From the Jacket
Mystic, Prophet, Monk, Guru, Evangelist, Paramahamsa, Disciple, Master, Lover of humanity, Patriot, child, brother, friend…innumerable facets of the great personality that is Swami Vivekananda stand here revealed through his own words. From his boyhood and discipleship under Sri Ramakrishna, to his founding of the Ramakrishna Mission; from his wandering throughout India as an unknown Sannyasin, to his world-shaking triumph at the Chicago Parliament of Religions; from his struggles to lift the suffering masses of India, to his soaring flights in the Spirit; and to his final release from the body through Yoga: we follow here the Swami’s life and experiences as he himself revealed them through his conversations, discourse, writings, and letters. Who was swami Vivekananda? Here a thousand word-pictures, carefully gathered together by his students, give the answer.
Swami Vivekananda was, at many times, a man of inconceivable attitude of thought, and often to all appearances a living paradox; but beneath the surface of appearance he was clearly the living explanation of the spiritual life. And the understanding of the man, seemingly almost impossible, becomes almost simple when one remembers that he was a man of manifold realisation. Thus all the apparent paradoxes of his thought were reconciled by the greatness of his heart and by the consistencies of his emotional consciousness. He was intellectually like a great hammer mercilessly beating down the structures of complacent belief. Even with regard to his own mind he was an eternal iconoclast, always searching for and demanding a sounder, saner and a more comprehensive bases. He never allowed himself any intellectual each. He peremptorily refused to be satisfied with a finality in thought and ideas which by their very nature connote limitation and imperfection. Therefore he was always on the watch-tower of thought, straining his personal vision to discern the contents of an ever widening horizon….If he dreaded anything more than bondage, it was the idea of putting a limit to the infinite conceptions of God and the endless ways of realizing Him.
Preface to the Second Edition
More than forty Years have passed since the first edition of Swami Vivekananda on Himself was published in 1963. The original publisher, Swami Sambuddhananda, was general secretary of the Swami Vivekananda Centenary committee, which was dissolved after its work was completed.
Since that time, much new material about Swami Vivekananda has appeared in print. Revised editions of the two volumes of the Life of Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and Western Disciples were released in 1979 and 1981. Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries in 6 volumes, by Marie Louise Burke, was completed in 1987. The ninth volume of the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda was published in 1997. In this second edition much new material has been incorporated from these sources, and every entry has been carefully referenced and revised where necessary, by Brahmachari Nirmala Chaitanya.
We are sure that students and devotees of Swami Vivekananda, through these pages, will gain new inspiration from and fresh insight into the personality that is Swami Vivekananda.
My heart leaps with joy-and it is a wonder that I do not go mad when I find anybody thoroughly launched into the midst of the doctrine which is to shower peace on earth hereafter.
I go forth, to preach a religion of which Buddhism is nothing but a rebel child, and Christianity, with all her pretensions, only a distant echo.
We shall crush the stars to atoms, and unhinge the universe. Don’t you know who we are? We are the servants of Sri Ramakrishna.
You have heard that Christ said, “My words are spirit and they are life.” So are my words spirit and life; they will burn their way into your brain and you will never get away from them!
Black and thick are the folds of sinister fate. But I am the master. I raise my hand, and lo, they vanish! All this is nonsense. And fear? I am the Fear of fear, the Terror of terror, I am the fearless secondless One, I am the Ruler of destiny, the Wiper-out of fact. Sri wah Guru!
Yes! The older I grow, the more everything seems to me to lie in manliness. This is my new gospel.
The Mother is our guide and whatever happens or will happen is under Her ordination.
My ideal indeed can be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.
Know for certain that the work done by me is not the work of Vivekananda, it is His work-the Lord’s own work!
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA WAS born in Calcutta on the 12th of
January, 1863, and peacefully passed away on July 4, 1902-,
in the monastery at Belur Math near Calcutta. After remain-
ing an unknown figure for nearly thirty years of his life he
emerged as a World Teacher in the true sense of the term and
blessed innumerable souls all over the globe.
It was on January 27, 1900 during his second visit to
America that Swami Vivekananda delivered to the Shake-
speare Club of Pasadena, California, somewhat reluctantly, a
touching account of "My Life and Mission." In it the Swami
naturally gave out very little of his great and eventful life.
Fortunately for us, however, we are able to gather a fund of
information about his life and work in the East and the West
from the large number of his letters to his disciples, friends,
and admirers in both the Hemispheres, as also from a few
other very reliable sources.
In fact the present book is a documentation of selected
notes and utterances of Swamiji about himself and his work
collected from the books mentioned below. These are ar-
ranged chronologically so as to form what may be called a near
autobiography of the great saint. And for this very important
work we are much indebted to a swami of the Ramakrishna
Order, who prefers to remain anonymous. The original man-
uscript prepared by him was the product of patient labour
for a long period, and it was passed on to a senior swami of
the Bombay Ashrama, who jointly with Prof. Charu Chan-
dra Chatterjee went through the manuscript, weighing and
judging the passages, collating and comparing them with the
sourcebooks, removing a passage here, or replacing a pas-
sage there. As a result of these changes, the book seemed to
take a definite shape, and Prof. Chatterjee was then asked to
prepare a press copy exercising all editorial power so that it
might become a good readable and presentable volume when
it came out of the press.
Prof. Chatterjee was very ably assisted by Smt. S. Bhargava
M. A., who was entrusted with the heavy and responsible
work of maintaining proper reference of the books and pas-
sages from which the materials of the manuscript were culled,
as also noting the dates of Swamiji's letters included in the
manuscript. It is thus intended to be an authentic record for
We are indebted to these Swamis and friends for the com-
mendable work they did with devotion and care and also to
the proprietor of the Saxon Press without whose active coop-
eration it would have been very difficult for us to bring out
the present volume .
The excerpts are from the following:
1. The Complete Works if Swami Vivekananda, in 8
The Gospel if Sri Ramakrishna.
3. Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master.
4. The Master as I Saw Him.
5. The Life if Swami Vivekananda by His Eastern and
6. New Discoveries: Swami Vivekananda in America.
This selected compilation, which includes Swamiji's own
words about his beloved Guru Sri Ramakrishna, we believe,
will be a highly valuable and handy document and will remain
a source of inspiration to the coming generation.
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