9/11 is not just the anniversary of the day America was attacked in the skies in 2001.
It is also the day it was enlightened on its earth about Hinduism, in 1893.
125 years ago, Swami Vivekananda addressed the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and uttered his immortal words:
“Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth….
“Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is today.
“But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled in honour of this convention may be the death knell of all fanaticisms, of all persecutions.”
Not many know the role played by the Maharaja of Mysore in enabling Swami Vivekananda’s famous trip to Chicago.
Vivekananda was originally hoping to get some North Indian princes to underwrite his trip. But the oppressive heat in Rajputana made him look southwards.
This two-page letter, written in February 1893 from Hyderabad, when he used to sign “Sachidananda“, show a faint distrust if not disdain for South Indian maharajas.
“I shall see you in a few days for a day or two in Madras and thence to Ootacamund to see ‘if’ the M—Maharajah sends me up.
“‘If’—because you see I cannot be sure of any promise of a Dakshini (southern) raja.
“They are not Rajputs. A Rajput would die rather than break his promise.
“However, man learns as he lives, and experience is the greatest teacher in the world.”
Vivekananda eventually did get his dough from the ‘Dakshini’ Maharaja, which enabled him to attend the World’s Parliament of Religions.
Still, the question must asked: did Swami Vivekananda, from his “experience”, distrust South Indian rajas?
And we have been erecting monuments in honour of this spirit-filled awakener of Hindu consciousness all over the South for decades. Is there perhaps some evidence that the jeering seer regretted saying what he did about the Raja, who, by the way, was not parting with any of his own hard earned rupees, when he financed the Hindoo Monk of India’s digvijaya yaathre? Some viveka at play.