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'Sisters and Brothers of America...': Prime Minister Modi, others recall Swami Vivekananda's 1893 Chicago speech

12:05 PM Sep 11, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered his famed speech at the 'Parliament of the World’s Religions', garnering a full two minute standing ovation and the moniker of 'cyclonic monk of India' . The Chicago address had dwelt at length on Hinduism and Indian culture, and his words continue to remain resonant till date. And so, as the 128th anniversary of his speech dawned, social media was flooded with posts honouring the spiritual thinker.

"Recalling Swami Vivekananda's iconic 1893 speech at Chicago, which beautifully demonstrated the salience of Indian culture. The spirit of his speech has the potential to create a more just, prosperous and inclusive planet," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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"On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda introduced the world to India's liberal spirituality and culture at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Swamiji's thoughts are even more relevant to the world today," added Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.

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Many contend that Vivekananda had famously begun is speech by addressing his audience as his "sisters and brothers of America". Transcripts, including those published by the Belur Math, would concur with this assessment. Many have also embellished upon this, contending that his greeting was met with several minutes of 'thunderous' applause and took the audience by storm.

A recounting of the entire event in a book called 'A Chorus of Faith as Heard in the Parliament of Religions' however makes no mention of this particular phrase. While excerpts in the book from the rather powerful speeches given by Swami Vivekananda and other Indian speakers align with other parts of the famous speech, many insist that this is mere exaggeration.

Swami Vivekananda became popular in the western world after his famous speech at the World's Parliament of Religions. He was considered a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and bringing it to the status of major world religion in the late 19th century. He was also the chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna and the founder of the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.

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