These learned writings and speeches on different subjects of philosophy, metaphysics, psychology, religion, mysticism, logic, history and culture of the Patriot Saint Swami Abhedananda are thought provoking and soul stirring, and we firmly believe that they will kindle the living and lasting light of new hope, inspiration and lasting light of new hope, inspiration and knowledge into the hearts of then who will sincerely commune with those writings and speeches.
Swami Abhedananda was a man of Divine realization and an outstanding personality. And not only that, but the Swami was also a great scholar, a preacher, a social reformer, and a regenerator of the human society. He was one of the direct disciples of Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the spiritual brother of Swami Vivekananda.
The life of Swami Aabhedanada was intimately bound up with the Vedanta movement in the west for 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 and also Churches 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 an d spiritual upliftment of the peoples of India, and his soul stirring lectures really inspired the scholars, students and truth seeking peoples all over the world. His sincere propagation of the message, philosophy and religion of his Great Master, Sri Ramakrishna, was really fruitful with their lasting hope and inspiration.
He entered in to the blissful abiss of mahasmadhi on the 8th September in 1939.
Swami Abhedanada, an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna Born October 2, 1866 Spent his early life among the brotherhood in Barangar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888 1895 Went to London at the call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896 Acquainted with many distinguished savants, including Prof. Ma Muller and Prof. Paul Deussen Landed in New York and took charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897 Became acquainted with Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard , Prof. Hyslop of Columbia, Prof Lanamann, Prof. G. H. Howison, Prof. Fay, Mr. Edison the inventor, Dr.Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W.D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C. Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev. Bishp Potter, Prof. Shaler, Dr. Janes, the Chairman of the Cambridge Philosophical Conference and the Professors of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities Travelled extensively all through the Unites States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different parts of the Content Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times Was appreciated very much for his profundity of scholarship, intellectual brilliance, oratorical talents, charming personality and nobility of character Made a short visit to India in 1906 Returned to America Came back to India finally in 1921 om his way home joined the Educational Conference, Honolulu Visited Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Rangoon Started on a long tour and went as far Tibet in 1922 Established centers at Calcutta and Darjeeling –Left his mortal frame on September 8, 1939.
Spiritual Unfoldment by Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa Dev, is a guide for those who are willing to learn methodically and earnestly the practices of Yoga and spiritual Sadhana, for attaining self control and complete mastery over their senses, body and mind. The author, being a man of Realization and highly gifted teacher of humanity, knows best the method of achieving the highest goal of human life. He knows well the difficulties and pitfalls in the path of spiritual progress, while proceeding through the yogic practices and Vedantic sadhana. He puts forward different knotty problems of the Yoga method, solves them with a master hand by clearing all doubts, and leads the spiritual seekers of Truth step by step to the highest destination of the transcendental knowledge. He discloses the secrets of concentration, and assures us that they are the best spiritual methods of attaining the siipramental truth and absolute freedom. He warns us against the danger that we are generally apt to fall into, by being deluded by the charms of the gradually developed psychic powers and urges us to be fully cautious of them by keeping our minds fixed upon the highest ideal. He says that we should learn to keep ourselves away from the snares of worldly pleasures first by right discrimination (viveka or sadasadvichara) and then by concentrating our mind (dhyana) upon the summum bonum of life.
Swami Abhedananda classifies his discourses into three illuminating chapters, self control, concentration and meditation, and Godconsciousness. Self control is the key to unlock the mystery of concentration and meditation. Concentrated attention next leads the Sadhakas directly to the temple of God consciousness. Swamiji says that the spiritual life of a man or a woman depends upon the subjugation (damana) or suppression (nirodha) of the senses, upon the self control (samjaman) of the passions and desires, and upon the manifestation of Divine powers that are latent in the reservoir of the subconscious or unconscious in every individual soul. Concentration leads to meditation means, concentration prepares the mind of the seekers of truth to reach the state of concentrated attention or meditation after reducing its distracted and diverged modifications (manovrittis) to an unbroken flow of one current of thought (niravachinna ekamukhi chintadhara) towards a fixed ideal. By gaining the power of meditation, a Yogi enters into the state of Godconsciousness, which is called in the treatise on Yoga, Samadhi. In fact, Godconsciousness is not a state at all, although commonly known as the fourth state or turiya, because it transcends all other states, first, second and third (Virat, Hiranyagarbha and Isvara chaitanyas) in its surpassing nature and essence. The states are nothing but the different levels of consciousness, and the fourth or transcending consciousness is the pure consciousness (shudhha chaitanya) itself. Having attained this pure consciousness or enlightenment, the soul enters into the abode of eternal peace and serene tranquillity.
Acharya Sankara and other non dualist Vedantists criticize this state of emancipation or mukti, achieved through the process of Yoga, because they say that there is a great deal of difference between the yogic intuition and the vedantic intuition. They argue that mere subjugation or suppression of mad rushes of the passions and desires means the reduction of gross forms of the passions and desires into their causal state. They are rather forced to sleep in the bed of the unconscious, but are likely to wake up under favourable conditions. So, by suppression one cannot get permanent peace, but it offers him only temporary calmness of the mind. In fact, the non dualist Vedantists want the passions and desires to be eternally sub limated into pure consciousness. Like the Vedantists, Sri Aurodindo also said that the ripus (passions and desires) cannot be conquered by damana. It is only by purification through the divine consciousness entering into the egoistic nature and changing it that this can be done.
Swami Abhedananda's position in his discourses is also quite clear. He deals with the subject of spiritual unfoldment purely from the yogic standpoint, and so it is neither necessary for him to compare his method of treatment with any other systems of philosophical thoughts, nor to refute the method of Yoga in the light of the Advaita Vedanta. Otherwise, when he deals with the process of controlling the mind in his Doctrine of Karma he says: "Instead of indulging in desires, some say, you should kill them out. But you cannot kill them out. There are certain cults that teach: 'kill out all the desires and make your mind blank'. We cannot do that. We can reduce the number of desires by discrimination and not allowing indulgence. In that way we can purify our heart or mind." This purification of mind is no other than the sublimation or transformation (rupantarakaran) of the mind into pure consciousness. Sri Ramakrishna also instructs the spiritual aspirants to change or reverse the course of thought from one side to another ('more phiriye de'), and the change implies the notion of purification of the mind.
Sri Ramakrishna has said that all the systems of spiritual practices are true, as they lead us to one and the same goal in the final analysis. The paths of progress may differ, but the destination or goal is the same. The ultimate aim of all the systems of religion and spiritual practices is to be free from the bondage of ignorance and simultaneously to attain mukti or salvation. So Swami Abhedananda says that a real aspirant of spiritual knowledge may choose and adopt any one of the systems or practices that suits him, and if he is a sincere seeker after truth, he will surely reach the goal.
Swamiji makes his discourses all through very lucid and clear, so that we may grasp and understand the secrets of the subject easily and make them applicable in our daily life. His style and language are penetrating and transparent, and they show us the inner depth, true significance and real purport of the subject and thus help us in realizing the highest truth.
We shall be glad if the author's earnest desire of enlightening the hearts of the readers is fulfilled.
The first six lectures contained in the volume were delivered before the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. As my limited time did not permit me to describe at length the status of Hindu women, I have added a separate on Woman’s Place in Hindu Religion to complete the subject. My main object has been to give an impartial account of the facts from the standpoint of an unbiased historian, and to remove all misunderstandings which prevail among the Americans concerning India and her people. I have cited Hindu, American, and European authorities to support my statements, and I beg to acknowledge my indebtedness to those writers from whom I have quoted, especially to Mr.R. C. Dutt. C. I. E., for numerous valuable facts statistics collected by him through years of tireless research in England, and embodied in his historical works, Civilization in Anent India, Economic History of India, and India in the Victorian Age.
I am very glad to learn that the course of lectures, recently delivered before the Brooklyn’ Institute of Arts and Sciences by Swami Abhedananda, is to be published. These lectures constitute an exceedingly valuable description of the social, political, educational, and religious conditions of India. They contain precisely what ht American wants to know about India. Delivered, as they were by a native of India, they are not coloured by foreign prejudices. I am impressed, by foreign prejudices. I am impressed, by what I heard of the lectures, with the fact that in the hurry and bustle of our Western civilization we have a great deal to learn from the East.
How to be a Yogi is a book on the science and practice of different types of Yoga which are interconnected with religion and philosophy applied in practice. These lectures were delivered by Swami Abhedanaada before the American students of Yoga and philosophy and were published in book form from the Vedanta Ashrama, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
In this book Swami Abhedanada has consecutively surveyed the science and the practice of Yoga as a whole. This book contains nine illuminating chapters on different types of Yoga along with their philosophy, psychology and science. In the introductory chapter the Swami has defined what true religion is. He says that true religion is not based on mere theory or speculation, but on practice. Religion really prepares the ground of divine spirituality which does not depend upon the reading of the scriptures, not upon the theological and speculative discussions on the shastras, and not upon intellect and reason, but upon the realization or the divine immediate awareness of the unchangeable Reality.
