The Works of Swami Abhedananda (Abridged Edition of the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda in eleven volumes), in two parts, has been compiled and edited in full by Swami Prajnanananda, the direct disciple of Srimat Swami Abhedananda. While Part I include the contents of votumes I to IV of the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda as abridged by Swami Prajnanananda for this edition, Part II contains selected lectures and writings of the Swami from rest of the volumes of his Complete Works, except volumes VIII & IX which are available as a separate set under the title “Bhagavad Gita the Divine Message’. Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadev, was a man of divine realization and an outstanding personality. At the same time he was a great scholar, preacher, social reformer, and a regenerator of the human society.
The life of Swami Abhedananda was intimately connected with the Vedanta Movement in the West for a quarter of a century, beginning from 1896. It was during this period that he delivered innumerable public lectures on different subjects, from thousand platforms in the two continents of America and Europe. Besides, he was frequently invited at various Universities, Colleges, Churches and other Institutions where distinguished listeners thronged to hear him.
From 1896 to 1921, he lectured all over the Western lands, and after returning from the West in 1921, he devoted his life to the social cause of religious and spiritual upliftment of the people of India. His soulstirring lectures deeply inspired the scholars, students and truthseeking people all over the World.
Swami Abhedananda. an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna-Born on October 2, 1886-Spenthis early life among the brotherhood in Baranagar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity-Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895-Acquainted with many distinguished savants. including Prof. Max Muller Muller and Prof. Paul Deussen-Landed in New York and took the charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897-Became acquainted with Prof William James, Rev. R.H. Newton, Prof Josiah of Harvard, Prof Hyslop of Columbia, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. G. H. Howison, Prof. Fay, Mr. Edison, the invento, Dr. Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W. D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C. Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev Bishop Potter, Prof. Shaler, Dr. Jaynes, the chairmen of the Cambridge Philosophical Conference and the Professors of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities-Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico-Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different parts of the Continent- Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times-Was appreciated very much for his prof undity of scholarship. intellectual brilliance, oratorial talents. charming personality and nobility of character-Made a short visit to India in 1906-Returned to America-Came back to India at last 1921-On his way home joined the Educational Conference Hono-lulu-Visited Japan, China, the Philip-pines, Singapore, Kualalampur and Rangoon-Started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet-Established centres at Calcutta and Darjeeling-Left his mortal frame on September 8, 1939.
Immersed in the unfathomed debt of the master’s grace the writer takes advantage of the glorious privilege the Preface of this precious publication, The Works of Swami Abhedananda, Parts-I & II (An Abridged edition of the Complete Works of Swami abhedananda) compiled and edited in full by his master Swami Prajnanananda, the greatest philosopher and scholar of the Ramakrishna Abhedananda Ordre.
The need was felt much earlier for a short edition of the Complete works of Swami Abhedananda, edited by Swami Prajnanananda and published for the first time in eleven volumes as a part of the celebration programme of the Birth centenary of Swami Abhedananda during 1966-67. This acted as the eye-opener to the cultured societies of the world as they saw a new horizon of the Vedantic Truths at their door-steps. As it should be, the literati craved for a more handy edition of the said eleven volumes, and with the help of the personalities mentioned hereinafter, we are glad to have been able to bring out the abridged edition in two Parts only. For obvious reasons it will be easier now to cater to the people high and low.
Not a galaxy of personalities are found in the annals of the history of mankind who are electrified with as high a spirituality as that possessed by the apostles of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansadev. It is a proud privilege of the people of this country that all the apostles of Sri Ramakrishna spent the last drop of their for deliverance of mankind from the fetters of utter materialism and prejudices of all religions. Their very lives were the embodiments of practical Vedanta, the Universal Truth. And none can deny the fact that of all his apostles Swami Abhedananda and his revered predecessor the cyclonic orato Swami Vivekanada interpreted and preached, for the first time, their master’s sublime ideas and ideals most to both the hemispheres.
Swami Abhedananda’s cultural, educational, social, political, historical, aesthetic, devotional, religious ,literary and philosophical thoughts or ideas are imprinted in his numerous speeches and lectures, delivered in London, America, other European countries and different places in India. All his lectures, writings, speeches, etc. have been published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, Publication Department in the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda. It has been aptly Dr. Satkari Mukherjee, one of the Indian philosophers of the first rank: “It is an uphill task to undertake the evaluation of the philosopher of Swami Abhedananda. In him, Sankara’s Monistic Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta) received a new orientation. He was preeminently a subtle logician and his knowledge of modern science and his grasp of modern trends of thought-movement enabled him to put, on an unassailable basis, the truths of Vedanta and them intelligible to the modern mind. It was natural that he won the unstinted admiration and appreciation of the learned world. But one must not lose sight of the truth the strength of his philosophy is derived not from the intellectual resources alone, but has at its back the realization of a Yogi.
