Overview for Swami Vivekananda
This is a short, critical biography of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), fiery nationalist, social reformer, institution-builder and student of philosophy. Vivekananda's life and his ideas manifested ambiguities and shifting priorities that this volume explores and attempts to juxtapose meaningfully.
Vivekananda's religious philosophy of Vedanta is discussed in detail, with an analysis of the influence on him of the Bengali mystic Sri Ramakrishna, as also his often controversial leadership of the Ramakrishna Mission. For a speculative monk he had a very active public life: he lectured in America and Europe, his striking good looks and dynamic personality being as much a draw for western audiences as his ideas. Vivekananda's position as a social activist and nationalist is similarly complex: social reforms as widow remarriage - and denied any connection with politics. Symptomatic of the paradoxes and apparent inconsistencies of his life and ideas are the two strongest facets of his personality: a deep commitment to the world and its concerns, and what seems to be its very opposite, a strong penchant for renunciation.
The short biography, one in a series, explores the thought, ideas and work of Vivekananda, analyzing why he remains relevant today with a large following in India and abroad.