Swami Abhedannada has said that he had the good fortune to be acquainted with a divine man, whose name is Ramakrishan Paramahansa. He never went to any school, neither the read any of ht scriptures and philosophies, yet he had reached perfection by realizing he absolute Brahman. From this it is understood that true spirituality and God realization do not depend on any book knowledge, nor on the intellectual apprehension, but on the sincere spiritual practice of Yoga which makes a man commune with the Absolute. Swami Abhedannada has further said that self knowledge is acquired neither by sense perception, nor be reading the shastras but by studying one’s own nature, and by practicing the different branches of Yoga.
The second chapter deals with the discussion What is Yoga. In this chapter, the learned Swami has given eleven definitions of Yoga. In the eleventh definition he says that Yoga means the restraint of all thought action through concentration and meditation. Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root, yuji which means 'to join' i.e. to join the jivatman with the Para matman. The practitioners of Yoga are mainly divided into three classes and among them the born Yogi are included in the first class, the half awakened souls are included in the second class, and the unawakend souls are included in the third class.
The third chapter is devoted to the discussion on the Hatha Yoga. The Hatha Yoga is the science which teaches to conquer hunger, thirst, sleep, diseases, etc. Some Hatha Yogis practise trataka, and fix their eyes in the centre of the eyebrows, for gaining concentration as well as some psychic powers.
The Swami has defined different kinds of asanas or the sitting postures to be practised by the Hatha Yogis. He warns the Hatha Yogis not to practise the Yoga which develops psychic powers, and instructs them to practise that kind of Yoga which is helpful to the Raja Yoga, because the Raja Yoga leads the souls to the realization of God consciousness and to freedom.
In the fourth chapter Swami Abhedananda has discussed about the laws and science of the Raja Yoga which is known as the royal road, or the surest path to perfection. The Raja Yoga deals entirely with mind and its powers, and so it may be called the science of applied psychology. This best and grandest method of Yoga teaches to strengthen will power of mind, and to develop the powers of concentration and meditation, which lead to the state of super consciousness.
The practice of Raja Yoga is divided into eight steps like yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana dhyana and samadhi. The asana is the posture of sitting. Patanjali says that a suitable and an easy asana can be chosen for making the spinal cord straight and taking the breath without any obstruction and difficulty. The Yogis say that vital power or energy is stored up in the nerve centres of the spinal cord, and it is the cause of the motion of the lungs, which in turn produces respiration, and respiration is the cause of the circulation of blood and of all other organic activities. So the spinal cord should be kept straight to help the current flow easily through the cannel of the spinal cord. The pratyahara is the preparatory ground for concentration. Concentration means to reduce the divergent desires or the manifold modifications of mind into their causal state and to make them concentrate upon one point. The samadhi is the state of super consciousness. Patanjali has divided this supreme state into different classes, and the nirvija or nirvikalpa samadhi is the highest one, where all the seeds of desires and the cause of the cycle of births and rebirths are eternally transcended. The process of concentration really transforms the mind into pure consciousness. In the highest state of samadhi, a Sadhaka gains spiritual illumination, and cuts asunder the knots of nescience or avidya.
In the fifth chapter, the Swami has dealt with Karma Yoga. The Swami says that the word 'Karma Yoga' connotes the idea of 'dexterity in work'. The spirit of worship must be the keynote of all kinds of work, and the work with this divine spirit is known as the philosophy of work. The Swami further says that, in truth, we do work through the inspiration cum dictation of the will of the mind, and so if we purify our mind with the spirit of worship of God and if we give up all kinds of ego centric ideas from our mind, then the mind is concentrated and enjoys tranquil peace and happiness. The Swami says: "He who wishes to practise the Karma Yoga, should abandon the attachment to the fruits of his labours, and learn to work for work's sake,. The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is that you have the right to do works, and not to ask or enjoy the fruits thereof. So the works with love for God and love for the humanity are known as the Karma Yoga which is the precondition of the Bhakti Yoga.
In the sixth chapter, Swami Abhedananda has described the main principles of the Bhakti Yoga. The Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion for God and also the path of love for all the creatures of the world. The Swami says: "The word bhakti means 'devotion', while Yoga in this case signifies the union of the individual soul with God. Hence the Bhakti Yoga is the method of devotion by which true communion of the soul with the supreme Deity is accomplished". There are mystics all over the world, who devote their lives in the holy service of the beloved God. The Christian mystics, the German mystics, the Spanish mystics and other mystics of other nations are just like the Vaishnava mystics of India and the Sufi mystics of Persia and Arabia. All of them worship their ever beloved Friend, God through love and devotion, and they want the Divine communion with God in ecstasy which makes them forget their consciousness of the body and the world.
Swami Abhedananda says that a Bhakta "never forgets his relation to his beloved. His mind is concentrated and one pointed and, consequently, meditation becomes easy for huii. True devotion or continuous remembrance of the divine Ideal leads him to the unceasing meditation, and ultimately lifts the soul to samadhi, where it realizes God and communes with Him undisturbed by any other thought, feeling, idea or sensation. Becoming dead to the sense phenomena, it lives on the spiritual plane of the God consciousness". In fact, a true Bhakti Yogi does everything in this world of works or duties with the spirit of worship. So the material sense phenomena cannot entangle him in the world of maya.
In the seventh chapter, Swami Abhedananda has explained the art and science of the Jnana Yoga. The Swami says that the Jnana Yoga is based entirely upon the monistic principle of Advaita, or the non dualistic system of Vedanta."Its purpose is to show that the subject and the object are but the two expressions of one absolute Being or Substance that God and man, the Creator and the created, are only different aspects of one universal Reality". The Jnana Yoga awakens the soul from the deep slumber of ignorance, and makes it realize the immortal Atman.
In the eighth chapter, the Swami has dealt with the science of breathing. The mysterious and invisible vital energy or force is known as the prana. In the Upanishad, the prana has been called the cause of life, because no being can live without the prana or the vital energy. We generally inhale the breath or prana and purify the circulation of blood in the system of our body. But it should be remembered that behind the breath or prime air, there remains the living energy which vitalizes the systems of the whole body and mind.
This prana should be controlled by the process, of pranayama, or the practice of breathing .The Swami says: "This control of the prana brings complete subjugation of all the forces which govern the mind and the body". The Yogis say that the prana is the king, and the prana should be controlled for calming down the activities of mind, because the prana and the manas (mind) are inter connected together. Again mind is the finest vibration of the prana, and matter is the grossest vibration of the prana. So the mind and the matter are no other than the prana in vibration The nerve centres of the spinal cord (merudanda) are the main stations where this vital force is stored. There are many centres in the spinal cord, of which precedes the whole body, including its organs. All sensations and motions of the limbs depend upon these nerve centres in the spinal column and the brain. There are two currents, which flow in and out of the brain through the spinal column and nerves; they are called the afferent and efferent currents, in Sanskrit, idea and pingala. They run through the anterior and posterior channels of the spinal cord. These furnish the two paths over which the currents of the prana travel. The nervous energy itself is scattered throughout the system, and the only means of regulat¬ing it is by controlling the principal centres or stations in the spinal column. If, therefore, any one wishes to control the prana, he must learn to govern the chief stations through whicn it works. The prana being controlled, the mind is controlled and there reigns the tranquil peace.
The nineth chapter has been devoted to the historical and mystical discussion on Was Christ a Yogi. It is a historical fact that Christ came to India, he travelled the holy places of India, and learned the practice of Yoga from the Indian Yogis. Swami Abhedananda has shown that Christ's Divine realization was the result of his Indian yogic cum vedantic sadhana. In his Bengali book, Kashmir O Tibbate, the Swami has given the historical account of Christ's visit to India. In that book, he has given an account or a record of Christ's journey and visit to India from a Tibatan manuscript preserved in the Hemis Monastery in Ladak. The Russian traveler Notovitch had seen that record in that Monastery, and had given the detailed account of Christ's stay for nearly eighteen years. Swami Abhedananda also made that manuscript of the Hemis Monstery to be translated by a senior Tibetan Monk. He has given the translated record in Bengali in his book, Kashmir O Tibbate. It is interesting to note that this chapter on Was Christ a Yogi has been adopted in an important book, Adept of Galilee, published in American.
However, Swami Aabhedananda has proved in this last chapter that Christ was a true Yogi, and He practiced the Yoga which enabled Him to realize the truths: “I and my Father are one”, and “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. The Swami says: “The greater portion of the life of Jesus is absolutely unknown to us, and as He did not leave behind him any systematic teaching regarding the method by which one may attain to that state of God consciousness which He Himself reached, there is no way of finding out what He did or practiced during the eighteen years that elapsed before His appearance in public”. Jesus the Christ was really a great Yogi, “because He realized the transitory and ephemeral nature of the phenomenal world and, discriminating the real from the unreal, renounced all desires for worldly pleasures and bodily comforts”. Jesus the Christ was also a great Karma Yogi, “because He never worked for worldly pleasures and bodily comforts”. Jesus the Christ was also a great Karma Yogi, “because He never worked for results; He had neither desire for name, nor ambition for fame or for earthly prosperity”. Jesus of Nazareth also proved Himself to be a great Bhakti Yogi, and a true love of God. Like the great Raja Yogis of India, Jesus the Christ knew also “the secret of separating the soul from his physical shell, l and he showed this at the time of his death while his body was suffering from the extreme pain, by saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’”. The Swami at last says that it is through the teachings of Vedanta that though Hindus have learned how to glorify the character of Jesus the Christ. Jesus was a Yogi, and a realized man, nay, He was one of the saviours of the mankind, and so all nations of the world love him and worship him as a Divine incarnation of God.
