“Hinduism for the West: Swami Vivekananda’s Pluralism at the World’s Parliament of Religions”

—Scott R. Stroud

“Scott R. Stroud homes in on the unique voice of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk, largely unknown at the beginning of 1893, who challenged, inspired, and delighted audiences at the World’s Parliament of Religions and, in the process, became a celebrated international representative of Hinduism. Amid some of the most important religious deliberations of the late nineteenth century, Vivekananda emerged as a pluralistic prophet who used his own religion to speak to the distinctiveness and unity of all religions. In that way, Vivekananda followed many other marginalized figures in the nineteenth century by combining different cultures, practices, and ideas into a provocative discourse that rose above the surrounding cacophony. By entering white Christian America at a time of rampant racism and xenophobia, a brown Hindu monk charted a way forward for an increasingly interconnected world” (p. 18).

Selected Bibliography on Vivekananda and Religious Pluralism 

Arora, Anupama. “’A Black Pagan in Orange Clothes’: Swami Vivekananda’s American Travels,”  Literature Interpretation Theory 27, no. 4 (2016): 71-89. 

Burke, Marie Louise. Swami Vivekananda in America; New Discoveries. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1958.

Jackson, Carl T. The Oriental Religions and American Thought: Nineteenth-Century Explorations. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1981.

Roy, Abhik, and Michele L. Hammers. “Swami Vivekananda’s Rhetoric of Spiritual Masculinity: Transforming Effeminate Bengalis into Virile Men.” Western Journal of Communication 78, no. 4 (2014): 1-18.

Relevant People

Charles C. Bonney

Cardinal James Gibbons

Swami Vivekananda