Hinduism Redefined - Speech that changed the way west looks at Hinduism

Hinduism Redefined - Speech that changed the way west looks at Hinduism
Vivekananda with his fellow speakers at the Parliament of Religions 1983

Before 9/11, there was 11th September. A date that is, as important and path altering in history of India, as it turned out to be for the US, over a century later!

On 11 Sept 1893, a voice boomed ‘Sisters and brothers of America’ & the hall reverberated with applause for next few minutes, what came after that would turn out to be one of the world’s most famous speeches, and certainly the most important one for the revival of Hinduism in modern times.

 It was a speech that changed the way Hinduism is looked at throughout the world. It was a speech that changed the way Hinduism was looked at throughout the country. It invigorated the youth, made them believe that theirs is a culture superior to westerners, not inferior. It forever transformed the way Hinduism was looked at.

During the late 1900's many reformers were working for Hindu unity & revival of Vedic wisdom. But what makes Vivekananda & this speech, in particular, stand out is that it made the west sit-up and take notice; the speech was made in the west, among westerners, and told them why the world needs Hinduism. This speech was seminal not only because it was west’s first proper introduction with Vedic knowledge, but also because it offered Vivekananda with the necessary thrust, put him at fore of public imagination, and provided the stage from where he could continue his push for the revival of Hinduism.

Swami Vivekananda represented India and Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions (1893). This was the first World's Parliament of Religions. and it was held from 11 to 27 September 1893. 

 In all, he delivered 6 lectures at the parliament of World’s religion. Link to these speeches is provided below. 


On September 11, 1995, the Art Institute of Chicago, which was the site of the Parliament of Religions put up a bronze plaque to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s historic address in that building. The plaque reads in part, ” His unprecedented success (at the Parliament) opened the way for the dialogue between Eastern and Western religions. “

On November 11, 1995, the stretch of Michigan Avenue that passes in front of the Art Institute, was formally conferred the honorary name “Swami Vivekananda Way”.

Reinstallation of bronze plaque:  On January 28, 2012, the Art Institute of Chicago, in conjunction with the Republic of India, reinstalled a plaque commemorating Vivekananda’s landmark speech outside Fullerton Hall.



Today it is impossible to think of modern Hinduism without Vivekananda and the speech.