Unlike many of the books on spiritualism, the present work has a special feature and beauty of its own. Its pages do not narrate the chief legends and tales of the departed spirits and the wandering ghosts and also of the supernatural beings of the unknown ethereal sphere, as one in most cases finds in such books that claim to unveil the mystery of the world beyond the books that claim to unveil the mystery of the world beyond the grave. The treatment of the chapters of this book is purely a scientific and rational one, and it has taken a new and novel departure from the prevailing methods and systems of the presentation of this subject.
Swami Abhedanaanadsa delivered from time to time a number of lectures on spiritualism in response to the initiations from many institutions like the free Religious Association of America, The Psychical Research society of America, the American Institute of Science, etc. The Swami w as once the President of the psychical Research Society of America. He was also well acquainted with the leading scientists, spiritualists, mediums and spirit communicators, during his long stay in America. He has many personal experiences about the departed spirits, séances, spirit communications and other subjects of spiritualism; he believed that most of the spirits are earth bound, as they are not free from desires and passions. Regarding the mediums, he has said that in most cases, the mediums are deprived of their mental and physical powers. Regarding ht séances, the Swami is of opinion that though the departed spirits communicate with the séance holder and with their near and dear ones and furnish information of their earthly and ethereal worlds, yet, in most cases, it has been found that all the information and talks, received from them, are not genuine or correct. So the Swami says that everything of the spirits should be examined with logical and scientific mid.
Regarding this present work, it can be said that it is absolutely free from prejudices and blindly biased views. It is a critical study of the science and practice of spiritualism with impartial or dispassionate views. It has shown wisely and ably the merits and the demerits and also the bright and dark sides of the fact and science of spiritualism. At the same time the learned Swami has clearly solved all the controversial points and problems of the theory of birth and rebirth of the souls, existence and pre existence of the souls, and immortality and eternality of the souls. In short, all the knotty problems of spiritualism or spiritism have been clearly explained and solved by this philosopher saint in the chapters of this book with remarkable characteristics of his own.
It can be said that Swami Abhedananda has neither blindly upheld, nor has totally denied or rejected the facts of the aspects of spiritualism. As for example, the Swami has said: "Although many of the professional mediums have been pitifully exposed as frauds, still there are genuine mediums and authentic manifestations which cannot be explained by telepathy or any other theory than that of the communications of the discarnate spirits. In many cases the audience is deceived by the earth bound spirits. The manifestations on the material plane, such as the table turning, the roping knocks of the spirits, are ordinarily understood by spiritualism, but all such phenomena belong to the lower class of spiritualism or spiritism, as it is called by many. Spiritism can only satisfy our curiosity and does not explain any of our vital questions. But true spiritualism should be distinguished from that phase which is, called spiritism. Higher spiritualism, therefore, is the name for that which starting from the belief in a life after death, reveals the nature of the soul and its relation to God" Further the Swami has said: "Within the last fifty years modern spiritualism has given wonderful demonstrations regarding the existence of disembodied spirits who continue to live even after the dissolution of their gross material forms. It has brought comfort and consolation to the hearts of many people, who were suffering from the evil effects of scepticism and unbelief, concerning the future life, caused by the dry theories of the atheistic, agnostic, and materialistic thinkers of the last century" But it is true, the Swami says that though the disembodied spirits satisfy some of the curiosities of the questioning people, yet they cannot do any real good or they cannot help in any way in the path of spiritual progress. As for example, the Swami says: "The genuine phenomena of spiritism may do some good in the way of satisfying the curiosity of certain people or of bringing the assurance that there is a life after death. They may foretell some petty, trivial events in connection with our business or daily life, but they cannot bring to us the highest wisdom and happiness which come to the soul through Divine communion. These spirits are not angels, as the spiritualism may encourage the hope of meeting the departed spirits of our friends and relatives, and may bring consolation in the mind of those that doubt their existence, but it cannot give us the realization of the absolute Truth, or the attainment of God consciousness".
Swami Abhedananda, being a true philosopher and a man of realization, has surveyed everything of spiritualism or spiritism from the viewpoint of logic, reasoning, and science. He says that death is inevitable for all the living beings, and they are involved in the cycle of birth and death, until they realize their immortal soul or Atman. Spiritualism is only an open passage for receiving the information of the existence and pre existence of the soul and also of their eternality and immortality, but it cannot assure anyone, the blessings of knowledge of the absolute Brahman.
The Swami says that when a man passes from this material plane, he lives in the mental plane, and does everything through his mind with the impressions (samskaras) of the works he performed in the material plane and also with the countless impressions that are hoarded in the subconscious lair of the mind. The departed soul, sleeps there as it were in the spirit or mind world, and, regarding this sleep after death, Swami Abhedananda says: "The sleep after death is like the sleep before the birth. Then they (departed souls) have a second sleep before they come to this plane (material plane), they go into the sleep, and gravitate towards proper environment. If I have a strong desire to be the best artist, and if I do not succeed or pass away before I fulfil my desire, that desire will remain in me even in that soul slumber. It will sprout again". Now, from this it is evident that the departed souls gravitate again and again in this world of desire and fulfil ment, because their souls exist and the souls take births until and unless they reach the absolute Truth by cutting asunder the knots of desires and passions. The law of karma is pre dominant in the lives of all living creatures. They do works in this world of duties and reap their results. Swami Abheda¬nanda says: "So this law of cause and sequence which is called the law of karma, does not wait for widow's tears, or orphan's cries. What we have sown, we must reap either on this plane, or in some other realm. So after death we may enjoy the pleasures of our thoughts and deeds in the heavenly regions".
From the law of karma it is also proved that our soul is immortal and will not be extinguished after death. But it should be remembered, the Swami says, that the life after death, or the life in this material world, is liable to change and also subject to the law of cause and sequence. So we shall have to transcend the realm of cause and effect, which is dominated by time and space, the ingredients of nescience or maya. And this transcend ance is possible only by the realization of our true existence which is the immortal Atman.
There are sixteen chapters and five appendices in the book. If we briefly survey the different chapters, we find that Chapter I has dealt with "the modern science and the higher spiritualism". In this chapter, the Swami has said that during the last sixty years, spiritualism made a considerable progress, convincing many scientific minds who were earnestly seeking for the truth of man's survival after death. The experimental spiritualism began in America in 1870. For the scientific study of the phenomena of spiritualism, the Psychical Research Society was established in London in 1886, and many savants like Dr. Myers, Frank Podmore, Mr. Home, Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Prof. William James, Alfred Russell Walace, Dr. Hedgeson and others were interested in the research work of the science of spirit. Camille Flammarion, W. T. Stead, Prof. Hyslop were also interested in the subject of spiritualism. Swami Abhedananda says that the higher spiri tualism is at the root of all great religions of the world, and so the followers of different religions and also different great thinkers devoted their times for discovering some truths in the science and practice of spiritualism.
Chapter II deals with the problem of the existence of the soul after the dissolution of the material body. In this chapter, Swami Abhedananda says that from ancient times, there existed some belief that the psyche or soul is non different from the material body, and so after the dissolution of the body, the soul also dies. This faith mainly prevailed among the Charvakas, who were the disciples of Vrihaspati and were out and out materialistic in thinking and doing. Besides them, there were dormant questions about the soul among ordinary men, who were generally guided by blind faith. But Swami Abhedananda says that disbelief in the existence of the soul after death prevails among the modern physiologists, anatomists, pathologists and a host of other materialistic and agnostic thinkers. They believe that the combiations of matter produce thought, intelligence, consciousness, mind and soul. "They teach that thought or intelligence or consciousness is nothing but a function of the brain. The brain brings into existence the material of consciousness of which our minds consist. As the materials of food, after falling into the stomach, change and assume new qualities, so the impressions of the brain are metamorphosed into the ideas, thought, emotion, will, impressions of the face, speech, disposition, etc. through the nerves. Thus thought or soul is the secretion of the brain, and when the brain is gone, the soul cannot exist" The Swami has quoted some lines in support of this materialistic theory from the writings of Buchner, Luys, Percival Lowell, Herbert Spencer, Prof. Clifford, Romanes and others. In fact, the writings of these materialistic thinkers are similar to those of the Charvakas of India. But Vedanta does not admit this theory of the materialists. Swami Abhedananda says that according to Vedanta "knowledge of matter is nothing but the knowledge of that change of mind, of which we are conscious. Even our knowledge that the soul, or the mind, is a function of the brain, presupposes the existence of another mind or knower". This another mind or knower is the self or the soul, which is different from the mind and the body, but the substratum or ground of the mind and the body. Dr. Schiller, Immanuel Kant, Fichte, Schelling and others also subscribe to a similar view, though David Hume, like the Vijnanavadin Yogachara Buddhists, does not admit it, because according to Hume and the Yogachara Buddhists, the soul is a bundle of sensations or ideas.
