Vivekananda in America
After the people had stopped their cheering and clapping, Swamiji began his speech. The speech he made that day made him famous throughout the world.
He said that he was proud to belong to a religion which had taught people to accept all religions as true. His country, India, had given shelter to many people when they were not allowed to follow their own religions in their own countries.
He then told them about a hymn which was repeated every day by millions of people in India. The hymn said that just as different rivers all meet in the sea, so the different religions all meet in the one Lord of the universe.
The next day, big pictures of Swamiji were put up in the streets of Chicago. People wrote about him in the newspapers.
After the Parliament was over Swamiji travelled all over America. Wherever he went, he gave lectures and talked to the people. He answered their questions and told them about India.
In those days, people in western countries did not know much about India, and they had many wrong ideas about her. It was through Swamiji that they came to know and respect India.
People said: ‘Swami Vivekananda is not only a great spiritual teacher. He is also a great patriot. When he says the words “my country”, we feel how much he loves India!’
It was not only the grown-ups in America who loved Swamiji, children loved him too. Once Swamiji was watching some boys. They were standing on a bridge trying to shoot at egg-shells that were floating on the river. The egg-shells bobbed up and down. The boys could not hit any of them. They fired the gun many times, but they always missed the target!
They noticed that Swamiji was watching them. So they called out to him: ‘Well, you are watching us. Do you think you can do better?’
Swamiji smiled and said: I will try.’ Then the boys said: ‘It’s not so easy as you think!’ Swamiji took the gun and aimed at the egg-shells. He stood very still for a few minutes. Then he fired the gun. He fired twelve times, and every time he hit an egg-shell! The boys were very surprised. How could any man shoot egg-shells like that? They thought. They said to Swamiji: ‘Well, Mister, how did you do it?’ Swamiji laughed. He liked the boys.
‘Whatever you are doing,’ he said, ‘put your whole mind on it. If you are shooting, your mind should be only on the target. Then you will never miss. If you are learning your lessons, think only of the lesson. In my country boys are taught to do this.’
- Swami Vivekananda