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Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

Vedanta Society of Western Washington, Seattle, WA

An accredited branch of the Ramakrishna Order of India. Seattle, Washington. Est. 1938

·         The Vedanta Society of Western Washington
2716 Broadway East
Seattle, WA 98102-3909
Phone: 206.323.1228
Fax: 206.329.1791
Email: society@vedanta-seattle.org

Vedanta, the essence of Hinduism, was expounded by sages of ancient India who had come to understand certain divine truths about the meaning and purpose of human life. Vedanta teaches that all our problems stem from being ignorant of our true divine nature, and that this ignorance can be got rid of by means of various paths called yogas.  The idea of the harmony of all faiths is inherent in the scriptures of Vedanta, which declare, “God is One; different sages call the same God by different names.”  
The Vedanta Society, established in 1938, promotes Vedanta through weekly lectures, a variety of publications, devotional singing, monthly retreat programs, and annual worship festivals. Personal spiritual instruction is also given by Swami Bhaskarananda, the spiritual head of our center.

What is Vedanta?

Vedanta teaches the divinity of everything and every being

The most fundamental teaching in Vedanta (Hinduism) is that all that exists is divine. Thus every human being is innately divine. And the ultimate goal of life is to manifest this inherent divinity. Divinity is equally present everywhere, but not equally manifest everywhere. So far as human beings are concerned, divinity is most manifest in a spiritually illumined soul.

The four Yogas

Individuals can manifest their divinity by following different spiritual paths (or spiritual disciplines) called Yogas. There are mainly four Yogas: (1) Bhakti-Yoga or the path of love and devotion to God; (2) Raja-Yoga or the path of mental concentration and meditation; (3) Jnana-Yoga or the path of philosophical inquiry, also known as the path of knowledge; and (4) Karma-Yoga or the path of selfless action.

Vedanta believes in divine incarnations

Vedanta, like Christianity, believes that, as and when necessary, God descends on earth and becomes part of history. God descends on earth when religion declines and irreligion prevails. He comes to revitalize religion and also to liberate people from the ignorance of their inherent divinity. While Christianity believes in only one divine incarnation, Vedanta teaches that there have been several divine incarnations and there will be many more in the future as and when the need arises.
Anybody and everybody cannot be a divine incarnation. Srimad Bhagavatam, a well-known scripture of Vedanta, provides in great detail the signs and symptoms by which a divine incarnation can be recognized. Judging by them, among others, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Sri Chaitanya and Sri Ramakrishna have been recognized as divine incarnations.

The idea of harmony of religions is inherent in Vedanta

Vedanta believes in the harmony of religions. The Vedas declare that the Divine Truth is one but different illumined sages call the same Truth by different names. This Truth can be reached through different spiritual paths.
Sri Ramakrishna teaches: “God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times and countries. All doctrines are so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion.
“Dispute not. As you rest firmly on your own faith and opinion, allow others also the equal liberty to stand by their own faiths and opinions. By mere disputation you will never succeed in convincing another of his error. When the grace of God descends, each one will understand his own mistake.
“God is formless and yet He can assume forms. … God sometimes assumes different forms. Sometimes He has attributes, sometimes none. God has form and then again He is formless. He is like the infinite ocean. The cooling influence of the spiritual aspirant’s devotion for God causes the water to freeze and become ice. But when the sun of true knowledge rises, the ice melts and becomes formless water again.”

Vedanta does not believe in conversion

Vedanta is not a proselytizing religion. It does not believe in conversion; it believes in inner spiritual transformation of individuals. It only wants to help a willing Hindu to be a better Hindu, a willing Christian to be a better Christian, a willing Buddhist to be a better Buddhist, and so on. Even a person who does not belong to any organized religion or is an atheist can be accommodated by Vedanta to have personal spiritual fulfillment.

Vedanta believes in practicing religion before preaching it to others

The teachers of Vedanta are expected to first practice the spiritual disciplines enjoined by the scriptures of Vedanta before teaching or preaching them to others. Their lives are expected to speak more eloquently than their mouths.

The word blasphemy is absent in Vedanta

Any honest inquiry about the highest truths of religion is welcome in Vedanta. Answers to all possible inquiries are also to be found in Vedanta, because over the hundreds and hundreds of years of its existence, just about all possible questions have already been asked in Vedanta and valid answers given by its saints and sages.

