Bhagavad Gita, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda: Paris, Bengal, Mahasamadhi



The Life of Swami Vivekananda (VII): Second visit to America (1899). Paris Congress. Mayavati. Bengal. Life in Math. Mahasamadhi.

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Swami Vivekananda's second visit to America

  1. The Paris Congress and a tour of Europe
  2. Visit to Mayavati
  3. A trip to East Bengal and Life in the Math
  4. To the end
  5. Mahasamadhi

Bhagavad Gita in Spanish Vivekananda: París, Bengala, Mahasamadhi Bhagavad Gita in Portuguese Vivekananda: París, Bengala, Mahasamadhi.


In 1899, Swami Vivekananda made his second visit to the United States, accompanied by Sister Nivedita and Swami Turiyananda.

On the boat to the United States, Sister Nivedita finishes her book “The Master as I Saw Him” by Sister Nivedita. Swamiji quoted several verses from the Bhagavad Gita by heart.

We reproduce some of the Swami's reflections that were recorded:

“Sexual love and creation! They are at the root of most religions. And these in India are called Vaishnavism, and in the West Christianity”
“All the pleasures of the senses turn into ashes”
“The three cycles of Buddhism. Yes, Buddha was right! He was always within Hinduism”
“Supreme was Sri Ramakrishna, with just a touch he could impart the highest vision”

Through the Mediterranean they passed through Corsica and crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.

Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar the Swami explains the Moorish invasions of Spain. Below we quote more reflections from Vivekananda.

“So I preach only the Upanishads. I have never quoted anything other than the Upanishads. And of these, it is just that idea: Strength. The quintessence of the Vedas and Vedanta. And it all lies in that one word”
“Buddha had received his philosophy of the five categories – form, feeling, sensation, movement, knowledge – from Kapila”
“The Bhagavad Gita, after the Buddhist writings, was a great relief! How wonderful the Bhagavad Gita was!…”
“Sri Krishna, probably the greatest man who ever lived”
“Jainism represents the slow destruction of the body through self-torture. Buddhism, therefore, is reformed Jainism”
“In India, we have social communism, with the light of Advaita, that is, spiritual individualism, acting upon and around it; In Europe you are socially individualistic, but your thinking is dualistic, which is spiritual communism”
“Our God is man! the man of self-realization: Buddha, Krishna, the Guru, the Mahapurusha”
“The entire universe is just the meaning of words”
“Religion is not a creed, but an experience”

Finally Swami Vivekananda arrived in London, where he did not give any lectures, and quickly left for the United States.

And finally he arrived in New York where Swami Abhedananda was eagerly waiting for him. In New York, Swami Turiyananda gives children's classes and lectures at the Vedanta Society Halls. Vivekananda was invited to give a lecture in Cambridge with the title: “Shankaracharya”. As one of the greatest Yogis in history he was well aware that he would soon die:

“My days are numbered. “I will only live three or four years at most”

He then marched to Chicago, the city where the Swami gave his famous speech (“Brothers and Sisters of America”) at the Parliament of the World's Religions.

From Chicago he went to California where he stayed for almost 6 months. In California he was triumphing over his book on Raja Yoga, and the Swami perceived that they were somehow prepared for this path of yoga, which he had practically rescued from history.

Despite his state of health, he returned to give several conferences, such as: Vedanta Philosophy, work and its secret (referring to Karma Yoga), the Powers of the mind, Bhakti Yoga, the Bhagavad Gita, Christ the Messenger and its message to the world, the Path to the Realization of a Universal Religion, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata.

Additionally, every Sunday during the months of March and April, the Swami speaks publicly in San Francisco. During these months three Vedanta centers are opened, and after a significant donation the Shanti Ashram is created. The Swami receives a generous gift of a large tract of land. Foundation of the Shanti Ashram or “Peace Retreat.”

The Swami continued to work incessantly, so his health worsened again, he was literally practically exhausted, he was heard saying

“Shiva, oh Shiva, take my boat to the other shore! Now I hear Sri Ramakrishna's voice again”

After these six months in California, Swami Vivekananda returned to New York, taking up residence at the headquarters of the Vedanta Society New York along with Swami Turiyananda and Swami Abhedananda, and Sister Nivedita arrived in the great metropolis.

In New York he gave many lectures as well as taught several classes on the Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta. His book on “Raja Yoga” became a success.

