Words priceless

In this turbulent times of torching churches and abusing idols i'm remembering the words said by Swami more than a century ago. This is the reason why I claim Swami is the greatest gift God has given to this holy land. Here goes the speech:

Date: 9/11/1893
Place:Chicago, Illinois

Sisters and Brothers of America,

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 the 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 the 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 boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in 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, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." 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.

The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labour.

My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.

Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.

Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. 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 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."


Ashok said…
Whatever may be our religion, if we don’t have a pure heart, then whatever we do in the name of the religion is only like a drama show.“Religion is for the soul and not for the society.” The importance of religion is to keep one’s own self under control by bonding with the supreme lord.

Understanding of “Supreme-god” is more essential to know fully about any religion. As it can be understood any religion consists of two parts – one is theological and the other is spiritual.

The theological aspect of the religion is more responsible for the faiths, beliefs and customs. This mainly refers to the society and today as the world has changed, if the same theological aspect of the religion is to be followed, then it leads to fundamentalism – be it Islam, Hinduism or Christianity.

In contrast to this, the Spiritual part is more linked to our own self and this will lead us to Salvation. Speaking only about Hinduism, I can say that there are so many rituals in Hinduism for discipline, but when a person is so divine, as some of the sages used to be, there is no need of any ritual. And no one in Hinduism will condemn such sages like ‘Valmiki’ or ‘Vishwamitra’ who had done tapas for some decades with their spiritual and will power without having bathed or having food or sleep. In general, for performing any prayer or puja, one has to take bath, eat the right vegetarian food and do all the defined rituals in Hinduism.

So the things like the religious rituals are to be understood in the context of ‘why such rule existed some generations ago’ and ‘if the same rule is applicable today’? Probably they may not suit today’s world. But for sure Spirituality is the same, and will be the same in future too.

Anyone can cheat us in this world but our own self “Atma (Soul)” will never cheat us. It is our conscience which tells us if we are doing right or wrong. Religion is not applicable to soul because any Outsider can force you to follow a religion but unless it is wholly accepted by your soul, nobody else can convince your true self. So there is no point in doing forceful conversions by luring people providing financial support or by religious terrorism. And these converts will never become the real converts from their true selves. Especially as I understood at least a part of the vast pool of ancient knowledge and wisdom of ancient India, I don’t see any need for a Hindu to convert to any other religion, if he has really understood what Hindu-dharma or ‘Sanathana dharma’ is.

In spite of their valuable wisdom real Hindus generally don’t force any other religions to convert because in Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Swadharmoh nidhanam sreyah paradharmoh bayaapaha” which means in this world “Even if there exists a better organized ‘Dharma’ than yours, it is always better to follow yours than to follow the other. The other ‘Dharmas’ may be disadvantageous to you.” In Sanskrit, ‘Dharma’ means a nothing but a well established principle.

And in Hinduism “Atma” is the word used for ‘True-self (Soul)’ and “Paramatma” is the word used for “Supreme Being (Supreme God)” – Atma, Paramatma being the words from Sanskrit – the mother of all Indian languages.

If a person from any religion does meditation in his own desired way staying calm and peaceful, his mind listens to his true self (soul) and then he realizes if he is doing right or wrong. According to me, any fundamentalist from any religion, has no time to do this and he lives in a world of ‘Maya’ meaning ‘Illusion’. In his Illusion, he is the true follower of his religion and others are not, but he never deeply thinks about God because he has no time to understand what his true self is and what he is doing with his deeds!

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