THE HISTORIC 9/11 SPEECH

11th September 1893 was the day of utmost historic significance for India as it was on this day that Swami Vivekananda made a historic speech at Chicago that continues to reverberate and inspire generations till date. It is the most appropriate and auspicious day today to remember the cyclonic Hindu monk who had represented India and  Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893 which was the  first World’s Parliament of Religions and was held from 11th to 27  September 1893. It is really a coincidence that while most people today associate 9/11 with the terror attacks of 2001 in New York, the “9/11 of 1893 is about a message of love and brotherhood” which is of much more significance for the world today. The Prime Minister Narender Modi on the 125th anniversary of this historic speech while addressing a convention of students in New Delhi today rightly said that the great saint philosopher’s speech of 1893 was about love, harmony and brotherhood and that Vivekananda’s ideals can be a guide for all, especially the young, even in today’s day and age. Celebrating the 125th anniversary of this historic speech of Swami Vivekananda, we can easily feel the urgency to emulate the teachings of this great man not only in India but across the globe that is witnessing unprecedented violence as a result of religious intolerance. Though it is often said that he was the person who brought major transformation in Hinduism as per the needs of the time, yet it would be an injustice to confine him to Hinduism only. He did not believe in sermonizing and he himself said that only rituals will not connect an individual to divinity while emphasizing that service to humanity is service to God. It was Swami Vivekananda who gave a new identity to India without shying away from criticizing its ills. In fact he has shown the path of self realization to every individual across the globe in order to rise to the occasion for ending evil and superstitious practices that have the potential of automatically leading to establishment of peace and prosperity on the earth. Vivekananda was a practical person having a vision far superior to his contemporaries.  His pragmatic approach and vision can be easily understood from his statement, “So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.” Long before the ideas of Karl Marx were known in India, he spoke about the role of the labour class in the production of the country’s wealth and was the first religious leader in India to speak for the masses, formulate a definite philosophy of service, and organize large scale social service activities. He believed and rightly too that doctrines or theories, however beautiful may be are only useless entities in the absence of self realization. It is of course a reality that power, glory, goodness, purity and everything that is excellent will come only when we awaken our self consciousness as that would leave no scope for any individual to falter in right decision making. In following the precious path shown by Vivekananda education has a pivotal role and he always asserted that education is the manifestation of the perfection in man. He even went to the extent of defining education as the basis of character, strength of mind and intellect as a result of which one can stand with heads high in humility. Vivekananda broke the caste barriers as for the first time in India he paved the way for Sudra the 4th Varna to join as monks in ashrams and worship in the temples besides initiating two hundred untouchables into Gayatri mantra in Kolkata and converting them into Brahmins. Showing his concern towards discrimination against women, he allowed them to chant Vedic mantras and established a separate ashram specially dedicated for women. Going through his contributions one really feels the similarity of circumstances and situation during his times and today, especially when we find the flawed educational system being the root cause of all the evils at least in India. So today on this historic day let us all take the pledge to emulate the teachings of this great saint philosopher and leader by adopting purity, patience, perseverance and above all, love which are the essentials to success and welfare of society.