The American public formally learned about Hinduism was through the World’s Parliament of Religions, a gathering of practitioners of different faith traditions, which took place in Chicago in 1893. It was at that time when the American public first saw and heard people from “Eastern” religions, including Hindus and Buddhists, on their own soil.
Vivekananda, a young monk representing Hinduism famously began his speech hailing his hosts as “brothers and sisters of America.” It was most unusual for an Indian monk to embrace the audience as a single family, at a time when societies were segregated and racial superiority was an accepted part of life. Vivekananda received a standing ovation. The appreciation continued as he journeyed through America after the talk.
Professor of Religion, University of Florida