A grand function was organized by Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi, on Tuesday, the 11th September 2018 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago addresses at the Parliament of Religions by holding an Interfaith Meet of representatives from nine major religions of India. The Meet was presided by Hon’ble Shri Pranab Mukherjee, former President of India, who was the Chief Guest.
The programme started with an all faiths prayer by Sarada Children’s Forum where the names of all the faiths represented in the Meet were mentioned. It was sung with a melodious tune which evoked much appreciation from the assembled audience.
This was followed by felicitation of the Chief Guest by Revered Secretary Maharaj. The other guest speakers were also similarly felicitated with a set of books.
In his Welcome Address, Rev. Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj mentioned that this was a historic day when 125 years ago Swami Vivekananda had appeared before an august gathering at Chicago with his message of Vedanta which emphasizes harmony of all religions.
In his Presidential Address, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said Swami Vivekananda’s lectures at Chicago had opened the eyes of the West of the depth of Indian civilization and Hinduism. When Swamiji went to Chicago, India was colonized and steeped in poverty. Its culture was looked down upon. Followers of Hinduism were seen as superstitious and uncultured. Yet, Swamiji had the courage and boldness to declare to the world about the greatness of Hindu philosophy of oneness and the universality of religion. He dwelt at length upon the basic unity of all religions. He told them about the philosophy of Vedanta which taught that every individual was a reflection of God. His message to his fellow Indians was Arise! Awake!! Stop not till the goal is reached!!! The message electrified the nation.
The other speakers were:
Dr. Tahir Mahmood, representing Islam
Rev. Fr. John Felix Raj, Representing Christianity,
Dr. A.K. Merchant, representing the Baha’ai
Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami, representing Hinduism
Dr. K.T.S. Sarao, representing Buddhism
Dr. Anekant Jain, representing Jainism
Rabbi Ezekiel Malekar, representing Judaism,
Shri K.C. Singh, representing Sikhism
Dr. Shernaz Cama, representing Zoroastrianism
In his concluding remarks, Rev. Swami Shantatmanandaji Maharaj stressed that “Much more than interfaith harmony what we really need is intra-faith harmony”