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In the late 19th century CE, the world was starting to become a smaller place and people from distant lands were being introduced to cultures that seemed alien. To the West of that time (and indeed even to this day) the mysticism of India was unusual and complicated. In fact, the country of India itself was difficult to understand for the outside world. In the midst of this confusion, a young man of 30 years age took on the Herculean task of introducing a new philosophy to the Western world. Narendra Nath Dutta, or Swami Vivekananda as he was known by then, stepped up to address an extensively diverse audience.

“Sisters and brothers of America!” began the now famous speech at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, September 11th, 1893. That one greeting warmed the hearts of the audience so much that the young Swami received a two-minute standing ovation.

Throughout his life, Swamiji enabled self-improvement, but also stressed social service. Swamiji taught ancient philosophy but greatly admired the scientific method. Swamiji emphasized patriotism to Indian youth, and at the same time preached the universal brotherhood of all people. To such a great Swami, the world today offers a standing ovation. Thank you, Swami Vivekananda.