Schedule For Pravrajika Vivekaprana and Swami Yogatmananda

Aug. 30th – Sept 2nd: RETREAT 1: “The Relationship Between Sri Ramakrishna and Narendranath”. Text for study The Great Master, Part V: Chapters 6 -7 by Swami Saradananda.
Sept. 4th – 5th: SYMPOSIUM: “Inspired to Action: Western Women and Swami Vivekananda”. Guest speakers are Pravrajika Vivekaprana who will speak Sunday morning on “How Sister Nivedita Presented the Message of Swami Vivekananda in The Master as I Saw Him” and Swami Yogatmananda who will speak Monday morning on “Swami Vivekananda and Western Women Disciples”. The Symposium ends after lunch on Monday.
Sept. 8th – 11th: RETREAT 2: “Action or Karma as a Path to Freedom”. Text for study Action or Karma as a Path to Freedom by Pravrajika Vivekaprana.
Sept. 12th: Open Forum: “Conversation with Pravrajika Vivekaprana” All are welcome.

Sept 12: Open Forum “Conversation w/Pravrajika Vivekaprana”
Sept. 14th – 17th: RETREAT 3: “Vishwarupa – The Universal Form And The Path Of Devotion”. Text for study by the same name, by Pravrajika Vivekaprana.
Sept. 18th: Open Forum: “Conversation with Pravrajika Vivekaprana” All are welcome.

Sept. 18 Open Forum “Conversation w/Pravrajika Vivekaprana”

There are no overnight spaces here or anywhere in the area for the Labor Day program. You may attend as a day visitor. There are a few spaces left during the retreats being held 9/8 through 9/17. All programs begin at 10am.

Retreat w/Swami Sarvadevananda Sunday, Aug. 21 10am-4pm

Swami Sarvadevananda, the Minister-in-Charge of the Vedanta Society of Southern California, will be giving a one-day intensive on meditation and other spiritual practices. There will be talks alternating with different types of meditation . PLEASE NOTE: The time has been changed from 9am to 10am. There will be tea and snacks but no lunch will be served. You must bring your own lunch. This is an intensive retreat. That means we are trying to really spend time in practice and study. We find that food and its preparation is a huge distraction, so we are requesting that you bring all your food with you, fully prepared.  If you wish to stay overnight for this retreat you must remember to give us at least 5 days advance notice. All are welcome. You don’t need to be familiar with meditation to join us.

April 15-17, 2016 Retreat w/Swami Sarvadevananda “Katha Upanishad”

We are happy to announce that Swami Sarvadevananda, Head Minister of the Vedanta Society of So. California (and also Ridgely), will be visiting us in April. He will be givinga retreat on the Katha Upanishad. This upanishad is unique, consisting of a single storyline: the young boy Nachiketa taught about the Self by Yama, King of Death. Many of you know and loveSwami Sarvadevananda ; we hope you will be able to attend all or part of this retreat.

Here is a schedule for the retreat.

Friday, April 15  

7:30pm Session #1

Saturday 4/16

10:30am Session #2
1:00pm Lunch
3:30pm Session #3

Sunday 4/17

10:30am Session #4

All are welcome to attend this retreat. If you wish to stay overnight, please make reservations soon. The retreat is free. For the overnight suggested donation, please go to

August 30-Sept 17, 2016 Pravrajika Vivekaprana, Sri Sarada Math at Ridgely

Please Register by March 15, 2016

We are very happy that Pravrajika Vivekaprana will once again be visiting Ridgely. She is a senior sannyasini of Sri Sarada Math and is presently the head of the retreat center Ramakrishna Sarada Mission at Pangot, located in the Himalayas. While here at Ridgely she will give 2 retreats and also, in conjunction with Swami Yogatmananda, a symposium over Labor Day weekend. Here is the schedule:

Aug. 30-Sept.2 2016 – Retreat 1

Pravrajika Vivekaprana RETREAT 1: “The Relationship Between Sri Ramakrishna and Narendranath” based on THE GREAT MASTER, Part V: chapters 6-7

Sept 4-5, 2016 – Symposium

Pravrajika Vivekaprana and Swami Yogatmananda:

SYMPOSIUM: “Inspired To Action:Western Women and Swami Vivekananda

Swami Yogatmananda will join Vivekaprana and other speakers to discuss the role Western women played and continue to play) in the work of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Yogatmananda is the Head Minister of the ramakrishna Vedanta Society of Providence. He visits us every year during the Labor Day weekend. We are very happy that he has agreed to be part of this symposium.

