Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Sunday Guardian | January 23, 2022
Swami Vivekananda, a great spiritual luminary of India, was motivated by a desire expressed by his guru, Rama Krishnan Paramhans, who once said to him: “I hope that some day you will visit the USA and introduce Indian spirituality to the American people.” Swami Vivekananda took these words to heart and when, in 1893, he came to know that an international religious conference was going to be held in Chicago, he resolved to follow the advice of his guru. With the help of one of his friends, he embarked on a ship setting sail for America and after a long sea voyage, reached Chicago. There, with the help of an American he chanced to meet, he managed to receive an invitation from the conference organizers.
At the conference, he saw that everyone addressed the audience very formally as ‘Ladies and gentlemen’. But when he was invited to speak, he came on to the stage and addressed them as ‘Sisters and Brothers of America’, then delivered his lecture. This kind of address was the first introduction to Indian spirituality that the American people had experienced. The resounding applause he received by calling his audience ‘sisters and brothers’ rather than ‘ladies and gentlemen’ – which is a very formal way of addressing people – showed that he had touched their hearts and instantly won them over.
Everyone is born the same in nature. Since all human beings have the same common ancestor, there can be no difference between an American and an Indian. It is a fact of nature that all men and women are blood brothers and sisters. So, sisterhood and brotherhood is interwoven into the very nature of every man and every woman. When you call people ‘sisters and brothers’, you make a profound psychological impact.