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Photographs of Swami Vivekananda

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Item Code: IDE378
Author: Compiled and Researched by Members of the Vedanta Society of Northern California
Language: English
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 8178230003
Pages: 303 (Color Illus: 1, B & W Illus: 106)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2" X 8.8"
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Book Description
Publisher's Note

Swami Vivekananda is one of those rare souls who was born to help humanity find fulfillment. Deep as the ocean and vast as the sky, Swamiji's personality is difficult to fathom, but delightful to contemplate. Athletic in build, leonine in appearance, his regal bearing was striking. He had a razor-sharp intellect and a prodigious memory. His interest encompassed all fields of human endeavor. A powerful writer and vibrant poet, he was called an "orator by divine right." An engaging conversationalist, brilliantly humorous, he was a master of repartee. It was his melodious singing that first drew Sri Ramakrishna to him. A born leader, he was an expert organizer with a prophetic vision. For the youth he has become a role model. His sympathetic heart felt deeply for the poor and lowly. His practical Vedanta of worshipping God in man has given a new interpretation to the ancient idea of renunciation. In every respect Swamiji was a king among monks.

We gladly present to our readers this comprehensive collective of photographs of Swami Vivekananda. The photos presented in this volume, we believe, will help us visualize Swamiji by seeing him pictured in various moods and poses under diverse contexts and times. All the known photographs available of Swamiji from 1886 to 1901 are included. We are indebted to Pravrajika Virajaprana, the director of this project, for her painstaking research in locating the 106 photos, as well as giving their historical background when known. Almost every photograph is accompanied by a note, which gives its date and place as well as the context in which it was taken. We are also grateful to all of the members of the Vedanta Society of Northern California who assisted her. This collection was originally a two-volume album. It was dedicated in 1993 as part of the Vedanta Society of Northern California's centenary celebrations in honor of Swami Vivekananda's participation in the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

These photographs were first serialized in the Vedanta Kesari, the English monthly of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, between October 1995 and November 1996. However, two photographs which appear on pages 247 (#91) and 249 (#92) are hitherto unpublished and were recently discovered in the archives of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, Hollywood. We are happy to present this collection of photographs now as a book to our readers. Our thanks are due to the Vedanta Society of Northern California for subsidizing the cost of this publication making this invaluable book available to a larger audience.

Preface to the Second Edition

The Photographs of Swami Vivekananda is the result of ongoing research and as such is always open to findings. As stated in the Introduction, one of its purposes is to present chronologically all of Swamiji's known photographs accompanied by whatever historical background is available. As the first edition was going to press, new information regarding one of the photos (now renumbered as no. 83) and additional details about photograph no 71 came to light in a new book published by Sri Sarada Math. This information is now also included in the present volume.

For students of Swami Vevekananda any additional material relating to him is invaluable. Let us hope that future research will reveal even more details concerning our great Swamiji.


Sri Ramakrishna gave himself to the world through Swami Vivekananda. The coming together of any two gifted souls as teacher and student has always been an event of creative significance in world history. In this case the two souls were not merely gifted but uniquely outstanding and creatively original; each was a complement to the other, and temperaments. This confluence witnessed the emergence of a glorious vision of truth, of a more perfect excellence of character, and the striving for universal human happiness and welfare. Knowledge is a powerful force. Love is another powerful force. The more universal and pure the knowledge and love, the more dynamic they become. In Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, knowledge and love shed all their limitations and became a mighty force-pure, positive and dynamic.

With the touch of his Master, Swamiji burst upon the world not as a passive saint but as a dynamic world-mover. If he exerted so much influence on the contemporary world, and continues to exert that influence in ever increasing measure in both the East and the West, it is because he realized the eternal imperishable truth in his own being, and sought inspiration from that in his work. The edifice of his character was built on the rock foundation of spirituality that found expression in a vigorous personality of brilliant intellect and measureless heart. He was a many-sided personality and can appear to us in various hues, but his greatness had something eternal about it unlike the passing greatness familiar in the world of achievements. Rooted in the Atman and drawing nourishment there from, the personality and work of such men and women carry something compelling in it and possess an enduring character.

The photographs of the great swami illustrate this fact: the quality of the eternal saturates them. Seeing all of his known photographs collected together into a single volume, we are given a vivid visual feast-getting a glimpse into the blending of the eternal with the temporal. The photographs in the present volume not only illustrate the historical record of Swami Vivekananda's life and show many of the various facets of his personality, but they also capture the vast ocean of spirit that pervaded his life. The members of the Vedanta Society of Northern California have labored hard to both extensively research the factual aspects of the photographs and also to make every effort in locating the best possible print of each image. Including contemporary quotes of the swami, side-by-side with the photos makes this volume both informative and uplifting.

I am sure it will be appreciated by the readers and become a source of inspiration to many people in both the East and West. I convey my love and blessings to all associated with this volume.

From the Jacket:

A Senior swami of the Ramakrishna Order who served the Vedanta Society in San Francisco for many years once said that it is spiritually uplifting to study Swami Vivekananda or just to look at his picture because he takes one to God. In that spirit, swamis and members of the San Francisco Vedanta Society have been studying Swamiji and his works for decades.

This book is one of the results of such dedicated study. It is a carefully researched collection of all the known photos of the great Swami, giving the details of place, time and circumstance of each photo. Where there has remained doubt or difference of opinion after thorough research, these facts have been frankly presented.

Accompanying the photos are biographical sketches covering the time periods of each group of photos and beautiful quotes from Swamiji's sayings at the time of each photo. Thus word and photo are wonderfully joined in this book.

"When I was cleaning Swamiji's room, Mahapurushji entered. On the north wall hung a big framed photograph of Swamiji sitting on a chair in Western dress, his hair long, black and curly. Mahapurush Maharaj: "See in this photograph what a grand appearance Swamiji had! Nivedita used to call him King. He indeed looks like a King. In America they used to call him a 'Prince among Men."" - Diary of Swami Shraddhananda


Publisher's Notevi
Preface to the Second Editionvii
List of Abbreviationsxi
Photograph Creditsxii
Section One: India, 1886 - 18931
Narrative: The Wandering Years2
[Photographs 1 to 12]
Photograph Background and Quotation from Swami Vivekananda
Section Two: The West, 1893 - 189647
Narrative: The Lightning Orator48
[Photographs 13 to 53]
Photograph Background and Quotation from swami Vivekananda
Section Three: India, 1897 - 1899149
Narrative: The Prophet Returns150
[Photographs 54 to 78]
Photograph Background and Quotation from Swami Vivekananda
Section Four: The West, 1899 - 1900217
Narrative: 'I' Has All Become218
[Photographs 79 to 101]
Photograph Background and Quotation from Swami Vivekananda
Section Five: India, 1900 - 1901269
Narrative: The Setting Sun270
[Photographs 102 to 106]
Photograph Background and Quotation from Swami Vivekananda

**Sample Pages**

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