Sri 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).
Swami Vivekananda was the chief apostle of Sri Ramakrishna and heir to his master’s spiritual treasures. Swami Vivekananda organized the Ramakrishna Order of India, and in 1893 he brought to the West the bold message of Vedanta when he represented the Vedic religion at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago. In 1894 he founded the Vedanta Society of New York. In 1897 he organized the Ramakrishna Mission in India. In 1900 he founded 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.
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.
Please visit http://www.belurmath.org for greater details on the Ramakrishna Order.