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Vedanta - Voice of Freedom, Swami Vivekananda
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Swami Vivekananda once said, “I have a message to the West, as Buddha had a message to the East.” That message was Vedanta. Culled from his collected works, Vedanta - Voice of Freedom presents in a clear and concise form the tenets of a religion which has evolved over the course of five thousand years. This is a living Vedanta put forth by the extraordinary mind of Swami Vivekananda.
Compiled and edited by Swami Chetanananda of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, this book brings us an introduction to Vedanta from Swami Vivekananda's very thoughts and speeches given in the West and abroad. If you have never read any of Swami Vivekananda's works or books on Vedanta, we highly recommend this collection. It provided an introduction to and overview of this seemingly complicated philosophical system in easily digestible essay. Each essay evokes Swamiji's characteristic eloquence and straightforward speaking style. He is indeed the Master Orator. This compilation of Swamiji's great works gives a detailed insight into Vedanta and helps us feel the peaceful benefits and quietude of the mind that Vedanta ushers forth.
Visit our Inspiring Books collection for more works on Vedanta and how to meditate.
"Swami Vivekananda’s writings need no introduction from anybody. They make their own irresistible appeal." - Mahatma Gandhi
"If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative." - Rabindranath Tagore
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This classic text is a masterpiece on the practice of raja yoga taken from Swami Vivekananda's original lectures in the United States.
American edition edited by Swami Nikhilananda
Raja Yoga is about the royal road to God through the practice of meditation. It is primarily meant to enable us to solve our mental problems through meditation. When all is said and done, the solution to our worldly problems requires a spiritual solution. This is the universal teaching of all saints and prophets in all countries in all times. Finding a worldly solution is an endless process that causes more problems than it creates. The spiritual solution goes to the root of our problems in worldly existence.
Since the dawn of history various extraordinary phenomena have been recorded as happening amongst human beings. Witnesses are not wanting in modern times to attest such events even in societies living under the full blaze of modem science. The vast mass of such evidence is unreliable, coming as it does from ignorant, superstitious, or fraudulent persons. In many instances the so-called miracles are imitations. But what do they imitate? It is not the sign of a candid and scientific mind to throw overboard anything without proper investigation. Surface scientists, unable to explain the various extraordinary mental phenomena, strive to ignore their very existence. They are therefore more culpable than those who think that their prayers are answered by a being or beings above the clouds, or than those who believe that their petitions will make such beings change the course of the universe. The latter have the excuse of ignorance, or at least of a defective system of education, which has taught them dependence upon such beings, a dependence which has become a part of their degenerate nature. The former have no such excuse.
For thousands of years such phenomena have been studied, investigated, and generalized; the whole ground of the religious faculties of man has been analyzed; and the practical result is the science of Raja-yoga. Raja-yoga does not, after the unpardonable manner of some modern sciences, deny the existence of facts which are difficult to explain; on the contrary, it gently, yet in no uncertain terms, tells the superstitious that miracles and answers to prayer and powers of faith, though true as facts, are not rendered comprehensible through superstitious explanations attributing them to the agency of a being or beings above the clouds. It declares that each man is only a conduit for the infinite ocean of knowledge and power that lies behind mankind. It teaches that desires and wants are in man, that the power of supply is also in man, and that wherever and whenever a desire, a want, or a prayer has been fulfilled, it was out of this infinite magazine that the fulfillment came, and not from any supernatural being. The idea of supernatural beings may rouse to a certain extent the power of action in man, but it also brings spiritual decay. It brings dependence; it brings fear; it brings superstition. It degenerates into a horrible belief in the natural weakness of man. There is no supernatural, says the yogi, but there are in nature gross manifestations and subtle manifestations. The subtle are the causes' the gross the effects. The gross can be easily perceived by the senses; not so the subtle. The practice of raja-yoga will lead to the acquisition of the subtle perceptions.
All the orthodox systems of Indian philosophy have one goal in view: the liberation of the soul through perfection. The method is yoga. The word yoga covers an immense ground. Both the Samkhya and the Vedanta schools point to yoga in some form or other.
The subject of the present book is that form of yoga known as Raja-yoga.1 The aphorisms of Patanjali are the highest authority on Raja-yoga and form its textbook. The other philosophers, though occasionally differing from Patanjali in some philosophical points, have, as a rule, accorded to his method of practice a decided consent. The first part of this book comprises several lectures delivered by the present writer to his classes in New York. The second part is a rather free translation of the Aphorisms (Sutras) of Patanjali, with a running commentary. An effort has been made to avoid technicalities as far as possible, and to keep to the free and easy style of conversation. In the first part some simple and specific directions are given for students who want to practice; but all such are especially and earnestly warned that, with few exceptions, Raja-yoga can be safely learnt only by direct contact with a teacher. If these conversations succeed in awakening a desire for further information on the subject, the teacher will not be wanting.
