Born in the village of Trikkur, Kerala State, on December 15, 1908, Swami Ranganathananda joined the Ramakrishna Order, the international spiritual and cultural movement founded by Swami Vivekananda, at its branch in Mysore in 1926. He was formally initiated into Sannyasa in 1933 by Swami Shivananda, one of the eminent disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and the second President of the Order. After spending the first twelve years in the Order’s branches in Mysore and Bangalore, the first six years of which as cook, dish-washer and house-keeper and later as warden of student’s hostel, he worked as Secretary and librarian at the Ramakrishna Mission at Rangoon — from 1939 to 1942, and thereafter as President Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Karachi, from 1942 to 1948.
From 1949 to 1962, he worked as the Secretary of the New Delhi branch of the Mission, and from 1962 to 1967; he was the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Culcutta, Director of its School of Humanistic and Cultural Studies, and Editor of its monthly journal.
From 1973 to 1993 he was President of Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. From 1994 to 1998 he was Vice-President of World-Wide Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and became its President in 1998. He stayed at Belur Math, till his passing away on April 25, 2005.
He has undertaken extensive lecture tours from 1946 to 1972 covering 50 countries. From 1973 to 1986 he visited annually Australia, U.S.A., Holland and Germany.
In 1986 he was awarded the first Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
He has a versatile and facile pen, and has to his credit a number of publications, chief amongst which are The Message of the Upanisads, A Pilgrim Looks at the World, Vols. I and II; Four Volumes of Eternal Values for a Changing Society — Vol. 1: Philosophy and Spirituality, Vol. 2: Great Spiritual Teachers, Vol. 3: Education for Human Excellence and Vol. 4: Democracy for Total Human Fulfillment; (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s publications); 1-luman Being in Depth (State University of New York publication) Practical Vedanta and Science of Values (Advaita Ashram publication), 28 video-tapes expounding the entire Gita sloka by sloka. 60 titles of audio tapes expounding the ideas of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Vedanta.
In this Bhavan ‘s Eternal Values Booklets Series 7, Human Values in Management, Swami Ranganathananda has discussed the important role which human values, particularly in the Management sphere, play in the development of the country in various fields.
To the question why after more than four decades of Independence, there has been no significant improvement in the condition of the poor and downtrodden millions of our country, he unerringly points to the lack of human orientation in our social dealings, especially at the higher level. It is, “Each one unto oneself, let the devil take the hindmost”. This attitude on the part of the administrators, both in private and public sectors, has resulted in accentuating, rather than diminishing, the disparities existing between the “haves” and the “havenots.” He has, therefore, called upon the administrators to abandon such attitudes and develop a human touch in their dealings with their fellowmen.
Quite appropriately Swami Ranganathananda has quoted a dire warning uttered by Swami Vivekananda in this connection:
“These conceptions of the Vedanta must come out, must remain not only in the forest, not only in the cave, but they must come out to work at the bar and the bench, in the pulpit, in the cottage of the poor man, with the fishermen that are catching fish, and with the students that are studying. They call to every man, woman, and child, whatever be their occupation; wherever they may be. And what is there to fear? How can the fishermen and all these carry out the ideals of the Upanisads?
The way has been shown. It is infinite, religion is infinite, none can go beyond it, and whatever you do sincerely is good for you. Even the least thing well done brings marvelous results. Therefore, let every one do what little he can. If the fisherman thinks he is the Spirit (the Atman), he will be a better fisherman; if the student thinks he is the Spirit, he will be a better student. If the lawyer thinks that he is the Spirit, he will be a better lawyer, and so on But that does not mean that there should be these (special) privileges. They should be knocked on the head. If you teach Vedanta to the fisherman, he will say: I am as good a man as you; I am a fisherman, you are a philosopher, but I have the same God in me as you have in you. And that is what we want; no privilege for anyone, equal chances for all. Let everyone be taught that the Divine is within and every one will work out his own salvation.
“The day for these privileges and exclusive claims is gone. The duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own grave and the sooner it does so, the better. The more it delays, the more it will fester and the worse death it will die.”
Unless this is done and done soon, it can lead to complete chaos in our society and country. It is hoped that this warning will set the administrators thinking and induce in them a more human approach in their day-to-day dealings for their own benefit and for the benefit of the country at large.
That the theme of the book has been widely acclaimed is shown by the fact that the Chairman of the Punjab National Bank had printed 30,000 copies of the English edition and 15,000 copies of the Hindi edition in 1984, and later a similar number by the Chairman, Coal India Ltd., for free distribution to their staff all over India.
It is also included in Volume Four: Democracy for Total Human Fulfillment, of the Swami’s four-volume Eternal Values for a Changing Society, fourth enlarged edition, 1986, published by the Bhavan.
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