03 April 2014

U Thant On Swami Vivekananda

U Thant (or Pantanaw U Thant, 22 January 1909 – 25 November 1974) was a Burmese diplomat. From 1961 to 1971 he served as the third Secretary-General of the United Nations. In the United Nations he was appointed as an Acting Secretary-General from 3 November 1961, and then he became Secretary-General on 30 November 1962. In December 1971, after his retirement from the United Nations, The New York Times wrote in they newspaper—
...the wise counsel of this dedicated man of peace will still be needed after his retirement.
 A detailed biography of U Thant is available at Wikipedia. The topic of our this article is U Thant's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

U Thant told—
Image source: Biography.com
Swami Vivekananda was the greatest spiritual ambassador of India, if I may say, in the history of India. And for that matter, the history of Asia. The main purpose of his historic visit to the United States ... was to find a synthesis, if I can interpret and assess his activities in this country. He was very keen to bring about this synthesis between India and the United States, between Asia and the West. To understand Swami Vivekananda it is very important to understand the cultural and spiritual background of India, and for that matter, the cultural and spiritual background of Asia.

I think if we attempt to analyse the main purpose of Swami Vivekananda's mission to this country—my interpretation is he wanted to find a harmony, a kind of a synthesis between the Eastern concept of culture and civilization and the Western concept of culture and civilization. ... What we need today is not to neglect or ignore the oral and spiritual qualities of mankind left by centuries of tradition, and which is the key of all religion.

Another aspect of Vivekananda's mission ... is the need of tolerance in human relations. Not only religious tolerance but also tolerance in all spheres of activity. ... A few centuries ago there was no such thing as religious tolerance. Religious tolerance was unthinkable. ... Now in the twentieth century... there is religious tolerance.

Swami Vivekananda ... had this very significant and very pertinent message for these tense times. He said : 'In this country I do not come to convert you to a new belief. ... I want to make the Methodist a better Methodist, the Presbyterian a better Presbyterian, the Unitarian a better Unitarian.' These are very wise words and, friends, on this auspicious occasion when we are doing honour to one of the greatest men of all times, let us dedicate ourselves anew to this pledge : to make Christians better Christians, Hindus better Hindus, Muslims better Muslims, Buddhists better Buddhists, and Jews better Jews.


  • Vedanta and the West, 162 (July-August, 1963), pp. 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

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