The system of Patanjali is based upon the system of Samkhya, the points of difference being very few. The two most important differences are, first, that Patanjali admits the Personal God in the form of the First Teacher, while the only God that Samkhya concedes is a nearly perfected being, temporarily in charge of a cycle of creation. Second, a yogi holds the mind to be equally all-pervading as the Soul, or Purusha, and Samkhya does not.
All our knowledge is based upon experience. What we call inferential knowledge, in which we go from the particular to the general or from the general to the particular, has experience as its basis. In what are called the exact sciences people easily find the truth, because it appeals to the specific experiences of every human being. The scientist does not ask you to believe in anything blindly; but he has got certain results, which have come from his own experiences, and when, reasoning on them, he wants us to believe in his conclusions, he appeals to some universal experience of humanity. In every exact science there is a basis which is common to all humanity, so that we can at once see the truth or the fallacy of the conclusions drawn therefrom. Now, the question is: Has religion any such basis or not? I shall have to answer the question both in the affirmative and in the negative.
Religion, as it is generally taught all over the world, is found to be based upon faith and belief, and in most cases consists only of different sets of theories; and that is why we find religions quarrelling with one another. These theories, again, are based upon belief. One man says there is a great Being sitting above the clouds and governing the whole universe, and he asks me to believe that solely on the authority of his assertion. In the same way I may have my own ideas, which I am asking others to believe; and if they ask for a reason, I cannot give them any. This is why religion and religious philosophy have a bad name nowadays. Every educated man seems to say: "Oh, these religions are only bundles of theories without any standard to judge them by, each man preaching his own pet ideas." Nevertheless there is a basis of universal belief in religion, governing all the different theories and all the varying ideas of different sects in different countries. Going to this basis, we find that they too are based upon universal experiences.
In the first place, if you analyze the various religions of the world, you will find that they are divided into two classes: those with a book and those without a book. Those with a book are stronger and have a larger number of followers. Those without books have mostly died out, and the few new ones have very small followings. Yet in all of them we find one consensus of opinion: that the truths they teach are the results of the experiences of particular persons. The Christian asks you to believe in his religion, to believe in Christ and to believe in him as the Incarnation of God, to believe in a God, in a soul, and in a better state of that soul. If I ask him for the reason, he says that he believes in them. But if you go to the fountainhead of Christianity, you will find that it is based upon experience. Christ said that he saw God, the disciples said that they felt God, and so forth. Similarly, in Buddhism, it is Buddha's experience. He experienced certain truths, saw them, came in contact with them, and preached them to the world. So with the Hindus in their books the writers, who are called rishis, or sages, declare that they have experienced certain truths, and these they preach.
Thus it is clear that all the religions of the world have been built upon that one universal and adamantine foundation of all our knowledge-direct experience. The teachers all saw God; they all saw their own souls, they saw their souls' future and their eternity; and what they saw they preached. Only there is this difference: By most of these religions, especially in modern times, a peculiar claim is made, namely, that these experiences are impossible at the present day; they were possible only to a few men, who were the founders of the religions that subsequently bore their names. At the present time these experiences have become obsolete, and therefore we now have to take these religions on faith.
This I entirely deny. If there has been one experience in this world in any particular branch of knowledge, it absolutely follows that that experience has been possible millions of times before and will be repeated eternally. Uniformity is the rigorous law of nature: what once happened can happen always.
The teachers of the science of Raja-Yoga, therefore, declare not only that religion is based upon the experiences of ancient times, but also that no man can be religious until he has had the same experiences himself. Raja-yoga is the science which teaches us how to get these experiences. It is not much use to talk about religion until one has felt it. Why is there so much disturbance, so much fighting and quarrelling, in the name of God? There has been more bloodshed in the name of God than for any other cause, because people never went to the fountainhead; they were content to give only a mental assent to the customs of their forefathers, and wanted others to do the same. What right has a man to say that he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must see Him; if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe. It is better to be an outspoken atheist than a hypocrite.
The modern idea, on the one hand, with the "learned" is that religion and metaphysics and all search after a Supreme Being are futile; on the other hand, with the semi-educated the idea seems to be that these things, really have no basis, their only value consisting in the fact that they furnish a strong motive power for doing good to the world. If men believe in a God, they may become good and moral, and so make good citizens. We cannot blame them for holding such ideas, seeing that all the teaching these men get is simply to believe in an eternal rigmarole of words, without any substance behind them. They are asked to live upon words. Can they do it? If they could, I should not have the least regard for human nature. Man wants truth, wants to experience truth for himself. When he has grasped it, realized it, felt it within his heart of hearts, then alone, declare the Vedas, will all doubts vanish, all darkness be scattered, and all crookedness be made straight. "Ye children of immortality, even those who live in the highest sphere, the way is found. There is a way out of all this darkness, and that is by perceiving Him who is beyond all darkness. There is no other way."
