Vivekananda’s 120-year-old 9/11 speech.


The current issue of Intelligent Life, the culture-technology-lifestyle sibling of The Economist, poses the question “What was the greatest speech ever?” Six writers were asked to give their choices. Mark Tully, BBC’s former bureau chief for India, has chosen Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the first World’s Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893. Picks by the others include Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Nelson Mandela’s speech at his trial in 1964, and Hillary Clinton’s speech on women’s rights at Beijing in 1995. Most literate Indians are aware of Vivekananda’s speech (I hope), or at least its beginning: “Sisters and brothers of America”. What is less known is that the several thousands of delegates—most of them Christians—were so impressed with this 30-year-old Hindu monk’s words that he was invited to speak five more times over the next fortnight at the congregation. As Tully notes, New York Herald said, “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions.” “He was relevant then and is relevant today for his constant affirmation that all religions are paths to God, and his call for tolerance,” writes Tully. What was so dazzling about that speech? It’s just 458 words long, so could not have lasted more than five or six minutes (It was also delivered extempore). Vivekananda speaks on one single theme: what he believes is the core value of Hinduism, and the most precious one. “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance,” he says. “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth… I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: ‘As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.’” To go back a little. The way that Vivekananda arrived at the vast hall of Chicago’s Art Institute is itself quite an incredible story. After the death of his Master, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Vivekananda had lived the life of a wandering mendicant for nearly seven years, travelling the length and breadth of the country. The more he saw the wretched condition of the Indian masses, the more convinced he was that what they needed was less religion and more spirituality (Don’t be put off by that word, Vivekananda’s version of “spirituality” was pragmatic, robust and even physical). Centuries of oppression, poverty and obscurantism had crushed the Indian spirit. What they needed first and foremost, he decided, was inner strength, a confidence that could help them achieve their potential. God, he felt, need not be worshipped on an empty stomach. Two square meals a day were far more important than a visit to a temple, and those meals could come only when a man realized the power inherent in himself, his own divinity, that God resided inside him, as He did in all Creation (If you take “God” and “divinity” out of this observation, it is fundamentally no different from a humanist/atheist argument). Money earned literally through begging door to door, and donations from three South Indian kings, enabled Vivekananda to reach Chicago in July 1893. On arrival, he learnt to his dismay that no delegate would be admitted to Parliament without proper credentials from a bona fide organization. Vivekananda was a lone monk representing no organization, and even if he had been, the last date for registration of delegates was past. In addition, the Parliament was two months away. He had neither the money to return to India nor to live for two months in Chicago and take a chance at gate-crashing the convention. Unwilling to accept defeat, and being told that Boston was a cheaper city than Chicago, he boarded a train to that city. On the way, a wealthy lady co-passenger got into a conversation with him, and was impressed enough to invite him to come and stay in her country home. Vivekananda accepted gratefully, and through his hostess, happened to meet J.H. Wright, a professor of Greek at Harvard. The young monk’s calm wisdom astonished him, and he wrote to the chairman of the committee for the selection of delegates, a friend, and bought him a ticket to Chicago. But when he reached Chicago on 9 September, Vivekananda discovered that he had lost the address of the committee. Walking the streets, he kept asking people about the Parliament, but no one knew anything, and he spent the night in an empty boxcar in a railroad freight yard. Next morning, he started off on his quest again in the richer neighbourhoods of the city. After hours of being shooed away by butlers who saw only a bedraggled foreign beggar when they opened the door, he sat down, exhausted, on the pavement. Miraculously, the door of a mansion across the road opened and the lady of the house appeared, and asked him whether he was a delegate to the Parliament of Religions. Mrs George Hale, whose family would become lifelong friends of Vivekananda, invited him in, and after he had cleaned up and eaten, took him over to the office of the committee and had him registered. The convention began the next day, 11 September. Yes, it was a 9/11. As speaker after speaker representing all the major religions of the world gave lengthy speeches from prepared texts, touting the superiority of their particular faiths, the young man from India realized that neither had he ever addressed such a large gathering (nearly four thousand people), nor did he have any written speech. Frightened now, he kept postponing his turn on the stage, till he had no further excuses left, and had to go up and face the audience. With his very first lines, he established his credentials with a simplicity and pride that must have awed the listeners who would anyway have been intrigued by the looks of this handsome young man in a saffron turban and dress from the East who spoke perfect English. “I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world,” said Vivekananda. “I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.” This was a man who had never been out of India, had spent years tending to the poor and the diseased as he searched for the divine, and was speaking entirely off the cuff of his soul. In the next five minutes that he spoke, he electrified the audience—and, one can’t help but surmise, shamed many of the speakers who had preceded him. For he spoke of the validity of every great religion and against all forms of faith-based intolerance. “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth,” he said. “They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.” There is obviously no record of this, but there would have been very few speakers at that grand convention who had shared hovels with lepers and gone without food for days to seek a greater truth. In his concluding address on the last day of the convention, Vivekananda again stressed harmony and acceptance. “Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, ‘Brother, yours is an impossible hope.’ Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid. The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth… Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world… If anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart.” Writes Tully in his piece to explain why he chose this speech as the greatest of all time: “Vivekananda’s speeches at Parliament resonate today for the many who claim to be spiritual but not religious, who reject religion based on faith and seek experience of God. He said: ‘The Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realizing—not in believing, but in being and becoming.’ And, looking to the future, he said, ‘It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity… Its whole scope, its whole force will be centred in aiding humanity to realize its own, true, divine nature.’ That is the religion so many seek today.” Have there ever been truer words spoken about the sheer waste and stupidity of religious schisms than what that fiery young Indian said on that 9/11 day 120 years ago? To read about Vivekananda today —and what he preached and practised throughout his tragically short life (he passed away at 39)—is to wonder that such a man walked the streets of this nation. Of course he was a Hindu, and he was proud to be one. But his philosophy transcended religions and he had little respect for rituals and ceremonies. His constant focus was on the spirit of Man. “This world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong,” he wrote. “Each individual has to work out his own salvation; there is no other way, and so also with nations… Men in general lay all the blame of life on their fellowmen, or, failing that, on God, or they conjure up a ghost, and say it is fate. Where is fate, and who is fate? We reap what we sow. We are the makers of our own fate. None else has the blame, none has the praise. The wind is blowing; and those vessels whose sails are unfurled catch it, and go forward on their way, but those which have their sails furled do not catch the wind. Is that the fault of the wind?” The year 2013 is his 150th birth anniversary year. It is our duty to make sure that Vivekananda is not appropriated by any polemicist or politician, or even any religion. It is our duty to make sure that his name is not taken in vain (to use a Christian term) and his words are not used to push any agenda other than the greatest good for all men. Let us not deify him either (he never could give up smoking, though he tried hard enough); he would have hated that. He was a man, and a man among men. That is what we owe him



