Chicago Speech: Paper on Hinduism

This speech is Swami Vivekananda's third at the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He delivered it on September 19, 1893.

* * *

Previously, this post gave the full content of the "Paper on Hinduism". But, copies of the speech are easily available online. For this reason, I have provided the Wikisource link below along with my own summary (and interpretation) of the speech.

Paper on Hinduism

* * *


Summary of Swami Vivekananda's Paper on Hinduism

At the start of his speech, Swami Vivekananda explained that unlike other ancient religions, Hinduism survived the threat of newer faiths. Why? Because, Vedic knowledge was able to absorb and assimilate these newer teachings (including modern science, agnosticism, and atheism) into the "immense body of the mother faith".

He went on to discuss the Vedas and its teachings related to the soul, God, and more. He said, ... the human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite, and death means only a change of center from one body to another....

He also noted that Christian ministers condemn persons who use images to worship. But he retorted: If a man can realize his divine nature with the help of an image, would it be right to call that a sin? Nor even when he has passed that stage, should he call it an error. To the Hindu, man is not travelling from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lower to higher truth. To him all the religions, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, mean so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realize the Infinite, each determined by the conditions of its birth and association, and each of these marks a stage of progress; and every soul is a young eagle soaring higher and higher, gathering more and more strength, till it reaches the Glorious Sun.

He closed his speech by reiterating the tolerance that India and Hindus have for all religions.