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Literature Study GuidesThe Death Knell Of Fanaticism

The Death Knell of Fanaticism | Study Guide

Swami Vivekananda

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Swami Vivekananda

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At a Glance

  • Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) was born in Calcutta, India, as Narendranath Datta. He was a Hindu religious leader and a vocal activist who strove to improve the lives of India's poorest citizens.
  • Vivekananda was invited to speak at the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893.
  • From September 11–27, Vivekananda gave six speeches where he addressed the tensions between the world's religions, outlined the basic beliefs taught in Hinduism, and asked his fellow religious leaders to set aside their differences and focus on their shared vision of a better future for humanity.
  • Vivekananda argues in his speeches that Hinduism has done a better job than the other religions at avoiding religious conflict because Hinduism teaches that all religions share aspects of the same universal truth.
  • The final goal of every religious person in Vivekananda's opinion is to seek personal perfection through a cycle of death and rebirth, with each life adding to the individual's grand store of knowledge.
  • Once this individual has reached total enlightenment, they will transcend physical boundaries and become one with God.
  • Vivekananda insists that it is pointless to try to force people into a different religion because a person's religion is tied to their past lives, their experiences, and their current cultural setting. They can only progress to a higher form of enlightenment on their own.
  • In addition to defending Hinduism's acceptance of all religions as valid paths to enlightenment, Vivekananda asks Christians of the United States to help fund social projects in China and India because of the high rate of poverty among Chinese and Indian citizens.


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