Nowadays, 9/11 or September 11 is remembered as a black day - a terror day. Terrorism at its height killed hundreds of innocent citizens on this day in 2001 in the United States. It was on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, that the Twin Towers were bombed by religious fundamentalists in a ruthless, dastardly attack. This day is remembered every year all over the US, specially at Ground Zero where hundreds come to mourn and light candles in memory of all those precious lives lost in the name of fanaticism.
But to be truthful, the real 9/11 of America is the original 9/11 way back in 1893, the day Swami Vivekananda delivered his prophetic message at the ‘World Parliament of Religions’ in Chicago. It was September 11, 1893, the day when the famous ‘Parliament of Religions’ started in Chicago. This Parliament had gathered to preach the ‘Harmony of Religions,’ to study other religions, to compare notes and to conclude that all religions are true.
The best brains from every religion were sent as representatives. Swami Vivekananda represented the ‘Sanatana Dharma,’ the Eternal Religion - Hinduism. The Swami spoke for just three minutes and electrified the entire audience. The first five words ‘Sisters and brothers of America’ touched the hearts of all present as he spoke from the core of his heart and felt genuine solidarity with humanity. He delivered the message of the ‘Eternal Religion’ which he had seen demonstrated in the life of his Master Sri Ramakrishna. ‘Harmony and Peace’ and not ‘Fanaticism and Bigotry’ was his message and his life was a demonstration of brotherly and divine feelings. He worked unselfishly and untiringly to preach the divinity of man, universal brotherhood and the ‘Harmony of Religions.’
Unfortunately his message did not receive much attention as is evident from today’s terrorism and racism that have plagued the entire globe. We have given up the essentials of religion and are fighting over the non-essentials of religion that has led to so much of bloodshed and uncharitable feelings among communities and nations, leading to fissures in today’s society.
Let us once again remember this original 9/11 of America and try to imbibe that great universal message of Swami Vivekananda delivered on that historic day. ‘Help and Not Fight,’ ‘Assimilation and not Destruction,’ ‘Harmony and Peace and not Dissension,’ was what Swami Vivekananda emphasized.
He further added: ‘’Let the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this august assembly be the death knell of all fanaticism, with the pen or the sword.’’ This message is relevant even today after more than a hundred years.
It is high time we remembered this original 9/11 of America and regretted our insensitiveness to those words, ignoring which we had to face the ‘Black 9/11’ in 2011. The world badly needs the message of Swami Vivekananda to save humanity from further catastrophe - the ‘Time Bomb’ as described by Vivekananda. 9/11/2001 has showed that 9/11/1893 was unhe-
eded. The present fanatical developments demonstrate that this message has not gone wide and deep into human society. Let us all strive to imbibe and spread this message far and wide and save humanity.
(The writer is of Ramakrishna Math, Vyttila, Kochi. The views in the article are the author’s own).