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The ‘historic’ Chicago address of Swami Vivekananda

Published: 15th Sep, 2022


On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered his famed speech at the ‘Parliament of the World’s Religions’. It heralded the arrival of one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders on the world stage.

  • This year marked the 128th anniversary of the historic Chicago Address of Swami Vivekananda.

What is the significance of this event?

  • Focus on Indian philosophy: His address drew the world’s attention to the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta.
  • Focus on Hinduism: The Chicago address had dwelt at length on Hinduism and Indian culture, and his words continue to remain resonant to date.
    • He was considered a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and brought it to the status of major world religion in the late 19th century.

About “World’s Parliament of Religion”:

  • The World's Parliament of Religions was a milestone in the history of interreligious dialogue, the study of world religions, and the impact of Eastern religious traditions on American culture.
  • The most lasting impression at the conference was made by three colorful, articulate representatives of Hinduism and Buddhism:
    • Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902),
    • Anag?rika Dharmap?la (1864–1933)
    • Shaku S?en (1859–1919)
  • Islam was inadequately represented in the parliament. Also, the participation of Roman Catholics sparked much controversy.


About Swami Vivekananda:

  • Swami Vivekananda was born on 12th January 1863.

In 1984 the Government of India declared that 12th January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, will be celebrated as National Youth Day.

  • He was a monk and chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
  • He pushed for national integration in colonial India, and his famous speech remains the one that he gave in Chicago in 1893 (Parliament of the World Religions).

Early life-contributions:

  • He was the first cultural ambassador to the west. He showed that India has much to contribute to world culture.
  • He also showed that Science and Religion are not contradictory but complimentary.
  • He is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
  • As a feminist, Vivekananda glorified the role of women. He considered women as Shakti – the creating force.
  • He played an important role in popularizing Yoga.
  • In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so.
  • He founded Ramakrishna Mission to propagate the teachings of his Guru (teacher) Sri Ramakrishna Paramhans and interpreted many ancient Hindu scriptures in the context of the modern world.
  • In 1899, he established Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.
  • He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.

Literary Work:

  • ‘Lectures from Colombo to Almora’ ‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’ and ‘My Master’ are some of the books he wrote.


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