9/11 a time to imbibe Swami Vivekananda's message of 'Universal Brotherhood'
By Swami Bhadreshananda | Published: 11th September 2013 11:33 AM |
“Sisters and Brothers of America” --- these were the opening words of Swami Vivekananda’s iconic address at the ‘Parliament of Religions’ held at Chicago on September 11, 1893, or 9/11. The words immediately found resonance in every delegate’s heart, connecting each and every member present there into a network of ‘Universal Brotherhood’.
This was the message of Swami Vivekananda, and he called for ‘true human solidarity’.
Nowadays we talk about globalisation, but the term is simply relegated to an economic level. Does it address our social inequality? Is it bringing harmony into our lives? A harmony based on true love and empathy, mutual trust and concern? Sadly, we are far removed from the ideal of social equality followed and preached by Swami Vivekananda.
After Swami Vivekananda became famous in America, he was honoured everywhere he went. At a railway station, where he was being given a reception, a Negro porter went forward to shake hands with him saying “Congratulations! I am extremely delighted that a man of my race has attained such great honour! The entire Negro community in this country feels proud of you.” Swamiji eagerly shook hands with the porter and said warmly, “Thank You! Thank You, brother.” He refused to deny that he was a Negro. That was his solidarity.
Vivekanada understood the cause of disharmony among races and nations. In his speech at the ‘Parliament of Religions’, Vivekananda pointed out that “Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendent fanaticism, have long possessed our world. They have filled the earth with violence and drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilisations and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.” (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Page: 4) Vivekananda warned everyone that until we end fanaticism and persecution with the pen or sword, we will never be able to have any sort of peace or human solidarity. The truth is that we never took Swami Vivekananda’s message of ‘Universal Brotherhood’ seriously, which is what led to the barbaric attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on another 9/11, in 2001.
Fanaticism, petty-mindedness, bigotry and selfishness are the reasons for all the disharmony and hatred among different groups today. If everyone seeks to assess the teachings of their religion, they will understand that religion is actually realisation --- realisation of the reality that lies in everyone, the essence of our life, the consciousness or energy that animates and sustains all life.
This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and it high time we turn to him once again and imbibe his spirit of ‘Universal Brotherhood’. Let us assimilate the ideals Vivekananda practiced --- ‘Help and Not Fight’, Assimilation and Not Destruction’ and ‘Harmony and Not Dissension’.
This is the need of the hour and a huge challenge before us. Let us expand our hearts and give up the attitude of the frog in the well, who thinks that his own abode is the ultimate reality.
Swami Bhadreshananda (Ramakrishna Math, Vyttila, Kochi)