Kalpa Tree Press
Contemporary Classics in Vedanta




Vedanta Online

This issue features "Universal Values for the World Conscience" by Shelley Brown

Vedanta Glossary
of Sanskrit and Bengali words, with guide to English pronunciation

The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda soul-force behind the worldwide Vedanta movement is still recent history, amply documented with photographs, original writings, and firsthand accounts. The wellspring of spiritual power is just a few generations away.


SWAMI VIVEKANANDA, the chief apostle of Sri Ramakrishna, first preached universal Vedanta to the West as a representative of Hinduism at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago. His potent spirituality drew huge crowds, and his lectures across America and in England initiated the Vedanta movement in the West.

Four years later, as Swami Vivekananda was establishing the Ramakrishna Order back in India, he stressed the idea of service. “Sri Ramakrishna was the embodiment of infinite ideas,” he said when asked why the monks should serve humanity as God, rather than just plunge into solitary spiritual practice; the sannyasin (monk), he told them with burning eyes, is born for not just for “the salvation of his own soul,” but also for “the good and happiness of the many”:

To sacrifice his life for others, to alleviate the misery of millions rending the air with their cries, to wipe away the tears from the eyes of the widow, to console the heart of the bereaved mother, to provide the ignorant and depressed masses with the ways and means for the struggle for existence and enable them to stand on their own feet . . . to rouse the sleeping lion of Brahman in the hearts of all beings by the diffusion of the light of Knowledge—for this the sannyasi is born in the world!

Under Swami Vivekananda’s progressive leadership, the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna—the first monks in the fledging Ramakrishna Order and themselves all spiritual giants—began to serve the poor and needy in India. The Ramakrishna Mission has now spread its relief efforts all over India and elsewhere in the developing world.

In 1900 Swami Vivekananda returned to the West as an established world teacher. His life and work during this period are well documented in Marie Louise Burke’s six-volume classic Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries (Mayavati: Advaita Ashrama). He founded Vedanta societies in New York and San Francisco and planted seeds that would later materialize as other centers coast to coast. He summoned monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna from India; thus the teaching of Vedanta in the West continued after Swami Vivekananda himself returned to India prior to his final bout with diabetes and early death on July 4, 1902. His universal teachings formed the ideals of the Ramakrishna Order and they continue to inspire spiritual seekers all over the world.

Swami Vivekananda’s brilliant mind integrated Vedanta with modern humanism and science, thus setting the scene for this gigantic force to enter the contemporary spiritual mainstream, from whence it has flowed into millions of lives.




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