12 Swami Vivekananda Books That Everyone Should Read in Lifetime

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Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk who stands as one of the most inspiring personalities of all time in India as well as abroad. He traveled to many parts of the world and gave lectures on philosophy, religion, yoga, spirituality and more.

Most of his books are based on these lectures that were first recorded and later transcribed into books.

Books by Swami Vivekananda

There are many life-changing books by different authors but there are very few authors whose all books have the potential to change and mold your thoughts to live a peaceful and contented life. And Swami Vivekananda is unarguably among one of those few brilliant authors.

Swami Vivekananda’s books have touched and bettered the lives and souls of many people and will keep doing so for ages to come!

Here is a list of 12 Swami Vivekananda books that everyone should read at least once in a lifetime:

1. Karma Yoga

Karma yoga (The Yoga of Action) is a book based on the lectures by Swami Vivekananda which he delivered in his rented room in New York City from December 1895 to January 1896. This book was transcribed by Joseph Josiah Goodwin, a professional stenographer (a person whose job is to transcribe speech in shorthand) who later became a follower of Swami Vivekananda.

In this book, Swami Vivekananda discusses the concept of Karma Yoga in Bhagavad Gita. The book also shows a righteous path towards knowledge and wisdom.
Swami Vivekananda described Karma Yoga as the discipline of mind that allows a person to carry out his/her duties as a service to the entire world, as a path to enlightenment.

This book is easy to understand and can act as a very powerful tool in spiritual development.

2. Raja Yoga

The book ‘Raja Yoga’ is basically Swami Vivekananda’s interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It presents Vivekananda’s understanding of these Yoga Sutras in a profound and easy way. The book was first published in 1896 and it became an instant success.

This book is valuable for both knowledgeable as well as for those who are new to Raja-Yoga.

It starts with an introduction and the eight steps of Raja-yoga. In the progressive chapters, more complex concepts such as Dhyana and Samadhi are explained. All these concepts are explained in a concise and in a manner that is easy to understand for everyone.

This book also covers an introduction to the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali where the concept of Concentration is explained along with its practical uses and techniques. There are also explanations of the Powers of the Mind, Reincarnation, and Discipleship.

The readers can even feel the connection with the book and have a lot of positive vibes while reading it. It is truly a brilliant book and a must-read for everyone!

3. Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga is also based on lectures by Swami Vivekananda as transcribed by Joseph Josiah Goodwin. These lectures were delivered mainly in New York City and London.

This book is among the first to explain some basic concepts that underpin Yoga. It starts with the importance of religion and its relationship with men. Swami talks about the nature of man and makes a sincere and complete effort to help people understand that the Vedanta is a complete source of all knowledge of the Absolute. The book also tells ways to reach it.

This book explains many other important concepts such as Realization and God through an abridged version of the Katha Upanishad, nature of the Soul, The Cosmos, micro and macrocosm, and immortality in a simple and easy to understand manner.

This book is definitely a classic in the field of yoga. However, one thing should be kept in mind that this book was initially a lecture, not a book. So ideally it was meant to be heard and not read. So sometimes it can be a little tedious and difficult to understand. But this is nothing compared to the vast knowledge that this book is home to.

4. Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti yoga is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on the cultivation of love and devotion to God. It is the simplest and most direct path to God.

In this book, Swami Vivekananda writes with insight and profound knowledge and provides the reader with a simple path to the Divine. This book contains everything you need to know about the practice of Bhakti Yoga. It is concise and yet highly rich in contents and knowledge.

Swami Vivekananda through this book brilliantly brings before the reader the full range of the teachings of the path of the devotion of Hinduism. From simple dualistic beliefs to the highest Advaitic principles, this book covers every important concept of Bhakti Yoga. Through these practices and our interpretation of Bhakti, it is possible to reach the final spiritual goal of Samadhi even in the modern age!

This is a complete book filled with profound and deep wisdom. It is a must-read book for everyone. Even if you are among those who weigh science and reasons more, you can still read it without having to give up your own beliefs!

5. Lectures from Colombo to Almora

Lectures from Colombo to Almora is a book based on lectures delivered by Swami Vivekananda after his return from the west in 1897. His visit to the west proved to be a great success and his achievements were highly celebrated in India.

Swami Vivekananda then traveled extensively and visited many Indian states. During the period of January to June 1897, he gave lectures in many places starting from Colombo and up to Almora. These lectures were later published as a book.

It is a brilliant book that gives insights on many basic and complex concepts like religion and advaitism. It enlightens us and inspires us to do great things in life. Here is an inspiring quote from the book.

“All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; do not believe that you are half-crazy lunatics, as most of us do nowadays. You can do anything and everything, without even the guidance of anyone. Stand up and express the divinity within you.”

