Further to Swami Yatiswarananda's READINGS on SWAMI BRAH-MANANDA'S SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS, and the READINGS on the VEDANTASARA, the NARADA BHAKTI SUTRAS, the DRG-DRSYA VIVEKA and the BHAGAVAD-GITA, we are happy to share with you Swami Yatiswarananda's READINGS ON THE GOSPEL OF SRI RA-MAKRISHNA VOL. I & II, the notes of class-talks delivered at Wiesbaden, Germany, to an intimate group of European students, from April 25, 1934 through January 9, 1935.
Our search in Germany for Readings generated between 1933-1938 had already revealed a German translation of the Gospel Readings, and we were lucky to find a copy of the English original during our 1993 search at Sri Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore, India.
Along with the original carbon copies of class-notes, there was also a slightly edited version with topic-titles, compiled by Mr. Wolfram K. Koch (Swami Yatiswarananda's host at Wiesbaden) apparently intended for eventual publication, which we have verified and supplemented for the present publication. In view of its historical interest, we give Mr. Koch's Introduction to the Gospel Readings, just after this Publisher's Note. It is due to Mr. Koch's painstaking labour that these notes were manually taken down, decoded, verified, and hard copies made for circulation among the members of the Wiesbaden Group.
Vedanta students, of course, already know of MEDITATION AND SPIRITUAL LIFE, the extensive selection of Swami Yatiswarananda's writings and talks. The present READINGS on the GOSPEL, naturally, duplicate ideas in the aforementioned book. However, repetition is welcome to the earnest seeker, and it will be especially interesting for Europeans to identify with the actual format of how Vedanta was pioneered in the Europe of 60 years ago!
Romain Rolland mentions Swami Yatiswarananda in his diary under date of May 1st, 1935, when the Swami visited Rolland in Switzerland together with Paul Geheeb. The Swami had already been moving — since November 1933—mainly in Germany and Switzerland [Wiesbaden, Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Campfer, St.Moritz, etc.] , and occasionally also to the Hague and Poland. He also visited France several times between 1933 and 1938, and represented the Order at the 1936 Ramakrishna Centenary celebrations at the Sorbonne, in Paris.
The Readings on the Gospel is the fifth of a series of specific books studied ‘live', and in a particular order, with the European students (whose minds were practically virginal as regards the practical applications of Vedanta), in order to generate a corpus of material to support them—and, why not, even future generations of students—in their spiritual struggle.
It is indeed a great good fortune that these READINGS can be consulted by us today. We are sure you will find them both inspiring, and challenging, like the other Readings generated during the Swami's pre-World War II period in Europe, which are particularly addressed to the Western student,—who often has a hard time to acquire a correct perspective about what true spiritual life is all about, and then struggle to live as a spiritual athelete amidst a spiritual wilderness, mostly with little or no support from any Centre.
Daily study of the various Readings, daily study and reflection on particular scriptural passages, such as later published in THE DIVINE LIFE, etc., is repeatedly recommended by the Swami, just to provide the necessary daily support. And the Readings are pretty well self-contained, with plenty of essential quotations from scripture and classic manuals, etc., which renders them exceedingly lively.
The Gospel Volumes I & II (originally published in English from Madras in 1911 and 1922) are those that preceded the full translation of the original Bengali, published by Swami Nikhilananda from New York, in 1942. Volume II is out of print, but some Centres may have copies in their libraries, which one could photocopy. As for Volume I (M.'s original English) it was reprinted in 1978, and rightly so, for it is indeed ‘doctrinally important', as Swami Tapasyananda writes in his introduction, and it has a charm of its own, just like Volume II.
Those who may like to parallelly study the Gospel sections will find page-references leading them to the editions presently in print— in the Contents, in the Headers to each day's Readings and in the Topics in Volume I listed in the Appendix A. There is also an Alphabetical Index of Topics in the present Readings, and a Gospel History. Paragraph numbering is known to be occasionally erratic..
In these Gospel Readings in particular, prophetic reference is made again and again to the impending catastrophe of World War II, then just 5 years away. This was in the context of the way to combat the severe spiritual obstacles of “righteous” indignation, hatred, dislike and aversion, towards brutality and other uncivilized happenings in the then en-vironment—not much different from today's, though in a different form!