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Swami Vivekananda at Harvard Swami Vivekananda’s stay at Harvard , although well documented, presents many incidents that have been relatively unnoticed. This, the 150th year of Swamiji’s  birth anniversary, is an appropriate...

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Swami Vivekananda at Harvard

Category : Non Profits

Swami Vivekananda’s stay at Harvard , although well documented, presents many incidents that have been relatively unnoticed. This, the 150th year of Swamiji’s  birth anniversary, is an appropriate time to remind Indian and American audiences of them. The Swamiji’s first visit to  Harvard was occasioned by the initial refusal of the Parliament of Religions, at Chicago,  register him as a delegate. On arriving at Chicago from Vancouver in    1893, the Swamiji was told that the Parliament would not open before the first week of September and that it was too late for the registration of delegates. Further that no registration will be accepted without official references.Requests to religious organizations in India  for sponsorship produced no response. Frustrated and almost penniless, Vivekananda decided to board a train from Chicago to Boston. In the train, his appearance and conversation struck a fellow traveler, Miss Katherine Sanborne, to strike up a conversation. On hearing of the Swami’s mission she was immensely interested in the project and invited him to her house. There she introduced him  to a Harvard professor, Prof J H Wright who was professor of Greek and (later became Dean of Undergraduate Studies). Professor wright was at once struck by the genius  of the Indian monk and insisted that Vivekananda should represent Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions. Prof Wright wrote to the President of the Committee. He offered Vivekananda a railway ticket to Chicago and letters of recommendation to the Committee for finding lodgings. Prof Wright remarked,” to ask you to ………….

In 1896, after a brief visit to England, Vivekananda returned to the U S and lectured at several places-in New York, Boston and Detroit, before the Metaphysical Society of Hartford, before the Ethical Society of Brooklyn and before students and professors at Harvard. At Harvard he was offered the Chair of Oriental Philosophy , at Columbia, the Chair of Sanskrit. At New York, under the presidency of Mr Francis Leggett, he organized the Vedantic Society which was to become the centre of vedantist movement in America. What Vivekananda represented at the Parliament of religions was more tha Hinduism: in the true spirit of Hinduism he represented a universal religion that seeks to unite and not divide.

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