Swami Vivekananda

Photo from Chicago, September, 1893. Text on image, written in Swami Vivekananda’s own handwriting:
“one infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities – I bow down to thee”

I’m not sure when I started my journey that led to the publication of The Yogic Manager. But I do know that a key milestone occurred in May 2002. I had just started working for a research center at the University of Chicago. The office was located in downtown Chicago, right opposite the Art Institute of Chicago on Chicago’s prominent Michigan Avenue. On my way to and from work I would pass by this institute and see a sign calling that part of the avenue the “Swami Vivekananda Way.” I asked myself why such an important road was named after a Swami. It is then that I learnt about how Swami Vivekananda built a bridge between the East and the West by introducing the world to the Yoga and Vedanta schools of Sanatana Dharma. I learnt about the other 9/11 – September 11th of 1893, that too few people have heard about. On this date, the Swami gave his first speech to the West, at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, for which he received a two minute long standing ovation from an audience of several thousand people.
Growing up in India I had heard of Swami Vivekananda, but like many of my generation, had never read his books. Seeing the importance the city of Chicago had given him, I was prompted to read his book on Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action), and then his books on all four Yogas, including Jnana Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge), Raja Yoga (The Yoga of Meditation) and Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion). While I had already learnt yoga postures (asanas) and breathing (pranayama), Karma Yoga was the first book that I had read on the philosophical aspects of Yoga-Vedanta. If I had not read Swami Vivekananda’s books, I would not have gone on to study the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Mahabharata and Yoga Sutras. These are the texts I researched to write The Yogic Manager, and to create the principles and frameworks of Yogic Management.
It is because of the bridge that Swami Vivekananda built that Yoga-Vedanta has become so widely practiced globally. All practitioners of Yoga are eternally indebted to the Swami. In addition to his contribution to the rise in human consciousness through Yoga-Vedanta, he was a social reformer who left a legacy of organizations that continue to serve humanity globally. Two years ago, when I was looking for a worthy school to donate some money to, I visited a school in Chennai run by the Ramakrishna Mission, an organization that Swami Vivekananda founded in honor of his guru. I was thoroughly impressed by how the school, run by monks, took underprivileged children and educated them. They did not just educate the students through primary and high school, but also gave them skills to help them get jobs. The computer labs, sponsored by corporations that cared about society in addition to profits, were incredibly well equipped.
In addition to social work, Swami Vivekananda’s organizations have given the world several scholars and teachers. To write my book, I researched the Upanishads written by Swami Nikhilananda, founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York. Also, the Bhagavad Gita translation I used was written by Swami Swarupananda, a direct disciple of Swami Vivekananda.
January 12, 2013, was Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Birth Anniversary. The event was celebrated in India and globally, and I was happy to see wide coverage of these celebrations in both traditional and social media. I celebrated in my own way by publishing The Yogic Manager in ebook format on this auspicious date. The book incorporates many of Swami Vivekananda’s teaching on Karma Yoga. The following are some quotes that inspired me tremendously.

“All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in your own mind.”
—Swami Vivekananda

“Work for work’s sake. There are some who are really the salt of the earth in every country and who work for work’s sake, who do not care for name, or fame, or even to go to heaven. They work just because good will come of it.”
—Swami Vivekananda

“Awake, arise, and dream no more!”
— Swami Vivekananda

Chicago Speech

The following is the full text of Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago speech delivered on September 11, 1893 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Sisters and Brothers of America,

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:

As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee.

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:

Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

Swami Vivekananda’s Teachings

The best way to celebrate Swami Vivekananda’s legacy is to read his books. Swami Vivekananda’s Karma Yoga can be read for free at:

Swami Swarupananda’s Bhagavad Gita can be read for free at:

If you are in India, you can purchase Swami Vivekananda’s books at several bookstores and at the Advaita Ashrama. The following are links to the four Yogas (the versions that I have):

Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action)

Jnana Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge)

Raja Yoga (The Yoga of Meditation)

Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion)

If you are from other parts of the world you should be able to find these books at the closest Vedanta Society.
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Avinash Sharma

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