6. My Master

As one can understand from the title, this book is about the Master or the Guru of Swami Vivekananda – Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. This book is based on two lectures delivered by Swami Vivekananda in New York and England in 1901.

It is a short book that beautifully lays out the relationship between a Guru and his disciple. After reading this book, one could clearly see from where Swami Vivekananda found his passion and grit towards the things he did in his short yet complete life.

Here is a humble quote by Swami Vivekananda about his spiritual teacher that sums up the great value of wisdom that Shri Ramakrishna had imparted into his life.

“If there has ever been a word of truth, a word of spirituality, that I have spoken anywhere in the world, I owe it to my Master; only the mistakes are mine.”

7. Swami Vivekananda on Himself

Although ‘Swami Vivekananda on Himself’ is a biographical book, it is written in an autobiographical manner (first person narrative). This book was first published in 1963 by Swami Sambudhdhananda, general secretary of Swami Vivekananda’s birth centenary committee.

In this book, the life incidents of Swami Vivekananda have been written in his own words. The book is actually based on selected notes, letters, and utterances of Swami Vivekananda about himself and his works collected from different books.

The book covers different aspects of his life and Gives a glimpse of the world through the eyes of Swami Vivekananda himself.

8. Teachings of Swami Vivekananda

This book contains many of the Swami Vivekananda’s ideas, philosophies, and teachings. It shows how Swami’s teachings stressed on different aspects of religion, education, character-building as well as social issues pertaining to India.

If you haven’t read about Swami’s writings, speeches, or teachings previously, this book can really give you a good refresher. It will surely inspire you and help raise your spirits and awaken a new sense of hope.

9. Meditation and its Methods

A concise book that brings out the most important talks of Swami Vivekananda on meditation. The language is simple and very easy to read and understand. Though the book is a short read, each page of it is filled with thoughtful insights and beamed with wisdom.

Meditation and its methods’ not only states the practical ways of meditation, but it also explains the power and philosophy behind it and its ultimate goal. It also talks about mind restraint, patience and dealing with people and misery on a daily basis. And above all, it guides you to a peaceful and happy life.

If you really want to motivate yourself toward meditation, yoga, and spirituality, this book is definitely for you. Give it a read and it will change your perception of life for the better!

10. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Set of 9 Volumes)

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, as the title suggests, are a set of nine books that covers all works and teachings of Swami Vivekananda. All his works, lectures, philosophies and ideologies are made into these 9 volumes that act as an encyclopedia to everything related to Swami’s life.

It covers everything from Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Jnana yoga to all other lectures and teachings on Gita, Upanishad, Vedanta and so on.

All the books that are mentioned above are actually the subsets of these complete volumes. If you are willing to get full-fledged information and knowledge on Swami’s life and want to get inspired, you should definitely get these books. If you read these books, you don’t even have to get any other books by Swami Vivekananda, because everything is covered here.

Books on Swami Vivekananda by Other Authors

There are many books on Swami Vivekananda, written by many other authors. But most of those books have similar or repetitive contents. That’s why not all such books are mentioned in this list.

Here are a few books about Swami Vivekananda that you should read at least once:

1. The Master As I Saw Him by Sister Nivedita

Sister Nivedita was an Irish social worker, author, teacher, and disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She met Vivekananda in 1895 in London and traveled to Calcutta in 1898. The name Nivedita (meaning “Dedicated to God”) was given to her by Swami Vivekananda himself when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya.

The master as I saw him‘ is an incredibly humble and brilliant description of Swami Vivekananda’s life from the viewpoint of Sister Nivedita. This book is one of the top books on Swami Vivekananda that gives an account of Swami’s life through the eyes of a close disciple.

It is probably one of the best narratives of a relationship between a disciple and a teacher.

2. Vivekananda: A Biography By Swami Nikhilananda

This book is a biography of Swami Vivekananda written by another spiritual leader, Swami Nihilananda.

The book presents his vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture, deep spiritual insight, broad human sympathy, and colorful personality.

It is a concise book and if you want to get an overview of Swami Vivekananda’s life and teachings, you should surely read this one.

The Book Below is a Picture-Book

Vivekananda: A Biography in Pictures by Swami Smaranananda

Well, this is Swami’s biography with few words and more pictures. It is actually a collection of all the known photographs of Swami Vivekananda together with pictures of where he lived and also of the people whom he knew.

The photographs are accompanied by a full explanation as well. Moreover, the book also has many of Swami Vivekananda’s quotes! Get this book to see Swami’s life in pictures!

So, these were the list of some books on Swami Vivekananda’s life. There are many other books about Swami Vivekananda, but almost all concept, ideas, philosophies and references are covered in the books mentioned above.

If you read these books, your perspectives on life will definitely transform in a positive way!

Keep Reading, Keep Growing!

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