The science of Raja-yoga proposes to put before humanity a practical and scientifically worked out method of reaching this truth. In the first place, every science must have its own method of investigation. If you want to become an astronomer, and sit down and cry, "Astronomy! astronomy!" you will never become one. It is the same with chemistry. A certain method must be followed. You must go to a laboratory, take different substances, mix them, examine them, experiment with them; and out of that will come a knowledge of chemistry. If you want to be an astronomer you must go to an observatory, take a telescope, and study the stars and planets. And then you will become an astronomer. Each science must have its own methods. I could preach you thousands of sermons, but they would not make you religious until you followed the method. This truth has been preached by sages of all countries, of all ages, by men pure and unselfish who had no motive but to do good to the world. They all declare that they have found certain truths higher than what the senses can bring us, and they invite verification. They ask us to take up the discipline and practice honestly. Then, if we do not find this higher truth, we shall have the right to say that there is no truth in the claim; but before we have done that, we are not rational in denying the truth of their assertions. So we must work faithfully, using the prescribed methods, and light will come.
In acquiring knowledge we make use of generalization and generalization is based upon observation. We first observe facts, then generalize, and then draw conclusions or formulate principles. The knowledge of the mind, of the internal nature of man, of thought, can never be had until we have first developed the power of observing what is going on within. It is comparatively easy to observe facts in the external world, for many instruments have been invented for the purpose; but in the internal world we have no instrument to help us. Yet we know that we must observe in order to have a real science. Without proper analysis any science will be hopeless, mere theorizing; and that is why the psychologists have been quarrelling among themselves since the beginning of time, except those few who found out the means of observation.
The science of Raja-yoga proposes, in the first place, to give us such a means of observing the internal states. The instrument is the mind itself. The power of attention, when properly guided and directed towards the internal world, will analyze the mind and illumine facts for us. The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated; when they are concentrated they illumine. This is our only means of knowledge. Everyone is using it, both in the external and in the internal world; but, for the psychologist, the same minute observation has to be directed to the internal world which the scientific man directs to the external; and this requires a great deal of practice. From childhood onward we have been taught to pay attention only to things external, but never to things internal; hence most of us have nearly lost the faculty of observing the internal mechanism. To turn the mind, as it were, inside, stop it from going outside, and then to concentrate all its powers and throw them upon the mind itself, in order that it may know its own nature, analyze itself, is very hard work. Yet that is the only way to anything which will be like a scientific approach to the subject.
What is the use of such knowledge? In the first place, knowledge itself is the highest reward of knowledge, and secondly, there is also utility in it. It will take away all our misery. When, by analyzing his own mind, a man comes face to face, as it were, with something which is never destroyed, something which is, by its own nature, eternally pure and perfect, he will no more be miserable, no more be unhappy. All misery comes from fear, from unsatisfied desire. When a man finds that be never dies, he will then have no more fear of death. When he knows that he is perfect, he will have no more vain desires. And both these causes being absent, there will be no more misery; there will be perfect bliss, even in this body.
There is only one method by which to attain this knowledge, and that is concentration. The chemist in his laboratory concentrates all the energies of his mind into one focus and throws them upon the materials he is analyzing, and thus finds out their secrets. The astronomer concentrates all the energies of his mind and projects them through his telescope upon the skies; and the stars, the sun, and the moon give up their secrets to him. The more I can concentrate my thoughts on the matter on which I am talking to you, the more light I can throw upon it. You are listening to me, and the more you concentrate your thoughts, the more clearly you will grasp what I have to say. How has all the knowledge in the world been gained but by the concentration of the powers of the mind? The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give it the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point. That is the secret.
It is easy to concentrate the mind on external things; the mind naturally goes outward. But it is not so in religion or psychology or metaphysics, where the subject and the object are one. The object is internal: the mind itself is the object. It is necessary to study the mind itself; the mind studies the mind. We know that there is a power of the mind called reflection. I am talking to you; at the same time I am standing aside, like a second person, and knowing and hearing what I am saying. You work and think at the same time, while a portion of your mind stands by and sees what you are thinking. The powers of the mind should be concentrated and turned back upon it; and as the darkest places reveal their secrets before the penetrating rays of the sun, so will the concentrated mind penetrate into its own innermost secrets. Thus we shall come to the basis of belief, to the real religion. We shall perceive for ourselves whether or not we have souls, whether or not life lasts for five minutes or for eternity, whether or not there is a God. All this will be revealed to us.
This is what Raja-yoga proposes to teach. The goal of all its teaching is to show how to concentrate the mind; then how to discover the innermost recesses of our own minds; then how to generalize their contents and form our own conclusions from them. It never asks what our belief is-whether we are deists, or atheists, whether Christians, Jews, or Buddhists. We are human beings, and that is sufficient. Every human being has the right and the power to seek religion; every human being has the right to ask the reason why and to have his question answered by himself-if he only takes the trouble.
