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Print-to-Braille Transcriptions From Vedanta Centre Publishers

About The Authors

Swami Paramananda

Swami Paramananda was born in 1884 in India in the village of Banaripara, Bangladesh. The youngest son of a prestigious Indian family, he was cherished by many for his humor, intelligence, affability and gentle nature. The death of his mother at a young age impacted him deeply, and became a catalyst that set him on the path to an all-consuming love for God and quest for God-realization. This quest brought him into the presence of his teacher, Swami Vivekananda, who was one of the foremost direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and also one of the first Indian teachers to bring India’s great philosophy of Vedanta to the United States.

Swami Paramananda began his life in the United States in December 1906. He founded the Vedanta Centre in Boston, Massachusetts in 1909. He also founded Ananda Ashrama in La Crescenta, California, as well as Ananda Ashrama in Cohasset, Massachusetts where the Boston Vedanta Centre eventually was relocated in 1952. He traveled extensively and gained world-wide recognition as an author, lecturer, poet and illumined spiritual guide. Through his selfless devotion many came to know the timeless universal teachings of Vedanta, and their own Divine spiritual heritage. He passed away in June of 1940 in his beloved garden at The Vedanta Centre in Cohasset, MA. The Vedanta Centre and Ananda Ashrama continued to thrive under the direction of Srimata Gayatri Devi, who passed away in 1995. The Centers now continue under the direction of Srimata Sudha Puri.

The first book of Swami Paramananda’s to be transcribed from print to braille was “The Way of Peace and Blessedness”. It was a gift to Hellen Keller, who visited The Vedanta Centre in Boston. It is said that she treasured it. Swami Paramananda also worked closely with the Clovernook Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, a pioneering school for the blind founded in 1903 by the Trader Sisters, and supported by William Procter, a co-founder of Procter and Gamble. The Swami knew the Trader sisters well and visited with them several times on his many cross-country train trips between Boston and California.

When Swami Paramananda was 16, his father began to lose his eyesight. A man very devoted to his faith, he asked his young son to read to him from the scriptures and other holy books. Every night Suresh, as Swami Paramananda was known in his youth, read to his father and sang devotional songs to him. Gradually his father’s eyesight slipped away and he became blind. It is to the memory of Swami Paramananda’s father that these transcriptions are dedicated.


Sister Devamata

Sister Devamata was born Laura Franklin Glenn on September 6, 1867 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was educated at Vassar College, and after her graduation, studied in Paris at the Sorbonne. She became acquainted with Vedanta through a series of lectures in New York City by Swami Vivekananda, who was a foremost and beloved direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. Laura was 29 years old. Her interest in Vedanta grew through her association with Vivekananda, and another direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda. She met Swami Paramananda in December of 1906 upon his arrival in the United States, and immediately recognized him as her Guru.

Laura took her vows of renunciation while in India, spending almost 2 years there assisting and studying with members of The Ramakrishna Order. When she returned to the United States, she was ordained by Swami Paramananda as the first woman to teach Vedanta in the West in 1910, which at that time was a revolutionary step: there were hardly any women in leadership roles in any religious tradition in the West. Her name, Devamata, was given to her by Swami Paramananda, and is a Sanskrit name meaning “Mother of the Gods”.

Sister Devamata was a gifted writer, poet, and speaker. She edited and compiled many of Swami Paramananda’s books over the years that she spent in the monastic community of the two Ashramas, as well as books and lectures of Swami Vivekananda. She assisted Swami Paramananda in launching a monthly magazine called “The Message of the East”, which featured articles and lectures about Vedanta, as well as all of the world’s great religious traditions. While in India, she worked tirelessly to bring to publication many spiritual classics through the Madras Math Publishing Department, which she founded under the direction of the leaders of the Ramakrishna Order.

Sister Devamata died in December of 1942 at the age of 75. Her literary contribution to the spread of the teachings of Vedanta in the West is significant.




 

“Shining, well-seated in the heart, moving in the heart, is the Great Being, the Support of all. In Him all is fixed, whatsoever moves, breathes and winks. Know Him Who is both being and non-being, Who is beyond the reach of human understanding, the highest and most adorable One.”
~ Mundaka Upanishad

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