The spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda delivered a paper on 19th September 1893 at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. It was as much arousing as it was inspirational and still is.
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In the speech, he represented India in all its glory and talked at length about the religious tolerance in this land of Vedas and Puranas. His spiritual and scientific understanding of the meaning of religion had a great effect on all the attendees of the Parliament.
Swami Vivekananda’s introduction of Hinduism to the Western world is now regarded as a historical document of great import. Although the meaning of Hinduism and tolerance, both have changed since then, the words that were delivered by him at that time still do not cease to inspire youth and aged alike.
Here are a few things he said, that everyone must know.
1. Swami Vivekananda started with introducing three prehistoric religions –Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism, and went on to explain how Judaism and Zoroastrianism failed to absorb other beliefs and keep their glory intact, unlike Hinduism:
He said, “While Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of birth by its all-conquering daughter, and a handful of Parsees is all that remains to tell the tale of their grand religion, sect after sect arose in India and seemed to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very foundations, but like the waters of the seashore in a tremendous earthquake it receded only for a while, only to return in an all-absorbing flood, a thousand times more vigorous, and when the tumult of the rush was over, these sects were all ***** in, absorbed, and assimilated into the immense body of the mother faith”.
2. He then went up to talk about the origin of Hinduism:
“The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. It may sound ludicrous to this audience, how a book can be without beginning or end. But by the Vedas, no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times”.
3. Westerners were stunned when he gave a scientific explanation of the Vedas:
“The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or end. Science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form in God. In that case, God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make Him mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So God would die, which is absurd. Therefore there never was a time when there was no creation”.
4. His spiritual explanation on the soul and body was also quite enlightening:
“I am a spirit living in a body. I am not the body. The body will die, but I shall not die. Here am I in this body; it will fall, but I shall go on living. I had also a past. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination which means a certain future dissolution”.
5. Lastly, what is most inspirational in his speech is his idea of why we should love God:
‘It is good to love God for the hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love God for love's sake, and the prayer goes: "Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward — love unselfishly for love's sake."’
You can read the full paper here.