Now Swami Abhedananda has efficiently dealt with the problem of the existence of the soul after death. He says that the most ancient writers of the Vedic ages believed in the spirits of the Pitris or the departed fathers. The Egyptians, the Mesopotemians, the Chaldeans and other ancient nations of the world also believed in the 'double' or soul, devoid of the material form. The Hindus believed that after death, the departed souls live in the mental world with the sleeping impressions, (samskaras) of his desires (vasanas) which existed and were not mitigated during life time. The souls are subject to the cycle of birth and rebirth, until they go beyond the nescience (ajnana) and realize their immortal nature. "The Hindus", says the Swami, "do not mean destruction or annihilation by death. They mean by it a change of body, or the form". The Bhagavad Gita says that the soul, or the Atman is deathless and birthless ; it is eternal by its nature. So it is a proved fact that the soul exists after death, and its true nature is the Atman, or the Brahman, which is the background of the changing world appearance.
Chapter III deals with the scientific view of death. In this chapter, Swami Abhedananda says that the mystery of death is not to be solved by mere mythology or mythological beliefs of the ancient people which have been handed down to us through generations, but to be solved by scientific enquiry and investigation. The duty of science is to disclose truths which are genuine and real, and so those who wish to unveil the mystery of the unknown spirit world, should study the details of spiritualism with a scientific mind. Swami Abhedananda says: "Scientific researches toward tracing the causes of death have brought out many truths and many laws which were un known to the writers of the Genesis and other scriptures of different nations". But it is a fact that the orthodox science, or the materialistic science, is quite unfit to discover the real truth that is behind spiritualism or spiritism. But it requires an open mind and reason backed by the scientific enquiry into the truth. The Swami has given some instances of the embalming process of the dead bodies of the old Babylonians and Egyptians, and has said that the very process or method proves the existence of the soul beyond the grave. They believed in a 'double' and that means they maintained the belief of pre existence of the soul. The Indians believe in the indestructibility of the life force ; and that life force or prana is not the product of any chemical actions of any material thing. It is all intelligent and all conscious, and it is the Atman, which transcends the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Now, in support of the existence of the soul as the life force or the life principle, the Swami has forwarded an argument which is beautiful and very rational. He says: "Thus we see that there are two principal factors in the body: the one is the mind and the other is the vibration of the prana, or the vibratory state of the cells and the tissues of the body. But the vibratory state of the cells and the tissues are governed by the mind". In fact, the mind is the director of all the organic functions of the body. But there is another principle which directs also the mind, and that director is the life force, or the prana, or the soul. The Swami says: "It is the individual self conscious life force which is called the living soul. The living soul means the self conscious individualized life force with the sense of ‘I’, and the sense of 'I' holds them together. This sense of ‘I’ holds all together, unifies them, and makes the separate parts vibrate and produce a perfect harmony. That harmony is life. But advanced science tells us that there is a director and this director has the absolute control over the whole organism. He is the living soul. At the time of death, he disconnects himself from the organs and leaves the body"
The Swami has given in this chapter some interesting information of spiritualism. He says that a fine substance emanates from the body at the. time of death. It is luminous, and is called the ectoplasm. The French Astronomer, Camille Flammarian has reports about this ectoplasm in his famous book, The Unknown, and he has said that "this ectoplasm is a substance, which contains finer matter in vibration, and this finer matter forms the undergarment of the soul, and the gross physical body is the outer garment. So we have two bodies: the gross physical body and the finer or ethereal body which exists in each one of us". The ectoplasm is a vapourlike substance and has no particular form. It is like a cloud and can take a shape or a form and can be photographed says Swami Abhedananda. The disembodied souls or spirits who desire to be materialized and to communicate with the near and dear ones in the phenomenal world, generally take the help of this ectoplasm which remains in the body of everyone. The Swami says: “our human bodies are emanating that substance all the time. It can be seen especially a time when there is a medium in a trancelike condition. The materializing mediums emanate that very strongly”. In fact, the ectoplasm is the under garment. Now, the Hindu scriptures say that there is also a casual body (karana –shariar), which forms the background of the finer or ethereal body (subtle or sukshma sharira) and the real soul or the Atman is above all these bodies, gross, subtle and causal. The scientific study of spiritualism will disclose this truth.
The Great Saviours of the World consists in lectures delivered serially in the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science of New York sometimes from 1907 to 1911 before the talented audience of America. The word ‘saviour’ has been used here in its broad and universal sense, which should not be confounded with the orthodox Christian conception of a savior who saves the sinners from the eternal perdition.
The principal aim and object of these factual and illuminative lectures are to show that the fundamental teachings or sayings of the founders of all great religions of the world have had the same religious and spiritual keynotes and that the stories and annals, connected with the eventful divine lives and miraculous deeds are analogous. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated in this volume that the universal religion of Vedanta embraces the teachings of all the saviours of the world and it harmonizes all other sectarian religions or religious creeds. Further the short sketches of the lives of the saviours, included in its volume, are based upon the authentic historical records and accounts, gathered by different scholars from various sources.
Now one can ask, what is the utility of the lives and teachings of the teachers or saviours? To this it can be said that though all end are possed of intelligence and discriminative faculty, yet these are not fully manifested in all, for which men cannot discriminate the real from the unreal and, in most cases, they fall short of their real from the unreal and, in most cases, they fall short of their real vision and right knowledge and are consequently liable to suffer. So they need some mediums or means which will help them and direct them to the right path. The saviours are like guiding stars that leas all towards at the right destination. The saviours and he messengers of God are the bright examples before the world, and if men follow them and follow the ennobling thoughts and deeds of the saviours, they can mould their lives and characters which will enlighten them and rescue them from the den of delusion.
The Great Saviours of the world contains eleven illuminating chapter dealing with divine lives and teachings of Srik Krishna, Zoroaster, Lao Tze, Gautama Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and Ramakrishna. In chapter I, an introductory discussion has been give to show that Divinity dwells on the topmost crest of the spiritual wave of humanity. Whoever reaches the summit, is transformed by that self effulgent light from a human into a divine being, and is regarded as God man, a divine messenger, or a savior of the world. Swami Abhedananda says that, according to Vedanta, the universe moves in cycles of wave forms, and these waves of evolution rise, reach their zenith, and gradually subside to rise again in the form of another wave. This cycle of evolution is to be found in the physical, mental, moral or ethical and spiritual planes of ht universe. If we study the history of humanity, we will find that nation after nation has risen, reached the climax of progress of culture and civilization, and has gradually passed into oblivion, making room for others to rise. But always we notice that on the highest plane of spiritual evolution of mankind, there is a shining and guiding soul, a prophet, a savior, or a divine incarnation.
All the saviours or prophets are recongnized as the divine messengers of God the merciful, and all of them are commissioned by the Almighty to deliver their messages to the people among whom they live. They are adorned with good and uncommon qualities and powers, and they do everything for the good of humanity, established righteousness, and destroy evil. Swami Abhedananda says that in the hour of need of the people, Sri Krishna came as a savior among the Hindus. About 6660 B.C. the prophet Zoroaster appeared among the Iranians, the ancient inhabitants of Persia and preached among the people the spiritual teachings. About the same time there arose in China, Lao Tze and Confucius. In India, there came another great savior in the form of Gautama Buddha who founded the Buddhist faith. About Six hundred years after Jesus the Christ, Mohammed appeared as a prophet of Islam and gave the Arabian people the gospel of truth. About the same time, the Hindus needed a re adjustment of an universal truth and there appeared, in South India, Sankaracharya and Ramanuja, and in North India, Sri Chaitanya There came also as the messengers and commentators Madhva, Nimvarka, Vallabha and others. Now, these great ones are recongnized as the prophets, messengers, incarnations or saviours of the humanity. As for example, the Swami says that Moses, Confucius and Mohammed are called as the prophets of the Lord; Zoroaster and Lao Tze as the messengers of God; and Sri Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Christ, Sankaracharya and Sri Ramakrishna are classed as the saviours of the world. But each of them had a divine mission, and each one set an example of purity, unselfishness, divine wisdom and disinterested love for all.
Swami Abhedananda has raised in this connection a question as to who is the real or true preacher of universal religion. He has said that each prophet or messenger is commissioned by God as the true preacher, because each one of them was an embodiment of Divinity. But when we take anyone as a preacher of any religion, we must judge from our common sense, or from our reasoning faculty, about his ability and fitness as a preacher. The Swami says that the real preacher of ht universal religion is one who has seen God and realized God, the Absolute in his divine feeling and who really lives the life of a God –man. But such a man or preacher is very rare. “If you ask me whether I have seen, therefore, I have seen God, and through Him, I have relaxed Buddha, Christ, Chaitanya, Krishna and other great prophets and saivours.” Here Swami Abhedananada has reminded us of the truth or divine promise of Sri Ramakrishna: ‘He, who was Rama and Krishna, is now incarnated as Ramakrishna.’