Vedanta and Hinduism

The word Vedanta is synonymous with the word Hinduism. The ancient ancestors of the Hindus, however, did not know the word Hinduism, nor would they call themselves Hindus. They felt that the duty of every human being was to become noble. Keeping that goal in view they called themselves Aryas (Noble people). They would therefore call their religion Arya Dharma (Arya: noble; Dharma: religion). They also called their religion Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal Religion (Sanatana: eternal) since they believed that their religion was based on some ideas that were eternally true. They also thought that their religion was not meant for some chosen people living in a particular area on earth. They thought that it was meant for the entire humankind. That’s why they also called their religion Manava-Dharma (Manava: humankind).
The religion of the Aryas (English: Aryans) was not based on any book authored by anyone. Some of their ancestors were able to develop their minds to extraordinary levels of perfection. Such minds are called pure minds. These minds enabled them to know certain truths that were not known to others. The truths they discovered came to be known as Veda or Knowledge. They believed that those truths must have come from the same divine source from which the entire creation had come. For this reason they called those truths Apaurusheya, not man-made. Those truths being of divine origin were considered sacred. Thus the Veda came to be regarded as sacred. Aside from that, any book that reveals what is not ordinarily known is called a scripture (in Sanskrit: Shastra). For this reason the Aryans regarded the Veda as the most sacred scripture. Those thinkers to whom the Apaurusheya truths were revealed are known as Rishis or seers, because they were able to know or see truths unknown to others. At the beginning the Veda was communicated orally by teachers to students. There were no written books. Hundreds of years later a great Aryan sage named Vyasa compiled the sacred truths and created a book. That book also came to be known as the Veda. The Veda is a four-volume book, that’s why it is called in English the Vedas. The highly philosophical part of the Vedic literature consists of the Upanishads. The Upanishads are also called Vedanta.
The ancient Aryans who had settled on the banks of the river Sindhu (English: Indus) were eventually branded by the name of the river by their neighbors. Those neighbors would pronounce the name of the river Sindhu as Hindu. Thus the ancestors of Aryans in the fertile Indus valley came to be known as Hindus. The word Hinduism, however, was created by the British during their occupation of India.
One of the greatest exponents of the Vedic religion in modern times was Swami Vivekananda. He came as a Hindu delegate to the historic Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. It was he who first effectively preached Hinduism in the West. According to him, Hinduism being a misnomer, it should be called Vedantism or Vedanta. That is why he named the first Hindu church, which he established in 1894 A.D. in North America, the Vedanta Society of New York. Other churches of the same spiritual lineage that appeared later on the continents of both North and South America, are also called Vedanta Societies. The Vedanta Society of Western Washington in Seattle is one of them.


Please see the Calendar for a listing of all upcoming events or download our newsletter.

Lectures and Classes

Every Sunday morning at 11:00 am, a lecture is given at the Society’s chapel on different aspects of the Vedanta philosophy and religion and related subjects. In addition to the Sunday lecture, a study class is conducted by Swami Bhaskarananda on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm. Please see our calendar for current listings.

Devotional Singing

Every Sunday evening at 7:00 pm, we have a singing of Ram-Nam in Sanskrit along with other devotional songs in English, Hindi, and Bengali. All are welcome.

Retreat Program

Every month a daylong retreat program consisting of holy readings, devotional songs, and a potluck luncheon is held at Tapovan.  This program is for members only. Please see the calendar for the next retreat program.

Annual Events

Throughout the year there are several annual functions held by the Society including: the worships of the Divine Mother Durga, Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, and Shiva Ratri; the adoration of Jesus Christ; and a musical evening with performers from both the eastern and western musical traditions.

Spiritual Guidance

Swami Bhaskarananda is glad to confer with those who are sincerely interested in knowing about Vedanta. He is equally glad to help sincere spiritual seekers with necessary practical instructions in regard to personal prayer and mediation. However, those who receive spiritual instruction from the Swami are expected to be members. Appointments may be made after lectures and classes or by calling the Society.


