~ Satish Kumar
If we look back to the glorious past of India and recall some sacred souls, whose fruits of work we are enjoying today and who deluged the world with India’s message and philosophy. What comes in our mind. After hundreds of years of slavery and conquest by barbarians, the nation had lost its faith and self-confidence. The sunken and downtrodden masses forgot their rich cultural heritage and traditions of their ancestors. “What says the west is best”, was a judgment criterion for everything. Among them arose a Sannyasin and spiritual nationalist, Swami Vivekananda, who did tremendous work in his lifetime of just 39 years, which is universally acceptable, still fostering and will be remembered for time immemorial. Swami Vivekananda took charge to work out the great plan laid down by the ancestors. In May 1893, Swamiji went outside India by far over oceans to the West, to preach India’s message of the Universal Brotherhood.
What made Swamiji go to America :
In the year of 1891, Swamiji started a historic wandering and covered the length and breadth of the land twice. In the course of his wandering, one day he found himself with a beggar, without any shelter and deprived of a bread, and another day a guest of Crown Prince. The pain and misery of his ignorant and sunken masses made him sleepless and restless. At the end of his wandering by covering whole India, Swamiji reached Kanyakumari in December 1892 and saw a rock in the sea. Swamiji went to the rock and meditated on it for three days from December 25th to 27th. Swamiji contemplated upon India’s past, present and future and discovered the great mission of his life. He realized that service to humanity is service to god and decided to go to America to represent his religion in the Parliament of World’s Religions to be held in Chicago.
On his arrival at Chicago, he was bewildered when he came to know that the Parliament of World’s Religions is postponed to September and a valid reference is required to be a representative. In the absence of any shelter and money, he begged from door to door but only got insulted. As it was God’s work, he got help from some foreigners and was accepted as a representative of Hinduism in the Parliament of World’s Religions.
At the Parliament of World’s Religions at Chicago
On September 11th, 1893, Parliament began. Representatives of twelve hundred millions of human race were there, who were representing their particular religions. Among them sat a Hindu Sannyasin, Swami Vivekananda, who represented no particular sect but the Universal Philoshophy of Vedas. All other representatives were prepared with their written speeches, but Swamiji had nothing like that. When Swamiji’s turn came, he bowed down to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, and began his speech. As he opened his lips and hardly pronounced the five words “Sisters and Brothers of America”, seven thousand people in the hall stood and clapped for him for more than two minutes. The tremendous applause by the audience was because of the reason that Swamiji addressed them with genuine love and affection beyond a sense of formality which none other representative did.
“I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We accept all religions as true”, Swamiji exclaimed. His speech was like a tongue of flame. Not a word of condemnation fell from his lips. “After hearing him, we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation”, said The New York Herald. Overnight a young and unknown sannyasin transformed into an outstanding figure of the religious world. Name and fame were at his feet but it was not his aim. His restlessness and anguish became so intense one night that he rolled on the floor groaning “O Mother, what do I care for name and fame, when my motherland remains sunk in utmost poverty”.
The message of the Universal Brotherhood
It is the greatness of India that after around 1000 years of slavery and bloodshed, we gave the message of Universal Brotherhood to the world and is still fostering this idea. It is evident from our glorious past that, we had never conquered nor initiated any war with anyone. We did not shed blood, our mouth always shed on all peace, sympathy, love, and blessings. Ours is an inclusive approach, we had sheltered Israelites, Parsies and Zorastrians when they sought help and we still have infinite space in our hearts to include all. Though every religion in one way or another preaches brotherhood but we believe in “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्”, that the whole world is one family. When the whole world was struggling with the issues of health, mental fitness, India shared it’s cultural heritage “Yoga”.
In the adverse juncture of COVID 19, when the whole world was looking towards India for medicine, we did not disappoint anyone and fulfill the demand of those who required it. Whenever our neighbor nations faced any natural calamities or problems, India was first to stand for help. On this occasion of Universal Brotherhood Day, on September 11th, let us all commemorate the message of Swamiji in it’s true spirit and should take a pledge to live this idea of Universal Brotherhood.