Print Friendly, PDF & Email

128th anniversary of the historic Chicago address of Swami Vivekananda:

GS Paper 1

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.



On September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda delivered his famed speech at the ‘Parliament of the World’s Religions’, garnering a full two minute standing ovation and the moniker of ‘cyclonic monk of India’ .


Significance of this event:

  • The Chicago address had dwelt at length on Hinduism and Indian culture, and his words continue to remain resonant till date.
  • He became popular in the western world after his famous speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions.
  • He was considered a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India and bringing it to the status of major world religion in the late 19th century.
  • His address in the World “Parliament of Religions” at Chicago in 1893 drew the world’s attention to the ancient Indian philosophy of Vedanta.


About Swami Vivekananda:

  • He was a true luminary, credited with enlightening the western world about Hinduism.
  • He was an ardent disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India.
  • He pushed for national integration in colonial India, and his famous speech remains as the one that he gave in Chicago in 1893 (Parliament of the World Religions).
  • In 1984 the Government of India declared that 12 January, the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, will be celebrated as National Youth Day.


Early life- contributions:

  1. Born in Kolkata on January 12, 1863 in Kolkata, Swami Vivekananda was known as Narendra Nath Datta in his pre-monastic life.
  2. He is known to have introduced the Hindu philosophies of Yoga and Vedanta to the West.
  3. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had called Vivekananda the “maker of modern India.”
  4. In 1893, he took the name ‘Vivekananda’ after Maharaja Ajit Singh of the Khetri State requested him to do so.
  5. He formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 “to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.”
  6. In 1899, he established the Belur Math, which became his permanent abode.
  7. He preached ‘neo-Vedanta’, an interpretation of Hinduism through a Western lens, and believed in combining spirituality with material progress.


Books written by him:

‘Raja Yoga’, ‘Jnana Yoga’, ‘Karma Yoga’ are some of the books he wrote.


How are Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts relevant still today?

  • Swami Vivekananda, in his address, propagated the idea of tolerance and universal acceptance.
  • He analysed the dangers posed by the meaningless and sectarian conflicts in society to the nations and the civilisations.
  • He firmly believed that the true essence of religion was common good and tolerance. Religion should be above superstitions and rigidities.
  • Swami Vivekananda believed that youngsters in India are the chain that binds our past to a greater future.

Therefore, there is greater need today, in contemporary India, to pay heed to the words spoken by Swami Vivekananda as early as in 1893.


Insta Curious:

Have you heard of Sri Vedānta Desikan? What were his teachings? Reference: read this.



Prelims Link:

  1. About 1893 Parliament of World’s Religions.
  2. Main participants.
  3. Who represented Hinduism?
  4. Headquarters of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
  5. International modern Parliaments held so far.

Mains Link:

How Swami Vivekananda became the ‘messenger of Indian wisdom’ to West. Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.