Vivekananda Vedanta Society
The Vivekananda Vedanta Society is a branch of the
Ramakrishna Order whose motto is
For one's own
liberation and for the welfare of the world. Apart
from the main center at Homer Glen, we also have a
sub-center — the Vivekananda Retreat
at Ganges, MI.
The historical roots of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago can be traced back to Swami Vivekananda's visit to Chicago in the July 1893 to attend the World's Parliament of Religions which was the very first attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths.
Apart from the Parliament of Religions, Chicago is filled with footprints and memories of Swamiji. He visited Chicago for the last time in 1900 when he stopped for two days to visit the family he loved most - the Hales. Thirty years after Swami Vivekananda's last visit to Chicago, in December 1929, Swami Jnaneswarananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order arrived in Chicago to start a center in the city of Swami Vivekananda's triumph.
On January 19, 1930, the Vedanta Society of Chicago was established. Swami Jnaneswarananda had his quarters at 120, E. Delaware Place and classes were held in the Masonic Temple. Swami Vishwananda, who succeeded Swami Jnaneswarananda, moved the center, first to a rented apartment at 506 Deming Place, and later in 1955 to 44, E. Elm Street.
After Swami Vishwananda passed away, Swami Bhashyananda became the Minister-in-charge. Under his guidance, the society expanded rapidly. With help from Chester Carlson, the founder of Xerox™ he bought the building at 5423 S Hyde Park Boulevard and the society moved there in 1966. He also established the Vivekananda Retreat in Ganges, Michigan in 1971. Swami Bhashyananda was a frequent traveler, established over 40 "satellite" Vedanta groups throughout the United States and Canada.
In 1993 Swami Chidanandaji became the Minister-in-charge. He took great strides to honor the memory of Swami Vivekananda in Chicago among which were the installation of a plaque at the Art Institute commemorating Swamiji's addresses in 1893, renaming the portion of Michigan Avenue near the Art Institute to Vivekananda Way, and the installation of a 10'2" statute of Swamiji at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. In 2008, the center moved from Hyde Park to the suburb of Homer Glen and the new temple was inaugurated on September 21, 2008.
On March 4th, 2013 Swami Ishatmananda was appointed Minister-in-charge. He is organizing an extensive series of programs and outreach activities to celebrate Swamiji's 150th birth anniversary. Swami Ishatmananda holds a weekly class on Panchama Veda: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and delivers the weekly Sunday Service on Meditation According to the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. He also has an ongoing series of monthly talks on India Eternal at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. In addition he lectures at Ganges each month and also visits other places across the country to spread the Eternal Message of Vedanta and Vivekananda. He gives parlor talks in different corners of Illinois upon the invitation of devotees. Swami Ishatamananda is available for interviews by prior appointment. To schedule an appointment, please email him. You can also follow him on Twitter and Facebook.