Anyone wishing to express their appreciation and sustained support for the Vedantic ideals may become a member of the Society, subject to the approval of Swami Bhaskarananda. Annual dues are $60. For further information, please inquire of Swami Bhaskarananda or the Secretary.

Why We Should Meditate

by Swami Bhaskarananda
Over the years many people have come and said to me, “I don’t have any power of concentration.” But there is no valid basis for such thinking. Everyone, even a child, can concentrate. While watching cartoons, children display great concentration. At that time their minds appear to be glued to the TV screen.
It is not true that we cannot concentrate. What we lack is the ability to concentrate our minds on everything, and under all circumstances. It is easy to concentrate on what is pleasant. The difficulty arises when we have to concentrate on something unpleasant. A student finds it hard to concentrate on a dull and uninteresting book. A parishioner feels drowsy when listening to a boring sermon. We must learn to concentrate on whatever we do, whether pleasant or unpleasant, as long as it is beneficial for us. Meditation—training in concentration—teaches this. Concentration is indispensable in achieving any success in life.
We should meditate in order to achieve the highest goal of human life—experiencing Divinity or the Ultimate Truth. But meditation is only a means. It is not the goal itself.
Hinduism speaks of the presence of Divinity in every human being. At any given point in time Divinity is equally present in all, but not equally manifest. The purpose of all spiritual practices, including meditation, is to fully manifest this inherent Divinity.
This Divinity is our true Self. It forms the very core of our being. We can give up whatever is extraneous, but not that which forms the very core of our existence. Sooner or later this true Self, this Divinity, must manifest itself. All without exception will eventually experience this Divine Self manifested in them in Its infinite splendor. This is God-realization. This is the inevitable goal of human life.
Hinduism teaches that Infinite Bliss is one of the principal aspects of Divinity. We all yearn for joy. This longing is expressed through craving for money, sense pleasure, name, fame, power and position. Through all these cravings we are unconsciously trying to reach our Divine Self—Infinite Bliss. No matter how much pleasure, money, power or fame we have, we are never satisfied. We yearn for more. Finding lasting satisfaction through them is impossible, because the joy derived from them is finite. Only Infinite Joy can satisfy us. Eventually we realize that searching for Infinite Joy through finite and external means will lead us nowhere.
This realization will inspire us to turn around and consciously search for that fountain of Infinite Bliss within. When we arrive at this perennial source of Bliss all our wants and cravings will disappear forever. We will then experience God, the all-pervading Divinity, as Supreme Bliss—both within ourselves and without—in everything that exists in this entire interminable universe. We will experience God as the essence of every thing and every being. We will love all—even our enemies—because we will see no enemy anywhere. In this state, any interaction with the world will be a most joyous and rewarding experience, because it is no other than directly interacting with God. We will no longer identify with our body-mind-complex, which is subject to birth, change, decay and death. We will gain the unshakable conviction that we are the eternal Divine Spirit—deathless and birthless. Thus we will transcend all fear, suffering and sorrow.

The Hindu Concept of Peace

by Swami Bhaskarananda
The rulers think that punishing the peace-breakers will bring peace.
The oppressed think that eliminating the oppressors will ensure peace.
The nations think that destroying or subduing the enemy nations will create peace.
But the wise say that ever-enduring peace can never be obtained through external means.
One who has found inner peace has indeed found peace that abides forever.
Through spiritual discipline alone this inner peace can be acquired.
One who has found peace within transmits peace to others by one’s own life’s example, though one be not aware of it.
Therefore, say the wise, may all try to create peace within, before trying to create any temporary or superficial peace in the world through external means.

·         The Vedanta Society of Western Washington
2716 Broadway East
Seattle, WA 98102-3909
Phone: 206.323.1228
Fax: 206.329.1791
Email: society@vedanta-seattle.org

Contact Us

The Vedanta Society of Western Washington   (Also Viveka Press and Global Vedanta)
2716 Broadway East
Seattle, WA 98102-3909

Phone: 206.323.1228
Fax: 206.329.1791
Email: society@vedanta-seattle.org

Global Vedanta
Email: global@vedanta-seattle.org
Viveka Press
Email: vivekapress@vedanta-seattle.org
Email: books@vedanta-seattle.org

Om Tat Sat

(My humble  salutations to the great devotees ,  wikisources  and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )


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