Vedanta Societies refer to organizations, groups, or societies formed for the study, practice, and propagation of Vedanta. More specifically, they often refer to branches of the Ramakrishna Mission located outside India.
The branches of the Ramakrishna Order located outside India are generally known as Vedanta Societies, and are under the spiritual guidance of the Ramakrishna Order. The work of the Vedanta Societies in the west has primarily been devoted to spiritual and pastoral activities, though many of them do some form of social service. Many of the Western Vedanta societies have resident monks, and several centers have resident nuns.
The first Vedanta Society, the Vedanta Society of New York, was founded by Swami Vivekananda in November 1894. Vivekananda later on asked Swami Abhedananda to lead the organization in 1897. Many of the existing Vedanta Societies are affiliated, either formally or informally, with the Ramakrishna Order, the monastic order, which led to the formation of Ramakrishna Mission.
Prior to its inception, Swami Vivekananda had given his famous "Sisters and Brothers of America!", public lecture at Parliament of Religions, Chicago in September 1893; after its success he spent following two years lecturing in various parts of eastern and central United States, appearing chiefly in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and New York. In June 1895, for two months he conducted private lectures to a dozen of his disciples at the Thousand Island Park.
The term "Vedanta Society" generally refers to branches of the Ramakrishna Mission. Other societies, groups, organizations, and institutes which are aligned with this mission and goal of teaching Vedanta include the following, but are not limited to:
- Vrajaprana, Pravrajika (1994). "Editor's note on Introduction". Living Wisdom: Vedanta in the West. p. 36.
- The Life of Swami Vivekananda, Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2000, Vol 1 p 514.
- Swami Abhedananda – Biography Archived 2014-02-20 at the Wayback Machine Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.
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