The Swami gives lectures on four successive Sundays and classes on the Bhagavad Gita. We reproduce some phrases from Vivekananda during this stay in New York:

“I have read Dante's Inferno three times”
“And to you, who are philosophers, I say that asking about the reason for the existence of the universe is illogical because it implies a limitation in God”
“All faces are dear to me.. Thus we must learn to see the Lord in everyone. All, even the worst, are children of the Mother. The universe, good and bad, is nothing more than the Lord's game."
"We learn to meditate so that we can think about the Lord. Raja-Yoga is only the means to that end. The great Patanjali, author of Raja-Yoga, never missed the opportunity to instill that idea in his students.
“The less you read, the better. What are books but the vomiting of other men's minds? Why fill your mind with a bunch of stuff you'll have to get rid of? Read the Bhagavad Gita and other good works on Vedanta. That's all you need”

After a brief stay in Detroit, Swami Vivekananda set out for Paris. He would never return to American lands again.

Vivekananda had been invited to participate in the Congress of the History of Religions in Paris, but it turned out to be a failure since representatives of other religions were not allowed to debate their doctrines and philosophies since the Catholic hierarchy prevented it. In France, Swamiji took the opportunity to resume his French studies and even gave two conferences at the congress.

He gave a lecture explaining that the Vedas were the common basis of Hinduism, as well as Buddhism and all other religious beliefs in India, the priority of Sri Krishna over Buddha, and the supposed influence of Greek thought and art on Indian culture:

“The Bhagavad Gita predated, if not contemporary, the Mahabharata. Both the thought and language of the Bhagavad Gita were the same as those of the Mahabharata; Therefore, how could the Bhagavad Gita have been later than the Mahabharata?.. Krishna was several centuries older than Buddha, the worship of Krishna is much older than that of Buddha”
“Pythagoras, whom Clement of Alexandria did not doubt in calling disciple of the Brahmins”
“Christianity is not foreign to the Hindu mind”

At this time his famous book “The East and the West” was published.

And Vivekananda continued to reflect on Buddhism and Hinduism. Sister Nivedita stated that the Swami saw Buddha in Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramakrishna in Buddha

In Buddha Vivekananda saw Ramakrishna: in Ramakrishna he saw Buddha (Sister Nivedita)

“The great point of contrast between Buddhism and Hinduism lies in the fact that Buddhism said, “Realize all this as an illusion,” while Hinduism said, “Realize that within the illusion is the Real”
“Buddhism became the religion of a monastic order, but Hinduism, despite its exaltation of monasticism, always remains the religion of fidelity to daily duty, whatever it may be, as the path by which the man can reach God”

He also explained how Hinduism had spread to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, Australia, and even to the coasts of America, and on the other hand, to Tibet, China, Japan and even Siberia. Vivekananda understood that European culture was shaped, to a large extent, by the Moorish influence in Spain and the knowledge and science of the medieval Arabs.

At this time Swami Vivekananda established a deep friendship with Josephine MacLeod, a scholar of the Bhagavad Gita. From the beginning she “recognized” the Swami as a Messenger of the Spirit, a Christ-Soul, and became an ardent supporter of his cause.

After this productive three-month stay in France, he left for Constantinople where he was not allowed to speak in public. Suddenly Vivekananda decides to return to India, perhaps sensing the end of him.

On December 9, 1900, Vivekananda arrived at Belur monastery. In 1901 he decided to undertake a journey to the Advaita Ashram of Mayavati located in the sacred Himalayas. In the Ashram he will explain the philosophy of work that his disciples should adopt:

“My disciples must emphasize work more than austerities. Work itself should be part of your Sadhana and your austerities”

Swami Vivekananda asserted that whatever Sri Ramakrishna had predicted about men and events had invariably come to pass. He also took the opportunity to say:

“Sri Ramakrishna was all Advaita and preached Advaita. Why shouldn't you also follow Advaita? “All his disciples are Advaitins!”

Vedanta, the essence of Jnana Yoga, an alternative to the deep spiritual crisis of the West

Vivekananda returned to Belur Math in late January. Meanwhile he had translated the Ndsadiya Sukta of the Rig-Veda. But Swamiji's health was getting worse every day. At this time new Brahmacharis joined the Ramakrishna order.

After a short rest he made another trip to East Bengal and Assam. In Dhaka, he gave the conference “The religion into which we are born” to three thousand people.

He returned to Calcutta and was diagnosed with asthma and also diabetes. At these moments he felt that he could die in peace now that he had given his and Sri Ramakrishna's message to the world

“You can think of your Guru as an Avatar or whatever you want. But the incarnations of God are few and far between”

Given the seriousness of his health, he withdrew from public life for six months. But people flocked to the Belur monastery from all over India to receive the Swami's blessings and instructions.

