RAMAKRISHNA MATH AND MISSION
RAMAKRISHNA MATH AND MISSION TIMELINE
c1836: Birth of Ramakrishna, known in boyhood as Gadadhar.
1842/1843: First reported trance of the young Ramakrishna.
1852: Ramakrishna moved to Calcutta.
1853: Birth of Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya, the Holy Mother Sarada Devi
1855: Ramkumar and Ramakrishna became priests at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.
1859: Ramakrishna married Sarada Devi.
1860-1867: On his return to Calcutta after his marriage, Ramakrishna embarked on a period of intense practice of different sadhanas (spiritual disciplines) under different teachers when he is said to have received the name Ramakrishna from one of these gurus.
1863: Narendranath Datta, who later became Swami Vivekananda, was born.
1868 and 1870: Ramakrishna undertook pilgrimages with other devotees when he encountered famine-stricken areas.
1872: Sarada Devi joined Ramakrishna at Dakshineshwar.
1875: Ramakrishna made his first visit to Keshab Chandra Sen, the Brahmo leader.
1877-1879: Vivekananda's education was disrupted when his family temporarily relocated to Raipur.
1878: Closer contact with Keshab and the Brahmos led to the wider reporting of Ramakrishna's teaching, which encouraged new followers.
1880-1881: Vivekananda enrolled as student at the Presidency College and then the General Assembly's Institution (a Christian college) in Calcutta.
1881-1884: Several prominent disciples joined Ramakrishna's circle, including the future Swamis Brahmananda, Vivekananda, and Saradananda, and “M” (Mahendranath Gupta) who subsequently recorded what he heard of Ramakrishna's teaching.
1884: Vivekananda graduated; his father died.
1885: Ramakrishna developed cancer of the throat and was moved from Dakshineshwar to Kashipur.
1886: Ramakrishna died and Vivekananda emerged as the leader of the core of Ramakrishna's young disciples, having abandoned his plan to continue his studies by taking a law degree. The “proto-Math” moved to Baranagar. Vivekananda led his brother-disciples as they took a vow of renunciation.
1888: Vivekananda began a series of short pilgrimages.
1889–1893: Vivekananda embarked on a lengthy pilgrimage through India.
1892: In Kolkata, the Math moved to Alambazar. At the end of that year while at Kanniyakumari, as he later reported, Vivekananda experienced a vision of activist sannayasin s.
1893: Vivekananda left India, travelling via China and Japan, to attend the World's Parliament of Religions at Chicago.
1894-1895: Vivekananda gave public lectures and began to attract followers in the United States to whom he increasingly devoted his attention and teaching.
1895: Vivekananda visited England and gathered new disciples including Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita).
1896: Vivekananda returned to England and travelled in Western Europe.
1897: Vivekananda returned to India where he was widely greeted as a hero and established the Ramakrishna Mission Association. The new movement became involved in organised seva (service) activity.
1898: Belur Math was consecrated.
1898: As his health deteriorated, Vivekananda devoted time to teaching and travelling in northern India with followers he had attracted while in the United States and London.
1899-1900: Vivekananda returned to the United States and London.
1901: Vivekananda signed a Deed of Trust governing the Math centers, and handed over the leadership of the Ramakrishna movement to Swami Brahmananda.
1902: Vivekananda died at Belur Math.
1909: The Ramakrishna Mission was given legal status as a separate organisation under the authority of the President of the Ramakrishna Math.
1926: The 1926 Convention of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission was held.
1947: Indian Independence increased the demands on the Ramakrishna Math and Vivekananda), which linked independent organizations loosely to the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.
1980-1995: The “Ramakrishnaite” court case took place.
1995: Jeffrey Kripal's study of Ramakrishna ( Kali's Child ) provoked heate debate in India.
1998: The Indian Government awarded the Gandhi Peace Prize to the Ramakrishna Mission.
The Ramakrishna Math and Mission, or the Ramakrishna movement, takes its name from Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (c.1836-1886 CE) whom the movement recognizes as the source of its inspiration. The honorifics Shri (revered) and Paramahamsa (literally "the great goose," a bird whose migration came to symbolize the transmigrating soul) reflect the status accorded to him by devotees. Ramakrishna itself is a religious name said to have been given to Ramakrishna on initiation by one of his gurus.
Ramakrishna was born into a rural Brahmin family in the village of Kamarpukur, approximately sixty miles north-west of the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the region of Bengal, and on birth was given the name Gadadhar (this entry will simply refer to Ramakrishna throughout). Accounts of Ramakrishna's birth and early life are marked by supernatural features found in Hindu hagiographies, including visions granted to his parents who are portrayed as very pious. Recovering historical details concerning his early life, therefore, is far from easy, and even the precise year of his birth is not certain. Although born into a Brahmin family, the ritually most pure class in Hindu society, Ramakrishna's family was far from affluent. Ramakrishna's father died in 1843, and much of the responsibility for the family then fell to Ramakrishna's eldest brother, Ramkumar. Within a few years, Ramkumar moved to Calcutta to take up the life of a ritual specialist and Sanskrit teacher, the traditional vocation of the Brahmin male. Ramakrishna followed his brother to Calcutta but by then had already developed a reputation of being prone to experiencing altered states of consciousness and to seeking out the company of itinerant religious teachers and ascetics. A popular story, often shown pictorially, tells of the young Ramakrishna, said to be seven years of age, transfixed by the flight of white egrets across a dark sky, which triggered a heightened, transformative state of spiritual consciousness.
