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The Cyclonic Swami: Vivekananda in the West

Sukalyan Sengupta (Author) Makarand Paranjape (Author)

The Cyclonic Hindu is how Swami Vivekananda was described in one of the many newspaper reports that appeared after his stunning debut at the Parliament of Religions in 1893. Swamiji himself mentions this in his letter of 15 March 1894 to the hale sisters and also in an undated letter swami Ramakrishnananda in early 1894. In the Later he observes, " I am an instrument and he is the operator. Though this instrument he is rousing the religious instinct in thousands of men and women here love and revere me. …. I am amazed at his grace. Whichever town I visit, it is in an uproar. They have named me the cyclonic Hindu''' (complete Works6 283).

In the hale letter however his attitude is quite different: "I am really not cyclonic at all. Far from it what I want is not here nor can I longer bear this cyclonic atmosphere (cw8: 302). Instead he clarifies that what he is teachings is the way to perfection to strive to be perfect and to strive to make perfect a few men and women (ibid). This collection of essays tries to capture the complexity and ambivalence inherent in Vivekananda's ambivalence to the west.

When he faces India he recognizes that his triumphs in the west give him the requisite leverage resources and prestige to carry out the west he emphasises instead, the deeper Vedantic and spiritual roots of Hinduism. A rational religion free of dogma and committed to self-realization and self-perfection he wishes he advocates the long dormant but powerful spiritual energies for social economic development.

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About the author

Makarand Paranjape

Makarand Paranjape is Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and a student of modern Indian spiritual traditions. A poet, scholar, and critic, he is the author and editor of numerous books including Decolonization and Development: Hind Svaraj Revisioned and The Penguin Sri Aurobindo Reader.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Cyclonic Swami: Vivekananda in the West
Format Hardcover
Date published: 31.12.2005
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 8190131826
length 212p., 13 B/W Illustrations; 8.7" X 5.7"