The Passion of Ramakrishna

I’ve been reading a fascinating history called American Veda, about how Indian philosophical and spiritual traditions have influenced American culture.  It’s filled with references to important figures in art, philosophy, education, and science.  Some figures, like Joseph Campbell, were already on my radar as having been heavily influenced by Eastern thought.  Others have been genuine surprises to me.  Somehow I never realized that Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman were so heavily influenced by Vedic thought.  As a kid I was introduced to Transcendentalism as a purely Western idiom.

Last night I read that Joseph Campbell, along with Swami Nikhilananda (founder of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York), translated a very influential book comprised of Sri Ramakrishna’s talks to his disciples.  Published in 1942, the book made a big impression on many people.  I was intrigued to learn that contemporary composer, Philip Glass, wrote a piece inspired by the translations called “The Passion of Sri Ramakrishna.”

In my excitement I blurted out this cool connection to my husband.  Moments I got the order confirmation that a CD of “The Passion of Sri Ramakrishna” was on its way to our house.  The recording is from the 2006 premiere by the Pacific Symphony and Chorale.

I do have to be careful expressing my enthusiasm!  But I must admit I’m really excited to get the CD integrated into our digital library and to listen to the music.

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