Some in Calcutta became convinced that Ramakrishna's constant quest for direct experience of the divine, his ‘God-intoxication', was a sign of madness. Ramkumar had gained a post at a newly opened temple dedicated to the goddess Kali on the banks of the Hugli (a distributary of the Ganges or Ganga) at Dakshineshwar, an outlying region of Calcutta, and was able to find a place for Ramakrishna as an assistant pujari (temple attendant). Ramakrishna remained at this temple from 1855 until shortly before his death but proved incapable of fulfilling his routine responsibilities as a pujari because of his overwhelming desire to attain direct experience of Kali. The anguished intensity of his spiritual quest, however, gradually led some observers to revise their initial opinion of him, and Ramakrishna began to attract a circle of devotees largely made up of family members and friends and others who had witnessed his behaviour at Dakshineshwar. In 1859, Ramakrishna's family arranged his marriage to Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya, a young girl from a village close to Kamarpukur, clearly in the hope of encouraging Ramakrishna to adopt a more conventional lifestyle as a married man and to attend to his responsibilities at the temple. His wife did not join him until 1872, by which time Ramakrishna's reputation as a spiritual adept and spontaneous teacher had grown considerably. In time Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya would be known as Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother of the Ramakrishna movement.
In approximately the decade after his formal marriage, Ramakrishna sought and received teaching from gurus steeped in various Hindu disciplines and schools of thought, including tantra, shaktism, and advaita vedanta. It is believed that it was one of these gurus, the advaitin Tota Puri, who initiated Ramakrishna in c1865, giving him the name Ramakrishna. [Image at right] As Tota Puri had been initiated into the monastic tradition established by the influential eighth-century CE Hindu thinker, Shankara, Ramakrishna's devotees would later claim that their master's initiation affiliated them to this same long-established Hindu monastic tradition. Ramakrishna's practice of the different disciplines (sadhanas) taught by these teachers has formed the basis of his devotees' conviction that, through his direct, personal experience, Ramakrishna tested these different sadhanas. They believed, moreover, that he found all these led to the same truth, although represented in different ways, whether in a personal form of the divine, such as the female Kali or the male Krishna or Shiva, or the Hindu conception of the non-personal reality, Brahman. It is also reported that Ramakrishna adopted for short spells aspects of Christian and Muslim practice, which has led to claims that Ramakrishna tested and validated not just Hindu disciplines but those of other religions. This insight has been encapsulated in the Bengali phrase now popularly associated with Ramakrishna jato mat tato path (as many faiths so many paths). In the later Ramakrishna movement, it has been maintained that the universalism of Ramakrishna's position was grounded in the non-dualist philosophy of advaita vedanta. This in turn permitted a hierarchical arrangement of the levels of truth perceived by the different “ways,” culminating in a non-personal understanding of reality.
Ramakrishna's health suffered as a result of the intensity and single-mindedness of his spiritual experiments, and the latter years of the 1860s saw him travelling on local pilgrimages with devotees and patrons in 1868 and 1870. When confronted with the impact of widespread famine, he is said to have urged his followers to alleviate the suffering before their eyes. This has been taken by devotees as sanctioning the practice of offering seva, service, to suffering humanity. His wife, Sarada Devi, [Image at right] joined him at Dakshineshwar in 1872, and from the end of that decade he gathered a new body of followers and admirers following reports of his teaching by the prominent Brahmo leader, Keshab Chandra Sen. These included members of the Brahmo Samaj, several prominent Bengali personalities, and a number of young male students.
The pithy and earthy wisdom of Ramakrishna's discourses, largely triggered by his audiences' questions or conversations, were captured from 1882, but only in part, in a diary-like form by a lay-devotee and local teacher, Mahendranath Gupta, in his Sri Sri Ramakrisna Kathamrita, later known in English as The Gospel of Ramakrishna. They are also reflected in the Sri Sri Ramakrisna Lilaprasanga, later known in English as Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master, an extensive but incomplete hagiography by Swami Saradananda, a close disciple of Ramakrishna. Both these sources were first published in Bengali in serial form in the movement's journals. Other records of Ramakrishna's teaching were produced by devotees, but it is these two sources that underpin the interpretation of Ramakrishna's life and teaching that has been disseminated by his devotees and has largely shaped the popular understanding of Ramakrishna's life and teaching.
The recurrent emphasis in Ramakrishna's teaching was that God-realization should be put before all else, including charitable giving. He stressed to his male followers the dangers of attachment to “women and gold,” and the dangers of self-deception when a desire for self-aggrandizement lay behind charitable action or a sense of self-satisfaction flowed from such action. But, it was Ramakrishna's reliance on personal experience and rejection of book-based learning that arguably appealed so strongly to members of the class of educated Bengalis who were caught up in the dilemmas of living in colonial India, particularly in that part of India most exposed to the presence of the British and English-language education and thus frequently to dismissive critiques of Hindu practice and belief. To many, Ramakrishna represented continuity with continuing, authentic Hindu traditions. He was, within the setting of Bengal, very much a recognizable holy man.
When Ramakrishna fell terminally ill, his younger male devotees took on much of the routine responsibility of caring for him at a garden house in the Kashipur district of Calcutta, establishing the “proto-Math,” the antecedent of the Ramakrishna Math (or monastery). One of these, Narendranath Datta, emerged as their leader. In the years immediately after Ramakrishna's death, it was Narendranath Datta, later more widely known as Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), who instituted and organized what would become the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Thus, in a strict sense, Vivekananda could be more accurately described as the “founder” of the Ramakrishna movement than Ramakrishna, although the latter undoubtedly inspired those associated with the movement's formation and continues to attract its latter-day members and supporters.
Born into circumstances very different from those of Ramakrishna, accounts of Vivekananda's (then Narendranath Datta) birth and early life in Calcutta are also characterized by the presence of motifs commonly found in Hindu hagiographic writing. The piety of his mother is complemented by the cosmopolitanism and energy of his father who practised as a lawyer, and Vivekananda (this entry will simply refer to Vivekananda throughout) is said from his early youth to have shown strong leanings towards renouncing the world. As with Ramakrishna, the most extensive sources of information about Vivekananda's life and teaching are those produced by devotees. These include His Eastern and Western Disciples (1989) The Life of Swami Vivekananda and The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ( (Vivekananda 1989, 1997). Both these multi-volume works were compiled and began to be published in the decade following Vivekananda's death and have been subject to later revision and expansion.
