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Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in USA  

Vedanta Society of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO


PHONE: 314-721-5118    FAX: 314-862-0990

Holy Thoughts
"Stand as a rock; you are indestructible. You are the Self (Atman), the God of the universe". - Swami Vivekananda


The Vedanta Society of St. Louis was started by Swami Satprakashananda in 1938 with the following aims:

1. To relate the spiritual wisdom of Vedanta and to provide the spiritual basis so greatly needed for modern life and progress.

2. To help and encourage men and women to realize their innate divinity by methods and practices best suited to their individual capacities and conditions of life.

3. To establish religious harmony by cultivating the comprehensive vision that all religions are so many paths leading to the realization of God.

Swami Chetanananda

Swami Chetanananda is a monk of the Ramakrishna Order. Before coming to the United States, he worked in the editorial and publication departments of Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, Himalayas and also at its Calcutta branch. He was an assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of Southern California from 1971 to 1978. He came to St. Louis in March, 1978 and at present is the minister of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis. Swami Chetanananda has written, edited, and translated many important books on Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and Vedanta.

Swami Satprakashananda

Swami Satprakashananda (1888-1979), a monk of the Ramakrishna Order and a disciple of Swami Brahmananda, founded The Vedanta Society of St. Louis in 1938. He had the good fortune of seeing Swami Vivekananda in 1901, and later he met Sarada Devi and nine direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. The swami was a great scholar and wrote several books on Vedanta

June 2013 - Monthly Bulletin   

  • Sunday Bhajans and Guided Meditation  9:30 a.m.
  • Sunday Services   10:30 a.m.
            June                2      Understanding of Vivekananda
                                                - Swami Aparananda, Vedanta Society of Berkeley, CA
                                        Vivekananda's Scientific Approach to Religion
                                 16     Thoughts on the Gita – Part 67
                  23     Vivekananda on the Essence of Religion
                              - Swami Yuktatmananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of NY
                                 30     Unity of Existence                                           
 Special Talks  8 :00 PM
                     June    11 (Tuesday)    Spiritual Talk
                                                           - Swami Girishananda, a trustee of Belur Math
                                  25 (Tuesday)   Imperatives from the Bhagavad Gita
                                                         -  Swami Yuktatmananda
Classes  8:00 P.M.  
                  Tuesdays            Bhagavatam, with Guided Meditation
              (Except 11,25)              (205 S. Skinker)
           Thursdays           Swami Vivekananda on Himself
                                                   (211 S. Skinker)

Sunday Services:

Sunday Services are held at 10:30 a.m. in the Society's chapel at 205 S. Skinker  Blvd., St. Louis


Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. A short meditation is conducted before the Tuesday class, followed by discussion of traditional Vedantic texts. Thursday classes cover Ramakrishna Vivekananda literature.
No classes from July to end of September (summer break) , and from Thanksgiving to New Year (winter break). 


A variety of books on Vedanta and Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, as well as many books on mysticism and different religions are available.
The bookstore carries the best photographs of Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and Vivekananda; good Indian incense and other religious-related articles are also in stock.


Special Celebrations:

The Society observes the birth anniversaries of great religious leaders such as Buddha, Shankara, Krishna, Christ, Ramakrishna, and other great teachers of the world. On special occasions, vigils and mini-retreats are conducted.


Swami Chetanananda gives interviews to sincere spiritual seekers and teaches how to practice meditation and spiritual disciplines.


Anyone seriously interested in the universal teachings of Vedanta may become a member of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis.