In the second chapter, the Swami has discussed about the uncommon life and teachings of Sri Krishna who sang a universal song of the Bhagavad Gita in the battle of Kurukshetra in the epic age. The life of Sri Krishna was historical as the life of Jesus the Christ. Swami Abhednanda has forwarded here various references and evidences in support of the historic city of Sri Krishna, and has quoted, in this connection, Prof. Lassen, Captain Wilford, Authur Lily, Sir William Jones, Sir Godfrey Higgins, Bankim Chandra Chatterji, Prof. Bhandarkar, Dr. W. H. Mill and others. He has also depicted a mythohistorical picture of Sri Krishna quoting references from the Mahabharata, the Harivamsha, the Puranas, and the Bhagavad Gita. Regarding Sri Krishna’s unparalleled character and sayings, the Swami says that the life of Krishna is marked by a most wonderful combination of both divine and human qualities. Sri Krishna showed by his actions that noble qualities reached perfection in him. “Nowhere do we find another example of perfect embodiment of all moral, spiritual and godly attributes which were manifested in the character of Krishna. No other incarnation, neither Buddha, nor Christ, can take the place of Krishna, because neither of them could set a higher example in social, political, ethical and spiritual ideals as was done by this world redeemer (Krishna)”. Sri Krishna as an expounder of the Bhagavad Gita established the fatherhood of one omnipotent personal God, and taught peace, charity, and love for humanity. He taught a synthetic sadhana which harmonized Yoga, Karma, Jnana and Bhakti and removed which harmonized Yoga, Karma, Jnana and Bhakti and removed all the antagonistic ideas in the field of relgio philosophical thoughts of India.
In the third chapter, Swami Abhedanand deals with life and teachings of Zoraster, the prophet of the ancient Iranians. Some scholars say Zoroaster lived about 6,000 B.C. , and others maintain that he was born in Bactria about 12,000 B.C. The Swami says that his actual historical time cannot be earlier than the middle of the seventh century B.C. Zoroaster was a direct descendant of the real line of the house of Manuschcihar. His father’s name was Pourushaspa and mother’s name was Dugdhova, and it is said that his native place was the district of Atropatene or Adarbaijan.
Zoroastrianism, as preached by Zoroaster, teaches that Ahura Mazda created man and gave him his body and mind. Man cannot do anything alone by his will and intellect without the grace of the Lord. Zoroastrianism is a religion of absolute faith, implicit confidence and unswerving devotion to Ahura Mazda. The Swami says that it is like the Bhakti Yoga or the path of devotion in the dualistic phase of the universal religion of Vedanta. It teaches constant prayers, offerings, sacrifices and thanksgiving by the devotee to the Lord.
The fourth chapter deals with the life and teachings of Lao Tze. In China, three religions or religious faiths are predominant and they are Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Confucianism and Taoism were indigenous, while Buddhism was imported from India in the year 65 A.D. The prophets like Confucius and Lao Tze were the founders of the religions of Confucianism and Taoism. Both of these prophets lived at the same time in sixth century B.C. These two prophets are regarded as Krishna and Buddha of India, and their religions imbibed the spirit of India to some extent. The teachings of Lao Tze are contained in the book which he wrote himself in the sixth century B.C. The name of his book was Tao Teh King, given by the Emperor Ching of the Han Dynasty (156 143 B.C.). The term 'Tao' connotes the idea of 'The Way', and some are of opinion that Tao means the Eternal Word or 'Logos' or the 'Eternal Being'. Again some call it the 'Reason' or 'Mature'. The Buddhists use the term 'Tao' as an embodiment of enlightenment. But the literary meaning of the word 'Tao' is the 'Way' or 'Method' which leads men to divine light or enlightenment.
Lao Tze taught that Tao is one and unique, and is immutable and eternal. It is nameless and indescribable like the Brahman of Advaita Vedanta. Lao Tze called it the mysterious abyss of existence (satta) and is, therefore, the mother or matrix of the world appearance. It existed before God, and therefore it created God which is known in Vedanta as Isvara, the personal God or the saguna Brahman, the first and causal manifestation of the Brahman. Swami Abhedananda says that as in Advaita Vedanta the individualized soul is known as the jivatman, so Tao or the Way of Heaven, when individualized, is known as the Way of Man, but, in truth, or in essence, the Way of Heaven and the Way of Man are one and the same. The Tao Teh King, written by Lao Tze, says that man takes law from the earth, the earth takes law from the Heaven, the Heaven takes law from the Tao, and Tao takes its law from what it is in itself. There Tao is not merely an abstract principle, but is the object of awe and reverence. Swami Abhedananda says that as the Brahman, or. The Absolute, is the cornerstone of philosophy and religion of Vedanta, so Tao, the Absolute and eternal One is the fundamental principle of philosophy and religion of Lao Tze. Tolstoi was greatly influenced by the religious and philosophical ideas or thoughts of Lao Tze. In fact, Lao Tze's religion, Taoism did not begin co be a popular religion until after the introduction of Buddhism in China, and it is a fact that Taoism borrowed many things from Buddhism. As for example, like Buddhism, the modern Taoism incorporated the Triratna of the Buddhists, Buddha, Dharma and Samgha, which took the names of the Perfect Holy One, the Highest Holy One and the Greatest Holy One. Like Buddhism, Taoism had its monks and nuns who wore yellow caps. It also borrowed from Buddhism the ideas of a Purgatory and of reward and punishment after death, as also the idea of rebirth or reincarnation. But Lao Tze believed in the immortality of the soul, and said that realization of the Tao through self conquest or self control is the attainment of salvation or mukti.
In the fifth chapter, Swami Abhedananda deals with life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. The word 'Buddha' implies the idea of 'Divine Enlightenment' or 'Wisdom', and Gautama Siddhartha was named after Buddha when he attained to divine wisdom through severe penance. Buddha's father was King Shuddhodana and mother's name was Maya Devi, the daughter of Suprabuddha. In the year 624 B.C., on the day of the full moon in the month of Vaisakha, while in the garden of Lumbini, under a satin tree, Maya Devi gave birth to a perfect child who was afterwards known as the saviour Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
Prince Siddhartha renounced his home and hearth and became the Sannyasin at the age of twenty nine. Swami Abhe¬dananda writes: "Shakya Muni Bodhisattva parted from Bimbisara as a friend and went out of Rajagriha, the capital of Magadha, in search of remedy for misery, sorrow, disease and death which prevailed in the world. He went to Vaisali and placed himself under the spiritual guidance of a great Brahmin philosopher Arada Kalama who had a large number of followers. He belonged to the Sankhya school of Kapila and laid great stress on the belief in a permanent and eternal Soul, the Atman". Arada Kalama taught Bodhisattva that the goal of perfect freedom and immortal life is reached in this path. But Bodhisattva found no satisfaction in this path or doctrine. So he left Arada Kalama and placed himself under the guidance of another Brahmin teacher, Udraka Ramaputra who belonged to the Vaiseshika school of Kanada. He accepted the truth of law of karma and analyzed the skandas that construct the stuff of personality. But this doctrine did not give him satisfaction, and so he went to the temple priests and asked them the way of salvation. His gentle and compassionate heart was horrified at the sight of the cruel sacrifice of the innocent animals on the altars of the gods for the expiration of sins. He believed in the creed of non killing and ahimsa. He then went in search of a better system of spiritual practice towards Uruvela, the modern Bodh Gaya. There in the jungle of Uruvela he met five Bhikshus, headed by Kaundinya, who were the disciples of Udraka. Bodhisattva was pleased to see their penance and severe austerity for controlling desires and passions. He also took the vow of that penance and for six years he continued to torture his body without food and clothes. His body was gradually reduced to a skeleton, but he did not find any real peace and happiness in that severe austerity. He was so Weak that he was unable to move his legs and limbs, and came to know that it is not the right path to get into real salvation. He then took hold of a tree nearby and tried to raise himself up, but he fell down and was unconscious for a long time. At this time Sujata happened to pass by the spot where Bodhisattva was swooned. She offered Bodhisattva the rice milk or payasa, which he ate and felt strong enough to come back to his seat of penance. He then selected the middle path (madhyama pant ha) and absorbed himself in deep meditation under the shade of the Bodhi tree. At this time he was tempted by Mara, the embodiment of desires and passipns, and he successfully conquered it, and sat cross legged under the Bo tree on the banks of the Nairanjana and attained Nirvana or the cessation to desires which is really the attainment of permanent tranquil peace. Such is the story of Buddha's attainment of Nirvana, and Swami Abhedananda has described it graphically while dealing with the life of the saviour, Gautama Buddha.
