As soon as ‘9/11’ is mentioned, we think of the destruction of the twin towers in New York City in 2001. But very few know that something wonderful took place on 9/11in 1893, also in the US. Swami Vivekananda delivered his historic speech on this day in the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago where he talked about the urgent need for harmony among world religions and putting an end to fanaticism. Vivekananda said, ‘We believe not only in universal tolerance; we accept all religions as true.

Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth, filling it with violence, drenched it often in blood, destroyed civilisations, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these 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 pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.’

We did not pay any heed to the wise words of Swami Vivekananda and the world continues to suffer violence and hatred.

Advances in communication and transport have converted the world into a global village. But existing creeds and ideologies continue to be the main sources of conflict. Let us celebrate ‘9/11’ as the day of ‘Harmony of Religions’ to usherin a global civilisation and save the world from terrorism fuelled by fanaticism.