SISTERS & BROS OF AMERICA Swamiji said “Sisters and Brothers of America” and not otherwise. I am curious why He began with Sisters, and not Brothers. I believe He did this deliberately. Because, He was extremely grateful to the Sisters of America for supporting His work. In fact, He didn't have a delegate invitation to address the parliament, and He was totally helpless. It was a kind American woman, Kate Sanborn, He befriended in a train journey in America, who helped Him by hosting Him in her house and introducing Him to Harvard Prof Dr. Wright. This Prof helped Swamiji get the delegate pass to the parliament. Swamiji had the highest love and respect for the women of America. In His own words.. “Nowhere in the world are women like those of this country. How pure, independent, self-relying, and kindhearted! It is the women who are the life and soul of this country. All learning and culture are centred in them.” Swamiji in His letter to Swami Ramakrishnananda, 1894. The next part is what He Himself thought as a reason for such a grand reception to His addressing in the parliament. "In my first speech in this country, in Chicago, I addressed that audience as 'Sisters and Brothers of America', and you know that they all rose to their feet. You may wonder what made them do this, you may wonder if I had some strange power. Let me tell you that I did have a power and this is it: never once in my life did I allow myself to have even one sexual thought. I trained my mind, my thinking, and the powers that man usually uses along that line I put into a higher channel, and it developed a force so strong that nothing could resist it." Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda He also said elsewhere that words that ‘come from the mouth end up in the ears of the listener’. When those words come ‘from the depths of the heart, they reach the same depths in the listener’ as well. The audience in the parliament and their ancestors were listening for thousands of years that they were sinners and they need to be redeemed. Left freely, they would burn in hell. This was the first time they were addressed as ”Children of Immortal Bliss”. He repeatedly told them later that ‘God or Enlightenment was their birthright’. If it happened to a prophet, it should happen to the last of the human being too. Because, he is also from the same Godhead. He despised the idea of ‘sin and sinners’ in his later lectures which shocked the audience in America because these were fundamental ideas of spirituality that they were deeply used to. His special feelings for the poor and downtrodden were clearly evident through all His speeches. In Rameshvaram temple, He spoke saying that if one could not see Ishvara in the poor, there is no Ishvara for him inside this temple. This is inscribed in the stone outside the temple even today. Who could resist this King of Saints ? Hundred years later, even today, a small spoken sentence of Swamiji is inspiring millions around the world to take up Spirituality as their sole purpose of life. We are talking about His first words to a clueless audience, after austerity, tapas, parivrajaka across India, months of ship voyage, begging in streets by His disciples in India to support Him, almost abandoned in the cold streets of America, and finally on the pedestal addressing His Beloved humans, about His Hinduism, Spirituality for one and all, His Master and the Unity He discovered in all the systems of all ages and cultures. I should also add what the American press said about Swamiji’s speech at parliament. The New York Herald noted, "Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation" The Boston Evening Transcript reported that Vivekananda was "a great favourite at the parliament... if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded" From Vivekananda | Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing To conclude, from His reminisces of the speech- Though initially nervous, he bowed to Sarawsati, the Hindu goddess of learning, and he felt he got new energy in his body; he felt someone or something else had occupied his body– THUS SPAKE ....... "The Soul of India, the echo of the Rishis, the voice of Ramakrishna, the mouthpiece of the resurgent Time spirit”.