So far, then, we see that in the study of Raja-yoga no faith or belief is necessary. Believe nothing until you find it out for yourself-that is what it teaches us. Truth requires no prop to make it stand. Do you mean to say that the facts of our awakened state require any dreams or imaginings to prove them? Certainly not. The study of Raja-yoga takes a long time and constant practice. A part of this practice is physical, but in the main it is mental. As we proceed we shall find how intimately the mind is connected with the body. If we believe that the mind is simply a finer part of the body, and that the mind acts upon the body, then it stands to reason that the body must react upon the mind. If the body is sick, the mind becomes sick also. If the body is healthy, the mind remains healthy and strong. When one is angry, the mind becomes disturbed; and when the mind is disturbed, the body also becomes disturbed. With the majority of mankind the mind is greatly under the control of the body, their minds being very little developed. The vast mass of humanity is very little removed from the animals; for in many instances their power of control is little higher than that of the animals. We have very little command of our minds. Therefore to acquire that command, to get that control over body and mind, we must take certain physical helps; when the body is sufficiently controlled we can attempt the manipulation of the mind. By manipulating the mind, we shall be able to bring it under our control, make it work as we like, and compel it to concentrate its powers as we desire.
According to the raja-yogi, the external world is but the gross form of the internal, or subtle. The fine is always the cause, and the gross, the effect. So the external world is the effect, and the internal, the cause. Therefore the external forces are simply the grosser parts of that of which the internal forces are the finer. The man who has discovered and learnt how to manipulate the internal forces will get the whole of nature under his control. The yogi proposes to himself no less a task than to master the whole universe, to control the whole of nature. He wants to arrive at the point where what we call nature's laws will have no influence over him, where he will be able to go beyond them all. He will be the master of the whole of nature, internal and external. The progress and civilization of the human race simply mean controlling nature.
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"Bhakti Yoga is a real genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in Love."
- 113 pages, Indian paperback
"Bhakti Yoga is a real genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in Love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal freedom."
"When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied forever." Swami Vivekananda
Writes Romain Rolland:
Vivekananda's words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages at thirty years distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. and what shocks, what transports must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero.
Meditation and Its Methods
Regular price $9.95 Save $-9.95
edited by Swami Chetanananda
Foreword by Christopher Isherwood
- 137 pages US paperback
"This book is a collection of notes on the value of meditative practices. It is common sense rendered with good humor.
Through these selections, even the casual reader will be better able to appreciate the vitality of a tradition that has produced both saints and scholars."
-Books West Magazine
Sarada Devi Picture
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All sizes Back in Stock Soon!
Sri Sarada Devi in all her beautiful glory in this 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 black and white photo. This particular photo comes from a senior monk in the Ramakrishna order, Swami Chetanananda.
In 1970, when Swami Chetanananda was at Advaita Ashrama in Calcutta, Swami Ishanananda (a disciple of Holy Mother and an attendant of hers for eleven years) stayed there for some days. One day he showed Swami Chetanananda an original print of Holy Mother’s shrine pose (the second photo) which had belonged to Sister Nivedita. Swami Chetanananda asked the swami to let him have the photo for the archives of Advaita Ashrama, and the swami gave it to him. It is still there. During Swami Chetanananda’s trip to India in 1982, he made several negatives from that beautiful, original print and brought them to America so that the Western devotees could have a clear (second generation) photo of Holy Mother.
In November 1898 Mrs. Ole Bull, an American devotee of Swami Vivekananda, persuaded Holy Mother to have her photograph taken. On this occasion three pictures were taken, and the second is the one most often worshipped by her devotees. Holy Mother said of it: “Yes this is a good picture. But before it was taken I was a little stouter. Then Yogen [Swami Yogananda] fell ill. Worrying about him day and night, I lost some weight. I was happy when he felt better, but very unhappy when he was worse. Often I wept for him. At first I refused to be photographed. But Sara [referring to Mrs. Ole Bull] pressed me and said, ‘I shall take the picture to America and worship it.’ In the end I had to agree.” (Holy Mother by Swami Nikhilananda, p. 114).
This picture of Holy Mother when she was forty-five was taken at 10/2 Bosepara Lane, Baghbazar, Calcutta, by Mr. Harrington, an English photographer.
Swami Gambhirananda wrote in Sri Ma Sarada Devi (p. 335):
“When Mrs. Ole Bull approached Holy Mother for her photograph, she declined because she was too shy to go to a studio and unveil her face in front of an unknown photographer. But when Mrs. Ole Bull fervently requested, Holy Mother asked her to bring a woman photographer. As no woman photographer was available, she then asked her to bring a European photographer. When the photographer arrived, Holy Mother, controlling her bashfulness, sat for a photo session. Sister Nivedita and Golap-ma arranged her cloth and hair according to their taste.”
