Letter to the Editor of “India West”:
How many Americans have heard the name “Vivekananda”?
I enjoyed reading the letter “Vivekananda Chair Deserves Applause” by Rajan Zed (I-W, Feb. 10). I applaud India, the University of Chicago, and the Art Institute of Chicago for “promoting spiritual icon Swami Vivekananda and his message in the U.S., who is a household name in India.” (I-W, Feb. 3)
Yes, Swami Vivekananda should also be a household name in the U.S. He started his formal mission of spreading the Word on the very soil of America on September 11, on the opening day of the World Parliament of Religions held in the Art Institute of Chicago in 1893. He captured the heart of America and later that of the rest of the world.
Today, among over 300 million Americans in the U.S., how many know the name “Vivekananda” let alone his life and works? I conducted little experiment:
I stood on a step of the Art Institute of Chicago in downtown, displaying the picture of Gandhi in one hand, and the picture of Vivekananda in the other hand. Of course I had covered the names below the pictures. I started asking the Americans coming to the Art Institute to recognize the person in each picture.
A few visitors avoided me probably thinking that I was trying to sell the pictures. But I got response from several other Americans. All of them recognized Gandhi right away. None identified Vivekananda! To some visitors, I disclosed the name of Swamji, and even pointed to the green street-sign reading “Swami Vivekananda Way” — the complimentary name of the Michigan Avenue on the side where the Art Institute is located.
I decided to introduce Swami Vivekananda to millions of Americans and wrote the book The Day of Gloom and Glory! I call it the “Little Book for Billions!” as it is not only for millions in America but also for the billions around the world. (The book is published with the title September 11: The Date of Gloom and Glory! as (Amazon) Kindle e-book, and will be printed with the title The Day of Gloom and Glory!) It is primarily based on the powerful September 11 address of Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893.
I would deeply appreciate thoughts from the esteemed readers of India West how the book The Day of Gloom and Glory! can reach to the masses in the U.S. as well as in the rest of the world. Indeed, it will be a service to humanity.
Author & Journalist