Opening Welcome Address at the World Parliament of Religions
delivered 11 September 1893
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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Sisters and Brothers of America,
I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. 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 am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
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 there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so,
O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various
though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. 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.
But their time is come. And I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
Research Note: Audio artifact is an oral reading performed by Subir Ghosh. The text source for that reading may have been derived from a transcription of the actual speech delivered by Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions and/or culled from other speeches and written works by him. The recording quality has been modified to give it an air of authenticity.
Note: Thanks to Anand Devan for bringing this address to my attention.
Copyright Status: Text and Image = Public domain. Audio = Uncertain.