Swami Parmananda (1884-1940)
Reverend Mother Gayatri Devi (1906-1995)
Reverend Mother Sudha Puri (1942 - )
REVEREND MOTHER SUDHA PURI
(1942 - ) is the spiritual leader and minister who guides our work
in this country and abroad. She divides her time between Ananda
Ashrama and Vedanta Centre. She will provide individual practical
spiritual instruction by appointment.
Reverend Mother Sudha Puri came into the monastic
community in 1980 as Dr. Susan Schrager, an educational psychologist
and teacher. Introduced to the study of Vedanta at the age of 14,
she devoted her life to the study of the great religions of the
In 1985, Srimata Gayatri Devi initiated her into
Sannyas and empowered her to carry on the work. In 1995, upon Srimata
Gayatri Devi's death, she became the spiritual leader of the centers.
REVEREND MOTHER GAYATRI DEVI (1906-1995)
was born and reared in India. A born mystic, she was close to the
poet, Rabindranath Tagore and an early follower of Mahatma Gandhi.
Inspired by the teachings of Vivekananda, she came to this country
when she was 19 and took her place as the first Indian woman and
youngest sister in the monastic community.
In 1927, she became the first Indian woman ordained
to teach Vedanta in the West. Recognizing the depth of her illumination,
Swami Paramananda empowered Srimata Gayatri Devi as his spiritual
successor. Upon his death, she took her place as leader of the community,
spiritual guide, editor of the publications and teacher to thousands
here and abroad. She continued to minister to Vedanta groups in
Switzerland and Germany.
She lived a consecrated life for 69 years and served
as the spiritual leader for 55 years until her death in 1995.
SWAMI PARAMANANDA (1884-1940), founder
of the Vedanta Centre in Boston in 1909, was a monk of the Ramakrishna
Order, an author, poet and inspired teacher of international renown.
He was the youngest monastic disciple of Swami
Vivekananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Order, the most widely known
religious and philanthropic organization in India. Initiated into
Sannyas in 1902 at the age of 17, he was trained by his Guru and
Swami Ramakrishnananda. Paramananda brought Vedanta to Boston in
1909. He traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around this country
teaching and lecturing, as well as establishing Vedanta groups in
fifteen states. Three became permanent Vedanta centers.
He lectured all over the world, forming groups
in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. In 1931, inspired by Swami Shivananda,
an Indian branch of Ananda Ashrama was dedicated to the upliftment
and education of destitute women and children. In 1950, the entire
center was moved to Calcutta where two ashramas and schools continue
Swami Paramananda founded the Message of the East
in 1909, the first Vedanta periodical published in the United States
which continued for 51 years to present the best from all religions
in its monthly magazine.
Like his teacher, Swami Vivekananda, Paramananda
believed in equality between men and women. He established disciplined
communities of nuns under the supervision of Sister Devamata (1867-1942)
his American first disciple, whom he ordained to teach Vedanta from
the platform in 1910. Throughout the entire history of the community,
women were accorded positions of leadership in all areas of the
Swami Paramananda selected and trained a young
Indian nun in his community to be his spiritual successor. Srimata
Gayatri Devi became the spiritual leader of the centers upon Swami
Paramananda's death in 1940.