What was Swami Vivekananda's message in his Address to the Parliament of Religions in 1893?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of Swami Vivekananda's primary message that arises from the Address to the Parliament of Religions in 1893 was to stress the universality of all religious worship.  Swami saw the opportunity to speak as a way to enhance his clarion call to service to others.  This was a fundamental tenet of Swami's teachings, and in specific, his belief about the nature of Hinduism.  The selflessness to others is a critical part of Swami's message, something that existed at the core of what he considered to be vitally important to Hinduism.  His speech demonstrated this.  A relatively quick address, it spoke about the universality of religious worship.  Whereas many other speeches at the conference sought to extol their own virtues about religious worship and enhance a sense of singular pursuit of the religious good, Swami's speech drove towards an inclusive understanding of religion.  This is something that can be best seen in the last line of the speech:

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.

From the opening of "Sisters and Brothers of America" to the closing line, Swami's quick address sought to expand the discourse of spiritual worship.  Its message was to enhance the idea of unity in religious and spiritual identity and move away from a denominational view of superiority at the cost of other forms of worship.  In doing so, Swami Vivekananda's address became an introduction of sorts of Hinduism to the West.  It also firmly established the basic idea that religious worship is synonymous with selflessness and submission into something larger than oneself.  Swami's address sought to emphasize this and did so quite convincingly in its affirmation.

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