Sept. 8-17, 2016 – Retreat 2

Pravrajika Vivekaprana RETREAT 2: “Action or Karma as a Path to Freedom”



If you wish to attend any of these retreats as an overnight guest YOU MUST REGISTER BY MARCH 15. Why? Because we already know that there will not be room at Ridgely to accommodate everyone who wishes to attend. We are considering renting additional space close by if needed. To do that we need to know how many people are on the overflow list.

Please be aware that we will most likely give preference to those people coming from a long distance. As of today, THERE ARE ONLY SHARED ROOMS AVAILABLE, NO SINGLES.

All are welcome to attend these retreats as day visitors. We will be announcing the details again as the year progresses.

The Great Summer Part 9

Josephine MacLeod went down to New York on September 17 to meet Nivedita’s ship–so one learns, among other things, from the following letter written by Betty Leggett to Mrs. Bull:

19 Sept.

Dear Saint Sara,

The other sanyasin comes today no doubt as Joe went to fetch her Sunday evening.

We are all in waiting–and the week promises a look at you all–including Dr Helmer. Let naught prevent an early arrival. I hope 01ea is mending rapidly & when she can hold together let her come and be upon the couch in the great hall–or the loggia & listen! How I regret it all–and wish we had sent for her to come when we learned of Swami’s departure from England as we were sorely tempted to do…. We expect Mrs [Florence] Adams the 22nd. Swami needs Dr Helmer badly–he needs to be told the end is not yet. There are many hours when he thinks It is near, as symptoms are graver, in his mind, by heredity.

Joe arrives today. The big cottage awaits you–and is ready.

Swami & Turiananda are in yours–to be more cozy. Swamiji is writing a book on Modern Hindoos–to make some independent means–and to keep busy. He is grand in type as ever.

It was not until the following day, Wednesday, September 20, that Joe and Nivedita arrived from New York. The day after that they wrote jointly to Mrs. Bull, whose ill luck at being detained for so many weeks is, one cannot help but note, our good luck, for we learn considerably more about events and people through the letters written to her from Ridgely Manor than we would otherwise have known. The letter of September 21 read:

Dearest S.S.

Margo & I arrived at 3 P.M. yesterday after a joyous 24hours together.–I am beginning to feel that I am almost as glad to know her as Swamiji.

Today we decked her in our finery–then came down to Swamiji for criticism–which never came. He put the decision entirely into Margot’s care and she said “If I may do as I choose, I shall wear my brahmacharini gerrua always–while on the platform–black otherwise,” & so it is decided–and tomorrow we will go to Kingston to see what can be bought in the way of tough material.

She never was greater, & Betty approves in each detail of her attitude to Swami. Not one thing wld she have Margot change–& her verdict is final in social matters as Margot’s is in spiritual.

Your telegram was a blow–last night–10 days longer away-but “Mother knows best” I have no servants for you yet.

Dr. Helmer will decide what Swamiji is to do and in this his verdict will be final.

Hearts love to my child [Olea] & her mother

[Nivedita added a line:] My sweet Grannie–no idea had I that post time had come. It was the desire of my heart to write to you this morning. Here I am–Plans are growing like flowers. I long to see you & begged Y.Y. to let me come & try to carry off Mrs Vaughan & you! But of course I saw that that was a wrong suggestion–anyway, you will be here directly. Lovingly your Child, Margot.

(It is probable that Nivedita’s “Grannie” as applied to Mrs. Bull had a different origin than Swami Saradananda’s “Granny.” The relationship in Nivedita’s case was no doubt through Swamiji, her spiritual father, who looked upon Mrs. Bull as “mother.”)


Burke, Marie Louise. “Ridgely: The Great Summer,” in Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries, A New Gospel, vol. 5, chap. 3. (Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama, 1987), 107–143. Reprinted by permission from Advaita Ashrama.

The Great Summer Part 8

The three Swamis lived, of course, in “Swamiji’s Cottage.” In Vivekananda, a Biography in Pictures, one finds a photograph of the Swamis, together with Mrs. Leggett, Miss MacLeod, Alberta, and a friend of Alberta’s, whose name is not known. In another photograph of the same people, taken on the same day, at the same place (the circular portico at the back of the main house) one sees Swamiji standing and looking unwell and Alberta with her face in her hands, shielding her eyes from the afternoon sun.

