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Swami Sarvagatananda (1912-2009) was the head of the Vedanta Societies of Boston and Providence from 1962 to 2002. When MIT President James Killian had initiated the construction of the MIT Chapel in which all the religions of the world were invited to worship, he was invited to the chapel's dedication ceremony on May 8, 1955, and became the first Hindu chaplain at MIT.[1]

During this time, he gave weekly lectures on the Bhagavad Gita at the MIT Chapel every Friday. His ministry in Boston continues a long tradition initiated by Swami Vivekananda, Saradananda, Abhedananda. Paramananda, and Akhilananda[2]

Born in 1912 in Andhra Pradesh, India, he was initiated in 1934 into the Ramakrishna Order of monks by Swami Akhandananda, who was a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.[3] To become a monk worthy of the name, his guru Akhandananda told him to walk barefoot from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Kankhal in northern India. "His Herculean journey, beset with numerous difficulties, conspicuously reveals the mettle of his character. He walked nearly a thousand miles without much money, trudging through unknown regions, without knowing the local language, with no road map in his hand."[4] He was 21 at that time. Later, remembering the teachings of his guru, Swami Sarvagatananda recalled the following advice. "When you get up in the morning, remember the purpose for which you have come to the monastery. And when you retire for the night, ask yourself whether during the day, you have been true to the purpose."[5] At Kankhal, he served under Swami Kalyanananda who was a direct disciple of Swami Vivekananda. In 1943, he was transferred along with Swami Ranganathananda to the ashram in Karachi. After the 1947 Partition of India, he moved to Visakahapatnam where he was head of the Ramakrishna Mission there, until 1954, at which time he was posted to assist Swami Akhilananda at the centers in Boston and Providence in the United States.[6] On June 2, 1964, He presided over the memorial service at MIT in remembrance of the mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener.[7] He was also a member of the Harvard University-Radcliffe College Ministry [8] His two-volume tome "Meditation as Spiritual Culmination" is the most detailed commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Its originality lies in its strikingly practical interpretations of the yoga sutras dealing with siddhis (see also Bahm[9]. Swami Sarvagatananda passed away on May 3, 2009. He is succeeded by Swami Tyagananda as head of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Boston.


  • Sarvagatananda, Swami (2001). God is Everything. Toronto: Vedanta Society of Toronto. p. 130. ISBN 0969996101. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Sarvagatananda, Swami (2010). Meditation as Spiritual Culmination -- Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama. p. 1611. ISBN 978-8175054356. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Sarvagatananda, Swami (2010). Sri Krishna Yoga. Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama. p. 112. ISBN 978-8175052765. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Sarvagatananda, Swami (2010). You will be a Paramahamsa. Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama. p. 80. ISBN 978-8175052710. Search this book on Logo.png
  • Sarvagatananda, Swami (2009). Vedanta for the Common Man. Advaita Ashrama. p. 92. ISBN 978-8175053311. Search this book on Logo.png


  1. Swami Sarvagatananda, former chaplain for MIT Hindu students, 96, MIT News, at (retrieved February 24, 2017).
  2. See pages 60-61 of World Religions in Boston, The Pluralism Project, edited by Diana L. Eck, Elinor J. Pierce, and Alan G. Wagner, Harvard University, 1993, available at: (retrieved 2017-02-09).
  3. Marquard, Bryan. "Swami Sarvagatananda; monk who inspired many", The Boston Globe, Boston, July 12, 2009, Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  4. Tathagatananda, Swami. [1] Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  5. See page 18-19 of "God is everything" by Swami Sarvagatananda.
  6. Tathagatananda, Swami. [2] Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  7. See page 329 of Dark Hero of the Information Age, in search of Norbert Wiener, father of cybernetics, by F. Conway & J. Siegelman, Basic Book, 2005. See also p. 370 of P.R. Masani, Norbert Wiener 1894-1964, Birkhauser-Verlag, Basel, 1990.
  8. Swami Sarvagatananda, former chaplain for MIT Hindu students, 96, MIT News, at (retrieved February 24, 2017).
  9. Bahm, Archie, Yoga sutras of Patanjali, Frederick Ungar Publisher, New York, 1961.

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