Astronomy (Gr. astron, a star ; nomos, a law) teaches, whatever is known of the heavenly bodies. It may be divided into three main heads: (1) Geometrical or mathematical astronomy, (2) physical astronomy, and (3) sidereal astronomy. (1) Geometrical or mathematical astronomy is concerned with the exact determination of the numerical and geometrical elements, magnitudes, and the figures they describe in their motions. (2) Physical astronomy is concerned with the nature of the powers or forces that carry on the heavenly motions, the laws that they observe and the calculation of the motions from a knowledge of these laws. (3) Sidereal astronomy is concerned with whatever is ascertained regarding the universe of the fixed stars. Besides these, another practical astronomy may be taken into consideration for various accounts of the astronomical instruments which are concerned with the astronomical requirements (vide Chambers' Encyclopedia, vol. I, 1877, p. 506).
The Hindus, the Chinese, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, and other ancient civilized nations of the world are known to have investigated the heaven long before the Christian era. Generally we come to know that the Greeks have the honour of elevating astronomy into a reliable history. But, before the Greeks, the Hindus were interested in the science of astronomy and its evidence is found in the Vedic literature. In ancient Greece, Thales (640 B.C!), the founder of the Ionic school of philosophy, laid the foundation of Greek astronomy. It is said that he, for the first time, propagated the theory of the earth's sphericity, as he divided the sphere into five zones. Anaxagoras also devoted his energy in the culture of this science of astronomy. In 500 B.C., Pythagoras propagated the science of astronomy as an able successor of Thales and taught that the morning and evening stars were in reality one and the same planet. But physicists are of the opinion that the views of Pythagoras got no support from his successors until the advent of Copernicus. The advent of the Alexandrian school is also remarkable in that period. In 432 B.C. Meton introduced the luni solar cycle (Metonic Cycle) "as already intimated, and in conjunction with Euctemon, obsened a solstice at Athens in the year 424 B.C.". The Alexandrian school determined the positions of the fixed stars by systematic arrangements of the planets and ultimately presented the trigonometrical methods and the first system of theoretical astronomy that had ever comprehended an entire plan of the celestial motions. The most interesting circumstances connected with the early history of the Alexandrian school are the attempts made to determine the distance of the earth from the sun and the magnitude of the terrestrial globe. Aristarchus of Samos—the pioneer of the Copernicus system, as Humboldt calls him—is the author of an ingenious plan to ascertain the former. Now there arose many noted astronomers' like Timo charis, Aristyllus, Hipparchus of Bithynia (160 125 B.C.) who belonged to the Alexandrian school. Hipparchus catalogued no less than 1801 stars and his is the first reliable catalogue.
In 130 150 A.D., we come across Ptolemy who was known as a practical astronomer and who discovered the libration or evec tion of the moon. He also was the first to point out the effect of refraction. As a musician, a geographer, and a mathematician also, he was reputed and he improved many of the, theories advanced by Hipparchus. In 762 A.D., we notice the remark¬able works in the field of astronomy "in the reign of the Caliph Al Mansur who gave great encouragement to science, as did also his successors, the 'good Harouh Al Rashid’ and 'Al Mamouti'." The most illustrious of the Arabian school were Albategnius or Al Batani (880 A.D.), who discovered the motion of the solar apogee, and who was the first to make use of sines and versed sines instead of chords, who also corrected the Greek observa¬tions, and was altogether the most distinguished observer between Hipparchus and the Copernican era ; and Ibn Yunis (1000 A.D.), an excellent mathematician, who made observations of great importance in determining the disturbances and eccentricities of Jupiter and Saturn, and who was the first to use cotangents and secants. In the northern part of Persia, an observatory was erected (in 1322 A.D.) by a descendant of the renowned warrior Chenghis Khan, where some tablets were constructed by Nasir ud din, and at Samarkand; Ulugh Beg, a grandson of Timur, made many observations and published some correct catalogues of stars. In 13th 14th centuries, we find the first translation from the Almagest, made under the Emperor Frederick II of Germany in about 1230 A.D., and in 1252 A.D., an impulse was given to science by the formation of astronomical tablets under the auspices of Alfonso X of Castile. From 1220 A.D. to 1476 A.D., we find names of some astronomers like Holywood (Sacrobosco), Purbach, Regiomontanus (John Miiller), Waltherus.
Then we find many names of astronomers in the head of astronomical science, and they are Copernicus (1473T543), Tycho Brahe (1546 1601), Kepler (1571 1630), Galileo Galilei (1564 1642), Newton (1642 1727), Laplace (1749 1827) and others. A noted astronomer remarked:"If the 18th century opened with lustre derived from the physical demonstrations of Newton, it closed magnificently with the telescopic discoveries of Sir William Herschel, who added to our universe a primary planet (Uranus) with its satellites, gave two more satellites to Saturn, resolved the milky way into countless myriads of stars, and unravelled the mvstery of nebulae and of double and triple stars. Laland, Lagrance, Lacaille, and Delambre in the latter half of the 18th century did much by their researches and analyses to systematize and improve the science of astronomy. The instrumental means of observation were also, during that time, brought to high perfection. Laplace in his great work, the Mecanique Xeleste (1799 1808) gave what further proof was needed of the truth and sufficiency of the Newtonian theory" (vide Chamber's Encyclopaedia, 1877, pp. 509). The twentieth century has produced eminent scientists like Profs. Whitehead, Max Planck, Eddington, Jeans, Sullivan, Crowther and others who have given precious contributions to the domain of astronomical science, and explored many mysteries of the solar system and the heavenly bodies. In recent years, Prof. Fred Hoyle and his young Indian colleague Dr. J. V. Narlikar have created a stir among mathematicians and physicists and their new investigations and ideas will cause some re thinking on some fundamental problems of theoretical physics. Dr. Hideki Yukawa of Kyoto University, one of the Nobel Prize winners has also explored in the recent time the particles in the nucleus or the core of the atom and this has revolutionized the orthodox and past theories when he suggests that the particles in the core of the atom are not pointline objects, but are billowing objects like silk handkerchief.
Prof. Fred Hoyle and Dr. Jayant Vishnu Narlikar have contributed a new and novel theory in the field of gravitation and of other orthodox theories. It is familiar to everyone that Sir Issac Newton discovered the theory of gravitation from the fall of an apple. Prof. Einstein also threw some new lights on the theory of attraction and repulsion, i.e. of gravitation. Profs. Hoyle and Narlikar have shown that gravitation in the Einsteinian formulation is not dependant on matter, but in the Hoyle Narlikar view, gravitation is a property of the sum of all matter in the universe and would disappear in the absence of any matter. It has been reported, "Hoyle hopes that the new theory may offer a way of unifying gravitational and electro magnetic forces in a single system, a task which Einstein left un finished." We are also familiar with the three dimensions of space, and in the Einsteinian view, these cannot be separated from a fourth dimension—time, and everything exists in a space time continuum. So gravitation, according to Prof. Einstein, is a property of space time; that is why it is always there. But the Hoyle Narlikar theory has added some new things to Einstein's theory, reviving the idea of action at a distance, as maintained by the Newtonian law in a much more sophisticated form. Profs. Hoyle and Narlikar have shown that the difficulties arising from the idea of action travelling at finite speed from one body to another can be removed, if the reactions of all the remaining particles in the universe are taken into account. In place of the concept of interaction between two particles, we are now presented with the idea of interaction of a particle with the universe. Now it is known from the facts that Einstein's gravitation affects the geometry of space time, whereas Hoyle Narlikar's gravitation becomes a property of the universe. To mark the difference between the two views it can be further quoted from the article of Dr. Narlikar which was written for New Scientist, London that "according to the Newtonian and Einsteinian theories, addi tion of new matter to the universe or removal of some of the existing matter will not, for example, make any difference to the earth's gravity (G). But according to the Hoyle Narlikar theory, the value of 'G’will go up by a factor of two if half of the matter in the universe is suddenly removed. And since gravitation arises from interaction between all matter in the universe, there cannot be any gravitation when there is nothing for an object to interact with, as Dr. Narlikar says that there wtfuld be no 'physics' if the number of particles in the universe were less than two (cf. The Statesman, Sunday, June 21," 1964).
Again, from the recent records of different investigations in the field of physics and mathematics, we come to know that to day the nuclear physicists have advanced one stage further into the science fiction realm of anti matter and have substantiated, both theoretically and experimentally, that anti matter does exist in nature. The properties of anti matter are opposite of the familiar matter of which we and our world are riiade. Today physicists and specially the Russian scientists are opening the door to the mysterious realm of mycro physics where nature is still hiding many secrets. A few years ago the very idea of observing an electron seemed fantastic. In the study of anti matter and fundamental nuclear exploration, a good many results have been obtained. The scientists at Novosibirsk Institute of Nuclear Physics have discovered many things of science or physics. The ring currents of electrons and positrons are visible today to the naked eye, and it has also been shown that the simplest complex atomic nucleus in nature belongs to a heavy form of hydrogen called deuterium. "The nucleus of this atom is made up of one proton and one neutron held together by the strong nuclear force. This force is basic to the world and the whole universe; it holds the particles inside all atoms together. Without it atoms could not exist" (vide The A. B. Patrika, May 8, 1967).
