Swami Vivekananda first arrived in America to attend the “Parliament of Religions” held in Chicago in September 1891. His address at the parliament, began with the words – “Sisters and Brothers of America”. It is in that spirit that I share some of his gratitude towards America and its people today, July 4th 2018. Vivekananda attained final liberation on July 4th 1902.
My mission in America was not to the Parliament of Religions.
That was only something by the way, it was only an opening, an opportunity, and for that we (the Indian people) are very thankful; but really, our thanks are due to the great people of the United States, the American nation, the warm-hearted, hospitable, great nation of America, where more than anywhere else the feeling of brotherhood has been developed. That is the character of the American race, and we highly appreciate it. Their kindness to me is past all narration, and it would take me years yet to tell you how I have been treated by them most kindly and most wonderfully.
– Swami Vivekananda (Collected Works, Volume 3, page 330)
The Swami was treated poorly by a few who did not like him or his ideas – but there were also many, who came to his aid and helped him greatly.
There is good and bad everywhere, true — but a nation is not to be judged by its weaklings called the wicked, as they are only the weeds which lag behind, but by the good, the noble, and the pure who indicate the national life-current to be flowing clear and vigorous…
– Swami Vivekananda (Collected Works, Volume 6, page 248-49)
Among those who came to his aid, gave him shelter in their homes, and became his greatest supporters, were various very kind-hearted women.
Nowhere in the world are women like those of this country. How pure, independent, self-relying, and kind-hearted! It is the women who are the life and the soul of this country. All learning and culture are centered in them…
There are thousands of women here whose minds are as pure and white as the snow of this country.
– Swami Vivekananda (Collected Works, Volume 6, page 252-53)