On March 9, 1899, Sister Nivedita wrote to Mrs. Eric Hammond: “You know that photograph meant the first time she [Holy Mother] had ever looked straight at a grownup man outside her own family, or been seen by one. Yet what self-consciousness was there? Not a grain! Neither Swami [Vivekananda] nor Sri Ramakrishna himself ever saw her unveiled – after her marriage, that is, when she was a little girl of five!” (Letters of Sister Nivedita, Vol. 1, p. 76).
About the first photo of this series, Pravrajika Atmaprana wrote in Sister Nivedita (p. 69): “When the photographer came, the Mother cast down her eyes and went into an ecstatic state. She regained her natural state after some time and her second photo was then taken, which is now seen worshipped everywhere.” Brahmachari Akshay Chaitanya supplied further information about the second photo in Sri Sri Sarada Devi (p. 96), which he had heard from Golap-ma: “When the first photo was taken, Holy Mother’s feet were covered with her cloth. For the second photo, her attendants rearranged her cloth in such a way that her feet would be visible for worship purpose.”
About the third picture of this series, Swami Vidyatmananda (then John Yale) wrote in his book A Yankee and the Swamis (p. 223): “This is a picture of Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother, with the English disciple of Swami Vivekananda, Margaret Noble, known as Sister Nivedita. The original of this photo, whose existence had been previously unsuspected, was discovered in the home of the Earl of Sandwich, who was related by marriage to Tantine [Josephine MacLeod]. I carried it to India [in 1952] with me and gave it to the seniors of the Order, who were astonished and delighted that it should have come to light. A picture taken of Holy Mother on what must have been the same occasion was well known; but that she and this large, energetic Western woman had also posed together was an interesting surprise.”
This makes a perfect picture for a home shrine or altar.
- Choose from 8 x 10 or 5 x 7
Pair with our Sri Ramakrisha or Swami Vivekananda pictures to make the Holy Trio.
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Sri Ramakrishna in all his beautiful glory in this 8 x 10 or 5 x 7 black and white photo. This particular photo comes from a senior monk in the Ramakrishna order who has edited the original version from the 1800s to capture the fine details of Sri Ramakrishna's body and face.
This makes a perfect picture for a home shrine or altar.
- Choose from 8 x 10 or 5 x 7
- Pair with our Sarada Devi or Swami Vivekananda pictures to make the Holy Trio.
This picture was taken in front of the Krishna temple at Dakshineswar in 1884, when Sri Ramakrishna was 48 years old. According to Swami Nirvanananda, “Bavanath Chatterjee, the Master’s devotee from Baranagore, wanted to take a photograph of the Master. One day he requested him very strongly to give his consent, and on the afternoon of the next day brought a photographer along with him from Baranagore. He could not make the Master agree. The Master just went away near the Radhakanta [Krishna] temple.
“In the meantime Narendra arrived on the scene and heard everything; he said, ‘Wait a bit. I shall put everything straight.’ Saying this, he went to the veranda to the west of the Radhakanta temple where Sri Ramakrishna was sitting and started a religious conversation with him. The Master went into samadhi. Swamiji went and called the others and ordered them to get ready quickly to take the picture.
“In the state of samadhi the Master’s body was bent on one side and therefore the cameraman went to make him sit erect by softly adjusting his chin. But as soon as he touched his chin the whole body of the Master came up like a piece of paper – so light it was!
“Swamiji then told him, ‘Oh, what are you doing? Be quick. Get the camera ready.’ The cameraman took the exposure as hurriedly as possible. The Master was completely unaware of this incident.
“After some days when Bavanath brought the printed copy of the photo the Master remarked: ‘This represents a high yogic state. This form will be worshipped in every home as time goes on.’” (“Concerning the Photographs of Sri Ramakrishna” by Swami Vidyatmananda; Vedanta and the West, No. 172).
Swami Vishuddhananda stated that when Sri Ramakrishna saw the photo he went into ecstasy and touched the photo to his head several times, saying: “The photo is nicely taken. This mood is very high – fully merged in Him. Here the Lord is fully depicted in his own nature.”
The following is a quotation from Sri Sarada Devi: The Holy Mother, (p. 416) concerning one of the prints of this photograph:
“Disciple: Mother, that photograph of Sri Ramakrishna which you have with you is a very good one. One feels it when one sees the picture. Well, is that a good likeness of the Master?
“Mother: Yes, that picture is very, very good. It originally belonged to a brahmin cook. Several prints were made of his first photograph. The brahmin took one of them. The picture was at first very dark, just like the image of Kali. Therefore it was given to the Brahmin. When he left Dakshineswar for some place – I do not remember where – he gave it to me. I kept the photograph with the pictures of other gods and goddesses and worshipped it. At one time I lived on the ground floor of the nahabat. One day the Master came there, and at the sight of the picture he said, ‘Hello, what is all this?’ Lakshmi and I had been cooking under the staircase. Then I saw the Master take in his hand the bel leaves and flowers kept there for worship, and offer them to the photograph. This is the same picture. That brahmin never returned, so the picture remained with me.”
