|Swami Vivekananda at Chicago|
When Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) went to Chicago, he said, “Ladies and Gentlemen.” Then he said, “Brothers and Sisters.” Everybody clapped. They never heard such strange appellation. “All are sisters and brothers”, he said. After that he said, “Ladies and gents are not different. Both are same.” He looked at the gents and said, “You are also ladies.” Then he looked at the ladies and said, “You are also gents.” Humans have both aspects – feminine and masculine. Bodies may be different, but the Atma has no difference of gender. In such a situation, whom can you call a man and whom can you call a woman? Atma is Chaitanya. Jiva is its name. Which Jiva? Jiva is one. It is not woman Jiva or man Jiva. Jiva is one and the same. The same Jiva exists in both. Ultimately you have only the Atmic characteristics. All other things perish. The differences of gender, colour, colour, cast and creed, all of them vanish. What are the differences in the Ashrama Dharma (duties dependent on one’s stage in life).What are these? These are the Brahmacharya (celibacy), Gruhastha (householder), Vanaprastha (hermit) and Sanyasa (renunciant). These are the four Ashramas. You can utilise the life principles to a great extent. There is no relation of the life principle with the five elements. You may think that somebody is a Brahmin (priestly class), somebody is a Kshatriya (warrior class), Vaishya (trader class) or a Shudra (service class). No such differences exist. There are no differences of any kind. What is the caste (Kula) of wind? What is the caste of fire? What is the caste of ether? What is the caste of earth and water? The water and fire have no castes. When the five elements have no sense of castes, why should we? Water is water. Whoever drinks it, it will remain as water. Whoever touches fire, it will remain as fire. When the five elements do not have a sense of caste differences, why should man, who is made of these five elements entertain such differences? Because of having such differences in our minds, we are getting ruined. No differences should be there. There is only one caste, the caste of humanity. Humanity is what is required.
Who is a true Hindu?
The word Hindu has 5 letters. ‘H’, ‘I’, ‘N’, ‘D’, ‘U’. What is the meaning of the word – Hindu?
‘H’ is Humility.
‘I’ is Individuality.
‘N’ is Nationality.
‘D’ is Divinity.
‘U’ is Unity.
That is a Hindu. A true Hindu has all these 5 aspects. He may belong to any nation; all those who have these characteristics are Hindus. A person who doesn’t have any of these characteristics is not a Hindu. Even if he is born in India, without these qualities he cannot be considered as a Hindu. These five qualities are required. These are like the (Pancha Pranas) five life breaths of every Hindu. Because of such differences, people are fighting with one another and losing lives. This is a defect.
Source: Understand the Inner Significance of Indian Culture, Discourse 8, My Dear Students, Volume 5, Discourse given on April 9, 1999 at Trayee Brindavan