A Guide to Spiritual Life: Spiritual Teachings of Swami Brahmananda


Translated and biographical introduction by Swami Chetanananda

This is a full rendering of Swami Brahmananda’s spiritual conversations, originally recorded by his disciples in Bengali.

Hardback, 192 pages

SKU: 0916356604 Category:



This is a full rendering of Swami Brahmananda’s spiritual conversations, originally recorded by his disciples in Bengali. The swami, who was regarded by Ramakrishna as his spiritual son, gives clear and authoritative instruction beginning from the elementary stages of meditation to the most advance states of spiritual life.


Testaments of this nature—and calibre—are indispensable to the spiritual quest. Reading it lifted me to heights that bordered on ecstasy.

Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions and Why Religion Matters

It is rare that English readers have such an opportunity to gain insight into the mind of one of India’s great spiritual leaders. Brahmananda’s is not a personal vision only, but one that profoundly shapes the outlook of modern India and the various spiritual movements that have brought Indian spirituality to the West . . . .

In a world that has had its share of false and commercialized religious teachers, it is heartening to see Vedantic spirituality presented with such purity and authenticity.

Dr. Lance Nelson, San Diego University, Prabuddha Bharata (Awakened India)


Translator’s Preface
Biographical Introduction by Swami Chetanananda

  1. Sri Ramakrishna’s Outlook – Love – Training – Spiritual Instructions
  2. Sri Ramakrishna’s Experiences and Samadhi – Ramlala – Powers
  3. Sri Ramakrishna’s Way of Instructing – Visions and Reactions – the Master’s Samadhi – Longing – Swami Vivekananda
  4. Holy Places – The Goal of Human Life – Swami Vivekananda – The Need of a Routine – Obstacles
  5. Happiness – Give up the Toys of this World – Enjoy Mangoes – Faith – Dive Deep – Be Up and Doing – Curb Desires
  6. Control of the Mind – Meditation – Food – The Kundalini – Initiation
  7. Depression – Sri Ramakrishna – Mantram, Guru, Disciple – Patience
  8. Time factor in Spiritual Life – Sri Ramakrishna’s Power – Sin
  9. Holy Company – Renunciation – How to Conquer Lust – The Need for Spiritual Disciplines – Samadhi – Unselfish Action
  10. Show of Emotion – Steadfast Devotion – Perseverance
  11. Sri Ramakrishna’s Truthfulness and Powers of Perception – A Monk’s Ego
  12. Ram Datta’s View of Sri Ramakrishna – Ramlal – Swami Ramakrishnananda – Sri Ramakrishna’s Merriment and Powers
  13. Longing – Peace – Love – Renunciation – The Guru – Pranayama – The Real and The Unreal – Existence of God – Obstacles – Holy Company and Solitude
  14. Japam and Meditation – The Guru – Holy Company – Routine – Morality
  15. Self-Surrender – Be Sincere – Faith in the Guru – Grace – Hold to the Truth – God is Infinite – Knowledge – Know God Alone
  16. Character-Building – The Parlor of God – Purity – Book Learning and Spiritual Life – Money – Renunciation – Three Rare Treasures – Faith – Grace – Perseverance
  17. God is the Wish-Fulfilling Tree – Discrimination and Renunciation – Pray to God with Heart and Soul – Self-Effort and Divine Grace
  18. Restlessness of the Mind – Meditation – Does Sri Ramakrishna Exist?
  19. Sri Ramakrishna – Remembrance of God
  20. Self-Control – God Is – Meditation – Earnestness – Longing
  21. Free Will – Willpower – Comprehending the Infinite
  22. Relief Work – Brahmacharya – Study – Work and Worship – Selfless Action
  23. Regularity in Spiritual Life – The Play of Maya – Control of the Mind – Do or Die
  24. Private Instructions – Faith – Brahmacharya – Control of the Tongue – Keeping Spiritual Practices a Secret – Sleep
  25. Keep Your Experiences Private – The Spiritual Guide – How to Conquer Fear of Death – Have Faith in Yourself – Sin
  26. Time for Meditation – The Nerve-Current – How to Control the Mind – Nonattachment – Struggle – Recollectedness – The Mystery of God
  27. How to Control the Mind – Meditation – The Chosen Deity and the Mantram – Japam
  28. Japam – Meditation – The Power of the Mantram – How to Control the Mind
  29. Meditation – Auspicious Days for Japam – Moral Teachings – Meditation on the Guru
  30. The Play of Maya – Meditation on the Formless God
  31. The Nature of a Holy Person
  32. Repeat the Name of the Lord – Prayer – Grace – Yearning – The Worldly Way – Surrender
  33. Surrender – The Guru – Grace – Control of the Mind – Renunciation – Faith
  34. The Holy City of Varanasi – Water of the Holy Ganga – The Kundalini
  35. Japam and Purashcharana – Food – Methodical Disciplines – Meditation
  36. Meditation – Vision – Brahmacharya – Obstacles – Grace – Hallucination vs. Vision – The Value of Rituals
  37. Worship – Meditation – Samadhi – The Guru – Bliss – The Absolute and The Manifestation (the Nitya and the Lila)
  38. The Kundalini – Meditation – Concentration – The Grace of the Guru
  39. How to Acquire Taste for Spiritual Life – Struggle – Austerity – Faith – Self-Effort – Self – Surrender
  40. Work and Worship – Brahmacharya – The Secret of Work – How to Control the Senses
  41. The Advantage of Youth – Training the Mind – Where is Bliss? – Happiness and Misery – The Goal of Human Life
  42. Religion in Old Age – Grace – Follow One Path – Demand from God His Vision – The Razor’s Edge – Brahmacharya
  43. Forbearance – Truth and a Harsh Truth – Power of Adjustment – Dreams – Sri Ramakrishna’s Rebirth
  44. Fix the Mind on God – Doubt and Faith – God is Beyond the Mind – Samadhi – The Three Gunas – How to Live in the World – How to Overcome Depression – Four Kinds of Worship – How to Conquer Bad Thoughts – Determine Your Ideal – The Validity of the Scriptures – About Food – Nonviolence
  45. Austerity – Truthfulness – Lust – Desire
  46. On the Divine Name
  47. On Sadhana
  48. Work is Worship
  49. On Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda
  50. Miscellaneous Teachings
  51. A Letter to a Disciple