The studies of calendars are also very important in astronomy. The study of calendars marked by zodiacal constellations, says Hon. Emmelmi M. Plunket, necessitates an acquaintance with the position of those constellations as they were to be observed through the many ages during which they held the important office of presiding over the year and its changing seasons. Such acquaintanceship depends upon careful and accurate calculations of the positions of the sun, the moon, the stars, and other heavenly bodies.
Swami Abhedananda says that, of the tree of knowledge and wisdom, philosophy is the flower and religion is the fruit, philosophy is the theoretical side of religion and religion is philosophy in practice. In India, philosophy means the science of realization or a divine awareness of the Absolute which transcends the categories of time, space and causation. Philosophy may be called a spiritual process by means of which a man sees God face to face.
If we define the word 'philosophy' we find that philos means 'to love' and sophia means 'wisdom' and, therefore, philosophy means the 'love of wisdom'. In India, true love and highest wisdom are one and the same, and though philosophy generally implies the idea of generalized and speculative thoughts along with reason and intellect, yet, in truth, it signifies the highest intuitive perception (anubhuti) of the absolute Truth. In India, we call philosophy as a darsana and that means to see or to appreciate God the Absolute. The word 'religion' implies the sense of a loving bond between God and man, between the Brahman and the individual soul. If we define the word 'religion' we find that religio means 'to bind' or to bind a man with the ultimate principle which is the Absolute. Man is the highest and par excellent object of evolution and he excels all the creatures in the universe in order and in merit. The Upanishad says that it is man alone who can realize the Brahman and can go beyond the cycle of birth and rebirth and can break the chain of nescience (ajnana). The false knowledge (rhithya jnana) deludes us and so we shall have to shake the fetters of false knowledge by attaining right knowledge (satya jnana).
This book, Thoughts on Philosophy and Religion, is a collection of twelve lectures on analytical and intuitive discussions on philosophy and religion. Two appendices have been added, one, Dr. A. Kuenon's discussion on the worship of Jahvch in the form of a bull, and the other, Questions and Answers. These lectures were at first published in brochures in America and in India too, and thereafter those have been hunched together and published in book form.
The twelve chapters of this book cover the comparative and scientific studies on different aspects of philosophy and religion, along with their practical application in human life. Swami Abhedananda has discussed about unity and harmony, the cosmic evolution and its purpose, the development of Word and Cross in ancient India, philosophy of good and evil, religion of the Hindus, the Saviours of the souls, the Motherhood of God, the Divine communion, and the way to blessed life—all in a very comprehensive manner. He has thrown new light on different theories and problems which he has taken for discussions, and has said that until and unless theories are brought into practice, so long intellectual discussions are meaningless. Higher intuitive perception of the Absolute is the aim of both philosophy and religion.
In the first chapter, Swami Abhedananda has discussed the main principles and problems of philosophy and religion. The Swami has said that by studying all sciences, philosophies and religions of the world we find that truth is absolute and one and the manifestations of truth appear as many. The aims of both philosophy and religion are to discuss about the unchangeable truth and also to discover that truth which under lies all the phenomena.In fact, philosophy determines both reality and unreality of everything of the universe and instructs men to accept reality and to abandon unreality. The Swami says that the work of religion is also to determine the method by which men can understand that they are the immortal Spirit and not the mortal body, and the moment they realize the nature of their being, they are able to separate the mortal body from the immortal At man.
The second chapter continues with the discussions on philosophy and religion. In this chapter, Swami Abhedananda has efficiently discussed the central philosophical thought of Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Fichtc, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Herbert Spencer in one hand, and the speculative thoughts of the leading philosophers of India on the other and has shown that all of them have tried to discover the unchangeable essence of the world, whether that essence is known as the Unknown and Unknowable, the Will, the Absolute, God, or the Brahman. While comparing the system of philosophy of Kant with that of Advaita Vedanta, Swami Abhedananda says that Vedanta philosophy is loftier than the Kantian system, because Vedanta philosophy shows the phenomenal nature of the Kantian ego which Kant realized as the source of truth, and the forms of intuition and vagary of thought have been placed with phenomena. Besides, Vedanta philosophy has recognized the identity of the objective reality with the subjective reality, which Kant did not. The Swami has also refuted Herbert Spencer or the Spencerian school, because Spencer maintained that what cannot be perceived by senses and cannot be understood by intellect, will never be known. But the Swami says that the super sensible and super intellect Brahman can be known i.e. be realized by the Divine intuition. In the Adhyasa bhashya, Sankara has also admitted that the Atman, or the Brahman, is not altogether unknown (avishaya), but is known as an idea of "I" to our know ledge ("aham pratyaya gocharatvat").
Swami Abhedananda views that true philosophy performs three functions: Firstly, it corresponds with the final results, arrived at by different branches of science and taking up these results', makes the wider generalization. Secondly, it must go into the realm of the phenomenal or the knowable, and must raise the soul up from the dark abyss of selfishness, ignorance and self delusion. Thirdly, it makes it realize its divine and absolute nature. Religion of Vedanta also teaches the alternative methods of the spiritual practices like the Karma Yoga, the Bhakti Yoga, the Raja Yoga and the Jnana Yoga and says that these are the alternative paths to reach the same absolute Reality. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa also admits this view, and has preached that all the methods of spiritual practice lead to one and the same goal.
The third chapter deals with the sublime teachings of Vedanta philosophy. The Swami says that Vedanta philosophy teaches that religion is science of the soul and gives a scientific and philosophical basis to religon. It teaches the secrets of work (karma), devotion (bhakti), concentration (dharand),. and meditation (dhyana), which disclose the mystery of the highest wisdom. The Swami further says that Vedanta philosophy is not pessimistic like Buddhism which teaches that the visible world is an illusion. Specially the Madhyamika school of Buddhism teaches that reality or existence of the world is reduced to nothingness or void (sunyata). but the non dualistic school of Vedanta teaches that the world is the product of ne science or maya and that means the world has a relative or conditional phenomenal existence (vyavaharika satta) and has no permanent existence (paramarthika satta). The real contention of the non dualistic Vedanta philosophy is this that existence of the absolute Brahman is the only reality and other than the Brahman, everything is unreal.
The fourth chapter deals with religion of Vedanta philosophy. The Swami deals in this chapter with the topics that religion is also included in the category of Vedanta, and of the same tree of knowledge, Vedanta philosophy is the flower and religion is the fruit. Religion of Vedanta, therefore, is unique and universal and it supplies the spiritual needs of all classes of people in all climes and all ages. The one peculiarity of religion of Vedanta is, on the one hand, it encourages those who do not care for any ritual, ceremonial, symbolic or any other external forms of worship and. on the other, it provides all forms, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols for those who find them helpful at the time of devotional exercises. In fact, religion of Vedanta philosophy gives the real and inner meaning or significance of everything and says that means of attaining to supreme consciousness may be manifold, but end is one and the same, and so there remains no sectarian view regarding spiritual sadhana. The means, or the symbols, are the steps towards perfection, and perfection or God consciousness is the real end.
The fifth chapter deals with religion of the Hindus. In this chapter, Swami Abhedananda has historically traced the origin of the word 'Hindu', and has defined it in an universal way. As the Hindus are the worshippers of eternal religion (Sanatana Dharma), so their religion is universal, being not determined or limited by any caste, creed and nationality. Religion of the Hindus does not believe in, or preach, the theory of sin or hell, but discloses the fact that all human beings are j the children of the immortal bliss and they are, in essence, I the changeless immortal Brahman. Religion of the Hindus I recognizes the spiritual growth of the souls, and also describes I different stages of spiritual development. There are men of I different tastes, temperaments, and likings, and so religion of the Hindus is very liberal to prescribe different of spiritual practice or sadhana that suit different kinds of men.
The universal teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, or the divine message of Sri Krishna, forms the part of the Bhishmaparua of the Mahabharata. The divine teachings of the Gita have been depicted in the dialogue between Sri Krishna and the warrior Arjuna. Arjuna faced the terrible and fierce battle of the dharmakshetra Kurukshetra and placed his chariot in between the Kaurava and Fandava soldiers, and Sri Krishna was his charioteer or SSrathi, friend and guide in the battle field. Dr. Radhakrishnan says that Arjuna's cry or demand was simple yet tremendous and damaging one, "significant of the tragedy of man, which all, who can see beyond the actual drama of the hour, can recognize. The mood of despair, in which Arjuna is found in the first chapter of the Gita, is what the mystics call the dark night of the soul, an essential step in the upward path. Krishna stands for the voice of God, delivering his message in the thrilling notes, warning Arjuna against dejection of spirit. As the dialogue proceeds, the dramatic clement disappears. The echoes of the battle field die away, and we have only an interview between God and man". The entire Bhagavad Gita has been divided into eighteen chapters and each chapter has been named with the titles ending with Yoga, such as, (1) arjuna vishada yoga, (2) sankhya yoga, (3) karma yoga, (4) jnana yoga, (5) sannyasa yoga, (6) dhyana yoga, (7) jnana vijnana yoga, (8) akshara brahma yoga, (9 raja yoga, (10) vibhuti yoga, (11) visvarupa darshana yoga, (12) bhakti yoga, (13) kshetra kshetrajna yoga, (14) gunatraya vibhaga yoga, (15) purushottama yoga, (16) daivasura sampad vibhiga yoga, (17) shraddhatraya vibhaga yoga, (18) moksha yoga. Now these eighteen chapters or Yogas can be classified into four main heads, karmayoga, bhaktiyoga, jnanayoga and rajayoga or spiritual practices of work as worship, devotion, concentration and meditation, and knowledge.