Vivekananda's biographers within the Ramakrishna movement provide many examples of his leadership, physical prowess, and moral courage when still young. Once famous, Swami Vivekananda acquired the epithet of the “athlete monk” because of his physical presence. Yet, in reality, Vivekananda's health was poor and his education was disrupted by both a move away from Calcutta, caused by his father's work, and periods of ill-health. It is now thought that Vivekananda's later poor health can be traced back to his childhood. Like Ramakrishna, Vivekananda lost his father while relatively young and he consequently had to take on responsibility for his family while still a student. A family dispute over property intensified the pressure on Vivekananda. Hagiographic accounts of Vivekananda depict him as an able student with a grasp of many areas of knowledge, both European and Indian. The formal record of his higher education, first at the Presidency College and then at the General Assembly's Institution (later known as the Scottish Church College), does not reflect exceptional talents, but then his education had been significantly disrupted. Drawn into Ramakrishna's ambit in 1881 like many students of his generation because of reports he had heard, Vivekananda was then confronting considerable uncertainties relating to the material well-being of his family, his own future, and his own beliefs. It is reported that he pressed Ramakrishna to say whether he had seen God to which Ramakrishna unequivocally replied that he had. In the initial stages of their relationship, although clearly fascinated by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda made only sporadic visits to Ramakrishna. Vivekananda was sceptical about both Ramakrishna's understanding of reality as being personal in nature and, at this point in his life, about the claims of religion more generally.
In the aftermath of Ramakrishna's death, it is evident that there was friction between some of Ramakrishna's older lay-devotees and the band of younger devotees who already seemed set on adopting a life of renunciation in the name of their master and who were aided materially by other lay devotees. There was a dispute in particular over where Ramakrishna's ashes and few possessions should be preserved. It is during this period that Vivekananda emerged as the leader of the latter group. It was he who on Christmas Eve 1886 led the young male devotees through a form of initiation ceremony into a life of sannyasa, renunciation. Although there is a hint of some kind of ceremony having taken place while Ramakrishna was alive and of his having given some kind of charge to Vivekananda (His Eastern and Western Disciples 1989 I:177,182), this does not constitute evidence that Ramakrishna formally initiated his disciples. In fact, as neither of the extensive accounts provided by Mahendranath Gupta and Swami Saradanada cover the final days of Ramakrishna's life, there is indirect evidence at best concerning Ramakrishna's intentions, if any, for his followers after his death. Under Vivekananda's leadership, Ramakrishna's younger disciples, many of whom by then had abandoned their education and marriage and career ambitions, continued their monastic existence in the Baranagar and then Alambazar districts of Calcutta. But over the next five years, members of this group adopted different priorities. Some instituted a devotional cult centered on Ramakrishna and gave themselves to caring for his widow Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother. Their lives were centered on the monastery. Others, including Vivekananda, began to embark on pilgrimages, returning to the monastery periodically.
From 1889, Vivekananda devoted more time to increasingly extended and solitary pilgrimage [Image at right] and to his own spiritual development, the traditional preoccupation of the sannyasin. It was at the end of 1892 at Kanniyakumari (the southernmost tip of India), as he recalled in a letter of 1894, that he experienced a vision of sannyasin s undertaking the education and material uplift of India's poor and oppressed. During his lengthy pilgrimage around India, Vivekananda had gathered concentrations of admirers and supporters in the region around Madras (now Chennai) and in the princely state of Khetri where its ruler, Ajit Singh, became one of Vivekananda's closest supporters. It was through this network that Vivekananda learnt of the forthcoming World's Parliament of Religions at Chicago and after some misgivings accepted the support necessary to enable him to make the journey to Chicago. It is likely that he also adopted the religious name Vivekananda during this period, possibly given to him by Ajit Singh. This change of name and his long absence without contact with his brother-disciples explains why, when reports began to reach Calcutta of the impact of a monk called Vivekananda at Chicago, his brother-disciples did not recognise his identity. Vivekananda's aim in making the journey to the United States was to attempt to find sufficient funding to realise his vision of transforming India through a new style of mission conducted by sannyasins, having despaired of finding the necessary support in India.
From 1893, when Vivekananda travelled to Chicago, his mission took on a new shape. His message to the Parliament blended an assertive defence of Hinduism in the face of criticism by, among others, Christian missionaries and an indictment of the indifference of India's rulers in the face of widespread famine in India, with a vision of evolving universalism and tolerance, which Vivekananda argued was most developed in the Hindu tradition of advaita vedanta. [Image at right] Vivekananda found on arrival at the Parliament that he was but one of many who had come to Chicago with fund-raising ambitions. Thus, although proving to be one of the Parliament's most popular speakers, he had to find a different way to raise the funds he sought. Building on the contacts he had made at the Parliament, Vivekananda embarked on a short-lived career as a public lecturer but then devoted himself increasingly to teaching his growing number of devotees. In 1894, he founded the Vedanta Society of New York. (This is the name that came to be adopted by many branches of the Ramakrishna movement beyond India, including those in the United States and Europe, rather than being identified explicitly as branches of the Math or Mission.) It was during this time of intense interaction with audiences in the United States and London that Vivekananda produced some of his most influential lectures, including Raja Yoga and Practical Vedanta. It was these sympathisers who enabled Vivekananda to travel to London, where he gathered more admirers and the funding that would enable him to establish a new movement.
On his return to Calcutta in 1897, followed by a small number of British and American devotees, Vivekananda created the Ramakrishna Mission Association (Sangha) in the name of his master. Belur Math (or ‘monastery') was consecrated in 1898 on a plot of land bought with funding provided by one of Vivekananda's British supporters. In 1897, the same year as the Ramakrishna Mission Association was created, the newly formed movement also became involved in its first performance of seva, service. Swami Akhandananda, who was Vivekananda's closest monastic ally in the promotion of the performance of seva, instigated famine-relief in the Murshidabad district of Bengal, and other acts of seva soon followed to alleviate the effects of famine and plague. Just as the initial move to create a monastically-inclined organisation had divided Ramakrishna's devotees immediately after his death, the standard history of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission (Gambhirananda 1983:98) makes plain that Vivekananda's plans for the organization of Ramakrishna's followers, including the conduct of the Math and the emphasis upon seva, further divided even members of the Math.
By the time of his return to India in 1897, Vivekananda's health had been undermined by constant travel. His remaining time in India was characterized by periods of enforced rest and recuperation after any period of sustained exertion. He spent lengthy periods of time in his final years teaching and travelling in northern India with devotees from the United States and Britain. He made a final visit to Britain and the United States in 1899-1900. This visit was a far less happy one for Vivekananda, now in declining health, as he had to face the defections, bitterness, and recriminations that had accompanied the break-up of his circle of followers in London. He shortened his stay in London and moved on to the United States [Image at right] where in 1900 he founded the Vedanta Society of Northern California in San Francisco. Yet, it is important to note that, although the London circle had proved to be short-lived, several of its members, including Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita) became some of Vivekananda's closest disciples and spent the remainder of their lives in India.
Those close to Vivekananda discerned a change in him in 1898 when he spoke of a “strange detachment” and “planlessness.” Although he continued to travel in India, an overwhelming experience at the temple of Shiva at Amarnath, which Vivekananda visited with other devotees in 1898, appears to have weakened his health further. This also appears to have intensified Vivekananda's devotion to Kali in his final years, although Vivekananda had struggled with Ramakrishna's fervent devotion to Kali when they first met. Vivekananda signed a Deed of Trust governing the Math centers in 1901. He died in his fortieth year at Belur Math in 1902, having passed the leadership of the nascent movement to his brother-disciple Swami Brahmananda, its first President, and the Board of Trustees.
After the death of Vivekananda, the Ramakrishna movement underwent a period of consolidation under the leadership of Swami Brahmananda, when the whole movement was placed under the direction of the Math. The following decade saw the establishment of several of the movement's major centers, and by 1912 the movement's seva activities were starting to be reported in Indian newspapers. The 1926 Convention of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission was called to review the movement's progress and chart its future at a time when its leadership was passing away from Ramakrishna's direct disciples to a younger generation.
Indian Independence in 1947 led to increasing demands being placed upon the movement by the newly-created Indian government because the Ramakrishna Math and Mission had established itself over approximately the last half-century as a trusted provider of service in so many sectors, particularly in education, healthcare, and rural development. Although it continued to offer disaster-relief, by this time the movement's seva activities were typically long-term undertakings sustained by permanent centers such as the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama at Narendrapur, West Bengal, which has specialised in rural development and supporting the visually impaired. In 1998, the Ramakrishna Mission was the first institution, as distinct from an individual, to receive the Gandhi Peace Prize from the Indian government, which cited the movement's focus on action and service.
When the Ramakrishna Mission Association (Sangha) was created in 1897, it adopted, under Vivekananda's influence, the aim of establishing '...fellowship among the followers of different religions, knowing them all to be so many forms of one undying Eternal Religion'. Its stated methods included training “...men so as to make them competent to teach such knowledge or sciences as are conducive to the material and spiritual welfare of the masses,” and spreading “...among the people in general Vedantic and other religious ideas in the way in which they were elucidated in the life of Shri Ramakrishna” (Gambhirananda 1983:95f.). Over a century later, the movement's stated principles remain substantially unchanged, although Belur Math's summary of the movement's ideology today declares more explicitly that Ramakrishna is the ‘ Avatar of the Modern Age' (Ramakrishna Math and Mission website 2013). His avatarhood uniquely embodies “ the spiritual consciousness of earlier Avatars and prophets, including those who are outside the Hindu fold, and is in harmony with all religious traditions.” This same summary of the movement's ideology refers to promoting harmony between religions as forms of one eternal religion, spreading the idea of the potential divinity of every being, treating all work as worship and service to humanity as service to God, working for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden to alleviate human suffering, and developing harmonious personalities by the combined practice of Jnana, Bhakti, and Karma Yoga (Ramakrishna Math and Mission website 2013). These four yogas are represented in the emblem of the Ramakrishna movement. [Image at right]
The Ramakrishna movement characterises its ideology as modern (in the sense that the ancient principles of Vedanta have been expressed in the modern idiom), universal (in the sense that it is meant for the whole humanity), and practical (in the sense that its principles can be applied to solve the problems of everyday life) (Ramakrisha Math and Mission website 2013). The belief that both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda brought a message right for the modern world is linked to the emphasis placed on Vivekananda striving to develop a religious philosophy that would be in tune with science. This connects to the claim of being universal and to penetrating to the one truth that lies behind the different forms of different religions, which is equally accessible to Hindus and those of other traditions. Thus, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda are held to be modernisers and unifiers of the Hindu tradition in their different ways: the former by accepting as valid all its forms, a synthetic catholicity embracing both personal and non-personal understandings of ultimate reality, and the latter by strengthening Indian and Hindu culture by defining its foundations and galvanizing Hindus into action. Vivekananda's watchword, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached!” taken from the Katha Upanishad, epitomized his own intense activism and his conviction that India had to be awakened through “man-making education.” The movement maintains that he created a new philosophy of work for the modern world, which, by insisting that the fruits of all work be offered to God, sacralised work in every area of life. It is this philosophy that the movement puts into action through its practice of seva.
The practical aspect of the movement's message relates to its conviction that direct realization of ultimate reality is the true goal of life and this should be the priority for every individual. Both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda highlighted the importance of experiencing the truth directly at a time when skepticism about organized forms of religion had begun steadily to increase. Practicality is also expressed through its emphasis upon serving humanity as embodied divinity and thus seeking to change social and material conditions. This twin thrust is encapsulated in the movement's motto “For one's own salvation, and for the welfare of the world” (Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha), which was devised by Vivekananda.
It is difficult to explore the teachings of the Ramakrishna movement in isolation from scholarly debates about its seminal figures, partly because Ramakrishna and his followers attracted the attention of scholars even as the movement was coming into existence and continue to do so. In 1896, the eminent Victorian orientalist, Friedrich Max Müller published one of the first studies of Ramakrishna in English, which reached a wide audience because of Müller's standing (see Beckerlegge 2000:7-18). Müller himself had universalist sympathies and eagerly anticipated the social and religious reform in India, which he believed teachers like Ramakrishna and Vivekananda would encourage. Writing warmly about Ramakrishna as a teacher with a message for his age, Müller's sentiments are broadly echoed in the way in which the Ramakrishna Math and Mission presents both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda as teachers with a message for the “modern age.”
Vivekananda has regularly been recognised by scholars as one of the most influential Hindu gurus of the last two centuries, if not the most influential. Richard King (1999:161) has argued that Vivekananda's wider influence “far outweighs his involvement with the Ramakrishna Mission.” One example of this would be the influence of Vivekananda's lectures, Raja Yoga, on the subsequent spread of yoga as a global phenomenon. When Vivekananda travelled to Chicago in 1893, moreover, he became in effect the first “global guru,” anticipating by half-a-century, and at a time when international travel far was far more difficult, the “global gurus” who gained popularity beyond India in the 1960s and subsequently. Even before he created the Ramakrishna Mission Association on his return to Calcutta in 1897, he had already established the Vedanta Center of New York. Addressing audiences largely unfamiliar with Hinduism, Vivekananda played a significant role in the process of defining Hinduism as a “world religion” and in promoting the perception of advaita vedanta as the most influential form of Hindu philosophy, although scholars have been critical of these representations of the Hindu tradition. Both the form of the organization Vivekananda created and its commitment to seva have been adopted and adapted by other Hindu movements, and Vivekananda's personal influence has been acknowledged by a wide range of prominent Indian personalities. His understanding of the notion of karma yoga, the yoga of action, has helped to shape expressions of Hindu social activism and further contributed to the popularisation of the Bhagavadgita as a Hindu text that offers a flexible philosophy of detached action. Vivekananda's vigorous defence of India and its Hindu traditions at the height of the colonial period and his call to Indians to take pride in their culture and to ameliorate social conditions through seva have been claimed as feeding directly into the Indian nationalist movement. The historian Amiya P. Sen (2000:80) has observed that Vivekananda was “ possibly the greatest source of inspiration” for generations of nationalistic young men in India. In the post-Independence era, Vivekananda has increasingly been claimed by Hindu nationalist groups as one who anticipated both their concerns and their vision of a Hindu India (see, for example, Beckerlegge 2003). This has encouraged scholars and social critics to re-examine Vivekananda's role, intentional or not, in fostering the kind of cultural nationalism associated with Hindu nationalist groups in contemporary India. For these reasons, although devotees and scholarly supporters on occasion have come close to exaggerating the influence of the Ramakrishna movement, the influence of this movement and its founders cannot adequately be gauged simply in terms of the numbers of its branches or its formal membership, all of which are modest by the standards of many other Hindu movements in India.
For many recent and contemporary scholars, understanding Vivekananda's influence in shaping the Ramakrishna movement's ideology and direction is inseparable from judgements made on his wider career and legacy. In the process, a gulf has opened between the self-understanding of the movement and the thrust of critical scholarship centered on Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and their relationship. The extent of this widening gulf from the days of Müller's warm appreciation of Ramakrishna, still echoed today by some scholars close to the movement, is best illustrated in the furious debates in the Indian media provoked by the publication in 1995 of Jeffrey K. Kripal's Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (Kripal 1995), a textual and psychological study that probed Ramakrishna's sexuality.
Scholars have increasingly tended to question the characterization of Ramakrishna as a “modern” figure, arguing instead that he should be understood within the context of the popular religious traditions of his time in Bengal while often disagreeing over the nature of the blend of influences found in his teaching (see, for example, Devdas 1965 and Neeval 1976). Ramakrishna took delight in some of the novelties of the age, which he encountered in Calcutta; Vivekananda had experienced a very different education and travelled widely. In this way, attention has been drawn to the differences between Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, leading to questions about the extent of the continuity between their teachings and priorities, particularly in the light of Vivekananda's career after 1893. Thus, for example, Ramakrishna was immersed in devotion to Kali whereas Vivekananda tended to promote a version of advaita vedanta philosophy. Vivekananda generally insisted on preaching the message rather than about his master, Ramakrishna, although Vivekananda spoke of Ramakrishna with warmth and reverence when he did refer to him. As mentioned earlier in this entry, Vivekananda was not at the forefront of the initiative to develop a devotional cult centered on Ramakrishna. Both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda promoted an inclusivist outlook, but Ramakrishna's horizon was very much bounded by his Hindu world. Vivekananda's outlook was global. His theory of an emergent universal religion was evolutionist and hierarchical in a way that Ramakrishna's inclusivism was not, revealing Vivekananda's familiarity with currently popular, social Darwinist theories about the origins and evolution of religions from lower to higher stages. As the movement's summary of its ideology acknowledges, it was Vivekananda who held that it was specifically Vedanta that is the eternal, Universal Religion, which can serve as the "common ground for all religions."
Ramakrishna's intervention to encourage famine-relief, together with some of his utterances selected by Vivekananda, has been used as the precedent to offer organized service as a spiritual discipline. It is said that Vivekananda alone realized the import of words uttered by Ramakrishna while in a trance-like state, which suggested that Ramakrishna commended service or seva to beings as embodied divinity but dismissed charity and compassion as condescending. This insight has been summed up in the phrase “serve jivas” (embodied souls) as Shiva (God). Vivekananda later reformulated this in the phrase “let the poor be your God” (daridra narayana). But, Ramakrishna also repeatedly warned his followers that involvement in charitable activities could distract a person from the priority of God-realization. Vivekananda institutionalized organized seva when he established the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Scholars have pointed to the lack of evidence concerning Ramakrishna's intentions for his followers and have asked whether he ever envisaged founding a movement, let alone one dedicated to service.
Those within the movement would regard the teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda as complementary, bolstered by the conviction that Vivekananda was the disciple best able to interpret Ramakrishna's words and even unspoken intentions. For many scholars outside the movement, these differences are suggestive of the extent to which Vivekananda absorbed European and American, including Christian, influences through his education in India and then his travels and channelled these into the movement he created. Consequently, Vivekananda has been said to be the archetypal representative of “Neo-Hinduism,” which is characterized by its re-working of earlier Hindu tradition in the light of the encounter with European influences in colonial India. It has been argued, for example, that Vivekananda based his notion of seva and Practical Vedanta on a novel interpretation of earlier advaita tradition, which added an ethical dimension to that system's characteristic non-dualistic view of reality. His critics argue that Vivekananda's teaching that this same oneness should provide a basis for an ethic of service introduced an element lacking from the texts on which he drew (for example, Rambachan 1994; Halbfass 1995; Fort 1998). For Vivekananda's followers, such an innovation would constitute evidence of Vivekananda's ability to re-interpret Hindu tradition and make it relevant to the modern world.
These issues outlined above, and others, which have been explored in recent scholarship are not merely the preoccupations of observers outside the movement's following. They are attempts to make sense of those points in the early history of the Ramakrishna movement when the direction laid down by Vivekananda for the movement proved to be highly contentious and divisive and when Vivekananda's own career took such different directions. His changing appearance during different phases of his career provide striking visual hints of these changes of direction and priority. Consequently, many scholars would argue that the movement's claim that its ideology “ … consists of the eternal principles of Vedanta as lived and experienced by Sri Ramakrishna and expounded by Swami Vivekananda' has to be tested in the light of the complexity of both the interplay between the two very different figures at the heart of the movement and the movement's subsequent history. (For closer examination of scholarly literature relating to the Ramakrishna movement, see Jackson 1994: 170-79; Beckerlegge 2000, Part 1; Beckerlegge 2013. Scholarly arguments about the extent of continuity between Ramakrishna and Vivekananda have been examined in detail in Beckerlegge 2006.)
Since the time of the movement's first monastic community in Calcutta, Ramakrishna has been the devotional focus of the movement, together with Vivekananda and Sarada Devi who collectively form the movement's Spiritual Trinity. [Image at right] Ramakrishna's image is installed for worship at the temple at Belur Math. In the movement's other centers, it is his photograph that is more commonly installed for worship, apart from at Advaita Ashrama in the Himalayas where, at Vivekananda's insistence, no personal representations of the divine are permitted. The movement's temples and shrine-rooms follow the familiar patterns of puja (worship) including the arti ceremony found generally in Hindu temples. The movement celebrates the major Hindu festivals, and the nationally–known celebration of Durga Puja at Belur Math draws thousands of devotees. The birthdays of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Sarada Devi, and direct disciples of Ramakrishna are also celebrated, as is the Buddha's birthday and Christmas Eve, the latter because of its association with the vows of renunciation taken by Vivekananda and his brother disciples. This pattern of activity is broadly replicated, sometimes in simplified ways, in centers beyond India. Within the Ramakrishna Math, the progression of probationers and their acceptance as sannyasin s is marked by rituals of initiation, and sannyasins accept lay members as personal disciples through initiation. Vedic chanting also forms part of the life of the Math.
The practice for which the Ramakrishna Math and Mission is most widely known, certainly in India and less–materially developed countries where the movement has a presence, is its performance of seva , humanitarian service. The movement refers to this as a sadhana, or spiritual discipline, to distinguish its offering of service from secular forms of social service. Under the management of sannyasins, but in practice largely delivered by lay workers and paid specialists, the movement offers service in a number of fields: medical, educational, rural development, and relief and rehabilitation. It maintains activities aimed specifically at young people and women, and engages in mass conduct, spiritual and cultural work, and organizing annual celebrations. From largely ad hoc involvement in famine and disaster-relief at the end of the nineteenth century, the movement's service activities have evolved into large-scale projects often channeled through large and complex institutions, including major hospitals, a university and many colleges and schools, and specialized rural development centers.
In more affluent regions, including the United States and Western Europe, the movement restricts its seva to offering teaching and spiritual counselling, supported by the extensive outputs of its publishing houses.
The founding of Belur Math in 1898 provided a permanent home for the Ramakrishna Math (or monastery), [Image at right] whichhad been in existence since the death of Ramakrishna. Located in the neighbourhood of Howrah on the west bank of the Hugli River that runs through Calcutta, Belur Math remains the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. The Ramakrishna Math is made up of sannyasins, initiated male renunciants, who have the honorific title of Swami, Lord or Master, and male trainees (brahmacharyas).
In practice, the Ramakrishna Mission Association was largely superseded when Belur Math was established and incorporated the aim of the Association in its own rules. The indistinct nature of the relationship between the Association and Belur Math was not clarified until several years after Vivekananda's death when in 1909 the Ramakrishna Mission received its legal status as a separate organization. The Ramakrishna Mission is an organization open to both men and women who, unlike the members of the Math, are not required to renounce the everyday responsibilities, such as those of family and employment, to lead a spiritual life of monastic asceticism. The Math and Mission have remained legally separate organizations since 1909, each with its own branches as well as sharing the running of some joint branches. The Mission, however, is under the authority of the President of the Ramakrishna Math and the Board of Trustees, who elect the President, and the branches of the Mission are under the leadership of members of the Math, meaning that the Math and Mission in effect function as one movement. To date, all members of the Math placed in charge of either Math or Mission centers (known respectively as Presidents and Secretaries) have been of Indian origin, except for leaders of sub-centers that remain under the authority of their parent center. All centers are generally expected to be financially self-supporting, and the movement is very cautious before opening new centers or undertaking new projects and carefully assesses the level of sustainable local support. It does this in order to avoid having to close down provisions of seva, for example, educational, medical, or relating to rural development, whose loss would have a deleterious effect on the local community. Although the movement in its early days insisted that all the work it undertook should be an expression of seva, the increasingly complex and often technical roles fulfilled by its centers have led it in recent years to employ workers with the necessary skills.
The scale of the movement's centers range from its extensive headquarters Belur Math and "flagship" centers, such as the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata, [Image at right] and the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama at Narendrapur, West Bengal, to far more modest centers often maintained by no more than one or two sannyasins and a handful of local voluntary workers in rural locations.
In the post-Independence period, the Ramakrishna Math and Mission created the Sri Sarada Math in 1954 for women renunciants (sannyasinis)
who have the title of Pravrajika ("wandering nun," signalling their life of renunciation). This became fully independent in 1959 and in turn established the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission in 1960. Both offer service activities and have a limited presence beyond India.
The Vedanta Society of Southern California, founded in 1930, was given permission to establish a convent, the Sarada Convent, so that women might also enter sannyasa. As an institution of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, the Sarada Convent remains under the authority of Belur Math, unlike the Sri Sarada Math and Mission. In the 1980s, Ramakrishna Math and Mission created the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Bhava Prachar Parishad (assocation for the dissemination of the ideas of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda). Organizations attached to the Parishad have to follow a ten-point set of guidelines given by the Ramakrishna Mission. Although these organisations are either completely or partly independent from the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, their existence, together with all the independent societies established in honour of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, illustrates the extent of the looser, popular "Ramakrishna movement" in India.
The numbers of members of the Math have fluctuated in recent years, remaining generally in excess of a thousand sannyasins and brahmacharyas. It is not easy to quantify the membership of the Mission because, as is commonly the case with Hindu organizations, it has many more supporters, devotees, and patrons than formally registered members. Like the movement's membership, its number of branches also fluctuates and is currently in the region of 170 worldwide. The majority of these branches are in India with concentrations in Kolkata and the state of West Bengal, the region where Ramakrishna first began to gather a following, and around the city of Chennai (Madras) where Vivekananda gathered his earliest supporters beyond what is now West Bengal. The number of sannyasins in the Math at any one time is a key factor in controlling the expansion of the movement and its involvement in new projects, as it is the sannyasins who provide the movement's leaders and key administrators.The movement's policy of avoiding proselytism and its restriction of seva activities in many countries beyond India to teaching those who seek it has meant that the movement has had a far lower profile beyond India than, for example, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and the Swaminarayan movement, although the membership of the latter is largely drawn from those of Gujarati descent. In certain areas of the United States, because of Vivekananda's mission, his name and that of his movement continue to be recognized. In contrast, in the United Kingdom, where there is only one branch of the movement and the majority of British Hindus are of Gujarati descent, Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Math and Mission are little known beyond the membership of scattered Bengali cultural associations. The comparison with ISKCON is instructive because ISKCON has also offered it teachings to individuals not born into Hindu families and has been successful in attracting younger people. The Ramakrishna movement's Vedanta Centers in the United States and Western Europe have typically attracted older and more affluent supporters who have been more constant than some of the younger people attracted by ISKCON, but Vedanta Societies are now struggling to replace the older generation of supporters as this diminishes over time. It has often been through initial contact with Vedanta Centers that devotees who were neither Indian nor Hindu by birth have subsequently offered themselves for training to enter the Ramakrishna Math.
In India, the movement has also had to adapt to the challenge of globalization, its impact upon traditional values in Indian society, and the rise of a rapidly expanding Hindu middle-class and its members' aspirational lifestyle. India's economic liberalization since the early 1990s has been accompanied by a shift in emphasis to privatization and greater autonomy of institutions in the service sector. This represents a challenge for the Ramakrishna Math and Mission as an independent, religiously inspired service organization with a heavy stake in education (Anon 2006:12). It is also functioning in an increasingly competitive national and global market as it competes both for future followers and financial support alongside numerous other religious organizations.
Since its creation, the Ramakrishna Math and Mission has both maintained its identity as a Hindu movement while disseminating its teaching about the harmony of religions anchored in its vision of an emerging universal religion. This at times has created tensions. These have been apparent particularly in Vedanta Centers beyond India where some individuals initially attracted to the movement's universalist message have later severed their ties with the movement claiming that its cultic practices remained firmly Hindu in character. When immigration laws were eased in the United States in the latter half of the 1960s, the composition of several Vedanta Centers were changed by the influx of more members of Indian origin who favoured Hindu styles of worship and the celebration of Hindu festivals (McDermott 2003). Between 1980 and 1995, the movement became involved in a protracted court case in India, which ultimately went to the Supreme Court. The case was brought by senior members of the movement in an attempt to have the Ramakrishna Math and Mission legally declared to be ‘Ramakrishnaism' and thus distinct from Hinduism. Under the Indian constitution, such a redefinition would have given the movement minority status and thus more autonomy over the management of its institutions, including the employment of teachers. What was revealing during the conduct of this case was not just the verdict of the Supreme Court, which ruled that the Ramakrishna Math and Mission was a denomination of Hinduism because universalism was a part of Hinduism. The case itself also triggered angry protests from the movement's lay followers in India who considered themselves to be Hindu and their attachment to the Math and Mission as affirmation of this Hindu identity. This tension is arguably one that the movement has to negotiate particularly in the way in which it chooses to represent itself to its audiences beyond India but in a form that is coherent with the way in which it represents itself in India.
Image #1: Ramakrishna photographed in 1883/1884 when it is believed he was in a state of samadhi (altered or higher consciousness. It is the image most commonly installed in the movement's centers for worship and has become known as the ‘'Worshipped Pose." The iconography of the Ramakrishna movement has been explored in Beckerlegge 2000:113-142 and Beckerlegge 2008]
Image #2: Sarada Devi photographed in 1898 after the death of Ramakrishna. This image has been retrospectively linked to that of Ramakrishna in devotional iconography.
Image #3: Vivekananda represented as the "wandering monk" (parivrajaka) in a photograph taken c1891 during his years of pilgrimage through India.]
Image #4: Vivekananda in arguably his most famous representation, the "Chicago Pose" taken from a poster based on a photgraph taken of him at the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893. This image is said to encapsulate his confident defence of Hinduism at the Parliament.
Image #5: Vivekananda in the style of clerical dress he came to favor when in the United States.
Image #6: The waters, lotus flower, rising sun, coiled serpent, and swan respectively symbolise Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga; Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, and the Supreme Self. The emblem thus represents Vivekananada‘s teaching that the Supreme Self is realized by the combined practice of all the four yogas.
Image #7: Simple pottery representations of the Spiritual Trinity found in market stalls adjoining Dakshineshwar temple.
Image #8: The Shri Ramakrishna Temple at Belur Math. Its architecture is designed to evoke aspects of different religions.
Image #9: The interior of the Ramakrishna Mission Institite of Culture in Kolkata, which maintains a language school, an extensive university-level library, and a research department, and offers an extensive public lecture programme.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2013. “Swami Vivekananda (1863–1902) 150 Years On: Critical Studies of an Influential Hindu Guru.” Religion Compass 7:444–53.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2008. “The Iconic Presence of Svami Vivekananda and the Conventions of European-style Portraiture during the Late Nineteenth Century.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 12:1-40.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2006. Swami Vivekananda's Legacy of Service: A Study of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Delhi : Oxford University Press.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2003. ”Saffron and Seva: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's Appropriation of Swami Vivekananda.” Pp. 31-65 in Hinduism in Public and Private: Reform, Hindutva, Gender, Sampraday, edited by Antony Copley. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2000. The Ramakrishna Mission: The Making of a Modern Hindu Movement. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Devdas, Nalini. 1965. Sri Ramakrishna. Bangalore: Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society.
Fort. Andrew. 1998. Jivanmukti in Transformation: Embodied Liberation in Advaita and Neo-Vedanta. Delhi: Divine Books.
(Swami) Gambhirananda. 1983. History of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. (3rd revised edition). Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
M (Mahendranath Gupta). 1977. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Originally recorded in Bengali by M., a disciple of the Master. Translated into English with an Introduction by Swami Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vedanta Center.
Halbfass, Wilhelm, ed. 1995. Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Advaita. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
His Eastern and Western Disciples. 1989. The Life of Swami Vivekananda (6th edition, 2 Volumes). Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
King, Richard. 1999. “Orientalism and the Modern Myth of 'Hinduism'.“ Numen 46:146–85.
Kripal, Jeffrey, J. 1995. Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
McDermott, Rachel Fell. 2003. “Vedanta Society.” Pp. 120-22 in Religion and American Cultures, Volume 1, edited by G. Laderman and L. León. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO e-book. Accessed from http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A3797C on 5 December 2009.
Müller, F. Max. 1896. “A Real Mahatman.” The Nineteenth Century 40:306-19.
Neevel, Walter G. 1976. “The Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna.” Pp.53-97 in Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions, edited by Bardwell L.Smith. Leiden: E.J.Brill.
(Swami) Saradananda. 1983. Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master by Swami Saradananda (A Direct Disciple of the Master). Sixth revised edition. Translated into English by Swami Jagadananda. Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math.
Sen, Amiya P. 2000. Swami Vivekananda. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
(Swami) Tyagananda and (Pravrajika) Vrajaprana. 2010. Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kali's Child Revisited. Delhi: Motilal Barnasidass.
(Swami) Vivekananda. 1989. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Eight Volumes, Mayavati Memorial Edition. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
(Swami )Vivekananda. 1997. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 9, Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
A considerable amount has been published about the Ramakrishna movement since the late nineteenth century, particularly in India by the publishing houses maintained by the movement itself, of which Advaita Ashrama (Kolkata), the Sri Ramakrishna Math (Mylapore, Chennai), and the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (Kolkata) are the most important. Journals published by the movement in a range of Indian languages and English provide a mixture of articles, both scholarly and popular, on matters of historical interest, the activities of the movement's centers, and the movement's philosophy. They also provide invaluable insights into the day-to-day life of the movement and its centers. The most prominent and widely accessible of these journals are Prabuddha Bharata, The Vedanta Kesari, and the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. The Brahmavadin, the short-lived predecessor of The Vedanta Kesari, provides access to the earliest days of the movement. Vedanta Societies in the United States also publish journals, but these are concerned more with the movement's universalist philosophy and popular spirituality than the everyday life of the movement in India. The Ramakrishna Math and Mission was slower than some Hindu movements to develop an extensive internet presence, but many of its individual centers currently maintain their own websites, although some of these are fairly skeletal. The website maintained by Belur Math is an extensive and useful resource. The list of Additional Resources below includes scholarly studies selected to represent the issues covered in this entry. It makes no claim to being exhaustive. More extensive lists of publications from within the Ramakrishna movement and studies by its scholarly observers may be found in the historiographical overviews mentioned in the body of this entry.
(Swami) Akhandananda. 1979. From Holy Wanderings to the Service of God in Man. Mylapore, Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math.
Anon. 2006. The Story of the Ramakrishna Mission: Swami Vivekananda's Vision and Fulfilment Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama.
(Swami) Atmapriyananda, editor. 2010. Ramakrishna Mission: A Saga of Service for a Hundred Years and More. Howrah: Belur Math.
Basu, Sankari Prasad and Ghosh, Sunil Bihari. 1969. Vivekananda in Indian Newspapers, 1893-1902 Calcutta: Bookland Private Limited and Modern Book Agency Private Limited.
Beckerlegge, Gwilym. 2004. “The Early Spread of Vedanta Societies: An Example of ‘Imported Localism'.” Numen 51:296-320.
Burke, Marie Louise. 1983-1987. Swami Vivekananda in the West New Discoveries, 3rd edition, 6 Volumes. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
Chattopadhyaya, Rajagopal. 1999. Swami Vivekananda in India: A Corrective Biography. New Delhi: Motilal Barnasidass.
Jackson, Carl T. 1994. Vedanta For The West: The Ramakrishna Movement in the United States. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Sharma, Jyotirmaya. 2013. A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Sharma, Jyotimaya. 2013. Cosmic Love and Human Apathy: Swami Vivekananda's Restatement of Religion. Noida: Harper Collins.
Sarkar, Sumit. 1985. The Kathamrita as a text: towards and understanding of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. (Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Occasional Papers on History and Society, #12) Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
Sil, Narasingha P. 1997. Swami Vivekananda: A Reassessment. Selinsgrove: Susequehanna University Press/London: Associated University Presses.
Radice, William, ed. 1998. Swami Vivekananda and the Modernization of Hinduism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Rambachan, Anantanand. 1994. The Limits of Scripture: Swami Vivekananda's Interpretation of the Veda. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press.
Yale, John. 1961. A Yankee and the Swamis. London: Allen and Unwin.
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