This picture which Sri Ramakrishna worshipped is now on the shrine at the Udbodhan Office in Calcutta, where it is worshipped daily. This fact was authenticated by Swami Madhavananda, Swami Vireswarananda, and Swami Nirvanananda. Swami Atmabodhananda, who was the head of Udbodhan for many years until his death in 1959, stated that the Udbodhan print was the same one that Sri Ramakrishna worshipped at the nahabat. (“Concerning the Photographs of Sri Ramakrishna” by Swami Vidyatmananda; Vedanta and the West, No. 172).
In 1982 Swami Chetanananda received a negative from the original picture of Sri Ramakrishna mentioned above. It was made by Braja Kishore Sinha, the Curator of Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta. Swami Chetanananda brought that negative to the United States and gave it to Mr. John Hench, Vice President for Creative Development of Disneyland, who worked on this picture for two years. Mr. Hench carefully removed the scratches, black dots, and other imperfections from this historical, one hundred-year-old photograph without disturbing its originality.
Swami Vivekananda Picture
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Back in stock soon!
Swami Vivekananda's famous meditation pose. 5 x 7 black and white photo. This particular photo comes from a senior monk in the Ramakrishna order who has edited the original version from the 1800s to capture the fine details of Swamiji's body and face.
This makes a perfect picture for a home shrine or altar.
- 5 x 7
Pair with our Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi pictures to make the Holy Trio.
Regular price $4.50 Save $-4.50
Swami Vivekananda's treatise on the yoga of work.
- 131 pages, Indian paperback
This is a book that is about how to work, and not get caught by expectations. We have a right to work, but not to the results of our actions. We have to work as hard as we can, give the work our best quality effort, then step back and let the results take care of themselves. It is all about selfless work. Such is the practice of karma yoga.
This concept is a bit different from what many of us have been taught in the West, but the book offers an interesting approach that can save us from a lot of misery and bring us closer to God. In fact, belief in God is not essential to the practice of this yoga.
We also offer an American paper edition of this book under the name Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. The type of this edition is larger, and the editing is better.
They Lived With God
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By Swami Chetanananda. How did Ramakrishna’s aptitude for inner experience translate into the lives of the ordinary man and women he inspired? The 31+ devotees in They Lived with God had to face addiction, abusive husbands, disobedient children, indifferent or hostile relatives, bereavements, and spiritual doubts and misgivings. Particular attention is paid to the way they faced death. Their failures and triumphs are entertaining, practical examples for anyone seeking to work and live with an awareness of God’s abiding presence. The revised second edition has been enlarged to include three new biographies; Bhavanath Chattopadhyay, Narendra Nath Mitra, and Tejchandra Mitra.
M. (MAHENDRA NATH GUPTA)
Sri Ramakrishna had asked M. to work for the Divine Mother, and he did so for fifty years. Even though his health was delicate, he never gave up working. Swami Nityatmananda wrote of a touching incident in his memoirs: ‘I was responsible for the printing of the Kathamrita [the Bengali Gospel] while it was at the printer’s, but I had many things to do and was unable to finish the proofreading in time. At one o’clock at night I saw a light in M.’s room. I entered and found he was reading the proofs of the Gospel by a kerosene lantern. He was not well at all, and moreover, as he was working at an odd hour, his eyes were watering. I was pained at this. I lovingly chastised him and he replied with affection: “People are finding peace by reading this book, the Master’s immortal message. It is inevitable that the body will meet its end, so it is better that it is used for spreading peace to others. We are in the world and have utterly experienced how much pain is there, yet I have forgotten that pain through The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. I am hurrying so that the book may come out soon.” Indeed, M. died while the last portion of the last volume was at the press. He was born to write and teach The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.’
On June 4, 1932, M. left his body in full consciousness. He breathed his last saying this prayer, ‘Mother–Guru Deva–take me up in thy arms.’ The Mother took her child up in her arms and the curtain fell.
NAG MAHASHAY (DURGA CHARAN NAG)
When a wild lion is encaged, he roars and tries his utmost to break out of the cage. Similarly, Durga Charan was desperately trying to sever the bonds of maya. His heart was crying for freedom. Once he met a holy man who told him, ‘However strong might be your faith, and intense be your love for God, unless you are initiated by a guru and practise sadhana according to his instructions, you cannot have the vision of God.’
