Americans as ‘Sisters and Brothers of America.’ He says that his heart is overwhelmed with joy and he is speechless to even respond to the warm and cordial welcome given to him. He thanks the audience in the name of ancient order of monks and the mother of all religions (Hinduism), people of India, delegates and speakers.

Swami Vivekananda refers to the delegates of the Orient and says that he is sure that they have the right to claim the honour of spreading the ‘Idea of Tolerance’. He proclaims that he is proud to belong to Hindu religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. He adds, that he is also proud to belong to India which has given shelter to the refugees of all religions, such as the Israeli Jews, who sought refuge in south India to escape Roman tyranny.

Why We Disagree?

In a speech made on 15 September 1893, the Swami speaks on why people of the world disagree with regard to religion. Before elaborating on the subject, the Swami quotes from the speech of another delegate, “Let us cease from abusing each other”. The speaker had been sorry that there was so much variance (disagreement) in the world. So the Swami narrates a story to illustrate the cause of variance.

The Story goes like this – Once a frog lived in a small well. It was bom and bred in the well. One day a sea – frog accidently fell into the well. They began to talk to each other. The sea – frog told the well – frog he was from a big sea. The well- frog wanted to know if the sea was bigger than his well.

The sea – frog told him that the well and the sea were incomparable. The well – frog argued that nothing can be bigger than his well and accused the sea – frog as liar and turned him out of the well Similarly, the Swami analyses, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, live in their own respective wells, thinking there own respective well is bigger than the other. The Swami thanks America for attempting to break such barriers and wishes them success.

Paper on Hinduism Read at the Parliament on 19 September

  • The Hindu religion was revealed through the Vedas
  • Vedas are without beginning and without end.
  • Vedas are not meant to be books but the accumulated treasury of spirited laws discovered by different sages and rishis in different times.
  • Laws that govern the spiritual world exist from the time of creation of the universe, similar to the laws of gravitation.
  • The moral, ethical and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the father of all spirits existed before they were discovered and exist for ever.
  • Many sages were women
  • Creation is without beginning or end.
  • The Vedas declare, ‘No. I am a spirit living in a body. The body will die and I shall not die. Here am I in this body’ it will fall, but I shall go One living. I had no past.”
  • The soul is not created and it does not die.
  • A Man’s past actions determine his future happiness
  • God is everywhere. He is pure and formless one, Almighty and the All Merciful.
  • God is to be worshipped as the one beloved.
  • DOCTRINE OF LOVE: ”No. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body, dearer than everything in this and the next life.”
  • It is better to love God for love’s sake.
  • The Vedas teach that soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst.
  • Mukthi, means freedom from bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.
  • Purity is the Condition of God’s mercy

Address at the Final Session – 27th September 1893

In the final session of the Religious Parliament, Swami Vivekananda complements the World’s Parliament of Religions for its accomplishment. He thanked the audience for their kindness and appreciation of thought that can smooth the friction of religions. He also thanks those who opposed his views which made general harmony sweeter.

He strongly opposes those who hope to propagate their own religion by destruction of other religious. He says that they are hoping for the impossible. Swami Vivekananda opposes religious conversion. He does not wish a Christian or Muslim or a Hindu convert to other religions. He is of the belief that religion is gained from birth and not acquired in life. A seeds only tendency is to grow into a plant. It assimilates the air, the earth and the water and grows into plant.

Every religion should assimilate the spirit of other religions but retain its own religious identity and grow, according to its own laws. He states that the Parliament of Religion has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character.

He concluded his speech with, “In the face of this evidence, 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, and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance” Help and not fight”, “Assimilation and not Destruction”, “Harmony and “Peace and not dissension”.

Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech of 1893 Glossary

  • Affinity: Natural liking or understanding
  • Ludicrous: ridiculous, unreasonable
  • Treasury: the funds or revenue of a state
  • Grovelling: act humbly to obtain forgiveness
  • Vigour: Physical strength and good health
  • Delusive: A mistaken belief
  • Dissension: Disagreement within a group
  • Assimilation: Absorb into a larger group
  • Anomaly: Something differing from what is normal or standard
  • Revelation: The act of revealing
  • Fiat: An official order

Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech of 1893 Questions and Answers

Question 1.
What has Swami Vivekananda’s religion taught the world?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda’s religion taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.

