Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. His lectures, writings, letters, and poems are published as The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. He felt it was best to teach universal principles rather than personalities, so we find little mention of Ramakrishna in the Complete Works.
Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism at the first World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 where he was an instant success. Subsequently, he was invited to speak all over America and Europe. He was a man with a great spiritual presence and tremendous intellect.
Most of the Vedanta Societies which were founded in America and Europe up through the 1930s can trace their origins directly to Vivekananda or the people who heard him speak from 1893 through 1900.
After his first visit to the West, Swami Vivekananda returned to India and founded the Ramakrishna Order in 1898.
Wisdom of Swami Vivekananda
- “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.”
- “In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path”
- “All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love’s sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live.”
- “You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.”
- “Bless people when they revile you. Think how much good they are doing by helping to stamp out the false ego.”
*Sourced from the Vedanta Society of Southern California and GoodReads
Book to Hang out With: Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda
“…There are certain works which are, as it were, the aggregate, the sum total of a large number of smaller works. If we stand near the seashore and hear the waves dashing against the shingle, we think it is such a great noise; and yet, we know that one wave is really composed of millions and millions of minute waves, each one of these is making a noise, and yet we do not catch it; it is only when we become the big aggregate that we hear. Similarly every pulsation of the heart is work; certain kinds of work we feel and they become tangible to us; they are, at the same time, the aggregate of a number of small works. If you really want to judge of the character of a man look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man. Great occasion rouse even the lowest of human beings to some kind of greatness, but he alone is the really great man whose character is great always, the same wherever he may be.”