Is Socialism right ??



An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Can you think of a reason for not sharing this?

Neither could I.

Shwetal- An Avid writer.


Born to live….


It was 4th of March 1983 , when  a sweet little boy was born on this planet. Little did he knew what was he supposed to do. Of course you don’t expect a one day old baby to learn why was he given this birth. As the time passed , that one small little baby grew. He learned how to talk , walk eat . But still he was confused. What was he here for ? His eyes always said a lot of things. More than saying something they had questions. The answer to which he was looking. But , look at the irony , the answers were only with time. And only the right time will give the right answers. Rather than he looking for answers , he kept those questions in his mind.  Time was the key to open the lock of the door , behind which all his answers were present.

On this earthly place, he was exposed to all sorts of materialistic beauties , right from cars to food to any other thing you can think off. But still answers were not with him. That baby got the best of the best parents who gave him the best education , and life which only a lucky one would get. And he always appreciated it. He started working , with one of the best companies , enjoyed a good long successful professional stint. And that is still on. Little did he knew that the time was approaching where he was about to identify the real reason behind his existence.  The real he ? who was he ?

And there came a day when this sweet little boy lost his father, who was sent to the world of peace and love where every one is welcome. Sobbing heavily next to his father he took a pledge . A pledge that he would never ever cry . But make people smile. With his knowledge and will power he turned around things which were nonetheless than a miracle.

But the time he spent or rather i say the hard time he went through before he could turn things around for himself was nothing less than hell. He prayed to god that no one else in this world should have such a hard time which he faced. He understood the meaning of love , pain and agony.

We all have a purpose of existence. But it is time who decides when are we supposed to understand the purpose of our existence. Unfortunately, that involves a cost. Sometimes loosing some one who is very dear to you. Someone who is very close to you.  You have a lot to say but the time plays his part where u are the one who is going to learn whats the purpose of your existence.