Ramakrishna and His Disciples

Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), great mystic saint of India, is regarded by millions the world over as a divine incarnation. His early life was devoted to the practice and testing of a variety of spiritual disciplines, including those of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. After realizing God in each of those religions, he declared that all faith paths, if followed with earnestness, lead to the same God-realization. Ramakrishna’s life therefore embodies all spiritual ideals and represents the harmony of the world’s great religious traditions. Five of his disciples spread the message of Vedanta in the United States and Europe.
Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920), also known as Holy Mother, was the spiritual consort of Sri Ramakrishna, and she is regarded as his first disciple. After his death, Holy Mother carried on Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual ministry, guiding and blessing thousands of devotees. Several of her disciples worked in Vedanta centers in the West. Her last message was: “My child, if you want peace, then do not look into anybody’s faults. Learn to make all your own. No one is a stranger. My child, the whole world is your own.”
 Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), chief apostle of Sri Ramakrishna and heir to his master’s spiritual treasures, organized the Ramakrishna Order of India. In 1893 he brought to the West the bold message of Vedanta when he represented Vedic religion at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. In 1897 he started the Ramakrishna Mission in India. In 1894 he founded the Vedanta Society of New York and in 1900 the Vedanta Society of San Francisco. His life was dedicated to recasting the ancient wisdom of Vedanta to show its practical application in helping humankind to experience God as Truth. Vivekananda said:
“All Truth is eternal. Truth is nobody’s property; no race, no individual can lay any exclusive claim to it. Truth is the nature of all souls.”
“Religion is realization; not talk, nor doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful they may be. It is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging; it is the whole soul becoming changed into what it believes. That is religion.”
“The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself.”
Swami Brahmananda (1863-1922), is regarded as the spiritual son of Sri Ramakrishna. He was a spiritual dynamo and for more than twenty years guided the Ramakrishna Order as its first president. One of Swami Brahmananda’s brother disciples said of him: “God is love. Swami Brahmananda has realized God. Therefore he is full of love.” It has been said that the swami had the power to uplift a person’s mind to such an extent that when one left his presence, one felt bathed in love and purity. Many of his disciples taught the universal message of Vedanta in the West, including Swami Satprakashananda, who founded the Vedanta Society of St. Louis in 1938 and the Vedanta Society of Kansas City in 1947.

Vedanta is the culmination of the religion and philosophy of the Vedas, which form the most ancient and most authoritative body of the Hindu scriptures, whose composition dates back to 4,000 B.C. The word “Vedanta” means “the concluding portion of the Vedas,” and also “the supreme spiritual knowledge.” The portions of the Vedas that comprise Vedanta are known as the Upanishads, which consist of the accumulated knowledge of God, soul, and the world, as derived from the spiritual experiences and discoveries of generations of India’s sages.
As revealed in these sacred books, Vedanta holds that our real nature - our real Self - is pure, luminous, immortal, and free - a manifestation of the Infinite Divine Reality or Godhead. The aim of our life on earth is to realize this divinity. To help us achieve this goal, Vedanta teaches various methods suited to each individual’s needs and capacities, by which this divine perfection of the Self can be actually experienced.
The spiritual and philosophical wisdom of Vedanta is not dogmatic or dependent on the authority of any person or persons. According to Vedanta, Truth is one, and the different religions of the world are so many paths leading to the same goal. Vedanta reveals the eternal and universal spiritual truths underlying all religions and helps all men and women in their spiritual unfoldment, regardless of their religious affiliation and beliefs. Thus, Vedanta stands for universal religious harmony. It does not seek to convert, but to support aspirants in their own spiritual paths.