Question 2.
What makes Swami Vivekananda proud of his nation?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda is proud of his nation as it has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.

Question 3.
Mukti ………….. freedom, freedom from the bonds of ……………, freedom from …………….. and misery.
Answer:
Mukti – freedom, freedom from the bonds of – imperfection freedom from – death and misery.

Question 4.
What do Vedas teach us?
Answer:
Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in bondage of matter, perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is therefore, Mukthi-freedom freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.

Question 5.
What is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas?
Answer:
The doctrine of love declared in the Vedas is “He, is to be worshipped as one beloved”. “No” I am a spirt living m a body. I am not the body, dearer then everything in this and the next life.

Question 6.
According to Swami Vivekananda,Vedas are ………………
Answer:
According to Swami Vivekananda Vedas are the accumulated treasory of spiritual law discovered by different persons in different times.

II. Answer the Following Questions in About a Page:

Question 1.
How did Swami Vivekananda respond to the welcome given to him at the World’s Parliament of Religions Chicago?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda began his speech by addressing the Americans as ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’. He says that his heart is overwhelmed with joy and he is speechless to even respond to the warm and cordial welcome given to him. He thanks the audience in the name of ancient order of monks and the mother of all religions (Hinduism), people of india, delegates and speakers.

Swami Vivekananda refers to the delegates of the Orient and says that he sure that they have the right to claim the honour of spreading the ‘Idea of Tolerance’. He proclaims that he is proud to belong to Hindu religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. He adds, that he is also proud to belong to India which has given shelter to the refugees of all religious, such as the Israeli Jews, who sought refuge in south India to escape Roman tyranny.

Question 2.
What story does Swami Vivekananda narrate to illustrate the cause of variance in religions?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda narrates the story ‘Frog in a well’ to illustrate the cause of variance in religions.

A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was bom there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modem bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”
“I am from the sea.”
“ The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.
“My friend,” said the frog ofthe sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”, “What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your wen!” ‘Well, then,” said the frog ofthe well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.” That has been the difficulty all the while. I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well.

The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in the future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.

Question 3.
Discuss Swami Vivekananda’s views on creation of body and spirit?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda says that the Vedas declare, “No”. I am a spirit living in a body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution.

If then the soul was created, it must die. Some are bom happy; enjoy perfect health, with beautiful body, mental vigor and all wants supplied. Others are bom miserable, some are without hands or feet, others again are idiots and only drag on a wretched existence.

Why, if they are all created, why does a just and merciful. God create one happy and another unhappy, why is He so partial? Nor would God create one happy and another unhappy, why is He so partial? Nor would it mend matters in the least to hold that those who are miserable in this life will be happy in a future one. Why should a man be miserable even here in the region of a just and merciful God? In the second place, the idea of a creator God does not explain the anomaly, but simply expresses the cruel fiat of an all-powerful being.

There must have been causes, then, before his birth, to make a man miserable or happy and those were his past actions. There are other tendencies peculiar to a soul caused by its past actions. And a soul with a certain tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body which is the fittest instrument for the display of that tendency.

This is in accord with science wants to explain everything by habit, and habit is got through repetitions. So repetitions are necessary to explain the natural habits of a newborn soul. And since they were not obtained in this present life, they must have come down from past lives.

The laws that govern the spiritual world exist since the beginning even before they were discovered, similar to the laws of Gravitation had existed even before its discovery and will exist forever. The moral, ethicai and spirital relations soul and soul and between individual spirits and the father of spirits, were there before their discovery and would remain even if we forget them.

Question 4.
What is Swami Vivekananda’s perspective of God?
Answer:
Swami Vivekananda talks about Gods nature. God is everywhere. He is the pure and formless one, Almighty and the All – Merciful. The rishis who composed the Vedas sang, “Those art the source of all strength; give us strength. Those art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the burdens of the universe help me bear the of this life”. God should be worshipped through love. God is the spirit living in the body, but not the body, dearer than everything in this and the next life.

Swami, Vivekananda says that it is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next world but it is better to love God for love’s sake. We should pray to God, ‘Lord, I do not want wealth, or children, or learning. If it be they will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love thee without the hope of reward-love unselfishly for loves sake’.

Question 5.
How does Swami Vivekananda put forth his views about love of God through the example of Yudhishthira?
Answer:
One of the disciples of Krishna, the then Emperor of India, was driven from his kingdom by his enemies and had to take shelter with his queen in a forest in the Himalayas, and there one day the queen asked him, how it Was that he, the most virtuous of men, should suffer so grand and beautiful they are; I love them.

