Chicago, 26th Sep 1893
The religion of the Hindus is divided into two parts, the ceremonial and the spiritual; the spiritual portion is specially studied by the monks.
In that there is no caste. A man from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India and the two castes become equal. In the religion there is no caste; caste is simply a social institution, Shakya Muni himself was a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large-heartedness to bring out the truths how the hid- den Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world. He was the first being in the world who brought missionarizing into practice - nay, he was the first to conceive the idea of proselytizing.
The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Saint of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of the Buddha's Brahmin disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, 'I am for the poor, for the people: let me speak in the tongue of the people.' And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.
Whatever may be the position of philosophy, whatever may the position of metaphysics, so long as there is such a thing as death in the world, so long as there is such a thing as weakness in the human heart, so long as there is a cry going out of the heart of man in his very weakness, there shall be a faith in God.
On the philosophic side, the disciples of the Great Master dashed themselves against the eternal rocks of the Vedas and could not crush them, and on the other side they took away from the nation that eternal God to which everyone, man or woman, clings so fondly. And the result was that Buddhism had to die a natural death in India. At the present day there is not one who calls himself a Buddhist in India, the land of its birth. But at the same time, Brahminism lost something - that reforming zeal, that wonderful sympathy and charity for everybody, that wonderful leaven which Buddhism had brought to the masses and which had rendered Indian society so great that a Greek historian who wrote about India of that time was led to say that no Hindu was known to tell untruth and no Hindu woman was known to be unchaste.
Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism without Hinduism. Then realize what the separation has shown to us, that the Buddhists cannot stand without the brain and philosophy of the Brahmins, nor the Brahmin without the heart of the Buddhist. This separation between the Buddhists and the Brahmins is the cause of the downfall of India. That is why India is populated by three hundred millions of beg- gars, and that is why India has been the slave of conquerors for the last thousand years. Let us then join the wonderful intellect of the Brahmin with the heart, the noble soul, the wonderful humanizing power of the Great Master.