Swami Vivekananda’s Presence in Chicago Still Resonates

INDIA, December 2010: The Indian government is working to set up a Chair at the University of Chicago to spread the ideals of Swami Vivekananda, 117 years after the monk delivered his landmark address in the U.S. city. The proposed Chair is part of the government’s plan to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Vivekananda. The consulate-general of India in Chicago is in touch with the university to set up the Chair, which would focus on inter-faith dialogues.

A senior official in the ministry of culture told The Telegraph: “Our consul-general is in dialogue with the University of Chicago on how to set up the Chair…. India may give funds through endowment for an annual Vivekananda lecture at the university also.”

Earlier this year, in June, the Swami Vivekananda Spiritual Center was inaugurated in Chicago at a local Hindu temple. The 3300-square-feet centre will be used for meditation and yoga classes. It will also provide books and other reading materials. The mediation hall is 2,000 square feet. The center is next to a bronze Swami Vivekananda statue weighing one ton and standing 10 feet and 2 inches tall, the largest Swami Vivekananda statue outside India. Originally meant for the public Grant Park, the statue was installed at the temple in 1998 because the city council rejected to place it at the downtown park on account of religious reasons. The statue was made by the Vedanta Society of Chicago.

Vivekananda delivered his speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893, where he introduced Hinduism as a faith that taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. “Sisters and Brothers of America, it fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us,” Vivekananda began his speech. “I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.”

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