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Swami Vivekanandas message

at the

World Congress of Religions

September 11, 1893

Swami Vivekananda at the World Congress of Religions September 11, 1893 In this famous speech, Swami Vivekananda spoke of his vision for an end to violence and fanaticism. His message of the 1800's is as timely and fitting now, in the 2000's, as it was then, over 100 years ago. Coincidence of dates: Most of us involved in spiritual pursuits know of the many mysterious coincidences that seem to come from time to time. Occasionally, one of these so-called coincidences is so strong as to leave us momentarily speechless. Such a coincidence exists with the date of Swami Vivekananda's message. In the East, the number 108 has been described as having great significance (See the article on the meanings of the number 108). This first message of Swami Vivekananda in America, often said to be a key point of the bridging of Eastern and Western spirituality, and the coming of yoga to the West, was given on September 11, 1893, exactly 108 years, to the day, before the date September 11, 2001, the date of the bombing of the World Trade Center. Whether by coincidence or precognition, it calls out for a closer reading of Swami Vivekananda's message and it's appropriateness for our current times. World Parliament of Religions in 1893: In recent history there have been great strides in bridging the spirituality of East and West. Notable among these was the message given by Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. The World Parliament of Religions was sponsored by the Unitarians and Universalists of the Free Religious Association, and was a part of the greater Columbian Exposition held for several months in 1893, in Chicago, which was attended by over 27 million people. Swami Vivekanandas standing ovation: Swami Vivekananda's opening talk is a benchmark, in that he was one of the earlier teachers to come to America from the East, and the first swami to visit America. Most notably, this was his first talk in America. After the welcome address of the opening of the World Parliament of religions, Swami Vivekananda spoke, and started with these few words: Sisters and Brothers of America. The 7,000 people in the audience, immediately feeling the depth of his sincerity, rose to their feet and according to reports, went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three minutes. He went on, It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us... Call for the end to fanaticism: Swami Vivekananda closed by speaking of humanitys history of violence and his hopes for its end, Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor 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.

Swami Vivekanandas message on September 11, 1893: "Sisters and Brothers of America. [At this moment came the three minute standing ovation from the audience of 7,000] It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. "My thanks also to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. "I will quote to you brethren a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest childhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: 'As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.' "The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: 'Whosoever comes to me, though whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.' "Sectarianism, bigotry, and it's horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful Earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. "But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor 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."


Frequently Asked Questions on Hinduism

Four years ago, I was flying from JFK NY Airport to London Heathrow to return to UK. An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat. It indeed was a long journey - it would take nearly 11 hours! I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible - unusual of young Americans! (Later I came to know that September 11 has changed mind-set of lot of US citizens. They suddenly turned religious, it seemed.) After some time she smiled and we had some small talk. I told her that I am from India. Then suddenly the girl asked: "What's your faith?" "What?" I didn't understand the question. "I mean, what's your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?" "No!" I replied, "I am neither Christian nor Muslim". Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that. "Then who are you?" "I am a Hindu", I said. She could not understand what I was talking about. A common man in Europe or US knows about Christianity and Islam, as they are the leading religions of the world today. But a Hindu, what? I explained to her - I am born to a Hindu father and Hindu mother. Therefore, I am a Hindu by birth. "Who is your prophet?" she asked. "We don't have a prophet," I replied. "What's your Holy Book?" "We don't have a single Holy Book, but we have hundreds and thousands of philosophical and sacred scriptures," I replied. "Oh, come onat least tell me who is your God?" "What do you mean by that?" "Like we have Yahweh and Muslims have Allah - don't you have a God?" I thought for a moment. Muslims and Christians believe one God who created the world and takes an interest in the humans who inhabit it. Her mind is conditioned with that kind of belief. According to her (or anybody who doesn't know about Hinduism), a religion need to have one Prophet, one Holy book and one God. I understood her perception and concept about faith. You can't compare Hinduism with any of the present leading religions where you have to believe in one concept of god. I tried to explain to her: "You can believe in one god and he can be a Hindu. You may believe in multiple deities and still you can be a Hindu. What's more - you may not believe in god at all, still you can be a Hindu. An atheist can also be a Hindu." This sounded very crazy to her. She couldn't imagine a religion so unorganized, still surviving for thousands of years, even after onslaught from foreign forces. "I don't understandbut it seems very interesting. Are you religious?" What can I tell this American girl? I said: "I do not go to temple regularly. I do not make any regular rituals. I have learned some of the rituals in my younger days. I still enjoy doing it sometimes." "Enjoy? Are you not afraid of God?" "God is a friend. No- I am not afraid of God. Nobody has made any compulsions on me to perform these rituals regularly." She thought for a while and then asked: "Have you ever thought of converting to any other religion?" "Why should I? Even if I challenge some of the rituals and faith in Hinduism, nobody can convert me from Hinduism. Because, being a Hindu allows me to

