"Sisters and Brothers of America".....This magical assortment of words, solely with the aid of which, a great Indian Sanyasin had conquered the hearts of the not-so-easy-to-conquer Americans, at a time, when the the people of India, which is considered the mother of religions, themselves had lost hope in religion. This great man, Swami Vivekananda, who, even a century after his exit from "our-world"(Mahasamadhi), continues to motivate millions of people, directly or otherwise and therefore needs no introduction. Any blog on India is not complete without delving into the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, who was rightly called the "Cyclonic monk of India" or the "Patriotic Monk of India". Today being the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, it is time to fulfill my long-awaited wish of penning a post on this sage. Therefore, the next few posts (in addition to the current) shall be dedicated to Swami Vivekananda.
This sage who had not a penny in his possession, nor a "popular-name", upon repeated persuasion from his devotees in India, the Maharaja of Rameshwaram being notable among them, sailed to the USA, to attend the "Parliament of World Religions" to be held in Chicago.
Swamiji, who was stolen off all his little possessions, soon after his arrival in Chicago, was invited by the few kind-families of America, in turns, to take shelter in their homes. The organisers of the Parliament of Religions, had plans of letting only delegates with bonafide credentials to participate. Little did they know that here was an effulgent man ready to conquer the world with love. An eminent professor from the Harvard university, who, awestruck with his association with the monk, is said to have exclaimed (and written to the Chairman), "Here is a man who is more knowledgeable than all our professors put together. To ask Swami Vivekananda for credentials is no different from asking the sun, its right to shine". Thus Swamiji was entitled to participate in the World Parliament of Religions.
Initially nervous, as he had never addressed a public gathering before, he opted to be the last of the delegates to deliver his speech. In response to his starting words, "Sisters and Brothers of America", believe it or not, the crowd, over 7000 in number, responded with a full three-minute-long standing ovation with thunderous clapping. It is indeed amazing that Swamiji earned such a rapturous response, that too, having uttered less than half a dozen words. Moreover, it is a clear indication of the abilities of Swamiji. Many claim that it is merely the usage of the words "Sisters and Brothers" which made the crowd rise in joy. Little do they understand that the same words had been used extensively in the earlier part of the parliament of religions, by almost every other speaker. What then, made this crowd give the kind of the applause they did, that too for the mere 5 words uttered by this man, that all the remaining speakers put together had not earned for their complete speeches? The answer lies in the deep-love and the compassion Swamiji had for humanity. This historic event made Vivekananda a (True) Hero, overnight! The newspapers, the following day, were flooded with lines in praise of this "Orange Monk". The Newyork Times remarked thus, "Vivekananda is indeed the greatest figure in the parliament of religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish we had been in sending missionaries to this learned land." As a result of the amazingly huge number of followers that he had gained, he had to spend four years, lecturing in America.
Swamiji used to say, "The west has solved the problem of how much a person can have, and we (in India) are trying here to solve the problem of how little a man can have". Very much true indeed!. On one occassion, referring to the Christian missionaries funded by the British government, he burst forth, "Let England teach us the fine art of government, for in that art Britain is the leader of the nations, let America teach us agriculture and science and your wonderful knack of doing things, for here we sit at your feet; but let no nation presume to teach India religion, for here India shall teach the world."
Till his last breath, Swamiji tried to revive the lost glory of India. His fire-like words greatly inspired the youth of India, to plunge into the freedom struggle. No wonder, leaders like Subash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi dedicated their lives for India's freedom from the british, having been motivated by the teachings of Vivekananda. Perhaps, Swamiji's love for the country, shall never have a match, nor shall he. Upon returning from the west, he brushed the Indian soil on his head and exclaimed, "India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now to me holy; it is now the holy land, the place of pilgrimage, the Tirtha!".
Swamiji had immense love and respect for his Guru, Shree Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He describes his Guru, in a discussion with Shree Yogananda thus, "Thousands of Vivekananda's may spring forth through one gracious glance of his (Shree Ramakrishna's) eyes". Indeed, it is harder to even estimate the greatness of this holy master, who was totally responsible for blessing this world with Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda's life stands in support of this. India is blessed a million-times-over by the birth of Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda's life itself is a vindication to the world, of the fact that "India is the only country which never went outside of itself to conquer" and that the contribution of India to the world shall always be, great teachers who conquer by love rather than barbarians who conquer by power.