The Monk as Man: The Unknown Life of Swami Vivekananda

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Penguin Books India, 2011 - Hindus - 238 pages
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An intimate portrait of the little-known aspects of Swami Vivekananda’s life.

Wandering mystic, India’s spiritual ambassador to the West and founder of the Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Vivekananda awakened India’s masses to the country’s spiritual richness while stressing the importance of scientific inquiry. These aspects of Swamiji’s life have been well chronicled by Swamiji himself, through his letters, speeches and writings; his own brothers who between them have written more than a hundred books; his co-disciples, disciples and others whose lives were enriched by their interactions with him; and, more than a century after his death, followers who had only read or heard of the magnetic personality of this revered teacher.


Gleaned from all these sources, through painstaking research Sankar’s biography focuses on the personal life of the saint: What was Vivekananda like as a man? What role did his mother play in his life, both before and after he renounced all family ties? Could he reconcile the duties of a monk with the duties of an eldest son? What prompted him to promote Vedanta and biriyani in the West? Did the long drawn battles over family property affect his health and cut short his life? Did his sister commit suicide? Why did his brother not write a single letter for six years when he was wandering around the world? What was Swamiji’s favourite dish and what fruit did he like the least? What was his height? Where did he have his second heart attack? How much did the Calcutta doctor charge him at his chamber?


Sankar’s composite picture of the monk as man has sold over one lakh copies in Bengali and this translation brings the unfamiliar Vivekananda to a larger readership.


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In the page 54-55, it is mentioned that Swamiji first met Maharaja of Khetri, H.H. Ajit Singhji at Khetri on 4th June 1891. But Swamiji, if I am not wrong, first met Maharaja on the same day at Mount Abu. This may please be clarified.


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