Abhedananda, Swami

Abhedananda, Swami (1866-1939) exponent of hinduism, was born in Kolkata on 2 October 1866. His original name was Kaliprasad Chanda. He began his education at a primary sanskrit school and passed the Entrance examination from Oriental Seminary.

Religious from childhood, he studied the Hindu scriptures to enhance his knowledge of the religion. He also came in close contact with several Christian missionaries including Kalicharan Bandyopadhyay and became attracted to christianity. He was also attracted to Brahmoism after listening to the lectures of keshab chandra sen, Pratap Chandra Majumdar and others. His interest in Hindu philosophy grew after hearing the discourses of the eminent philosopher Shashadhar Tarkachuramani. He started practicing Hathayoga and Rajayoga after studying Patanjali's Yogasutra. In 1884 he met sri ramakrishna at Dakshineshwar. After the death of Ramakrishna in 1886, Abhedananda became a sannyasi and visited several places sacred to Hinduism through the length and breadth of India. This helped enhance his knowledge of Hinduism and its rites.

At the suggestion of swami vivekananda, Abhedananda went to England in 1896. There he met eminent intellectuals including Max Muller and gave several lectures on Rajayoga, Jnanayoga and vedanta. In 1897 he went to the United States and took charge of the Vedanta Ashram in New York. In 1898 he met the famous philosopher, William James. Abhedananda returned to India in 1906 but subsequently traveled to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong to expound Hinduism and Indian philosophy. He returned to India after attending the Pan-Pacific Education Conference in Honolulu in 1921. In 1922, while on his way to Tibet from Kashmir, he discovered materials said to be relating to a part of Christ's hitherto unknown life at a Buddhist temple and published this 'discovery' in Kashmir and Tibet. In 1923 he established Sriramakrishna Vedanta Society in Calcutta and, a year later, the Sriramakrishna Vedanta Ashram at Darjeeling.

Swami Abhedananda wrote several books on Hinduism, among them Gospel of Ramakrishna, Reincarnation, How to be a Yogi, India and Her People, Atmavikash, Vedantavani, Hindudharme Narir Sthan and Maner Bichitra Rup. He published a monthly journal, Vishvavani, which he edited from 1927 to 1938. He died at Vedanta ashram on 8 September 1939. [Dulal Bhowmik]