India has produced some of the world’s greatest religious leaders, sages, saints, philosophers, and spiritual thinkers. They were monks, nuns, and renunciates, nationalists, and reformers. No one religion had a Monopoly on them. They range from Mahavira and Buddha, who lived over 2, 500 years ago, to medieval saints like Chishti, avvaiyar, and Guru Nanak, to more recent philosophers and religious icons such as Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, saint Teresa, and many others. The spiritual and philosophical heritage they left behind is India’s gift to all Indians and the world. In the ‘life lessons’ series we publish the essential teachings of some of India’s best-known spiritual teachers, along with commentaries and biographical notes. Each book will be a handy companion to help the reader along the difficult pathways of life. Swami Vivekananda was a nineteenth-century philosopher, monk, and nationalist. Born Narendranath data into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, he showed a strong inclination towards spirituality from a young age. Initially influenced by Brahman samaji ideas, he later came into contact with Western esotericism. He then became a disciple of the acclaimed mystic Swami Ramakrishna who introduced him to Advaita Vedanta. Vivekananda went on to become a proponent of Vedanta and yoga, which he famously introduced to the world at the Parliament of the world’s religions in Chicago in 1893. Vivekananda set up the monastic Ramakrishna order after the death of his Guru. He then left the monastery and led the life of a wandering ascetic, travelling through the subcontinent, filled with the desire to reconcile and assimilate modern scientific processes with ancient Hindu ideals. Also credited with raising interfaith awareness, Swami Vivekananda preached the philosophy of neo-vedanta—advaita—which reconciled the different paths to liberation. He revived Hinduism in India and contributed to nascent nationalistic thought. His view of Patriotism was not parochial, thus garnering him universal respect and admiration. An accomplished orator, writer, and poet, as well as a philosopher, his teachings remain just as relevant today as they were when he first Thunder his message to his countrymen and the world over a century ago. Edited by nanditha Krishna, ‘believe in yourself’ brings together Swami Vivekananda core teachings.
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