An absorbing biography of Swami Vivekananda (1863 - 1902) that presents his vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture, deep spiritual insight, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, and colorful personality. Swami Vivekananda, India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, proclaimed the universal message of Vedanta: the non-duality of the Godhead, the divinity of the soul, the oneness of existence, and the harmony of religions. This 256 page book details the life of Swami Vivekananda and contains 28 photographs, as well as an appendix containing the Swami's most important teachings.
From the Publisher:
Swami Vivekananda, India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of India at the World's Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection with the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. His message of the unity of humankind and harmony of religions was embraced by the public and press of the time as representing the essence of the Parliament. The Swami wished to create a bridge between the East and the West by bringing to America the gift of India's ancient spirituality, in exchange for the scientific and industrial outlook of the West. After four years of traveling and teaching in America and Europe, the Swami returned to India, where he is revered as a "Patriot Saint." The government of India has declared his birthday a national holiday. In 1976 on the occasion of the American Bicentennial, Swami Vivekananda was honored by the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery as one who came to America from abroad during the past 200 years and made a significant impact on its spiritual development.
Upon his return to India, Swami Vivekananda founded The Ramakrishna Order of India in the name of his teacher, Sri Ramakrishna, who is regarded as the Prophet of Harmony of Religions. The Order is the pre-eminent religious organization of modern India. More than 1000 monks of the Order serve throughout the world. While in the West the work is mainly in the form of conducting worship, teaching, writing and lecturing, in India the Order is widely known for its vast charitable activities -- running hospitals and schools, rural uplift, and extensive relief work in times of emergency. The Swamis of the Order work tirelessly in the spirit of "Service of God in Man," regarding the service of all people as a veritable form of worship.
The Centers of the Order in America, often referred to by such names as Ramakrishna or Vivekananda Centers, or Vedanta Societies, were first organized by Swami Vivekananda for the propagation of the Swami's teachings. Today there are Centers in many of America's major cities, including New York, Boston, Providence, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento, and Hollywood. Because of their belief in the underlying truth of all religions, the Centers of the Ramakrishna Order are at the forefront of the Interfaith Movement. (Publisher's comments written by Swami Adiswarananda, Spiritual Leader, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York).
From the Back Cover:
"It may be that I shall find it good to get outside my body - to cast it off like a worn-out garment. But I shall not cease to work. I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God." - Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda (1863 - 1902), a well-known figure in intellectual and religious circles in America during the first decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, is cherished by an ever increasing number of readers of his books. His genius was revealed to the world at large in the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, where he indicated India's rightful place in the spiritual map of the world. The first cultural ambassador of his motherland to the West, and the builder of the spiritual bridge connecting the two hemispheres, Vivekananda dreamt of One World based upon a synthesis of religion and science and a knowledge of the solidarity of mankind. In his utterances the souls of East and West, the one oppressed by the tyranny of society and the other by the dead weight of secularism, found the way to freedom. As Ramakrishna, the teacher, reinterpreted and relived for the modern world the spiritual heritage of India, so Vivekananda, the disciple, anticipates and inspires her potential contribution.
About the Author:
Swami Nikhilananda, a direct disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, was born in a small Indian village in 1895 and was ordained a monk of the Ramakrishna Order in 1924. After spending several years in the Himalayan monastery of his Order, during which time he made a study of Hinduism and other systems of philosophy and religion, he was sent to America in 1931. He founded the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York in 1933 and was its spiritual leader until his passing away in 1973.
The Swami was a gifted writer, and his contributions to the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature cannot be overstated. His translations of the scriptures, his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda, his compilations of the works of Swami Vivekananda, his other books and many articles in various journals and publications are permanent sources of spiritual knowledge and inspiration. Notable among these works are the following titles: 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna', 'Holy Mother', 'Vivekananda: A Biography', 'The Upanishads (volumes I-IV)', 'The Bhagavad Gita', 'Self-Knowledge', 'Hinduism', and 'Man in Search of Immortality'. Many of these works were originally introduced by major publishers, such as Harper & Row (New York) and George Allen & Unwin (London). Time Magazine called Swami Nikhilananda's translations of 'The Bhagavad Gita', "The first really readable, authoritative English translation of one of the world's greatest religious classics." W. Somerset Maugham praised Self-Knowledge as a "wonderful piece of exposition."
But the Swami's monumental work, for which he will ever be remembered, is 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna'. This complete translation into English from the original Bengali of the Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, as recorded by "M," has made the immortal words of this great prophet of the nineteenth century available to countless readers throughout the world. Aldous Huxley was pleased to write a foreword to 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna', and high praise was given to the book by such notable persons as Thomas Mann and Henry Miller. Time Magazine referred to The Gospel as "One of the world's most extraordinary religious documents."
"My homage and respect to the very revered memory of Swami Vivekananda . . . .after having gone through [his works], the love that I had for my country became a thousandfold." - Mahatma Gandhi