Swami Vivek„nanda's addresses at the World Parliament of Religions that opened in Chicago in September, 1893 are invaluable for the clarity and authority with which Sw„miji interpreted the religious and spiritual themes of Hindus for the Western world. Speaking from the depths of his own spiritual experience, which he had attained at the feet of his beloved guru (teacher) Paramahamsa Sri R„makrishna, Sw„miji distinctly illustrated the essence of the Hindu religious and spiritual tradition in his six addresses at the Parliament of Religions. These addresses are included here from the publication: Chicago Addresses, Swami Vivek„nanda, with permission from its publisher: Advaita Ashram, Calcutta, India. It is believed that these addresses will help the reader to gain a better understanding of the Hindu religious and spiritual insight.
The World Parliament of Religions was a notable event in mankind's long search for spiritual harmony. Swami Vivek„nanda was not an official delegate to the parliament. Nor did he appear at the doors of Chicago with any credentials. He had been sent across the Pacific Ocean by the inspiration of a few of his brother-disciples in Madras. The impelling force, however, that finally drove Sw„mi Vivek„nanda to the foreign lands was the spiritual genius of Paramahamsa Sri R„makrishna, Sw„miji's revered guru.
Thus at the time the World Parliament was to be held in Chicago, Sw„miji happened to be in America. In Boston he met Harvard Professor J. H. Wright, who had attended Sw„miji's talks at a church in Boston. After talking with Sw„miji, Prof. Wright learned that Sw„miji had neither come for the specific purpose of attending the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, nor had he been invited as an official delegate to this world event. A letter of introduction from Prof. Wright-who was himself one of the organizers of the Parliament-that read in part "Here is a man who is more learned than our learned professors put together," enabled Vivek„nanda to gain admission and an opportunity to address the Parliament.
The Parliament of Religions opened in Chicago on September 11, 1893. The official delegates represented organized religions professed by the then 1200 million people of the world. The meeting was chaired by Cardinal Gibbons of the Roman Catholic Church. One by one the Chairman called the delegates who read their prepared speeches to the audience of over seven thousand people, who had come from all walks of life and from all over the United States to share the unique experience. When Swami Vivek„nanda was called to give his speech, he requested the Chairman to postpone his speech until later. Sw„miji neither had a prepared speech to read from, nor had he any previous experience of addressing such a unique assembly. He was visibly nervous, which he admitted later in the words: "Of course my heart was fluttering and my tongue nearly dried up. I was so nervous that I could not venture to speak in the morning session."
Author : Shri Bansi Pandit