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The Modern Monk

The Modern Monk

Hindol Sengupta
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He loved French cookbooks, invented a new way of making khichdi, was interested in the engineering behind ship-building and the technology that makes ammunition. More than 100 years after his death, do we really know or understand the bewildering, fascinating, complex man Swami Vivekananda was? From his speech in Chicago that mesmerised America to his voluminous writings and speeches that redefined the idea of India, Vivekananda was much more than a monk. His work sweeps through Indian politics, economics, sociology, arts and culture, and of course religion. So ubiquitous are his sayings that they pop everywhere from the speeches of politicians to t-shirts and mugs. It may perhaps be said about Vivekananda that he rarely had a boring idea – and even when he did, he never expressed it boringly! We see and hear so much about Vivekananda that we have almost forgotten how critical he is to our understanding of ourselves as Indians, and indeed, as human beings. Vivekananda is one of the most important figures in the modern imagination of India. He is also an utterly modern man, consistently challenging his own views, and embracing diverse, even conflicting arguments. It is his modernity that appeals to us today. He is unlike any monk we have known. He is confined neither by history nor by ritual, and is constantly questioning everything around him, including himself. It is in Vivekananda’s contradictions, his doubts, his fears and his failings that he recognize his profoundly compelling divinity – he teaches us that to try and understand God, first one must truly comprehend one’s own self. This book is an argument that it is not just because he is close to God but also because he is so tantalizingly immersed in being human that keeps us returning to Vivekananda and his immortal wisdom.

Imprint: India Penguin

Published: Dec/2016

ISBN: 9780143426646

Length : 304 Pages

MRP : ₹399.00

The Modern Monk

Hindol Sengupta

He loved French cookbooks, invented a new way of making khichdi, was interested in the engineering behind ship-building and the technology that makes ammunition. More than 100 years after his death, do we really know or understand the bewildering, fascinating, complex man Swami Vivekananda was? From his speech in Chicago that mesmerised America to his voluminous writings and speeches that redefined the idea of India, Vivekananda was much more than a monk. His work sweeps through Indian politics, economics, sociology, arts and culture, and of course religion. So ubiquitous are his sayings that they pop everywhere from the speeches of politicians to t-shirts and mugs. It may perhaps be said about Vivekananda that he rarely had a boring idea – and even when he did, he never expressed it boringly! We see and hear so much about Vivekananda that we have almost forgotten how critical he is to our understanding of ourselves as Indians, and indeed, as human beings. Vivekananda is one of the most important figures in the modern imagination of India. He is also an utterly modern man, consistently challenging his own views, and embracing diverse, even conflicting arguments. It is his modernity that appeals to us today. He is unlike any monk we have known. He is confined neither by history nor by ritual, and is constantly questioning everything around him, including himself. It is in Vivekananda’s contradictions, his doubts, his fears and his failings that he recognize his profoundly compelling divinity – he teaches us that to try and understand God, first one must truly comprehend one’s own self. This book is an argument that it is not just because he is close to God but also because he is so tantalizingly immersed in being human that keeps us returning to Vivekananda and his immortal wisdom.

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Hindol Sengupta

Hindol Sengupta is an award-winning author of nine books. He was educated in South Asian history and international relations at Worcester College, Oxford, as a Chevening scholar, and in business and finance at Columbia University as a Knight-Bagehot fellow. The World Economic Forum named Sengupta as one of its Young Global Leaders.

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12 things you didn’t know about Vivekananda

When we think of Vivekananda, the image is that of a saintly monk. But was he really that? Swami Vivekananda was nothing like the monks we have known forever. He was confined neither by history nor by ritual, and was constantly questioning everything around him – including himself. He broke numerous stereotypes which he deemed […]