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Swami Abhedananda

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Swami Abhedananda (2 October 1866 – 8 September 1939), born Kaliprasad Chandra was a direct disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. Swami Vivekananda sent him to the West to head the Vedanta Society of New York in 1897, and spread the message of Vedanta, a theme on which he authored several books through his life, and subsequently founded the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Darjeeling.

In 1896 Swami Vivekananda brought him to London for Vedanta work there. The next year he crossed over to USA and was given charge of the newly founded New York Vedanta centre. His profundity of scholarship, incisive intellect and oratorical power elicited widespread admiration, and people thronged to listen to him. He was also a prolific writer and his books on life after death, etc are famous.
After his long and successful work in America Swami Abhedananda returned to India in 1923. Soon he established a separate organization named Ramakrishna Vedanta Math and started living at the new centre. However, he maintained cordial relationship with his brother monks at Belur Math which he visited occasionally. He presided over the Parliament of Religions at the Town Hal, Kolkata, as a part of the celebration of the Birth Centenary of Sri Ramakrishna.

He left the mortal frame on 8 September 1939.
Of all the contributions that Swami Abhedananda made to Ramakrishna Movement, the most widely appreciated and enduring one is his composition of sublime and beautiful hymns (in Sanskrit) on Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi. His hymn to Holy Mother beginning with Prakritim paramam abhayam varadam, which is sung in many ashramas and homes, is unrivalled in the depth of conception and felicity of expression.

Early life and education

He was born in north Calcutta on 2 October 1866 and was named Kaliprasad Chandra. His father was Rasiklal Chandra and his mother was Nayantara Devi. In 1884, at the age of 18, while studying for the school final examination under the University of Calcutta, he went to Dakshineswar and met Sri Ramakrishna. Thereafter in April 1885, he left home to be with him, during his final illness, first at Shyampukur and then at Cossipur Garden-house near Calcutta.The writings and speeches of Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna, were spread over a long period of spiritual ministration both in America and in India.

Monastic life

After his Master’s death in 1886, he plunged into intense sadhana (meditations), by shutting himself up in a room at the Baranagarmatha, this gave his the name “Kali Tapaswi” amongst his fellow disciples. After the death of Ramakrishna, he formally became a Sanyasi along with Vivekananda and others, and came to be known as “Swami Abhedananda”.

or the next ten years, of his life as a monk he travelled extensively throughout India, depending entirely on alms. During this time he met several famous sages like Pavhari Baba, Trailanga Swami and Swami Bhaskaranand. He went to the sources of the Ganges and the Yamuna, and meditated in the Himalayas. He was a forceful orator, prolific writer, yogi and intellectual with devotional fervour.

In 1922, he crossed the Himalayas on foot and reached Tibet, where he studied Buddhistic philosophy and Lamaism. In Hemis Monastery, he discovered a manuscript on the lost years of Jesus, which has been incorporated in the book Swami Abhedananda’s Journey into Kashmir & Tibet published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.

He formed the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Kolkata in 1923, which is now known as Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. In 1924, he established Ramakrishna Vedanta Math in Darjeeling in Bengal Presidency (now West Bengal). In 1927, he started publishing Visvavani, the monthly magazine of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, which he edited from 1927 to 1938, and which is still published today. In 1936, he presided over the Parliament of Religions at the Town Hall, Calcutta, as a part the birth centenary celebrations of Ramakrishna.

He died on 8 September 1939 at Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. At the time of his death he was the last surviving direct disciple of Ramakrishna.

Further reading

  • An Apostle of Monism: An Authentic Account of the Activities of Swami Abhedananda in America, by Mary Le Page. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1947.
  • Swami Abhedananda, the Patriot-saint, by Ashutosh Ghosh. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1967.
  • Swami Abhedananda centenary celebration, 1966–67: souvenir, containing the most valuable and authentic records of the glorious life of Swami Abhedananda, by Swami Abhedānanda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1966.
  • Swami Abhedananda: A Spiritual Biography, by Moni Bagchee. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1968.
  • The Bases of Indian Culture: Commemoration Volume of Swami Abhedananda, by Amiya Kumer Mazumder, Prajnanananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1971.
  • The Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda: A Critical Study; a Guide to the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda, by Prajnanananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1971.

Credit – wikipedia

Credit – belurmath

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