The Bhagavad Gita can be said to be the extract or essence of the Upanishads, which are known as Vedanta: "vedanta namo. upanishad pramanam". In the contemplatitive composition or dhyana of the Gita, it has been mentioned:
That is, the Upanishads are like the cows, those bear milk or amrita and Sri Krishna, the milkman, churned or extracted that milk or amrita from those cows or Upanishads and distributed it to the wise (sudht) ones who are seekers after highest knowledge. From this it is evident that the Bhagavad Gita is a condensed form of all the Upanishads that teach the supreme knowledge of the Brahman.
Swami Abhedananda says that as Jesus the Christ was a historical person (though scholars and historians like Strauss, Robertson, Connybear, Drews and others refuted the historicity of Jesus), so was Sri Krishna. The Swami has discussed the lives and personalities of both the Saviours, Sri Krishna and Jesus the Christ, from various authentic sources in the Introduction of this book, as Mr. J. M. Robertson discussed on 'Christ and Krishna' in his monumental work, Christianity and Mythology. But the Swami's treatment on 'Krishna and Christ' is quite different and at the same time new and novel.
The Swami writes: "The similarities between the birth and death stories of Krishna and those of Christ and the coincidences of the principal events and miracles in the lives of those two Saviours are so great and startling that the first Christian missionaries who entered India .... were astonished….They were like two brothers or two manifestations of the same Divinity and two different names separated only by time and space." Now it can be asked as to why Swami Abhedananda compared the life and teachings of Krishna with those of Christ, while discussing about the divine teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, the most sacred scripture to trie Hindus. To this it can be said that as the Swami delivered his lectures on the Gita before the talented Western audiences, he comparatively discussed the lives and personalities of those two Saviours for their easy appreciation.
The teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is divine, synthetic and universal. The Gita teaches theism and “regards God as the supreme and perfect person (Purushottama). It is a synthetic universal message of the supreme Spirit, and it harmonizes all the contradictory views and doctrines of different religious seets and practices. It advocates dualistic monism, preaches the cult of VJsudeva Krishna, and enjoins different Yogas for the attainment of Godconsciousness". Arjuna can be regarded as a spiritual aspirant amidst the ocean of samsara or world, and Sri Krishna as a divine guide, faithful friend and realized Guru. Amdist hundreds and thousands of works and duties of the world, Sri Krishna taught Arjuna the unreality and fleeting nature of the world and at the same time illumined him with divine knowledge. Well has. it been said by Sri Aurobindo in his Essays on the Gila: "We must accept the insistence of the author and give its full importance to this recurrent preoccupation of the Teacher and the disciple. The teachings of the Gita must, therefore, be regarded not merely in the light of a general spiritual philosophy or ethical doctrine, but as bearing upon practical crisis in the application of ethics and spirituality to human life". Similarly it has been said by the Western savant, Rudolf Otto, in his The Original Gita (The Song of the Supreme Exalted One): "In India again, and also by Western commentators, the work is regarded principally as the fundamental doctrinal Text of the Hindu 'bhakti religion'. This, in the first place, is the religious attitude which is trust, faith and love, turns to the Personal God Who is the Redeemer from the evils of samsara—of a wandering existence or migration in the universe; but in its modern form the spiritual attitude just referred to, doctrines selected from the expanding systems of Sankhya and Yoga, from the ancient moralistic doctrine of the three gunas or 'constituents of Nature', from the theology of the old Vedic sacrificial cult and, finally, from Vedantic speculation and soterilogical teaching about the transcendent super personal Brahman which arise from the cult".
Now the opinions about the form, philosophy, and essence of the Bhadavad Gita may differ from one another, but most of the thinkers hold that Prakriti, the embodiment of the gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas, is the material cause of the world appearance and it is modified into the world under the guidance of Divine Will of God, the Prime Mover and Spiritual Spirit. God is considered as the ground of empirical being and non being.
We are now offering to the public the Ninth Volume of the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda, published on the occasion of the Swami Abhedananda Centenary Celebration, 1966 67. This volume contains thirty three lectures comprising the chapters thirty three to sixty five.
These remaining thirty three lectures or chapters have also been critically edited, and annotated with Notes and portions of Commentaries of Sankara and Maadhusudana Sarasvati, and Glossaries of Anadagiri and Sridhara svami, where necessary, by Swami Prajnananda.
These lectures of Swami Aabhedananda are the new and scientific exposition of the Bhagavad Gita carrying an original and special stamp of their own.
"LEAVES FROM MY DIARY" is an illuminating record of the activities and achievements of Swami Abhedananda in America and Europe in the propagation of Truth as embodied in the Upanishads and in the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna.
Born at Ahiritola in the northern part of Calcutta, on 2nd of October, 1866, Kali Prasad, as the Swami was then called, received the rudiments of education at a school in the neigh bourhood, known as Jadu Pandit's School.Subsequently he joined the Oriental Seminary, which towards the middle of the nineteenth century, was a nursery of great men and Rasik I’al Chandra, the father of Kali Prasad, who was a veteran teacher of English in that Institution, was held in high esteem for his ripe scholarship, his lofty character and, above all, for his magnetic personality. The enthusiastic teacher was never weary of sowing seeds of future greatness in the minds of his pupils among whom may be mentioned the names of Krishna Das Pal, Girish Chandra Ghose, Amrita Lai Bose. Young Kali Prasad inherited in an ample measure his father's insatiable thirst for knowledge, deep devotion to truth, resolute will to follow the right in scorn of consequence. To that high souled lady, Nayantara Devi, his mother, who was rich in the abundance of her faith in the goodness of God he owes his vision beyond the world of something unworldly, his longing for the Great Unknown, behind the mysterious veil of phenomena— the Great Unknown which is at the same time the most assuredly known in one's own self consciousness.
As an earnest student, who delighted in the poetry of Kali das, Bhababhuti, Banabhatta, and argued about the inspiring philosophy of Hume, Mill, Spencer, Kali Prasad was looked upon as a prodigy. He passed the Entrance Examination of the University of Calcutta held in 1882. But great things were predicted of him. The prophecy has come true, but not in the sense in which it was then interpreted. The path of glory that ends in death, he has not chosen to tread. He has sought immortal life in the glorious company of Sri Ramakrishna.
The crisis came in 1883. Drawn into the magnetic influence of Sri Ramakrishna he saw life in a new light,—life as realization and service,—life as the fulfilment of the law that elevates the individual to the Universal. Swami Abhedananda was in intimate relationship of his Master and was duly ini¬tiated into the mysteries of sadhana of Yoga. With Swami Vivekananda, Swami Brahmananda, and others he belonged to the innermost circle of the blessed eleven round the Prophet. In 1886, the world seer cast off his coarse bodily garment and the young Sannyasin Abhedananda set out on his extensive travels in India. In 1896, Swami Vivekananda needed his help in London and Swami Abhedananda threw himself heart and soul into the work of preaching, to the people of the West, Vedanta as represented and realized in the luminous lite of his Divine Master, Sri Ramakrishna. He gathered round him a whole host of admirers and men like Max Miiller, Paul Deussen, who marvelled at the depth of his learning, the wide catholicity of his mind, and the purity of his soul. The return of Swami Vivekananda to India, in 1897, was a source of great disappointment to his numerous friends and disciples in America. At the earnest solicitation of Miss Philips, the secretary of the New York Vedanta Society and at the request of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Abhedananda proceeded to New York in 1897 and became the spiritual head of the Institution. As a devout religious teacher, as a powerful preacher who earried conviction into the hearts of the people, and as a saintly man, the name of Swami Abhedananda soon spread far and wide into the homes of the people of America—the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, Brazil, the Argentine Republic. "LEAVES FROM MY DIARY" will thus prove to be of perennial interest to those who love and value the civilization and culture of India, It will also bring to view many a sealed page in the history of the Ramakrishna Movement. It will afford much food for serious thought to the present generation of men and women in India, who are bewitched by the glamour of the West. True the winds have shifted, the tides have ebbed and flowed, and true the boat swings, but let the anchor hold.
THE PHILSOPHICAL 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 Paramahamsa. 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 practised all kinds of spiritual sadhana, and realized that faiths and methods (matas and pathos) 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 comers 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 Rama krishna, 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 faiths and principles. But, to tell the truth, His philosophy or religio philosophical 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 Ramakrishna) 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 extra ordinary 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 a living inspiration, inner urge, and divine enlightenment in the path of spiritual progress. It is needles 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 and forwarded to him except for the two books, Stotraratnakara in Sanskrit, and Amur Jiuankatha 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 Swarm'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 discussions of his lectures cum subjects in a concised form, 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 Ls 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 com¬pendium 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 Ashutosh 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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