Vivekananda never said, “Sisters and brothers of America”
After 121 years have passed it would be difficult to figure out who first started this myth.
The 20th speaker was Swami Vivekananda and this documentation quotes this as the beginning of his speech: “It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. 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 the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects”.
There is no doubt that Vivekananda made some powerful speeches in Chicago, so did the other Indians, and nowhere in the 344 page book, is there any mention of “Sisters and brothers of America” by Vivekananda. After 121 years have passed it would be difficult to figure out who first started this myth that Vivekananda said those lines. But we must remember that the Swami was a missionary and he had a mission to accomplish. It is certainly sad that a century of haziness has obliterated the names and words of the other six Indians who too spoke at the Parliament of Religion, who too held high their beliefs and the ethos of their country, who too made an impact, some of them arguably a lot bigger one than Vivekananda. But it is marketing that often dictates success between one product that is popular from an equally good or possibly better product that failed the advertising test.
To set the record fair here are the names of the Indians who were delegates at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 as listed in the index of this book – A Chorus of Faith. You will notice that there is even a woman in the list from 1893 – but does anyone care to remember?
Chakravarti, Prof CN Theosophist, India
Dvivedi Manilal Ni, Bombay
Ghandi, Virchand R, BA, Jain, Bombay, India
Nagarkar, Rev, BB, Brahmo Somaj, Bombay, India
Mozoomdar, Protab Chunder, Brahmo Somaj, Calcutta, India
Sorabji, Miss Jeanne, Episcopalian, Poona, India
Vivekananda, Swami, Hindu Monk, Calcutta, India