We all are born to live. Live happily. Pain is part of our lives. But we are suppose to make friends with happiness to live a life which no one would have imagined.

The baby was also born to live and is still living happily. Knowing his purpose of existence. I realized my purpose of existence and that’s why i am writing this and you are reading it.

So for now this is me signing off from here … Enjoy.

Shwetal – An avid writer.

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.

Peter De Vries


Its complicated….


Simple , how difficult this word sounds. But still all of us are so complicated. And why not after all we are humans. Mixed emotions are part of our lives. We live with it. All that matters is what we do with those emotions. Make our life either simple or complicated. Funny it sounds but i logged into my facebook profile and was browsing through my friends profile. And few of his friends had relationship status as “Its complicated” . Now where in this world this status came from. I really kept thinking for sometime , however i was not at all able to figure out what the heck it means. And the reason i left thinking about it was because it was becoming complicated for me , its complicated you see. 🙂

And thats when i realized that these people who had their relationship status as “Its complicated”. I am pretty sure that these guys who are already into relationship are actually confused or hanging around the fact that, whether i did right or wrong by getting into this. And are eventually confused. wow what a mess. Come on folks either you are into a relationship or you are not. By saying its complicated you are not only complicating your own life but also causing a mess to the other. Forget about relationships for a while . Lets talk work. I am sure each one of us has targets given to us at our workplace . Which decides our fate at the end of the year. Now All of us are more or less talented enough to achieve the targets. Because if i am working with a firm i am not crap. Companies don’t hire crap people that’s  a fact. You are sitting on that chair in front of a computer doing some gobbely goo and the boss pats on your back ” Good Job “

Now comes the year end part. when the numbers are to be disclosed. Now lets accept one thing. If you have a black forest cake to be distributed its likely you might not end up getting equal share , as its not a birthday party. I am sure some day you might have cashed good amount but this time you may not but remember its money coming your way.  Now we know for sure that we will get some salary hike but we make that discussion complicated by telling our supervisors that ” I am not happy and you are not fair ” and all that jazz. Now tell me this dude. You are getting a decent 15% or 20% hike and its party time. you have to be happy but you know what we keep thinking about the person who got better than you.And i completely agree you should strive for more , but not by spoiling what you are getting right now. That’s the moment you have to live and enjoy.

If you are single, hit a pub get a girlfriend and enjoy the night out. And next day do come back to work and get set for your next targets. Life would be much easier.I am not saying striving for more is bad , but by spoiling the moment you could live , yes it is. Who doesn’t want to drive a convertible BMW with hot chick sitting next to you. But if you keep thinking about it that you don’t have it , you might not be able to enjoy the drive with the girl next door even in the Volkswagen you own now.

So that’s when it all becomes complicated.

Live simple enjoy life.

For now this is Shwetal signing off from here .

Shwetal – An Avid writer.


My dream is to write……


All these years while i was working , i used to think  , was i doing the right thing  ? And apparently i was . But was that my passion ? I asked myself . Couldnt find the right answer. While working on my software projects , i enjoyed myself as a developer , during my initial days. It was good fun. But after 3-4 months i started thinking that was that the thing which i was supposed to do ? Answer didnt come.


I landed up with one of the biggest banks in the world as a analyst . And this name everyone knows ” Merrill Lynch ” When i started working with this firm , i actually hadn’t realized that i was working with such a bigger firm until i started getting exposed to the real corporate world of it.  The exposure was when i started ” Reading ” about it. Those who are reading it mark my words ” When i started reading about it “.

Six years after i worked with the biggest investment bank in the world and i am still working with it . I finally ended up exploring my passion . And guess what ? It was writing.  I had never ever in my dreams had thought that i would become a blogger and would write so many lovely things on my blog.  When i started this blog , i just started it with a very vague objective . It was not at all clear as to what i was going to write . All i knew was that i am gonna write.


Started with something love and happiness. Woooo sounds romantic huh  😉 . But yeah it was about true love and happiness. Ok Guys , lets not get into a flashback where we imagine ourselves with a beautiful girl in our arms , singing nice romantic songs in back yard. Lets focus on wrting. After writing my first post i was wondering why did write this ? Was it my goal  ?

