Universal Brotherhood Day 2019 marks 126 years since Swami Vivekananda's iconic Chicago speech that propagated religious tolerance, harmony

FP Staff

Universal Brotherhood Day 2019: Universal Brotherhood Day is observed on 11 September around the world each year to commemorate the historic speech delivered by Indian thinker and spiritualist Swami Vivekananda on this day in 1893 in Chicago.

Vivekananda's iconic speech was made in the audience of delegates from all over the world at the first ever World Parliament of Religions, held from 11 to 27 September 1893.

The speech is popularly remembered for its opening words, "Sisters and brothers of America, which was a departure from the conventional usage of more formal salutations, and for which he received a two-minutes-long standing ovation. In fact, Vivekananda's address was most likely the first time a global audience was greeted by the use of a more filial term.

He discarded the idea of religious supremacy and propagated a message of not only mutual tolerance but also religious acceptance, while critically defining both and differentiating between the two as well.

Speaking about Hinduism he said, "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both, tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions as true."

On the idea of tolerance, Vivekananda explained that it is the act of putting up with something that one disapproves of, while acceptance he said was admitting that even the seed of an idea can take root and produce an offshoot that was completely different and unique from the original ideology. Swami Vivekananda's speech is considered to be a turning point for the World Parliament of Religions, as it made the concept of tolerance and acceptance towards other religions more comprehensive and real.

In his speech, Vivekananda also tried to explain the reason two individuals or groups disagree in the first place on the basis of sects and religions. He told a story of a frog, who never abandoned the well he was born in. He said the frog used to think his well was the biggest waterbody in the world. One day, a frog from a sea came to that well. When the frog from the sea told the frog of the well that sea is much bigger than that well, the frog of the well did not believe it and drove the frog of the sea away from his well. Vivekananda concluded€" "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 Muslim sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world."

"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," he said.

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