SWAMI ABHEDANANDA an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna—Born October 2. 1866—Spent his early life among the brotherhood in Baranagar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity—Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895—Went to London at the call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896—Acquainted with many distinguished savants including Prof. Max Mueller and Prof. Deussen—Landed in New York and took charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897—Became acquainted with Prof. William James, Rev. R. H. Newton, Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard, Prof. Hyslop of Columbia, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. G. H. Howison, Prof. Fay, Mr. Edison, the inventor, Dr. Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W. D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C. Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev. Bishop Potter, Prof. Shaler, Dr. Jaynes, the chairman of the Cambridge Philosophical Conference and the Professors of Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities-Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico— Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different parts of the Continent—Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times-Was appreciated very much for his profundity of scholarship, intellectual brilliance, oratorial talents, charming personality and nobility of character—Made a short visit to India in 1906—Returned to America—Came back to India finally in 1921—On his way home joined the Educational Conference, Honolulu—Visited Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Kualalumpur and Rangoon—Started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet in 1922—Established centres at Calcutta and Darjeeling—Left his mortal frame on September 8, 1939.
Swami Abhedananda's name is familiar to all who are in touch with the new religious movement in India and in lands beyond the seas where he spent the best portion of his life in preaching and teaching the philosophy and religion of Vedanta. In America, he was widely known as a great scholar, a popular preacher, an accredited teacher of the Vedanta and an author of international reputation. But he was, in fact, the most formidable champion of Indian culture and civilization and with a true heart and unabated zeal, alone he fought for Her in the face of vehement opposition, bitter criticism, racial prejudice and sectarian jealousy. His writings, public speeches, class lectures and private interviews did much towards dispelling many false ideas about India which were then prevalent in America.
His fame as a scholar, a philosopher and an eloquent speaker spread so rapidly that many a time he was invited to speak before the Universities, Societies, Clubs, Churches, Synagogues and Spiritualists' Associations; everywhere the people listened to him with great delight and his lectures were received with much respect and appreciation. In 1905, at the invitation of the Director of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Swami delivered a series of lectures before it on philosophy, religion, society, government, education and culture of India. In these discourses, he challenged the socalled truthful Christian missionaries and their worthy adherents, the Indian converts, and contradicted their scathing and sweeping remarks on the religious and social conditions of the Hindus and silenced the detractors by his clear and forceful replies. The Americans, for the first time, came to know the real conditions of India from a native of the soil who keenly felt the wrongs and sufferings of his own people and many had to revise their general impression on the 'ubjects.
These lectures together with one on the Woman's Place in Hindu Religion were first published by the New York Vedanta Society under the title of India and Her People in 1906. The present work is a reprint of the original American edition. Many political institutions, which have been commented upon in this vt,:ume, are in the melting pot as British India is passing through a period of transition. The author's criticisms on men, measures and institutions now seem out of place, but still they have not been deleted, however, as they have a historic interest in as much as the remarks of the Swami indicate contemporary opinions of an Indian patriot. They have also been retained to show that the viewpoint of the author, like that of many other patriotic Indians, was correct as our rulers have since fallen in with these views by bringing about reforms in the system of administration to which the Swami referred. We hope and trust that the reading public will welcome this volume as it contains many valuable information on India which every son of the soil should know.
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