Swami Abhedananda stayed at Ridgely for about ten days, leaving on September 17 or 18 for New York, where (before going on to Massachusetts) he met Sister Nivedita, who arrived from England on September 19, her voyage paid for with money from Joe. As Mrs. Ashton Jonson had predicted, Nivedita had not fared well in England as far as raising support for or interest in her girls’ school was concerned. Nor, it would seem, had she been able to reawaken enthusiasm for Swamiji’s work. “One thing I am sure of,” she had written to Miss MacLeod on September 1, “however little the drones think they worship success, they soon drop off from a cause that fails. One must show life and growth, if one is to keep even the hearts that are won.” In her small 1899 diary (the first 253 days of which are missing) the sole entry (September 10) for this brief English interlude reads, “No use,” from which one might gather a certain despond.


Burke, Marie Louise. “Ridgely: The Great Summer,” in Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries, A New Gospel, vol. 5, chap. 3. (Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama, 1987), 107–143. Reprinted by permission from Advaita Ashrama.

The Great Summer Part 7

Over the stables in an apartment of some four or five bedrooms lived Hollister Sturges, Alberta’s brother (younger than she by two years), and a number of their friends and cousins — all bursting with high spirits. Francis Leggett’s nephew, Theodore Whitmarsh, whom he looked upon as a son, his wife, and their three young children occupied the “Inn” until early September. Housed in the village of Stone Ridge were Maud Stumm, a Miss de Kobel, and a Mr. Goodby, all three of whom came daily, as Miss MacLeod was to write to Mrs. Bull, “to drink deep.”

Other guests no doubt came and went, or, in some cases, stayed on for a week or more. Their names, for the most part, are lost to us; but among those whose visits gave Swamiji particular pleasure were the two McKindley sisters, Isabelle and Harriet, cousins of Mary and Harriet Hale and an inseparable part of that family whom Swamiji loved above all others. (“By the by, Mary,” he was to write in September from Ridgely Manor, “it is curious your family, Mother Church [Mrs. George Hale] and her clergy, both monastic and secular, have made more impression on me than any family I know of. Lord bless you ever and ever.”) Very probably it was through Swami Abhedananda, who was lecturing at the Greenacre School of Comparative Religions in Maine and to whom Swamiji had sent a telegram that the McKindley girls, attending the school, learned of his arrival in America and of his presence at Ridgely Manor. Isabelle, the older sister, wrote to him at the end of August. Swamiji’s reply, not heretofore published, was immediate:

My dear Isabel-

Many thanks for your kind note I will be so so glad to see you. Miss Macleod is going to write you to stop a day and night here on your way to the west.

My love to the holy family in Chicago and hope soon to be able to come west and have great fun. So you are in Greenacre at last. Is this the first year you have been in? How do you like the place? If you see Miss Farmer [Miss Sarah Farmer, the founder of Greenacre] of course kindly convey her my kindest regards and to all the rest of my friends there.
Ever yours affly

Miss MacLeod sent off an invitation to the two girls on the same day. Her letter, interesting, I believe, for its directions and time tables, read:

August 31, 1899

My dear Miss McKinley–

Your letter this morning was a great pleasure to our household. We should be so pleased if you and your sister will stop over with us a day and night on your way home–If you will let me know the date, I will arrange to have a free place for you and to meet you at the Station Binnewater: four miles off. You can take a train at Boston for Kingston–changing at Albany–and at Kingston take a train to Binnewater–I think the best train leaving Boston is at 11 P.M. Of course if you are in or near New York–we are very accessible, being 3 hours by train from there.

If you have never taken the [boat] trip on the Hudson River, it is well worth the day given to it–leaving New York at 9–to Kingston–arriving at Binnewater at 4:30.

Swamiji is delighted at the thought of seeing you and your sister.

He was indeed. “I am dying to see Isabel and Harriet,” he wrote to Mary Hale. But for one reason or another, the two girls were long in coming. Swami Abhedananda arrived at Swamiji’s call two weeks before them, as attested by his diary. His entry for September 8 reads:

Arrived at Kingston at 7:30 P.M.–drove to Ridgely and arrived there at 9:30 P.M. Saw Swamis V. and T. and lived with them.


Burke, Marie Louise. “Ridgely: The Great Summer,” in Swami Vivekananda in the West: New Discoveries, A New Gospel, vol. 5, chap. 3. (Mayavati, India: Advaita Ashrama, 1987), 107–143. Reprinted by permission from Advaita Ashrama.