The historic Parliament of Religions was held from September 11-27, 1893, and was attended by delegates from all parts of the world. On September 11, 1893, Cardinal Gibbons inaugurated the meeting. Swami Vivekananda was the youngest, aged 30, among all the delegates. As a speaker Swamiji’s numerical position was 31. but he requested the Secretary General of the Parliament to let him speak as the last delegate. When he addressed the gathering as, ”Sisters and Brothers of America,” it provoked a thunderous, standing ovation that lasted two minutes, from the thousands of people who had gathered there. A great wave of enthusiasm went through the audience. After silence was restored, he began the introductory speech, thanking the youngest of nations on behalf of the most ancient order of the monks in the world, and he introduced Hinduism as the mother of religions, which has taught the the world both tolerance and universal brotherhood.He clearly states that India, quite an exception to this world wide trend, actually welcomed not only the Jews and Parsees, but also stood for freedom of faith and belief. He strengthens his argument that India’s strength lies in its view that all the different paths lead to the same goal, the Supreme Lord, called by whatever name by his worshipers. He compared the believers of different religions, each of whom who considered his religion as the best to the frog of the well that imagined his well as the whole world and nothing could be bigger than it.
His contribution to the Parliament was highlighted by the leading newspapers. The New York Herald commented, ”He is undoubtedly the greatest personality in the Parliament. After hearing him, we see how foolish it was to send the missionaries to this learned nation.” This participation earned Vivekananda extraordinary success, and his words are relevant even now in the present times.