This manuscript deals specifically with the contentious issue of sewa, organized service to humanity, which was Vivekananda's legacy to his followers. It is a distinctive contribution to the study of the Ramakrishna movement in its exclusive focus on the idea of service. It argues that the Ramakrishna movement's commitment to sewa was shaped by a complex of varied influences. These included not only the impact of individuals such as Vivekananda and the interaction between Indian and western ideals, but also dramatic changes in the delivery of organized philanthropy. That took place during the nineteenth century in societies disrupted by industrialization and colonization. The study will trace the way in which social, economic, and political
factors beyond its direct control have also conspired to make increasing demands upon the Ramakrishna Math and Mission as a provider of service. The debate surrounding he genesis and growth of the sadhana of service within the Ramakrishna movement has been a fascinating one not least because of the various interests and starting points of those who have participated in it. The study is rooted in substantial direct encounters with the Ramakrishna Math and Mission's contemporary practice of the sadhana of service in both India and Bangladesh. It includes material taken from interviews conducted with members of the movement, and is enriched by reference to literature produced by individual Math and Mission centers which is not very widely known.
Readership: Students and scholars of religious studies, history, social work, sociology, cultural studies, South Asian studies, followers of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, social activists and social workers as well as the informed general reader interested in the notion of social work as a part of religion.
Gwilym Beckerlegge, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Head of Department of Religious Studies, Open University, UK
List of Illustrations
Introduction: 'A Precious Acquisition in the World's Storehouse of Religious Sadhanas'
PART ONE SEVA IN THE RAMAKRISHNA MATH AND MISSION: ITS DEVELOPMENT AND APPEAL Chapter 1 : The Birth of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission
Chapter 2: The Ramakrishna Math and Mission and Service to Humanity
Chapter 3: Understandings of Seva and Continuity Within the Ramakrishna Math and Mission
PART TWO RAMAKRISHNA AS THE INNOVATOR OF THE SADHANA OF SERVICE TO HUMANITY Chapter 4: Ramakrishna as the Instigator of a Sadhana of Service to Humanity: His Actions
Chapter 5: Ramakrishna's Teachings on the Subject of Service and Philanthropy: His Judgment on the Nature of Human Beings
Chapter 6: Ramakrishna and Seva: Some Conclusions
PART THREE VIVEKANANDA AND 'ORGANISED SEVA' Chapter 7: Setting a 'Frame' around Vivekananda's Organisation of Seva
Chapter 8: Vivekananda's Early Exposure to Ideas of Service
Chapter 9: The Beginnings of
an Idea in India: From the Quest for Self-perfection to Seva
Chapter 10: Swami Vivekananda in Action: A New Response to the Pressing Social Problem of Modern Famine
Chapter 11: Vivekananda in the United States and Swami Akhandananda in India
Chapter 12 : A Planned Programme of Practical Vedanta