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Vedant Society of St. Louis Celebrated Swami Vivekananda’s 125th Anniversary of Chicago Iconic Speeches

ST. LOUIS, MO- On May 19, 2019 the Vedanta Society of St. Louis celebrated the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekaknanda’s iconic speeches at the First Parliament of World’s Religions held at the Chicago Art Institute on September 11-27, 1893.

This auspicious event featuring thought-provoking symposium talks and an audio-visual show on Swami Vivekananda took place at the newly opened Hindu Cultural and Education Center and co-organized by the India Association of St. Louis, Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Center and the Hindu Temple of St. Louis. In the opening talk, Swami Chetanananda, Head of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis highlighted the importance of the 1893 Parliament of Religions and epoch-making contributions by Swami Vivekananda, characterized as the Cyclonic Monk of India by many American newspapers.

Dr. David Oughton, Associate Professor of Theology at St. Louis University focused on the impact of interfaith movement in the West since 1893 and six parliaments of religions held so far. An American journalist and author from California, Ann Louis Bardach spoke on Vivekananda’s contributions to the West and his far-reaching influence on numerous notable Americans and Europeans in the 19th century and beyond. Finally, in his eloquent talk, Swami Sarvapriyananda, Head of the Vedanta Society of New York, synthesized Vivekananda’s Addresses at the 1893 Parliament of Religions.

The central theme of the symposium was to assimilate Swamiji’s contributions to the world through his eternal message of practical Vedanta (essence of knowledge), which teaches us the divinity of the soul, unity of existence, oneness of Godhead, and harmony of religions. Another major attraction of the event was the publication of a commemorative souvenir book, Swami Vivekananda: East Meets West, edited by Swami Chetanananda, Sajal Das and K. K. Sankaran. This 124-page volume contains scholarly articles by senior monks and nuns of the Ramakrishna Order about Swami Vivekananda’s teachings, eternal messages, spirituality, and contributions to the west as well as their ever relevance today.

The program ended with a meditative musical performance by local artists Sreelalitha Popuri, Abhimanyu Gupta, and Sandhya Pandurangi who entertained the captive audience with melodious songs sung by Vivekananda and other devotional songs. The Sunday afternoon program undoubtedly created a long-lasting impression on more than 300 people attending as they felt the reverberation of Rig Veda’s awakening message “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”: Truth is one, though called by various names.

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