think independently and objectively, without conditioning I remain as a Hindu never by force, but choice." I told her that Hinduism is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Unlike many other religions / faiths, Hinduism is not founded by any one person or does not have an organized controlling body, or an Order or an institution or authority. "So, you don't believe in God?" she wanted everything in black and white. "I didn't say that. I do not discard the divine reality. Our scripture are Sruthis or Smrithis - Vedas and Upanishads or the Gita say God might be there or he might not be there. But we pray to that supreme abstract authority (Para Brahma) that is the creator of this universe." "Why can't you believe in one personal God?" "We have a concept - abstract - not a personal god. The concept or notion of a personal God, hiding behind the clouds of secrecy, telling us irrational stories through few men whom he sends as messengers, demanding us to worship him or punish us, does not make sense. I don't think that God is as silly as an autocratic emperor who wants others to respect him or fear him." I told her that such notions are just fancies of imagination and fallacies, adding that generally ethnic religious practitioners in Hinduism believe in personal gods. The entry level Hinduism has over-whelming superstitions too. The philosophical side of Hinduism negates all superstitions. "Good that you agree God might exist. You said that you pray. What is your prayer then?" "Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti," "Funny," she laughed, "What does it mean?" "May all the beings in all the worlds be happy. Om Peace, Peace, Peace." "Hmmvery interesting. I want to learn more about this religion. It is so democratic, broad-minded and free" she exclaimed. "The fact is Hinduism is a religion of the individual, for the individual and by the individual with its roots in the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. It is all about an individual approaching a personal God in an individual way according to his temperament and inner evolution - it is as simple as that." "How does anybody convert to Hinduism?" "Nobody can convert you to Hinduism, because it is not a religion, but a set of beliefs and practices. Everything is acceptable in Hinduism because there is no single authority or organization either to accept it or to reject it or to oppose it on behalf of Hinduism." I told her - if you look for meaning in life, don't look for it in religions; don't go from one cult to another or from one guru to the next. For a real seeker, I told her, Bible itself gives guidelines when it says "Kingdom of God is within you." I reminded her of Christ's

teaching about the love that we have for each other. That is where you can find the meaning of life. Loving each and every creation of the God is absolute and real. 'Isavasyam idam sarvam' Isam (the God), vasyam (is present), idam (here), sarvam (everywhere); nothing exists separate from the God.. Respect every living being and non-living things as God. That's what Hinduism teaches you. Hinduism is referred to as Sanathana Dharma, the eternal truth. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. The most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to oneself. Hinduism has no monopoly on ideas. It is open to all. Hindus believe in one God (not a personal one) expressed in different forms. For them, God is timeless and formless entity. Ancestors of today's Hindus believe in eternal truths and cosmic laws and these truths are opened to anyone who seeks them. I am a Hindu primarily because it professes Non-violence - "Ahimsa Paramo Dharma" Non violence is the highest duty. I am a Hindu because it doesn't condition my mind with any faith system.

It takes a Frenchman to write this!!!

On Hindu - Terrorists By Francois Gautier (The writer is the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l'Inde) Original at: Terrorists

It takes a Frenchman to write this!!! Original at: http://tinyurl. com/Hindu- Terrorists - 09 Nov 2008
The Hindu Rate of Wrath When the Mahatma's cowards erupt in fury, it hurts. It isn't terror.

Francois Gautier Is there such a thing as 'Hindu terrorism', as the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur for the recent Malegaon blasts may tend to prove? Well, I guess I was asked to write this column because I am one of that rare breed of foreign correspondents a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educated and non-Hindu, I do hope I'll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents' ideas, my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneve and Le Figaro). In the early 1980s, when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars, I slowly realised that the genius of this country lies in its Hindu ethos, in the true spirituality behind Hinduism. The average Hindu you meet in a million villages possesses this simple, innate spirituality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab, French or Chinese. It is this Hinduness that makes the Indian Christian different from, say, a French Christian, or the Indian Muslim unlike a Saudi Muslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names, using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concept, the perfect answer to 21st century religious strife) but that they had also given refuge to persecuted minorities from across the worldSyrian, Christians, Parsis, Jews, Armenians, and today, Tibetans. In 3,500 years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions. You cannot find anybody less fundamentalist than a Hindu in the world and it saddens me when I see the Indian and western press equating terrorist groups

like SIMI, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus who burn churches without killing anybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve persons from the same groupsoften Dalits and tribals some of who have converted to Christianity and others not.

However reprehensible the destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process; compare this to the 'vengeance' bombings of 1993 in Bombay, which wiped out hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus.. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often described by journalists as the more horrible act of the two. We also remember how Sharad Pawar, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in 1993, lied about a bomb that was supposed to have gone off in a Muslim locality of Bombay. I have never been politically correct, but have always written what I have discovered while reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, since the first Arab invasions, have been at the receiving end of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,000 Hindus in a single day in 1399, or by the Portuguese Inquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa.. Today, Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the Kashmir valley in 1900; only a few hundred remain, the rest having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years. Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised, are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacred pilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They see their brothers and sisters converted to Christianity through inducements and financial traps, see a harmless 84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed. So sometimes, enough is enough. At some point, after years or even centuries of submitting like sheep to slaughter, Hinduswhom the Mahatma once gently called cowardserupt in uncontrolled fury.. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, Mangalore, and Malegaon. It may happen again elsewhere.. What should be understood is that this is a spontaneous revolution on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership. Therefore, the BJP, instead of acting embarrassed, should not disown those who choose other means to let their anguished voices be heard. There are about a billion Hindus, one in every six persons on this planet. They form one of the most successful, law-abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?

(The writer is the editor-in-chief of the Paris-based La Revue de l'Inde.)