Before the readers go through the writing, lectures, speeches, articles, etc., of Swami Abhedananda as abridged in this edition by his most genius disciple Swami Prajnanananda, let the readers have a glimpse into the life and the philosophical ideas of the former, penned by the latter in a nutshell printed in the souvenir brought out by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Ashrama, Darjeeling, during the memorable occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Ashrama:
“Swami Abhedananda and his Philosophy
Swami Abhedannada was one of the Apostles of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. The Apostles are the men of realization. He was born in Calcutta on October 2, 1866. He studied Indian Western Philosophies and realized the absolute Truth contained in both the philosophies and this realization was fruitful by the grace of the beloved Master, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa who lived at Dakshineswar near Calcutta,
In 1886, after the department of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda (then Prasad) renounced the world and became a Sannyasin, along with Swami Vivekananda (then Narendra Nath) and other Gurubhais. In the newly founded Baranagar Math, near Calcutta, all his spiritual brothers took yellow garb after observing proper performance of virajahoma and look new names of Sannyasa.
1893 is a memorable years in the pages of the history of religions of the world. In this year, the historic Parliament of Religions took place, and Swami Vivekananda and other Hindu preachers were invited in that Parliament as the representatives of Hindu religion. Swami Vivekananda proclaimed a universal message of love and brotherhood which created a tie of friendship between the two vast continents, the East and the West, and paved the way of establishing a permanent home for propagating India’s culture, philosophy and religion in the distant Western land.
In 1896, Swami Vivekananda called his spiritual brother, Swami Abhedanada, to assist him in his work in London and so swami Abhedananda sailed for London from Calcutta in August 1896. His first lecture was delivered before the Christo-Theosophical Society at Bloomsburry Square on 27th October, 1896, on The Philosophy of Panchadasi. Swami Vivekananda was present at the memorable meeting. Swami Vivekananda entrusted him with the charge of conducting his classes on Vedanta and Raja Yoga, and left Yoga, and left for India in 1897 Swami Abhedananda continued his class lectures on different aspects of Yoga and Vedanta, and used to deliver public lectures in Churches and before many religious and philosophical Institutions and Societies in London and its suburbs for one year. In London, Swami Abhedananda met Professors Max Muller and Paul Duessen. In August, 1897, at the request of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Abhedananda erossed the Atlantic and landed at New York to take charge of the Vedanta Society which Swami Vivekananda had started in New York City. To Quote in this connection some lines from the book, Hinduism Invades America (1930), where Dr. Wendell Thomas: In 1897, Swami Abhedananda had come from England to help him (Vivekananda), finding the new world a richer soil for the Hindu Seed, and together they incorporated the Vedanta Society at New York in 1898. But Saradananda returned to India when Vivekananda came over to America for the second time Since the work was prospering so rapidly, the leader (Swami Vivekananda) wrote for Swami Turiyananda to come to California after Swami Abhedananda had returned from his own preaching tour to relieve Swami Turiyananda at New York’.
Swami Abhedananda was very popular in all the Societies, Universities, Colleges and Churches, religious and philosophical institutions and every comer in America during his stay in the U.S.A. The Swami was introduced to the professors, scholars, scientists, and artists of America, and everywhere he was honoured and warmly appreciated, In 1898, Professor William James held a discussion with the Swami in his house on the problem of Unity of the Ultimate Reality. That discussion lasted for four hours in which Professors Royce, Lanmann, Shaler, and Dr. Janes, the Chairman of Cambridge Philosophical Conference, took the Swami's side and supported his arguments in favour of Unity. In Leaves from My Diary, Swami Abhedananda wrote regarding it :'In May 1898 I returned from Newton to Cambridge and went with Dr. and Mrs. Janes to hear Prof. Shaler, the author of the scientific book entitled Matter, Motion and Mind, at the Memorial Hall. Then went with Dr. Janes to lunch with Prof. William James in his house. There were Prof. Royce, Prof. Lanmann and Prof. Shaler with us at the table. After lunch, Prof. James started a discussion against 'Unity' with me, because he believed in the Plurality of the Infinite, and was against the idea of the Unity of the ultimate Truth of the universe. I, on the other hand, supported the theory of Unity (advaitavada), and refuted his pluralistic arguments. The discussion lasted nearly for four hours, in which Prof. Royce, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. Shaler, and Dr. Janes supported my arguments against Prof. James, who was at last convinced that the Vedanta point of Unity of Brahman, the ultimate Truth, was unassailable. Dr. Janes remarked to me after the discussion was over that he never heard such a learned and wonderful discussion before and that he wished that there were a stenographer to take the whole discussion in shorthand writing.'
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