           When a person asks me, "What is Vedanta?" it reminds me of a story. Once a great teacher of Vedanta was invited by a group of people to give a talk on Vedanta. When he arrived at the lecture hall he asked the audience, "Do you know what I am going to tell you?" The people all said, "No." "Then I shall not say anything to you, because you have no background." Saying this, the teacher left the hall. The following week he was again invited by the people, but the leaders of the group planned in advance. They told the audience to say yes if the teacher asked them the same question. The teacher was escorted to the hall, and sure enough, he asked the same question. This time the audience replied, "Yes." Immediately the teacher said, "You know everything then, so I have nothing to say," and he left. Again the leaders made a plan for the teacher's next visit and asked half of the audience to say yes and the other half to say no. When the teacher came for the third time he repeated the same question, "Do you know what I am going to tell you?" and the audience responded as they had been instructed. Then the teacher said, "Those who have said no, please learn from those who have said yes." Without another word he left. The people were puzzled and did not know what to do. They finally decided that the next time they would simply remain silent. After repeated requests the teacher came once more and asked the same question. This time he did not get any answer. He noticed that the whole audience was absorbed in deep silence, and he knew that this was the right time to talk to them about Vedanta.
This is the age of the jet, the rocket, and the satellite. People want to move speedily and expect to achieve everything fast, if not instantly. People unfamiliar with Vedanta do not realize that they are trying to know in five minutes about a spiritual tradition that has been handed down to us for the last five thousand years. I know I am not doing any proper justice to Vedanta by trying to describe it in this short note, but nevertheless I shall try to answer the question, "What is Vedanta?"
Vedanta is the culmination of knowledge, the sacred wisdom of the Hindu sages, the transcendental experience of the seers of Truth. It is the essence, or conclusion, of the Vedas. As the Upanishads come at the end of the Vedas, so it is called Vedanta. Literally, Veda means knowledge and anta means end.
The main tenets of Vedanta are:
1. Brahman is the ultimate reality, the one without a second. It is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. It is beyond name and form, devoid of qualities, without beginning or end. It is the unchanging Truth, beyond space, time, and causation. But this vast, infinite Brahman manifests itself as the universe and the individual beings through its inscrutable power of maya. Thus the one becomes many. When Brahman is associated with its maya, it is called God or Ishvara.
2. The universe is apparent, like water in a mirage, and is continuously changing. We perceive the universe through space, time, and causation. Space begins when one gets a body, time begins with one starts thinking and causation begins when one becomes limited. This beautiful, tangible universe disappears from one's awareness when one enters into the sleep state or merges into samadhi, and again it reappears in the waking state. So this world is in the mind.
3. Human beings are divine. Their real nature is the Atman, which is infinite, eternal, pure, luminous, ever free, blissful, and identical with Brahman. They are not sinners. They make mistakes and suffer because of ignorance. As darkness disappears when light dawns, so ignorance goes away with the advent of knowledge. Bondage and freedom are in the mind. Thinking of weakness and bondage, one becomes weak and bound. Thinking of strength and freedom, one becomes strong and free. No human being wants slavery, because it is painful. Joy is only in freedom, which is, as Vedanta declares, the inherent nature of all beings. The goal of human life is to realize God, and the purpose of religion is to teach one how to manifest the divinity within.
4. How does one manifest the divinity within? Vedanta suggests four yogas: (a) karma yoga, the path of unselfish action, (b) jnana yoga, the path of knowledge, (c) raja yoga, the path of meditation, and (d) bhakti yoga, the path of devotion. The word yoga signifies the union of the individual soul with the Cosmic Soul.
5. Truth is one and universal. It cannot be limited to any country or race or individual. All religions of the world express the same Truth in different languages and in various ways. Just as the sun is no one's property, so also Truth is not confined to one particular religion or philosophy. No one can say that the sun is a Christian sun or a Hindu sun or a Buddhist sun or a Jewish sun or an Islamic sun. Vedanta, rather, promulgates the harmony of religions. As different rivers originate from different sources but mingle in the ocean, losing their names and forms, so all the various religious paths that human beings take, through different tendencies, lead to God, or the Truth.
Now if a person would ask me, "What do you suggest that I read to know about Vedanta?" it would be hard for me to give an answer. Vedanta is a vast subject. Its scriptures have been evolving for the last five thousand years. The three basic scriptures of Vedanta are the Upanishads (the revealed truths), the Brahma Sutras (the reasoned truths), and the Bhagavad Gita (the practical truths). But it is hard for someone to get the essence of these scriptures without the help of a teacher and without going through the commentaries. Sometimes we suggest that a person read Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, because Sri Ramakrishna's life and teachings were saturated with Vedanta. Or we suggest The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, because it was Swami Vivekananda who brought the message of Vedanta to the West. But invariably we have noticed that the inquirer is dismayed, seeing the huge volumes of the Divine Play, the Gospel, and the Complete Works, which consist of 1008, 1063 and 4363 pages respectively. Of course, many swamis of the Ramakrishna Order have written excellent shorter books on Vedanta and yoga, and these undoubtedly are very helpful.
Once, however, a prophetic saying of Swami Vivekananda's flashed through my mind: "I have a message to the West, as Buddha had a message to the East." What was his message? It was Vedanta. And it is this message that I have put together for the readers in Vedanta: Voice of Freedom from Vivekananda's Complete Works.
Ramakrishna (1836-1886) is one of the greatest mystic saints of India. He realized God first in Hinduism and then practiced Christianity and Islam. After realizing God in different religions, he proclaimed, “As many faiths, so many paths.”

