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About Swami Prabhavananda
Swami Prabhavananda was one of the pioneer swamis sent to America by the direct disciples of Ramakrishna to build on the work started by Swami Vivekananda at the turn of the century.
The swami was born in India on December 26, 1893. In 1914, after graduating from Calcutta University, he joined the Ramakrishna Order of India and was initiated by Swami Brahmananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
In 1923, Swami Prabhavananda came to the United States. After two years as assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of San Francisco, he established the Vedanta Society of Portland. In December 1929, he came to Los Angeles where he founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California the following year.
Under the able care of the swami, the Society grew into one of the largest Vedanta Societies in the West, with monasteries in Hollywood and Trabuco Canyon and convents in Hollywood and Santa Barbara.
Swami Prabhavananda was a man of letters as well as a man of God. He wrote and translated a number of books with the object of making the spiritual classics of India available and understandable to Western readers. He was assisted on several of the projects by Christopher Isherwood or Frederick Manchester. His comprehensive knowledge of philosophy and religion attracted such disciples as Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard. His publications, which include the Bhagavad-Gita, The Upanishads, Breath of the Eternal, How to Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Pantanjali, The Eternal Companion, and The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta, continue to this day to capture interest and draw people to the Vedanta philosophy.
Swami Prabhavananda passed away on the bicentennial of America's independence, July 4th 1976, fitting for one who gave so much of his life to this country.
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From the preface:
Our aim in this translation has not been to achieve a literal translation but rather...to convey the teachings in clear and simple English.
According to Shankara, it is the ignorance of our real nature, our divine nature, that causes suffering and pain. The desire for happiness is essentially a longing to awaken to who and what we truly are. Through the path of self-knowledge, Shankara teaches how to awaken from the ignorance created by the mind, and abide in the peace of our true nature.
The book is widely used in yoga classes as an important introduction to Raja Yoga. Promoted by George Harrison and featured in his last album.
These talks by Swami Prabhavananda present Christ's teachings from the perspective of Vedanta as a practical program for daily living. Spiritual seekers from any path will find inspiration from his message. The surprise for many Christians unfamiliar with the Vedanta tradition is that we focus on what Christ actually said in the Bible, and don't worry about the theological interpretations. Christ said, and we teach, that you can see God.
This version focuses primarily on the teachings of Krishna, and the generally more interesting portions of the book. The translation's aim is to be true to the spirit of the original Sanskrit and be easily readable.
Those who wear shoes to protect their feet are not hurt by the thorns that lie upon the road.
Likewise, those who have learned
to be contented under all conditions
are never hurt by the thorns that lie upon the path of life.
- page 147 from the book
The translation by Swami Prabhavananda is in good English by a fluent speaker. The book is taken from the translator's classes.
The book is in essence an indispensible book for spiritual aspirants that covers material you won't easily find elsewhere. The key is to re-read it on a regular basis, maybe once a year, if not more often.
Included are discussions on The Bhagavad Gita: The Song of God, How To Know God: The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal. There are also chapters on the Vedas, Tantras, and other scriptures and famous teachers of India
This book, first published in 1962, is an analysis of the history of the philosophy of a country that has never distinguished philosophy from religion. Indian philosophy is not merely metaphysical speculation, but has its foundation in immediate perception. This insistence upon immediate perception rather than abstract reasoning is what distinguishes the Indian philosophy of religion from philosophy as Western nations know it.
This book, first published in 1968, is a collection of twenty-five lectures by Swami Prabhavananda, the outstanding scholar and translator of Hindu scriptures. They present a direct and pragmatic approach to spiritual life, and a clear guide to Hinduism.