Swami Vivekananda Books: Born as Narendranath Datta, Swami Vivekananda was a world-famous Hindu monk and one of modern India’s most influential spiritual leaders. He was born in 1863, in Kolkata, and became a follower and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th-century mystic and saint. Swami Vivekananda is best known for his teachings on Vedanta philosophy, which he popularised in the West with his speeches at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. He was a passionate supporter of social reform and worked relentlessly to achieve this reform. His teachings inspire millions of people all over the world.
As a mystic possessing unparalleled knowledge about life, he believed in imparting that knowledge to make the world a better place to live. He has authored books based on spirituality, philosophy, and social issues. Reading his books is a remarkable experience that will compel you to critically and philosophically examine and question life and other common phenomena and occurrences. In this article, we list the top ten Swami Vivekananda Books that you must read to get a glimpse of the meta-reality.
Top 10 Swami Vivekananda Books
The list of the Top 10 Swami Vivekananda Books is as follows:
1) Karma Yoga
The first book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Karma Yoga. Written in 1896, the book dwells upon Karma Yoga, which is an ethical and religious system that aims to achieve freedom through selflessness and good works. The Karma-Yogi is not required to believe in any doctrine. He may not even believe in God. He has his own unique goal of realising selflessness, and he must figure it out for himself. Every moment of the person’s life must be spent in realisation because he must solve the same problem that the Jnani uses reason and inspiration to solve, and the Bhakta uses love to solve. Swami Vivekananda defines Karma as the means by which humans all shape our personalities. Our actions, and our work, shape who we become. Hence, good work reinforces good character, while doing evil work shapes bad character. As a result, someone’s actions have the potential to change his character.
2) Raja Yoga
The second book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books was also published in 1896. The book is an interpretation of the Yoga Sutras authored by Maharishi Patanjali. It presents Vivekananda’s interpretation and understanding of the Yoga Sutras, as well as that of hatha-yoga teachings based on the beliefs he had. These included elements of traditional Hinduism as well as ideas from modern science, Idealism, and Brahmo Samaj’s Neo-Vedantic esotericism, as well as Western occultism, such as mesmerism and Harmonial religion. Vivekananda adapted traditional ideas of Hinduism to the understandings of the Western people, who were particularly drawn to and familiar with many Western esoteric traditions and movements such as transcendentalism and New Thought.
3) Jnana Yoga
The third book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Jnana Yoga. The book was published posthumously in 1905 and is based on a series of lectures delivered by Swami in various cities. The book lays an emphasis on the importance and significance of Religion in human life. In the book, he also emphasises the nature and difference between absolute and relative. He dwells upon various Upanishads to explain his ideas. He uses Katha Upanishad to explain Realisation and God and the Chandogya Upanishad to explain the nature of the human soul.
4) Bhakti Yoga
The fourth book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti means devotion and yoga means Unity. Bhakti Yoga is a Hindu philosophical spiritual path that promotes love, faith, and surrendering oneself to God. It is a way to realise God and is the most accessible to the average person because it does not require extensive yogic practises. In the book, Swami Vivekananda refers to the Hindu religious scriptures such as the Bhagavad Geeta and Bhagavad Purana as the primary texts expounding Bhakti. The book highlights the proper way in which Bhakti is performed as well as the meaning of the religious symbolic sounds such as Aum. The book is a must-read if one wants to delve deep into spirituality
5) Advaita Vedanta
The fifth book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is a special one. It is related to a concept called Advaita, which was given by Swami and means something that is singular. Vedanta, on the other hand, signifies the end of the Vedas and that ‘Man is essentially Divine’. The essence of the book is that everything in this world has a single origin. The book will help you understand the various tenets of Hindu Philosophy such as Advaita, Atma-Parmatma, Ejati etc.
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6) Practical Vedanta
The sixth book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Practical Vedanta. The book is one of the many books written by Swami on the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. It is a compilation of the lectures given by Swami in numerous cities.
7) Lectures from Colombo to Almora
The seventh book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Lectures from Colombo to Almora. During his journey from Colombo, Sri Lanka to Kolkata, and then to Almora, Swami Vivekananda delivered inspiring lectures at various locations, energising the Indians from their age-long slumber. The purpose of these lectures was to make the Indians aware of the excellence of their culture and heritage, as well as the distinct role they should play in the future in terms of world peace and amity through the propagation of spiritual ideas. This book gives the reader a look of what is India’s positioning and where its true strength lies. The book is a collection of thirty extremely informative as well as inspiring lectures and is written specifically for those interested in learning about the greatness of Indian culture.
8) The Vedanta Philosophy: An Address Before the Graduate Philosophical Society of Harvard University
The purpose of a large number of lectures given by Swami Vivekananda was to educate the Western public about the greatness and richness of Hindu Philosophy. The eighth book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is another such attempt by Swami. He explains in detail the meaning, significance and philosophical underpinnings of the Vedanta Philosophy to the western audience. He draws a comparison between the western and eastern cultures and explains the causes of the superiority and richness of the latter. The book is an essential read if you want to learn about Vedanta Philosophy in detail.
9) Vedanta: Voice of Freedom
The ninth book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is another compilation of lectures given by Swami to a western audience. However, the book is different in many aspects. As the title of the book suggests, the authors regards Vedanta philosophy as a voice of freedom. He equates the human desire for freedom to the human desire for God. Hence, as per Swami, absolute freedom can only be attained when divinity is attained. The Vedanta is a voice of freedom because we need a voice to express ourselves until we attain absolute Freedom. The book is highly rich in Hindu Philosophy and a reader with the slightest interest in life will not be disappointed.
10) Inspired Talks
The last but certainly not the least book in our list of Swami Vivekananda Books is Inspired Talks. It is a compilation of a series of lectures Swami delivered to students at Thousand Island Park in New York. This book captures Swami Vivekananda’s most inspired thoughts during the days in class talks and informal discussions on a wide range of topics – spiritual, philosophical, cultural and social, Religious figures and Prophets, History, people, and so on. The language of the lectures is extremely potent. The concepts are mature and foresightful. Many of the thoughts come as a surprise to the reader, given that they were spoken more than a century ago.
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