After giving it a deeper thought i realized it was nothing but a blog of my feelings , thoughts and imaginations . Which were taking shapes of words. Words which would come alive as you read them. Words which would never die. Words which would continue to live lives even when iam not there.

And i finaly said this to myself ” My Dream is to write ” . Spill whatever i can in the form of words which would continue to live ever after. And after saying this to myself , i decided on one thing. That i will be passing this as a legacy to someone who is really passionate towards writing , once i become a successfull writer. I want this legacy to continue.

For now this Shwetal .. Signing off from this place …. going back to my dreams which will take the shape of reality , with the words i write.

Asta La Vista

 Shwetal – An Aspiring writer…. Making his dreams reality by giving life to the words he writes.




To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.”

E.E. Cummings

We call ourselves HUMAN. Every human has good side and a bad side both existing within himself. We have the potential to be ourselves. Have an identity. Which is unique , and will continue to exist even after we are dead or gone from this physical world.  Each of our lives that we live , we are always fighting a battle within ourselves. A battle for our identity which we are looking for.  Its a big courage to make a choice and to grow and become what we are. We already have an identity but we are able to choose it.

We want to sing but we dont know how to sing . But we hesitate thinking how bad we are going to sing. We dont listen to our heart and thoughts spill out saying ” Yuk i suck , if i sing , people would throw rotten tomatoes at me ” . But you  at that point of time dont think that you have the potential to sing and its not tapped. 

People would critisize you , they will undermine you. But the person who stands still even in the situation of critisism , is the one who has won the battle. If you are not stable , then you are the one who become amongst those people who critisize , hence the world succeeds is making you like everybody else.

Trust me its very difficult to win this battle but not impossible . So keep fighting and be urself  . After all We all are HUMANS who have potential that cannot be measured.

I chose to be myself and be a writer who didnt know when he was going to write didnt know how good or bad he is . But i chose to be myself and kept writing . Some day i will succeed. I know .

For now this is Shwetal . … Signing off … Looking forward to be Myself .

Shwetal – An Avid Writer ……..And a HUMAN.

The first step in blogging is not writing them but reading them.

Jeff Jarvis


After all its a matter of choice………


“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

“Personne d’autre ne pourra jamais faire vos choix pour vous. Vos choix sont les vôtres seul. Ils font tout autant partie de vous que chaque souffle que vous prenez, chaque instant de votre vie “

I try and make my blog a bit more interesting at the start. So what i meant by above was a quote . No one else can make a choice ever for you. They are all made by you and are part of you . Just like every breath you take and every moment of your life that you live.


Why are we talking about choices today ? Are they so important to us. I say yes. Right from the begining where we think about choosing a subject in our high school . To choose a subject to major in our college. To choose a company where we wish to work. Everything is a matter of choice.  The choices that we make not only influences us but they influence our lives , our nature , our destiny.  Well then why do we fail to make a choice ? Its a million dollar question. Many of us when we look at our lives we are not sure about what we want to do . Basically we are confused. And why we are confused , it is because we are living in a generation where choices available to us are nothing but trends followed.

Lets take an example to illustrate this. I am in my high school and i will be joining college soon. I choose science as one of my subjects. Now the next step what do i do in my college what profession do i choose. Now typically in India if we talk about we have a craze rather a trend to do engineering. Now i am not against doing engineering as its a noble profession in its own. But a child or a student has his or her own skills which if explored can do wonders.

The problem here is the parents of the child are so influenced by the social trend when they hear from others that my son is a enginner . They are blind folded by a trend which might be correct but , this blindfoldedness makes them force to take their child a subject of their choice and not what he wants to do . The result low performance , low self esteem and low confidence . And at the end landing up with low paying job which will be sometimes cursed and further causes low esteem.

So my take here let people make their choices that they want to do. Be it profession , life or anything else. Forcing a choice never helps. Let the choice go wrong , failure is a learning to a path to success. Every failure makes us learn something.

After all its a Matter of choice……I chose to be a writer and i dont regret , being a writer i am able to convey what i think and what i want people to percieve from my writing.

For now this is Shwetal Signing off .. asta la vista… Happy Blogging… and keep waiting for my next one….

Shwetal – An aspiring writer
Drawn in his thoughts to eternity…. spilling over his feellings which will live forever …..on and on and on.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

Tennessee Williams