National Youth Day is celebrated on Jan. 12 every year in the United States to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu spiritual leader and the proponent of social reform in 19th century India.

Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Dutta, was the key figure to introduce the philosophies of Indian Vedanta and Yoga to the western world. 

Vivekananda, the trailblazing monk and leader, set the stage for forcing out the British colonialists from the Indian land by contributing to the concept of nationalism, which he highlighted as a tool to fight against the British empire. Swami Vivekananda was also credited with raising interfaith tolerance and catapulting Hinduism to the global forefront. In 1893, Vivekananda was invited to the U.S. to deliver a speech on the occasion of the World Religion Conference in Chicago and his words were worth living by. 

In the iconic speech, which he started by addressing the audience as "brothers and sisters in America," he touched upon various philosophies that we need to manifest in our everyday life. To mark the occasion of Vivekananda's birthday, here are some quotes from the speech.

  • "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal tolerance but we accept all religions as true."
  • "Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth…Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now."
  • "I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal."
  • "I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth."
  • "I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects."

swami-vivekananda-g971b3f359_1920 Swami Vivekananda Photo: Pixabay