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Swami Vivekananda at World Parliament of Religions 1893

Feb 19 2009

The following audio clips are taken from Swami Vivekananda’s speech that he delivered in Chicago, USA during the World Parliament of Religions on 11th Sept. 1893 and in days that followed. I don’t think anyone knows the true source of this Audio recording, which is now more than 124 years old. It is amazing to listen to hear the great sage’s own voice. Please allow time to buffer for slow connections. You can also download the MP3 here: Clip 1 and Clip 2. You will need to click on the player to enable flash and then click on Play to start playing.

Clip 1:

Clip 2:

WELCOME ADDRESS – Chicago, Sept 11, 1893

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.

CONCLUDING ADDRESS – Chicago, Sept 27, 1893

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.”
Speech Text Courtesy: About.com


Comments So Far..
  • anupam dhar 19 February, 2009 at 1:25 am

    This is the first and only recorded speech of Swami Vivekananda.
    When he read the opening sentence, the whole assembly stood up in resounding applause creating a humongous moan of joy.
    He was the only person to speak extempore
    In a later interview, he said that the words were his Guru Ramakrishna Parmahansa’s and only the voice was his.

  • Gautam 19 February, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Once can hear the conviction and confidence and the flow in his speech, as if the providence forces were behind him

  • T A Ramesh 21 February, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    The immortal speeches of Swami Vivekananda inspired, are inspiring and will inspire many generations to come. The efforts of Gautam Dhar is commendable for bringing the voice of the Great Indian for all to hear once again!

  • Tej Mehta 10 March, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    March 10,2009
    Thanks Gautam, for this effort.
    Vivekananda’s speech is most eloquent and enlightening, he brings
    the mother of all logic in religions to the fore.
    Tej mehta

  • binoy 15 April, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Thanks a ton for the spreading the message of swami

  • Maneck 18 June, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    WoW ! Now I do know that Law of Attraction does work. I had always as a child wanted to trace Vivekanada’s voice. And now you have done it. GREAT WORK. SUPERB WORK. Please can I ask where did you manage to get it? I also had some information (from one of his books) where a probable recording could be found. May be one can get some more information over & above this. Please do reply to me on this.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Gautam 19 June, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Maneck, I don’t think anyone knows the true source of this more than 100 years old recording, but I assume it’s spread on the internet who must have had access to it through a source such as Congress Library or the likes of it.

    If you do a search online, you will find a few links with the same recording.

  • Rakesh 28 July, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Amazing, this is really great to hear such a great great great personality.

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