They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore I love them. Similarly, I love the Lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love Him for love’s sake. I cannot trade love.”

III. Answer the Following Questions in About two Pages:

Question 1.
According to Swami Vivekananda, the banner of all religions will be‘Assimilation and not Destruction, Harmony and Peace and not Dissension’ – Justify?
Answer:
A general harmony among religious is sweet. There must be a common ground of religious unity. We cannot hope to achieve religious unity by the triumph of any one of the religious and the destruction of the other religions by destroying them is impossible, nearly hopeless.

Swami Vivekananda strongly opposes those who hope to propagate their own religion by destroying other religions. He opposes religions conversion. He does not wish a Christian or Muslim or a Hindu convert to other religious. He is of the belief that religion is gained from birth and not acquired in life. A seeds only tendency is to grow into a plant. It. assimilates the air, the water and grows into plant.

Hence every religion should assimilate the spirit of other religions but retain the own essence and identity and grow, according to its own laws, Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, every religion has produced men and womn of the most exlated character. Thus the banner of all religious will be ‘Assimilation and not Destruction, Harmony and Peace and not Dissension’.

Question 2.
It is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next World, but it is better to love God for love’s sake – Elucidate?
Answer:
It is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love God for loves sake. God should be worshipped through love. He is to be worshipped as one beloved. The dectrine of love declared in the Vedas is “No”. I am a spirit living in a body. I am not body, dearer then everything in this and the next life.”

One should pray to God with love. “Lord, I do not want health, or children, or learning. If it be they will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love without hope of reward-but love unselfishly for love’s sake”.

In Indian Mythology, Yudistira is considered^ the epitome of righteousness. He was disciple of Lord Krishna, the protector of this world. Their love and camaradeire was beyond description. Though he was under the protection and grace of Lord Krishna, he was driven out of his kingdom by this enemies, the Kauravas. He took shelter in the forest with Draupadi and his brothers.

One day, Draupadi asked him, being most virtuous man, why he should suffer, at the hands of his own cusion brothers, the Kaurava. Yudistira replied that his nature was to love the supreme being and therefore he loved his brothers. The Lord is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. Yudistrira’s only object of love was the Lord, and his only aim was to love him.

Yudistira told Draupadi that it was his nature to love God and therefore he loved him. He told her that he did not pray to the Lord for anything nor ask anything from him. Even if the Lord placed him whereever he liked, Yudistira’s duty was to love him for love’s sake. He declared to his queen that he could not trade love for anything else.

Question 3.
Swami Vivekananda’s speech conveys the message of Indian Wisdom to the World. Substantiate?
Answer:
Yes, Swamy Vivekananda’s speech conveys the Indian wisdom to the world. He declares that he is proud to belong to a religion which is the mother of all religions, Hinduism. Hinduism has taught the world both tolerence and universal acceptance. Hinduism accept all religions as true the land of the Hindus has sheltered the presecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.

His Peper on Hinduism Read at the Parliament on 19 Sep 1893

  • The Hindu religion was revealed through the Vedas
  • Vedas are without beginning and without end.
  • Vedas are not meant to be books but the accumulated treasury of spirited laws discovered by different sages and rishis in different times.
  • Laws think govern the spiritual world exist from the time of creation of the universe, similar to the laws of gravitation.
  • The moral, ethical and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the father of all spirits existed before they were discovered and exist for ever.
  • Many sages were women
  • Creation is without beginning or end.
  • The Vedas declare, ‘No’ I am a spirit living in a body. The body will die and I shall not die. Here am I in this body’ it will fall, but I shall go one living. I had no past.
  • The soul is not created and it does not die.
  • A Man’s past actions determine his future happiness.
  • God is everywhere. He is pure and formless one, Almighty and the All Merciful.
  • God is to be worshipped as the one beloved.
  • Doctrine of love: ”No. lama spirit living in a body. I am not the body, dearer than everything in this and the next life.”
  • It is better to love God for love’s sake.
  • The Vedas teach that soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst.
  • Mukthi, means freedom from bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.
  • Purity is the condition of God’s mercy.

Thus Swami Vivekananda’s speech surely conveys the Message of Hinduism and Hindu wisdom to the world.

English Summary

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