The lives of the mystics prove that when intense longing for God dawns in a soul, God responds and makes everything favorable for the devotee. One morning Durga Charan was seated on the bank of the Ganga when his family guru arrived there, unexpectedly, on a boat. When he was asked the reason for his coming to Calcutta, the guru replied, ‘I have come at the special command of the Divine Mother to initiate you.’ However, the initiation only created in him more hunger for God. He was carried away by divine intoxication and often lost outward consciousness. Once, while he was meditating on the bank of the Ganga, the flood tide rose and swept him into the river. It was several moments before full consciousness returned to him and he was able to swim ashore.
See God with Open Eyes: Meditation on Ramakrishna
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See God with Open Eyes is a meditation on Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Chetanananda, a senior monk with the Ramakrishna Order. This book is a must-have for seekers of Truth; devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Sarada Devi; and students of Vedanta and Bhakti traditions alike. Swami Chetanananda breaks down important concepts about Sri Ramakrishna as an avatar and also explains Hindu concepts such as categorizations of the Vedas in an easy-to-understand manner that is so characteristic of his writing. All of his books are highly recommended. We carry his most popular titles in our Inspiring Books collection.
From the publishers: "This title raises several questions: Does God have a form? Can we see God as we see other objects and beings in this world? Can we hear or touch God? Ramakrishna answered these questions with his words and through his life — and many of those answers are collected in this book.
"When God takes a human form, we want to see how that avatar lives, acts, talks, walks, laughs, cries, eats, and sleeps like other human beings. This book depicts how lovers of God can establish and deepen their relationship with Ramakrishna through prayer and meditation, and that strong bond makes them feel safe and secure."
Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play
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This epic biography of Sri Sarada Devi is a must-have for devotees of Sri Ramakrishna and followers of Vedanta, as well as anyone wanting to learn more about exemplary motherhood and selfless service to humankind. Sri Sarada Devi and Her Divine Play is the story of Sarada Devi (1853–1920), the wife of the Indian sage Ramakrishna. The God-man of the nineteenth century, Ramakrishna is known worldwide for demonstrating religious tolerance and respect for all traditions. He was truly a spiritual phenomenon, and his disciple Swami Vivekananda was among the first to bring the wisdom of yoga and Vedanta to the West.
The author, Swami Chetanananda of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, describes how Sarada Devi, known affectionately as “Holy Mother,” carried out her husband’s spiritual ministry for 34 years after his passing. Her life is a glowing example of Vedanta in practice, as exemplified by her final message: “My child, if you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. See your own faults. Learn to make the world your own. No one is a stranger, my child; the whole world is your own.”
Visit our Inspiring Books collection for more works on Vedanta and how to meditate.
Hardback; Includes 876 pages. 125 illustrations.
Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play
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This is the marvelous story of Sri Ramakrishna's life—the intimate details of how he realized God and how he taught his disciples to do the same. It is the authentic, factual, descriptive, interpretive, and comprehensive biography of Ramakrishna, the spiritual phenomenon of our age.
Written by Swami Saradananda and Translated from the Bengali by Swami Chetanananda
This is the marvelous story of Sri Ramakrishna’s life—the intimate details of how he realized God and how he taught his disciples to do the same. It is the authentic, factual, descriptive, interpretive, and comprehensive biography of Ramakrishna, the spiritual phenomenon of our age.
This source biography of Ramakrishna (1836-1886) is based on interviews with those who knew him. It is also an interpreted description of the entire range of Ramakrishna’s spiritual disciplines and experiences, explained as much as possible in terms of reason and common empirical experience, with reference to Hindu scriptures and spiritual traditions, western philosophy, Hindu psychology, and Western religious tradition. The setting is Northeast India from 1775 to 1886.
- for experienced meditators this book offers delightful and profound answers to deeper questions about traveling the spiritual path.
- for scholars this book offers the source biography for Ramakrishna’s life and teachings, as well as an authentic look into India’s spiritual history and its various religious and philosophical traditions.
- for those simply interested in adventure, this book provides absorbing details of the journey through consciousness of one of the greatest spiritual figures of all time.
Ramakrishna and His Disciples
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This biography of Ramakrishna was written for the West by one of England's most talented authors, Christopher Isherwood. This is simply a great introduction to Sri Ramakrishna. Highly recommend to the reader who is curious about lives of Avatars, mysticism, devotion and Vedanta philosophy. Isherwood lived at the Vedanta center in Hollywood for a time with the senior monk there, Swami Prabhavananda and was a very influential writer in Hollywood and all of the US and the West.
The writing is beautiful in itself, but the story of a most unusual man with unheard of spiritual yearning is what this book is really about.
Excerpt: "This is the story of a phenomenon. I will begin by calling him simply that, rather than "holy man,""mystic,"or "saint"; all emotive words with mixed associations which may attract some readers, repel others.
"A phenomenon is always a fact, an object of experience. That is how I shall try to approach Ramakrishna . . . I only ask you to approach Ramakrishna with the same open-minded curiosity you might feel for any highly unusual human being."
