Nikhilananda, Swami—A disciple of the Holy Mother, joined the Order at the Mayavati centre in 1922 and had sannyasa in 1924 from Swami Saradananda. Was at Mysore Ashrama for two years for special study of the Vedanta philosophy before he was sent to the USA in 1931. Founded the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre in New York (1933) and was its spiritual leader until a short period before his passing away. A good speaker and impressive conversationalist, authored nearly half a dozen books in English besides translating the Kathamrita and some Sanskrit scriptures into English. An erudite scholar who did much in spreading the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda movement in the West. Passed away at the Thousand Island Park retreat of the New York Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre on 21.7.1973 at the age of 78.
The Swami was a gifted writer, and his contributions to the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda literature cannot be overstated. His translations of the scriptures, his biographies of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda, his compilations of the works of Swami Vivekananda, his other books and many articles in various journals and publications are permanent sources of spiritual knowledge and inspiration. Notable among these works are the following titles: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, Vivekananda: A Biography, The Upanishads (volumes I-IV), The Bhagavad Gita, Self-Knowledge, Hinduism, Man in Search of Immortality, Sri Ramakrishna: The Face of Silence, and Sri Sarada Devi-The Holy Mother: Her Teachings and Conversations. Many of these works were originally introduced by major publishers, such as Harper & Row (New York) and George Allen & Unwin (London). Time Magazine called Swami Nikhilananda’s translations of The Bhagavad Gita, “The first really readable, authoritative English translation of one of the world’s greatest religious classics.” W. Somerset Maugham praised Self-Knowledge as a “wonderful piece of exposition.”
But the Swami’s monumental work, for which he will ever be remembered, is The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. This complete translation into English from the original Bengali of the Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, as recorded by “M,” has made the immortal words of this great prophet of the nineteenth century available to countless readers throughout the world. Aldous Huxley was pleased to write a foreword to The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and high praise was given to the book by such notable persons as Thomas Mann and Henry Miller. Time Magazine referred to The Gospel as “One of the world’s most extraordinary religious documents.”