Swami Abhedananda

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Monastic Name : Swami Abhedananda
Meaning : That which has no differentiation
Pre-Monastic Name : Kali Prasad Chandra
[1866 - 1939]
Kali Prasad Chandra (Abhedananda) was a precocious scholar. At a very early age he learned Sanskrit and studied Western Philosophy. He was naturally open-minded and felt no prejudice in favour of any one religion. Having become fascinated by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, he was eager to find someone who could teach him to follow the methods of meditation they prescribe. One of his classmates told him about Ramakrishna, so he went to visit him.As soon as Ramakrishna set eyes on the boy, he told him, 'You were a great yogi in your previous birth. This is your last birth. I am going to initiate you in the practice of yoga.' Thenceforward, Kali came to Dakshineswar as often as he possibly could. When Ramakrishna fell sick, he was among those who nursed him most devotedly. After Ramakrishna's death, he entered the Order and became known as Abhedananda.

In 1896, while Vivekananda was in London, he sent for Abhedananda to join him. When Abhedananda arrived, he found, to his dismay, that Vivekananda had already arranged a lecture for him and announced it to the press. Abhedananda had never spoken in public before in his life; but, such was his faith in Vivekananda's decisions, that he appeared in front of an audience which filled the hall to its capacity and gave a brilliant lecture.

Vivekananda was delighted, and left for India with perfect confidence that his work would be carried on as well as could be wished. Abhedananda remain in England for a year.

In 1897, Vivekananda asked him to take charge of the Vedanta Society in New York. There, too, Abhedananda was most successful. He appears to have felt more at home in America than any of his brother swamis. With the exception of one short visit to India in 1906, he stayed on there, teaching and lecturing, until 1921.

Abhedananda was always an individualist. When he returned to Calcutta, he founded his own Vedanta Society, which gradually dissociated itself from Belur Math, though there were no unfriendly feelings between the members of the two institutions. By 1939, the year of his death, Abhedananda was the last survivor of the direct disciples and one of the very few people still alive who had ever meet Ramakrishna.