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11 September - 'Universal Brotherhood Day'
9/10/2019 9:54:34 PM
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal

The culture of celebrating some dates and days has now become a lustrous occasion. When we speak of some of the special days that are celebrated worldwide, to mark such occasions, they are tagged with the speeches by the chief guest/special personalities present on the occasion. But speeches become victim of the tragedy 'Ek Kaan Se Sunna Dusre Se Nikal Dena'. We have on board some of the world famous speeches such as: "Apology" by 'Socrates' of 399 BC, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" by 'Patrick Henry' on March 23, 1775, "Surrender Speech" by 'Chief Joseph' on October 5, 1877, "Duties of American Citizenship" by 'Theodore Roosevelt' on 26 January 1883, "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" by 'Winston Churchill' on June 4, 1940, "Quit India" by 'Mahatma Gandhi' on August 8, 1942, "Tryst with Destiny" by 'Jawaharlal Nehru' on the eve of India's Independence and many more. All these speeches were with reference to particular events and are not of much importance in the present scenario. But world over, very few are aware of the facts that there is one speech and a particular day is celebrated worldwide to commemorate, that one speech and it is the Swami Vivekananda famous speech delivered on September 11, 1893 in Chicago to the delegates of the World Parliament of Religions. He gave a call for universal brotherhood stating that the man on this earth has continued too long to be fanatic about insisting that his religion alone was true and other religions being false had no right to exist. As such the September 11, is marked as 'Universal Brotherhood Day' and the day is celebrated every year to commemorate the Swami's world famous speech. It is popularly remembered for its opening words - 'Sisters and brothers of America'. The entire assembly gave extended standing ovation to the Swami, just after hearing these opening words. The concussion of the Vivekananda speech was instant and more uniqueness of the speech was that it was just a short speech of five hundred words only and it was ideologically based on 'the idea of toleration'. His idea of toleration is the solution to the discords between nations, religions and cultures on one hand, and discord in families and smaller groups on the other. It changed the idea of tolerance, added the dimension of acceptance to it and made it more comprehensive and real. He described tolerance as a state of mind that implies non-judgmental acceptance of different lifestyles or beliefs. He propagated that the religion taught the world brotherhood that is defined as fellowship, and alliance in the dictionary. Fellowship is condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion, or nationality, tolerance and universal acceptance. In common social parlance, when one refers to the feeling of brotherhood, it means the existence of feelings of togetherness and bonding that can be referred to as the feeling of oneness, among or towards fellow human beings. In simple words we can define brotherhood as living peaceably together and to help and love one another.
On Indian platter, since the inception of brotherhood, we adhere to the concept of Universal Brotherhood i.e. 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam' as core principal of living in harmony with all beings created by the almighty. We have extended this concept of brotherhood to more refined way of extending hospitality with concept of 'Atithi Devo Bhava', that means our guests are our Gods. "By practicing brotherhood, we set a good example for those around us and in return we feel a sense of self-fulfillment for having aided a fellow human being"- Kathy Bartilson. With nuclear families being order of the day in urban areas and rural areas running sprints to catch up to urban folks, the sphere of our togetherness is diminishing proportionately and bondage of brotherhood is developing cracks. As a slogan of brotherhood, we have to work united for betterment and uplifting of our social system. Our whole effort should be towards securing a combination of the strong qualities with those qualities which we term virtues and it is the only 'Mool Mantra' for us to celebrate the brotherhood day. Human society would have been more advanced than it is now, if fanaticism and terrorism would have been curved at its inception by a universal understanding and on the strength of universal brotherhood. On the day, we need to revisit the words of Swami Vivekananda the part of his famous speech on the day, "Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendants, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled this earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these possible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now"? Essentially, Swami advocated the right to follow one's unique nature and disapproved imposing changes on anyone. This he applied from macrocosm to microcosm, which is from nations to individuals. His idea of toleration is the solution to the discords between nations, religions and cultures on one hand, and discord in families and smaller groups on the other.
The activities on the day should be focused to bring in the spotlight, our youth to the dynamics of our motherland and to inculcate a sense of feeling to guide the world to the focus on cultural traditions, to pay homage to all those who laid their lives for the protection of our Motherland and to establish brotherhood among the various sections of the society. Accept the other person in totality and make peace with all; this would be the ideal commemoration of 'Universal Brotherhood Day' and the motto should be to make this country and the world at large a better place to live in. It is difficult to conclude the write up without mentioning Josephine Baker's lines: "Surely the day will come when color means nothing more than the skin tone, when religion is seen uniquely as a way to speak one's soul, when birth places have the weight of a throw of the dice and all men are born free, when understanding breeds love and brotherhood".
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