Dec 02, 2023
Dec 02, 2023
In the wake of such a brilliant analysis by Dr. Bali It is worth to read that speech delivered on September 11, 1893 at the Parliament of Religions in chicago by the most venerable monk:
“Sisters and Brothers of America,
“It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; 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.
“My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. 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. 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."
“The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." 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.”
At the conclusion of the World Congress on September 27, 1893, Vivekananda spoke again and pleaded for unity and tolerance. He subtly denounced proselytization (though he did not use that word):
“The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor.
“My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.
“Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one 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.
“If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, 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, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: ‘Help and not fight,’ ‘Assimilation and not Destruction,’ ‘Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.’”
More by : Dr. Neria H. Hebbar
|Also relevant here is Tagore’s conception of India, in his poem Bharat tirtha, as a place of pilgrimage for nations where various races and religions have met through the ages to commingle in a single body of humanity:|
'He mor chitta punyatirthe jagore dhire
Ei bharater mahamanaber sagartire.
Keho nahi jane kar aobhane kato manusher dhara
Durbar srote elo kotha hote samudre holo hara
Hethay arya hetha anarya hethay dravir chin
Shak hundal pathan mogal ek dehe holo lin
Paschim aji khuliachhe dwar
Setha hote sabe ane upahar
Dibe ar nibe milabe milibe jabena phire
Ei bharater mahamanaber sagartire.'
[My heart, awake in this holy land of India; it is a place of pilgrimage for nations to mingle in a confluence of humanity.
Nobody knows who urged them yet they came from different lands and merged in a single body – the Aryans, the non-Aryans, the Dravidians, the Chinese, the Scythians, the Huns, the Pathans and the Mughals – all of them like so many separate streams flowing irresistibly to lose at the end of their journeys their individual identities in one vast sea. Now the West has opened up its gates, all are collecting its prized gifts and the same irreversible process of mutual exchange and assimilation is taking place once again in that holy confluence of humanity.]
|In this context we may like to read the following Tagore poem (in my translation) which is very relevant.|
Who is obsessed by religion
He is blind
He only kills and gets killed.
Even an atheist is blessed
Because he doesn’t have the vanity of any faith.
Humbly he lights up his reason
Defies the authority of scriptures
And seeks only the good of men.
He who kills as infidels
The followers of other faiths
Dishonours his own faith
He kills the son in the name of the father
Busy only with the rituals
He loses his reason
He hoists a blood-stained flag in his temple
In the name of God
He worships the Devil.
Those who have retained in their creed
The shame of ages, the cruelties and barbarities
With those rubbish
They are building their own prison –
I hear a bugle is blowing
The bugle of universal doom
With his scythe the god of destruction is coming.
Planting him as a stake who comes to liberate
Putting him up like a dividing wall who comes to unite
Flooding the world with poison in his name
Who brings love from a divine source –
They drown sailing in a boat they themselves have scuttled
Yet they blame someone else!
I invoke you O you the supreme judge
Please come to end this degeneration of religion
Save those who are deluded by their faith.
Your altar they have flooded with blood
Please completely smash it
Hurl your thunder at the prison walls of faiths
And bring to this cursed land
The light of reason.
Dharmamoha from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore.