Swami Abhedananda was born in Calcutta on October 2, 1866. He was one of the direct disciples of Sree Ramakrishna Paramaham-sadeva and the spiritual brother of the Great Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Abhedananda was conferred with the honourable Ph.D. Degree by the University of California, Berkeley, sometimes in 1901-1902. He was also offered the honorary Chair of Sanskrit in the California University, which he refused with honour. Besides these, the Swami delivered series of lectures in the Universities of Columbia, Brooklyn, Harvard, and Cornwell, and everywhere he captured the minds of the scholars and students.
From 1897 to 1921, Swami Abhedananda lectured all over London and the United States of America, Canada and in different Cotinents, and in 1921 he finally returned to India, his motherland. The Swami entered into the eternal bliss on the 8th September,1939.
Swami Prajnanananda was born in 1907. He has been honoured with the Doctor of Music (Hon. D. Mus.) by the Education Centre of Jhankar, Calcutta. He was awarded the Sisir Memorial Prize in 1958, the Rabindra Memorial Prize in 1960, under the auspices of the Centenary Celebration of Kaviguru Rabindra Nath Tagore, and the fellowship by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, in 1963. He is the member of the Executive Board and General Council, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi, and the member of the Executive Board and General Council of the State Sangeet Natak Academy, West Bengal, and Connected with different Universities.
He is the author of lots of books on music and philosophy. He is a contributor to different cultural journals.. The Swami has owned international reputation for his erudite scholarship and for his research work on comprehensive history of music.
The Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda– A critical Study is a guide book for those who will critically go through the ‘Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda’, Vols. I-X, published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta, on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of Swami Abhedananda, befittingly observed during 1966-67. Swami Abhedananda was one of the direct disciples of Sree Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. Swami Abhedananda’s life was a life of renunciation and complete dedication to the service of God. His ideas and thoughts were fully saturated with those of his beloved Master, Sri Ramakrishna, who is worshipped all over the world as a Divine Incarnation of God. Sri Ramakrishna observed all the religious faiths and creeds and at the same time transcended the limitations of those faiths and creeds so as to realize the limitless Brahman. He practiced all kinds of spiritual sadhana, and realized that faiths and method (matas and pathas) only differ, but the changeless prime goal is one and the same. So he preached that only knowledge of God the Absolute is real, and permanent peace and happiness are attained only through the knowledge of the Absolute, which is all-existence and all bliss in the form of the Atman. Swami Abhedananda and all of his brother-disciples of the inner circle of Sri Ramakrishna preached the same gospel of truth.
Swami Abhedananda delivered lectures and held talks and discourses on various subjects of religion and philosophy in London, America, and other Continents and also in different places of India singing the song of transcendental truth and absolute freedom which brought a new awakening in all corners of the world. He delivered lectures on spiritualism or theory and science of life after death, philosophy, psychology, ethics, science, history, art, culture, education, social aspects of India and other countries, astronomy, and many other subjects. He fully discussed about Hinduism, Buddhism, Lamaism, Jainism, Mohammedanism, Sufism, Christianity and about their different sects and aspects in a lucid and comparative way, and it is needless to say that all his discussions and outlook were liberal, all-comprehensive, and sympathetic. And not only that, but also he concluded all his lectures and talks and discourses and advised everybody to concentrate their attention to the supreme goal of human life, which is no other than the realization of God-consciousness or aparokshanubhuti.
Swami Abhedananda’s lectures, talks, and discourses are very lucid, rational, and scientific. The language and method of interpretation adopted by him are also very simple, sweet, and penetrating. He himself realized the absolute Truth which he mentioned in the dedication of the book Self-Knowledge: “To the Lotus feet of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna, My Divine Guru, by whose grace the Bliss of Self-knowledge is realized”. So we see that in all his lectures, talks, and discourses, he laid emphasis on the achievement of supreme knowledge of the Atman.
In this volume on Philosophical Analysis of Swami Abhedananda, we have begun with the discussion on the Swami’s Autobiography, printed from the Contemporary Indian Philosophy, edited by J.H. Muirhead, L.L.D., F.B.A., and S. Radhakrishnan, D.Litt., and published by Messrs. George Allen and Unwin, Ltd., Museum Street, London. We are grateful to the said publishers for giving us permission to print this article in the present edition of this volume. The Autobiography is very short but eventful and historical.
A discussion on the philosophical viewpoints along with religio-philosophical ideas of Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Abhedananda have been depicted , so as to throw light upon the whole content of this book. This type of discussion is not new, because Dr. Adhar Chandra Das and Dr. Satish Chandra Chatterjee have attempted before with their best abilities to determine the philosophy of Sree Ramakrishna. Besides, Dr. Nirode Baran Chakraborty of Presidency College, Calcutta, has published a book in Bengali on the religious ideas of Sree Ramakrishna. This offering of ours is an humble attempt for ascertaining the philosophical viewpoints as well as philosophies of Sree Ramakrishna and of Swami Abhedananda. It is a fact that Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeva came with a new unifying message and mission in this age of reason and science. There we find many controversies as to what is the philosophical viewpoint of Sri Ramakrishna. Some say that Sri Ramakrishna was a true kind of Bhakta. Some call Him a Tantric, some call Him a staunch follower of Sankara, and some are of the opinion that His philosophy is a compromise of the philosophical thoughts of Ramanuja and Nimvarka, etc. But from various sayings-cum-teachings of Sree Ramakrishna it is understood that He realized the essence of all philosophies, all religions, and all ethical faith and principles. But, to tell the truth, His philosophy or religio-philosophy thought is not at all a synthesis of all kinds of philosophy and religion as predicted by all the saviours or religious teachers, but He (sri Ramkrishna) practised all the time alternative paths or religious sadhanas to reach one and the same absolute Truth which is known as God-realization or Brahmanubhuti.
We have tried our best to offer in this volume a plausible solution for men of reason or rational vision. And it should be remembered that it is not the last word to determine the philosophy and philosophical viewpoint of Sree Ramakrishna, but is an humble attempt to be examined with a liberal and unbiased mind living above all kinds of stereotyped ideas and dogmatic beliefs.
In this book, the central ideas of all the lectures-cum-chapters have been discussed in short, so as to help the readers in easily grasping the entire theme and purport of Swami Abhedananda’s lectures, talks, and discourses. Hence the book may be called a guide book to all the Swami’s lectures or discussions.
Swami Abhedananda was a born preacher with an extraordinary merit and intelligence. His life was a life of dedication and service for the cause of humanity at large. He believed that Sree Ramakrishna was the great Incarnation of God, in whom all the powers and thoughts of all the Divine Incarnations were mingled and crystalised in a new form. And it has been said that the Swami’s religious and philosophical thoughts are saturated with the thoughts and ideas of his Master, and whoever will come in contact with these thoughts and ideas, will get living inspiration, inner urge, and divine enlightenment in the path of spiritual progress. It is needless to mention that all the books of Swami Abhedananda were not written by him in black and white, but contain the extempore lectures delivered by him in different places on different occasions in London, America, different Continents and also in different places of India, which were noted down by the stenographers in Sanskrit, and Amar Jivankatha in Bengali, which he wrote himself. Some of his lectures were printed in book form in America and some in India, and in 1966-67, on the occasion of Swami’s Centenary Celebration, all the remaining lectures, discourses, letters, and diaries, were bunched together and published in neat ten volumes. This present volume includes almost all the discussion of his lectures-cum-subjects in a concised from, but with some new interpretations. In the end of this volume, an Appendix has been added with the information about dates of the lectures delivered by the Swami. It is to mention that many of the portions of ‘Goddess Durga’ and the religio-philosophical thoughts, included in the Swami’s Amar Jivankatha or ‘My Life-Story’ were translated by Prof. Kunja Bihari Kundu, and Shri Jasoda Kanta Roy, I.A.S. We hope that this compendium volume will throw considerable light upon the religious and philosophical thoughts and ideas of Swami Abhedananda, and thus will help the readers to easily go through the valuable pages of ten volumes of the Swami’s Complete Works.
Now let me offer my thanks to Shri Suresh Chandra Chaudhury for going through the proofs of the book with care and attention. I am grateful to Sree Astutosh Ghose, Brahmachari Pranabesh Chaitanya, Devashis Hore, and Durgapada Bhattacharya for helping me much in writing this book and also in various other ways. The design of the jacket of this book is drawn by Shree Devashis Hore. I am indebted to the trustees of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Calcutta, for publishing this book.
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