Appendix: The Guru


1. Self-Surrender

Place: Belur Math
Year: 1914

Maharaj: Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “God reveals himself to a devotee who feels drawn to him by the combined force of these three attractions: the worldly man’s attraction for possessions, the child’s attraction for its mother, and the husband’s attraction for his chaste wife.” What does this mean? It means that when intense longing for God replaces all worldly desires of the mind, one realizes him, and gets his vision and divine touch. Sri Krishna said in the Gita, “Abandoning all duties, take refuge in me alone” [18.66].

Self-surrender, self-surrender, self-surrender – there is no other way. In this kali yuga [iron age] human beings are short-lived and depend on food. They have to do many things in this short span of life. People have very little energy, strength, renunciation, forbearance, or courage. Their minds are weak and they naturally run after enjoyments. In spite of all these handicaps, one will have to realize God. Otherwise this precious life will pass in vain without one’s accomplishing anything. Surrender to God and wait for his grace – that is the easiest way in this age.

Excerpt from the Biographical Introduction

Swami Brahmananda did not like to talk much about religion. It was very difficult to draw him into spiritual conversations. But when he did talk, his words flashed with fire, and those who heard him received lifelong inspiration. As a result of his spiritual influence and loving personality, many young men joined the Order. A disciple of Swami Brahmananda wrote in his reminiscences:

Maharaj had the power to change the atmosphere of a place and to make it vibrate with his spirituality. In his company he could make everybody roll with laughter, and then suddenly, when he became silent, the place would be surcharged with a divine presence. Swami Turiyananda once remarked that Maharaj used to create such an atmosphere around himself that everyone present would be filled with some of his spiritual mood. Many people used to come to Maharaj for the purpose of seeking advice about their problems. But once they were near him they felt no necessity to ask for any solution. Problems solved themselves in his presence, and people would forget themselves, their egoism, temporal pleasure and pain, and be filled with intense divine bliss.