“Each Soul is potentially Divine” – Swami Vivekananda
On the Auspicious Birth Anniversary of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi (Dec 13th, 2014), the proposal of beginning a Vedanta Society in Connecticut was formally discussed. The Society’s mission would be to facilitate the study and practice of Vedanta in and around Connecticut area, on the lines of Vedanta Societies of Ramakrishna Order in USA. The great lives and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda are the guiding forces to serve this mission.
Vedanta in Connecticut
Swami Vivekananda visited Hartford, CT on two occasions to deliver lectures at the Unity Hall, which was a part of the Hartford Unitarian Church. His first visit was on March, 1895 when he spoke on “Soul, God and Religion”. He visited again in January 1896, and delivered lecture titled “The Ideal of Universal Religion”.
Hartford thus holds a significant spot in the history of Vedanta movement in America. Unity Hall where Swami Vivekananda spoke, no longer exists, it was demolished in 1924. Union station where he arrived by train is still there.
Since the establishment of the Vedanta Societies in New York, Boston and Providence, devotees in Connecticut had the choice to visit those centers. However since 1992 Swami Swahananda, an illustrious monk and the head of Vedanta Society in Southern California, started to visit Connecticut once or twice every year and initiated many into spiritual practice. Many followers of Sri Ramakrishna used to assemble during his visits at a devotee’s house and receive his guidance. A great impetus to this Vedanta movement came in 2003, when Swami Yogatmananda, head of Vedanta Society of Providence, started monthly classes on Bhagavad Gita at the Hindu Temple, in Middletown, CT. The regularity of these classes over the years attracted many admirers and devotees from various cultural backgrounds, who later got initiated in the Ramakrishna Order tradition. Very soon annual spiritual retreats during summer also started. Due to these growing activities in the area, a center that facilitates regular scriptural study and other spiritual disciplines is proposed to benefit the local community of devotees. Hartford (or a nearby place), being sanctified by the footprints of Swami Vivekananda and also being centrally located can be an appropriate location for the new center.
This center aims at providing an atmosphere for regular prayers, meditation and scriptural study to spread the message of 1.innate Divinity of each soul and 2. Of harmony of all religions as different paths to manifest this Divinity. Swami Vivekananda’s teachings of Practical Vedanta and its application in present day American society would be the main focus of this center.