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Swami Vivekananda's 1893 Address Still Relevant Today: Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi:  Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said Swami Vivekananda’s slogan of oneness in his historic Chicago speech was as relevant today as it was in 1893 and should be the charter for the way forward in what she described as today’s atmosphere of intolerance and hate.

Hailing Vivekananda on the 125th year of his address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, she said his message that sectarianism, bigotry and fanaticism had possessed the earth was still as relevant.

“While promoting the idea of the oneness of all religions, Swamiji promoted with equal zeal the idea of the equality of all human beings,” she said.

Recalling that Swami Vivekananda spoke of both tolerance and universal acceptance in his 1893 address, she said, “Today, more than ever, we are engulfed with the same challenges of prejudices which Swamiji spoke about”.

“In today’s atmosphere of intolerance and hate, Swamiji’s message should be the Magna Carta for the way forward,” she said in a message on the occasion.

The Congress president said she hoped his inspiring thoughts would continue to guide everybody, especially the country’s youth.

“His clarion call — ‘Arise! Awake! And stop not till the goal is reached!’ – was at once a call to spiritual as well as political liberation,” Mrs Gandhi said.

Paying homage to the spiritual leader, she added that he went to Chicago in 1893 to attend the world parliament as a representative of Hinduism and India where he eloquently quoted from the ‘Bhagvad Gita’, saying, “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”. She described this “universal” message as “time- invariant”.

“It is as relevant today as it was over 124 years ago,” Mrs Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said the Chicago address was a proud moment in India’s history and it heralded the arrival of one of India’s greatest spiritual leaders on the world stage.

“It is a deep honour for all Indians to remember the enlightened words and offer homage to this great noble son of India, who by his words and his work inspired millions of people in our country as well as in the entire world,” she said.