Americans are celebrating their Independence Day on 4th July 2020. This day is also known as “the Fourth of July”. On July 2nd, 1776, The Lee Resolution was passed on by the Second Continental Congress with no opposition votes. The Declaration stated that Thirteen Colonies in America have become free and independent from the British Empire and formed what is called the United States of America.
Since its independence, America is celebrating its 244th anniversary. It’s a federal holiday in the United States with people usually celebrating with fireworks, patriotic displays, and casual family gatherings. However, this year the celebration will not be as before and unlike any Independence Day in recent history.
While Americans celebrate on 4th July, it is also a memorable day for the Indians. There is a very close relation between Indians and the Americans about this date. Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Monk who was a great social reformer and an inspiring spiritual personality, was born on 12th January 1863 and died on 4th July 1902. He introduced the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and was greatly received in the US.
On 15th September 1893, at the Parliament of the World’s Religion in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda gave his iconic and groundbreaking speech in which he introduced Hinduism to America.
“Sisters and Brothers of America,” Swami Vivekananda started his famous Chicago address. “[…] I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor 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,” he ended the speech.
He spent years in the UK and USA giving lectures and had many disciples both abroad and in India.
Interestingly, exactly four years prior to his death, on 4th July 1898, Swami Vivekananda was traveling in Kashmir with some of his disciples from the US and UK. On that day, at the early morning breakfast in a houseboat in Kashmir, he wrote a poem on American Independence, for his brothers and sisters of America. The poem is a symbol of his vision of the divinity:
Titled ‘To the fourth of July’,
Behold, the dark clouds melt away,
That gathered thick at night and hung
So like a gloomy pall above the earth!
Before thy magic touch, the world
Awakes. The birds in chorus sing.
The flowers raise their star-like crowns —
Dew-set, and wave thee welcome fair.
The lakes are opening wide in love
Their hundred thousand lotus-eyes
To welcome thee, with all their depth.
All hail to thee, thou Lord of Light!
A welcome new to thee, today,
O Sun! Today thou sheddest Liberty!
Bethink thee how the world did wait,
And search for thee, through time and clime.
Some gave up home and love of friends,
And went in quest of thee, self-banished,
Through dreary oceans, through primeval forests,
Each step a struggle for their life or death;
Then came the day when work bore fruit,
And worship, love, and sacrifice,
Fulfilled, accepted, and complete.
Then thou, propitious, rose to shed
The light of Freedom on mankind.
Move on, O Lord, in thy resistless path!
Till thy high noon o’erspreads the world.
Till every land reflects thy light,
Till men and women, with uplifted head,
Behold their shackles broken, and
Know, in springing joy, their life renewed!
Swami Vivekananda died at an early age of 39. He prophesized: ‘I shall not live to be forty years old.’ He fulfilled his prophecy on 4th July 1902. The reason for his early death, as assumed, was his hectic schedule, and trips to various countries which took a toll on his health.
As he knew that his life on earth was nearing an end, he indulged himself in contemplating the deepest spiritual truths in the end.
“If in this hell of a world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all else is mere moonshine.”
On his last day, Swami Vivekananda went to his room at 7 pm and asked his followers not to disturb him, until they were told to. At 9.10 pm the great monk left for his heavenly abode.
A very happy independence day to our American readers from Team We The World Magazine. We are all in this together.