07 April 2014

Will Durant On Swami Vivekananda

Will Durant
Image source: Goodreads
Will Durant or William James Durant (5 November 1885 – 7 November 1981) was a American writer, historian, and philosopher. Between 1914–1927, he worked as a teacher at Habor Temple School, New York city. In 1926 his work The Story of Philosophy was published and got immediate success. The work featured several prominent Western philosophers and their works, beginning with Socrates and Plato. After success of Story of Philosophy (1926), he and his wife Ariel Durant, collaborated on 11-volume Story of Civilization series, comprising— 1. Our Oriental Heritage (1935) 2. The Life of Greece (1939) 3. Caesar and Christ (1944) 4. The Age of Faith (1950), 5. The Renaissance (1953), 6. The Reformation (1957), 7. The Age of Reason Begins (1961), 8. The Age of Louis XIV (1963), 9. The Age of Voltaire (1965), 10. Rousseau and Revolution (1967), 11. The Age of Napoleon (1975). A detailed biography of Will Durant is available at Wikipedia. In this article you'll find Will Durant's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

Will Durant told—

The most vivid of [the followers of Ramakrishna] was a proud young Kshatriya, Narendranath Datta, who full of Spencer and Darwin, first presented himself to Ramakrishna as an atheist, unhappy in his atheism, but scornful of the myths and superstitions with which he identified religion. Conquered by Ramakrishna's patient kindliness, Naren became the young master's most ardent disciple. He redefined God as 'the totality of all souls' and called upon his fellow-men to practise religion not through vain asceticism and meditation, but through absolute devotion to [mankind].1

He [Swami Vivekananda] preached to his countrymen a more virile creed than any Hindu had offered them since Vedic days :
It is a man-making religion that we want. ... Give up these weakening mysticisms, and be strong. ... For the next fifty years... let all other, vain gods disappear from our minds. This is the only God that is awake, our own race, everywhere His hands, everywhere His feet, everywhere His ears; He covers everything. ... The first of all worship is the worship of those all around us.... These are all our gods—men and animals; and the first gods we have to worship are our own countrymen.
It was but a step from this to Gandhi.2


  1. The Story of Civilization : Durant, Will, Durant Ariel, Our Oriental Heritage (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1954), Vol. I, p. 617
  2. ibid., p. 618

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