Although he had recommended absolute rest, he continued teaching his disciples about Renunciation, Brahmacharya and the creation of real men for the regeneration of the country, music and literature of India. Vivekananda entered the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, just as Sri Ramakrishna had done. And he stated:

“My son, there is no rest for me. That which Sri Ramakrishna called Kali, he took possession of my body and soul three or four days before his death. That makes me work and work, and never lets me sit still or seek my personal comfort”

Both Vivekananda and Ramakrishna always renounced the caste system, which is why no caste restrictions were ever implemented in Belur Math, which caused serious problems with the most orthodox Hindus.

Day by day his health went from bad to worse, but he wanted to travel to Buddha Gaya, where the Buddha achieved enlightenment, and to Varanasi. The Maharaja of Bhinga begged him to establish a monastery of the Ramakrishna Order in the Holy City of Varanasi.

And Vivekananda continued with his reflections on Buddhism:

“There are references in Buddhist literature to Vedanta, and the Mahayana school of Buddhism is even Advaita”

He also made plans to create a Math (monastery) for women, with the Holy Mother as its central figure, so that Brahmacharis and teachers could be trained there to work for the regeneration of their sex in India and the urgent need to put launching centers across the country for the education of Indian women.

“In the work of awakening the Atman in my fellow men, I will happily die again and again!”

Vivekananda focused above all on preparing his disciples:

“Understand the true spirit of Sri Ramakrishna's teachings, and do not waste time on superfluous details”

Vivekananda had less and less energy and knew that his end was near, which is why he felt the need to withdraw from the task of directing the affairs of the Math, little by little he was detaching himself from his last ties:

““How many times does man ruin his disciples by always remaining with them! “Once men are trained, it is essential that their leader leaves them, because without his absence they cannot develop!”

Swami Vivekananda remembered Sri Ramakrishna's prophecy that Naren would merge into the Nirvikalpa Samadhi at the end of his work, when he would realize who and what he really was and refuse to remain in the body. Thus he decided to get rid of the bondage of the body, on a certain day: the Fourth of July. He said:

“Jesus washed the feet of his disciples!”

He performed a deep and solitary meditation for three hours on the day of his Mahasamadhi. He sang a stirring song in which the highest Jnana was mingled with the highest Bhakti. And he said:

“If there was another Vivekananda, I would have understood what Vivekananda has done! And yet, how many Vivekanandas will be born in time!”

Swami Vivekananda, the man who understood the profound wisdom of Sri Ramakrishna, the man who explained his message, that of the Bhagavad Gita and that of Vedanta to the world entered the state of absorption with God, the Mahasamadhi, on July 4, 1901, when he was barely 39 years old, who knows what he could have done if he had been able to live longer. But he voluntarily detached himself from his body in Samadhi, when he no longer wanted to remain in the world as predicted by Sri Ramakrishna. His mission in life was over. His message would eventually reach all five continents. Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo and Rabindranath Tagore admired Vivekananda. Tagore said:

«If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative.»

Every January 12, the day Naren, later Swami Vivekananda, was born, India celebrates National Youth Day: Vivekananda Jayanti.

If today the world knows the Bhagavad Gita, Vedanta and Yoga, it is largely thanks to Swami Vivekananda

And if today India has been able to rise after more than seven centuries of Muslim and British domination, it is due to the tireless Rajasic work of Vivekananda and the Sattva light of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

Sri Ramakrishna pure Sattva (light and Wisdom) Swami Vivekananda (Raja Gunas)

Thank you Vivekananda!!!

Swami Vivekananda Vision: Liberating humanity from ignorance (Bhagavad Gita and Vedanta)

Source: “Life of Swami Vivekananda: A biography of his eastern and western disciples”

Translated by Pedro Nonell.

Nota: a number of verses from of the Bhagavad Gita, comments of Sri Ramakrishna

Union between Gunas Rajas and Sattwa

The complete content on “The Life of Swami Vivekananda (VII)” is only available to students of the Gita Institute

Free e-book: Life of Swami Vivekananda (summary)

Thank you Swami Vivekananda, disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Yoga Vedanta Gita

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Swami Vivekananda - Mahasamadhi (death of Swamiji)

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Course: Realization of the Bhagavad Gita. Teachings Sri Ramakrishna Swami Vivekananda. Vedanta

Course Subjects Realization Bhagavad Gita. Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda


Philosophy Bhagavad Gita Training, Vivekananda, Yoga
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