Vivekananda: Why We Disagree?

Swami Vivekananda
At the world’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago

September 15, 1893


I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, “Let us cease from abusing each other,” and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.

But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course, the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another flog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

“Where are you from?”

“I am from the sea.”

“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.

“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”

Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?”

“What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”

“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.”

That has been the difficulty all the while.

I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. l have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in the future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.


I love the message conveyed by the story above. America has always been the hope of India. Knowledge is now being amplified and radiated out to the world through America, just as India hoped.


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  • Leif  On September 8, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Hi. A mutual friend told me about your blog. This is a good one to start on. How odd the little story is! Why didn’t the second frog answer the first frog’s question, “how big is the sea?” If he hadn’t been so arrogant as to think that answering the question was beneath him, there might have been some learning. I see this story from the point of view of the frog in the well, who couldn’t get a straight answer out of his new arrogant friend, and so concluded that the sea must not be much.


    • vinaire  On September 8, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      Yes. I had the same thought when I entered this story on my blog recently. But I didn’t have that thought when I read it the first time many years ago. At that time my attention was focused on the message of this story.

      I think that the story was written with that message in mind, which is a wonderful message. The story itself simply didn’t get put together properly.



    • vinaire  On September 9, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      Anyway, welcome to my blog! 🙂



  • vinaire  On April 26, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I believe that it was very difficult for the frog from the sea to answer how big the sea was because he had never seen the boundaries of the sea. He only knew that the well with the boundaries could not be as big as the sea.

    Probably, he could have told the frog from the well that the sea was so big that it had no bounds, but I wonder if that could have been understood.

    What would you have said if you were the frog from the sea?



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