- 368 pages, US paperback
Sri Sarada Devi: The Holy Mother
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This is one of the first comprehensive biographies of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi in English. Swami Tapasyananda has incorporated all relevant biographical materials from various literary sources in Bengali, along with first-hand testimonials and information gathered from monks and women disciples of the Holy Mother. He has interpreted the life of the Holy Mother as the expression of the ideal of Divine Motherhood.
- 359 pages, Indian paperback
The original edition of this book, published in 1940, contained a chapter called Conversations which has been deleted from this 6th edition. This has been done because these Conversations , along with many others, have been included in the book The Gospel of the Holy Mother This 6th edition has, however, included an additional forty pages of new material discovered since the book’s original publication.
Swami Tapasyananda was president of Sri Ramakrishna Math from 1971 to 1991. A profound scholar, deep thinker, and prolific writer and translator, he was never happier than when an individual approached him for spiritual clarification.
Sarada Devi for Children
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translated by, Swaraj Mazundar
An illustrated young people's biography of Sri Sarada Devi, The Holy Mother. This is an excellent introduction to Holy Mother for children. It tells of special and interesting incidents in her life that children enjoy listening to.
- 39 pages, Indian paperback
A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna
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This book is a relatively short biography of Sri Ramakrishna, one of Indian's greatest spiritual figures. This is a great introduction to Sri Ramakrishna's life in a short read.
- 128 pages, Indian paperback
"Sri Ramakrishna’s life is a life of spirituality in practice, a sublime sonnet with a singular note of God consciousness, a summary of all that the scriptures of the world have to say, and even much more. To contain such a boundless life and personality within a few pages is certainly as audacious a task as to attempt to contain the ocean in a pot. Yet this book humbly attempts to portray his life and personality in a clear and candid style." Advaita Ashram Publications.
The Story of Vivekananda - for Children
Regular price $6.50 Save $-6.50
Here's a delightful little children's paperback written in simple English with colorful drawings to go with the text. Children can learn the story of Swami Vivekananda including the major events of his life. A nice book to read to children.
Written by Irene Ray and Malika Clare Gupta
An illustrated children's biography of Swami Vivekananda.
- 72 pages, Indian paperback
Vivekananda: East Meets West
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A Pictorial biography of Swami Vivekananda By Swami Chetanananda
Hardback, 11″x9 ½”. Pages 176.
Today, as the global community grows more interconnected, we discuss — even encourage and accept — other cultures, ideas, religions, and ways of life, as we become more aware of our common human bond. This was envisioned over 120 years ago by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), a monk from India.
In 1893 Vivekananda brought the universal message of Vedanta to the West. He wanted to infuse the ancient, spiritual values of Vedanta into the dynamic, creative power of the West. He hoped the West would temper its materialism by learning from India, the home of ancient Vedic culture. In exchange, he wanted the West’s vitality to rub off on India, to help India shake off its lethargy. His life and teachings stand as a meeting point between East and West.
This pictorial biography celebrates Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary and his universal message of Vedanta. He reiterated the great Vedantic truth — “unity in diversity.” People, languages, cultures, customs, and religious beliefs may differ, but “human consciousness, human nature, and the aspiration for freedom are always the same.” Vivekananda called for the acceptance of universal truths common to all humanity; he called for the spiritual awakening of the world. His ability to communicate spiritual ideas in a practical, straightforward way has always appealed to Western minds; his universal message has enriched the spiritual lives of countless Westerners.
Vivekananda: East Meets West is an excellent survey of Vivekananda’s life and teachings and his encounter with many distinguished Western savants; it reveals where the eastern and western cultures and religions can find a common ground to live in harmony and derive benefit from each other; and finally it provides what the West needs badly today — pure spirituality devoid of narrowness and bigotry, commercialism and politics.
Michlet wrote in The Bible of Humanity: “Man must rest, get his breath, refresh himself at the great living wells, which keep the freshness of the eternal.” This book fulfills that purpose.
About the Author
Swami Chetanananda is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, India. Before coming to the United States he worked in the editorial and publication departments of Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati, Himalayas, and also at its Calcutta branch. He served as an assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California from 1971 to 1978 before taking his present position as the minister of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis.
Among his many publications are: A Guide to Spiritual Life; Avadhuta Gita; Meditation and Its Methods; Ramakrishna and His Divine Play; Ramakrishna as We Saw Him; Ramakrishna: A Biography in Pictures; Sarada Devi: A Biography in Pictures; They Lived With God; God Lived with Them; How to Live with God; How a Shepherd Boy Became a Saint; Spiritual Treasures; Vedanta: Voice of Freedom; Girish Chandra Ghosh; and Mahendra Nath Gupta (M.).
Front Cover: A photo illustration using Swami Vivekananda’s portrait from a poster printed by Goes Lithographing Company in 1893. The swami delivered his epoch making speech on the universal message of Hinduism at the Columbian Exposition’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago on 11 September 1893.