Cover: Guru to the World: The Life and Legacy of Vivekananda, from Harvard University PressCover: Guru to the World in HARDCOVER

Guru to the World

The Life and Legacy of Vivekananda

Product Details


$39.95 • £34.95 • €36.95

ISBN 9780674247475

Publication Date: 10/18/2022


560 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

66 photos, 2 illus., 1 map

Belknap Press


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This is a deeply researched and compellingly argued biography of Swami Vivekananda, one of the first Indian religious thinkers to become known in the west, and one of the makers of modern India.—Rana Mitter, BBC History Magazine

Guru to the World is a triumph of research and ambition, drawing connections between a dazzling array of philosophies, figures, languages, geographies and religions.—Abhimanyu Arni, Literary Review

Vivekananda’s life was an embarrassment of epiphanies and contradictions, and Harris exhaustively uncovers all of them.—Pratinav Anil, History Today

This will be the standard biography of [Vivekananda] for years to come… Admirable.—Jon M. Sweeney, Spirituality & Practice

Vivekananda was many things to many people: the first global religious celebrity, an apostle of Indian nationalism, a man whose message was heard, and heard differently, in salons as well as slums. It’s not just any biographer who can do justice to such a complex life. He’s fortunate to have found a perfect interpreter in Ruth Harris.—Benjamin Moser, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Sontag: Her Life and Work

In Ruth Harris’s vivid portrait of India’s Vivekananda, we discover a compelling story of interconnected lives—the guru, his disciple, the international followers, his own teacher—that sheds new light on religion, race, gender, colonialism, and nationalism. This impressive book introduces us to some important but half-forgotten cultural currents in the life of India, Europe, and America at the end of the nineteenth century. To understand contemporary India, we need to pay more attention to these currents, and Harris is a sure-footed guide.—Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury

In Guru to the World, Ruth Harris gives us riveting accounts of both the Indian and the international sides of Swami Vivekananda, one of the most provocative personalities of the nineteenth century. The connections between tradition and modernity forged by him over a century ago continue to influence culture, politics, and religion worldwide. A brilliant read.—Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization

An inspired blend of religion, politics, and biography, Guru to the World takes a novel approach to the history of empire and cross-cultural encounters that foregrounds the workings of love, friendship, and faith. In the lives of Vivekananda and his associates, Ruth Harris delivers insight into topics ranging from yoga to anticolonial nationalism that should interest any readers curious to understand the workings of what might be called globalized culture.—Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch

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