Top 10 Books on Swami Vivekananda

 

A Monk and a Philosopher, Narendranath Datta(Swami Vivekananda) has revolutionized the world in the latter half of the 19th century and then mysteriously disappeared from the face of the earth at a young age of 39.

As a student of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, he addressed religious councils all over the globe. He also helped in bringing widespread popularity to the philosophy of Vedanta and Yoga in the West, especially in the United States. So who was this man exactly? What did he preach? These questions are answered in many books. Most of these would be Vivekananda’s writings and those of his disciples and professors on religion.

Following below are Swami Vivekananda Books in English.

Swami Vivekananda on Himself

This is an autobiographical account made of several memoirs and letters. In addition, there are also lectures that the Swami gave while traveling around the world.

Read it For:
The writing style is so humane and genuine that you will feel connected to the Swami (especially while reading the letters).
Don't Read it For:
There is less focus in his teachings, more emphasis on his journeys.
What makes this book stand out?:
Swami Vivekananda has authored several books, but this one stands out as probably his most personal one. It is one of the top 10 best-selling books on Swami Vivekananda.

Vivekananda, World Teacher: His Teachings on the Spiritual Unity of Mankind

A book focusing on the teachings which were encapsulated in the Swami’s lectures. It projects the Swami as a modern-day Buddha of our times.

Read it For:
The themes of spiritual humanism and spiritual democracy.
Don't Read it For:
Too preachy in parts and the lessons don’t seem applicable in modern life.
What makes this book stand out?:
It shows brilliantly how right philosophy is needed in life, whatever be your religion. This displays the values of religious tolerance deeply engrained in Vivekananda.

The Master as I Saw Him

An Irish woman in India was soon drawn by Vivekananda’s teachings. This turned into such a deep bonding that she became his disciple. Now, we know her as Sister Nivedita. This is an account of her experiences and the lesson she learned while being with him. It is a classic entry in any list of books on Swami Vivekananda.

Read it For:
Probably the best narratives of a relationship between a seeker and a teacher.
Don't Read it For:
Slow pacing through the book.
What makes this book stand out?:
There are many books which talk about Vivekananda’s life through his eyes only. Here we get a devotee’s perspective.

Inspiring Thoughts

This hardcover is a collection of some of the best quotations by the Swami. There are 100 quotes on courage, youth, love, education and a wide variety of other varied themes.

Read it For:
The book sums up deep messages in short sentences.
Don't Read it For:
It would not be that insightful if you want to study his teachings. You can see these as abridged forms of his discourses.
What makes this book stand out?:
The quotes that the genius of Vivekananda could be reflected in his long discourses as well as such short sayings.
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Karma Yoga: the Yoga of Action

A brilliant treatise by Vivekananda himself on the practice of karma yoga. He talks about hard work and the fruit of this effort which would lead to a calm soul. The book claims to have practices and ideas that can help us get closer to our true selves and god. This would end the misery of material pursuits in our life.

Read it For:
The 131-page books are filled with deep wisdom and life advice.
Don't Read it For:
Very similar in content if you have already read Bhakti Yoga.
What makes this book stand out?:
The processes of spiritual development and enlightenment are described in a straightforward and easy to read manner, unlike other philosophical books which delve into deep thought processes.

Vivekananda: A Biography in Pictures

The staff of Advaita Ashrama has brought forth this wonderful collection of the Swami’s life in almost all known pictures of his. It gives a glimpse into his childhood, foreign travels, discourses, talks with disciples, etc.

Read it For:
The photographs provide some scenes of his life that you would have never seen before.
Don't Read it For:
Less information, more photos
What makes this book stand out?:
There is less content in the book, but still it is enough to convey the spirit and aura that surrounded this great figure. This makes it one of the most unique and best books on Swami Vivekananda.

The Life of Swami

A work in two volumes, it is a biography made from collective accounts made by his Eastern and Western disciples.

Read it For:
Getting different perspectives from different thinkers.
Don't Read it For:
Focuses on his nature more than his life lessons.
What makes this book stand out?:
The only book on Vivekananda offering multiple viewpoints.

Swami Vivekananda: Essential Writings

This is a part of the Modern Spiritual Masters series and is written by Victor M Parachin. It is a concise life of the Swami and lays focus on his trips to America. This helped a lot for the spread of Vedanta philosophy in the Western spiritual world.

Read it For:
The impact of his works on other foreign teachers and scholars was profound. This is brilliantly represented in this biography of the Swami.
Don't Read it For:
This book can be missed by those who are already familiar with his life’s details and teachings. It is more oriented towards beginners.
What makes this book stand out?:
One of the finest histories of how Eastern wisdom came to America.

A Short Life of Swami Vivekananda

Swami Tejasananda’s short and readable account of Vivekananda’s life dealing with his childhood anecdotes to his relationships in the future and tidbits of his philosophy.

Read it For:
A glimpse into his personality which can attract people to read and research more about him.
Don't Read it For:
If you want to delve deep into the Swami’s philosophy and yoga, then this would not be an effective guide.
What makes this book stand out?:
One of the most basic and introductory works on Vivekananda’s life. This can be read even by those who are not that interested in philosophy. Therefore, it is one of the most popular books on Swami Vivekananda.

The Monk as Man: The Unknown Life

This is a unique book talking about the relationship that Vivekananda had with his students.

Read it For:
Gives you a glimpse into Vivekananda’s gurubhai (brother-disciples).
Don't Read it For:
Sankara’s writing style gets too vague and blanks at times.
What makes this book stand out?:
It is probably the only book on Vivekananda in dialogue form. The dialogues are most probably between the author, Sankara and fellow researchers interested in deciphering Vivekananda’s eventful life.

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