Vedanta: Voice of Freedom


By Swami Vivekananda; edited by Swami Chetanananda

Selections from the talks and writings of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)

328 pages

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Vivekananda once said, “I have a message to the West, as Buddha had a message to the East.” And the message was Vedanta. Culled from his collected works, this volume presents in a clear and concise form the tenets of a religion which has evolved over the course of five thousand years. This is a living Vedanta put forth by an extraordinary mind.

If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative.

Rabindranath Tagore

…Swami Vivekananda’s writings need no introduction from anybody. They make their own irresistible appeal.

Mahatma Gandhi

Swami Chetanananda has selected 104 powerful essays from Swami Vivekananda’s mature period, 1893 until his death in 1902. No Vivekananda reader to date has done better.

Religious Studies Review

It should be enough to whet the intellectual, spiritual, and moral appetite of every thinking individual.

Indian and Foreign Review

Judiciously compiled from the works of the most articulate expounder of Vedanta, Vivekananda…He proved that the grandeur of India’s ancient wisdom-tradition has not lost its appeal, in fact can fuel the search for profounder values and meanings in contemporary theology, psychology, and philosophy.

Kurt F. Leidecker, Professor Emeritus, University of Virginia

…a master religious educator. He [Vivekananda] is a pedagogue who uses story and illustration, human experience and common sense, to articulate philosophical and religious insight. A large bibliography now exists for a study of the Hindu tradition – all by western scholars, usually Christian or Jewish, but here is a study of a Hindu articulating his own faith experience. As such it cannot be ignored. It should be recommended as an introductory text to students of the Hindu philosophical and religious traditions.


This volume consists of a series of lectures that reflect the essence of the Vedanta message. The selection, taken from the collected works of Vivekananda, is broad in scope. …enhancing the value of the book are photographs, an extensive glossary, and an index. Recommended as a useful addition to libraries and personal collections that deal with Indian religion, comparative religion, and the cultural interaction between American and Indian cultures.

South Asia in Review


Foreward – by Christopher Isherwood
Preface – by Huston Smith
Introduction: Vedanta and Vivekananda – by Swami Chetanananda

What is Vedanta?

Vedanta: the Culmination of the Vedas;
The Vedas: Without Beginning or End;
Thoughts on the Vedas and Upanishads;
“Children of Immortal Bliss”;
Freedom is the Song of the Soul;
Dehypnotize Yourself;
The Gospel of Strength;
The Bold Message of the East

The Philosophy of Vedanta

The Spirit and Influence of Vedanta;
Principles of Vedanta;
The Three Main schools of Vedanta;
Monistic Vedanta;
The Absolute and Its Manifestation;
An Analysis of Perception;
Good and Evil;
Change is Always Subjective;
Soul, God, and Religion

The Religion of Vedanta

Many Facets of the Truth;
Religion is Realization;
Religion of Today;
On Doing Good to the World;
The Goal of Religion;
Fundamentals of Religion;
Vedanta: An Unorganized Religion;
Reason and Religion;
The Basis of Ethics;
Morality in Vedanta;
Practical Religion;
The Vedantic
View of Family Life;
Unity in Variety

God and Man in Vedanta

God: Personal and Impersonal;
God in Everything;
Worship of the Impersonal God;
Worship the Living God;
The Real Nature of Man;
The Living Free;
What Makes us Miserable?;
Misery: Its Cause and Cure;
Man, the Maker of His Destiny

The Concept of Maya

What is Maya?;
This is Maya;
The Snare of Maya;
Tearing the Veil of Maya;
God’s Play

Karma Yoga (The Path of Action)

Karma and Its Effect on Character;
The Mystery of Karma;
The Philosophy of Karma;
Work and Its Secret;
The Teachings of Karma Yoga;
Karma Yoga According to the Gita;
Work for Work’s Sake;
Be Unattached;
Each is Great in His Own Place;
The Qualifications of a Karma Yogi;
A Story of Self-Sacrifice;
We Help Ourselves, Not the World;
The World:
A Dog’s Curly Tail;
An Ideal Karma Yogi

Jnana Yoga (The Path of Knowledge)

The Eternal Question;
What is the Atman? The Journey Toward Freedom;
Regain Your Own Empire;
Steps to Realization;
In Quest of the Self;
Thou Art That

Bhakti Yoga (The Path of Devotion)

What is Bhakti? The Mystery of Love;
The Religion of Love;
The Triangle of Love;
The Need for a Teacher;
On Prayer;
The Supreme Worship;
Love, Lover, and Beloved

Raja Yoga (The Path of Meditation)

The Science of Raja Yoga;
The Powers of the Mind;
How to be a Yogi;
The Practice of Yoga;
How to Control Emotion;
Equanimity of the Mind is Yoga

Vedanta in Practice

Preparations for Higher Life;
Hints on Practical Spirituality;
Spiritual Practice According to Vedanta;
Realization and Its Method;
Practical Vedanta I;
Practical Vedanta II;
Enjoy Through Renunciation;
God Speaks Through the Heart;
How to Overcome Weakness;
The Open Secret

The Goal of Vedanta

Is Heaven the Goal? The Experience of Cosmic Consciousness;
The Mystery of Birth and Death;
Reincarnation: The Journey Toward the Goal;
Inspired Talks;
Six Stanzas on Nirvana

The Universality of Vedanta

How Vedanta Views Other Faiths;
Vedanta and the Great Teachers of the World;
Why We Disagree;
The Ideal of a Universal Religion;
Vedanta and Privilege;
Vedanta and Science;
East and West Must Meet;
Eastern and Western Views;
The Future of Vedanta



Chapter II – The Philosophy of Vedanta

Principles of Vedanta

The Vedanta system begins with tremendous pessimism and ends with real optimism. We deny the optimism of the senses but assert the real optimism of the supersensuous. That real happiness is not in the senses but above the senses, and it is in every man. The sort of optimism which we see in the world is what will lead to ruin through the senses.

Abnegation has the greatest importance in our philosophy. Negation implies affirmation of the real Self. Vedanta is pessimistic insofar as it negates the world of the senses, but it is optimistic in its assertion of the real world.

Chapter V – Concept of Maya

God’s Play

The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. This world is neither true nor untrue; it is the shadow of truth. “Imagination is the gilded shadow of truth,” says the poet. We enter into creation, then for us it becomes living. Things are dead in themselves; only we give them life, and then, like fools, we turn around and are afraid of them or enjoy them.

There is no possibility of ever having pleasure without pain, good without evil; for life itself is just lost equilibrium. What we want is freedom – not life, nor pleasure, nor good. Creation is infinite, without beginning and without end – the ever-moving ripple in an infinite lake. There are yet unreached depths in this lake where equilibrium has been regained; but the ripple on the surface is always there. The struggle to regain the balance is eternal.

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