Although Vedantic teachings have influenced prominent Western thinkers for centuries, the formal Vedanta movement in the West was initiated in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902). The swami was the chief disciple of Ramakrishna. Vivekananda represented Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions held at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and then disseminated the teachings of Vedanta throughout the United States and Europe.
Since then the message of Vedanta has continued to spread in the West under the leadership of the swamis of the Ramakrishna Order of India, a monastic institution with headquarters at Belur Math near Calcutta. The Ramakrishna Order is an important religious and philanthropic organization with branches all over India and permanent Vedanta centers in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America, Australia, Africa, Japan, and other countries. The Order’s spiritual lineage is the ancient Vedantic order of sannyasins (monks) which from the earliest time has existed in India in an unbroken line of teachers and disciples.
In America, the twelve Vedanta societies promote the study, practice and teaching of the philosophy and religion of Vedanta, especially as expounded by Sri Ramakrishna and his disciple Swami Vivekananda and demonstrated in their lives.

PHONE: 314-721-5118    FAX: 314-862-0990

From the East: Take Interstate 64 west to Exit #34B (Clayton Road/Skinker Blvd. ). Turn right (north) at the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp. Proceed .6 miles to 205 S. Skinker Blvd. Our property will be on your left. It is a gray stone house with a green tile roof and large spruce trees in the front yard.
From the Airport: Take Interstate 70 east to Interstate 170 South. Proceed to Exit #1F (Forest Park Parkway ). Take Forest Park Parkway east to Skinker Blvd. (It is 3.0 miles from the point where Exit 1F diverges from Interstate 170 to Skinker Blvd. ) Turn right (south) on Skinker and proceed .45 miles to 205 S. Skinker Blvd.
From the South: Take Interstate 55 north to Interstate 270 North. Proceed to Interstate 64 East. Follow Interstate 64 east to Exit #33D (McCausland Avenue ). Turn left at McCausland and proceed 1.0 miles to 205 S. Skinker Blvd. (McCausland becomes SkinkerBlvd. at the second stoplight north of the highway exit.)
From the West: Take Interstate 70 east to Interstate 170 South. Proceed to Exit #1F (Forest Park Parkway ). Take Forest Park Parkway east to Skinker Blvd. (It is 3.0 miles from the point where Exit 1F diverges from Interstate 170 to Skinker Blvd. ) Turn right (south) on Skinker and proceed .45 miles to 205 S. Skinker Blvd.
From the North in Illinois : Proceed south to Interstate 270 West. Take Interstate 270 west to Interstate 170 South. Proceed to Exit #1F (Forest Park Parkway ). Take Forest Park Parkway east 3.0 miles to Skinker Blvd. Turn right (south) on Skinker and proceed .45 miles to 205 S. Skinker Blvd. Our property will be on your right. It is a gray stone house with a green tile roof and large spruce trees in the front yard.

Parking: Sunday morning there is 45 degree angle parking on the west side of Skinker Blvd. At all other times, there is parallel parking on both sides of the street.

Om Tat Sat

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


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