To reminisce is to simply recall. But when one reminisces about a holy person, about a spiritual giant of Swami Brahmananda’s stature, it
becomes an act of meditation. It, then, is a part of one’s sadhana. The Hindu scriptures term it as leela chintana or contemplation on the Divine
Play of a holy personality. Swami Brahmananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the first President of the Ramakrishna Order, has left
behind a rich legacy of how to live a spiritually vibrant life. His lofty state of mid, practical wisdom and a deep love and sympathy for all those
who came in touch with him, is a legend in the Ramakrishna tradition.
This book is a translation from Bengali. Brahmananda Leelakatha, as the original book is titled, was written by Brahmachari
Akshaya-chaitanya, a disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi.
Swami Bhaskarananda, the translator of the present volume, has taken great pains to provide a faithful and clear translation, with
copious explanatory notes and a glossary. He has also added a short biographical sketch of Swami Brahmananda which has enhanced its value. The
translator is the Minister-in-charge of Vedanta Society of Western Washington, Seattle, USA.
This book fulfills a long-felt need and we hope, it will serve as a manual of practical spirituality. Nothing could be of greater help in
the contemporary world where the need for such books is keenly felt but is rarely met.
The year 1963 was a very important year for the Rama-krishna Order. During that year the birth-centenaries of both Swami Vivekananda and
Swami Brahmananda were celebrated in the branches of the Order, as well in as many other places all over the world. I was then a trainee
(brahmachari) at the Probationers’ Training Centre at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order in Belur Math. Many books and articles on the
lives of these two great swamis were written and published that year. One of them was the book Brahmananda Leelakatha written in Bengali on
the extraordinary, saintly life of Swami Brahmananda by Brahmachari Akshayachaitanya, a disciple of the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. Every
trainee at the Propbationers’ Training Centre was given a copy of that book by Swami Nirvanananda, who later became the Vice-President of the
Thus I got a copy of the book and was charmed and inspired by reading it. Nearly twelve years later, in 1974, I was sent to the Vedanta
Centre in Seattle, USA, as an assistant to Swami Vividishananda. When I came to Seattle I brought the book along with me. Whenever I read it, I
felt that it would be wonderful if I could translate this inspiring book into English for the benefit of those who did not know Bengali. But I could
not do it without written permission from its publisher. I mentioned this to Swami Swahananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Southern
California in Hollywood. During a visit to India nearly a year ago, Swami Swahananda very kindly obtained that permission from the
At first I thought of publishing the book in the United States. Accordingly I used the language and spelling suitable for American
readers. But Swami Chetanananda, head of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, suggested that the book should be published in India, because there
would be a much larger number of readers there. That’s why I rewrote the book to suit the Indian readership,. The rewritten version of the book
follows the British way of spelling. At the same time, I provided copious explanatory notes and a glossary for easy understanding by both Indian
and Western readers.
In the publication of this book the following persons have helped immensely and I acknowledge their loving assistance with deep
The Secretary, Sarada Mandir, Khardah, for permission to translate the book Brahmananda Leelakatha written in Bengali by the late
Swami Gautamananda, President, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai, India, for offering to publish the book through their
Devra A. Freedman for her help in proofreading and editing.
Mrs. Mira Guerquin for painting the beautiful illustration of Swami Brahmananda for the front cover.
Charles Mathias for creating a line drawing of Swami Brahmananda.
Charles S. Wirth and Allen R. Freedman for providing assistance with the typesetting and printing of the manuscript.
I shall consider my labour well rewarded if the book proves to be helpful to the readers.
Back of the Book
Swami Vivekananda once referred to Swami Brahmananda as a spiritual dynamo. These reminiscences related by Brahmachari Akshayachaitanya
and translated by Swami Bhaskarananda clearly reveal the innumerable ways in which he radiated that spiritual power. His calm majestic
personality is sweet, soothing, inspiring and enlightening. Though often lost in profound mystical moods, this man of God could be down to-earth
as well, dealing with day-to-day details of many of the centers of the Ramakrishna Order, expressing his sympathetic concern for devotees and,
most importantly, showering his divine love on all. His deep insights into life and human nature touched the hearts of those who were fortunate
enough to come into contact with him. It is said God has the nature of a child. Childlike himself, Swami Brahmananda was witty with an
irrepressible sense of humor who delighted in playing practical jokes on many unsuspecting monks and devotees. These reminiscences are
indeed a veritable spiritual feast for sincere seekers of God.
-Swami Prabuddhananda, head of the Vedanta Society of Northern California and a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order.
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