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Swami Rama Tirtha
Swami Rama Tirtha
Born(1873-10-22)22 October 1873
Died17 October 1906(1906-10-17) (aged 32)
Known forPreaching Vedanta in the United States
PhilosophyAdvaita Vedanta
Religious career
Alma MaterGovernment College, Lahore

Swami Rama Tirtha pronunciation (Punjabi: ਸਵਾਮੀ ਰਾਮਤੀਰਥ, Hindi: स्वामी रामतीर्थ 22 October 1873 – 17 October 1906[1]), also known as Ram Soami, was an Indian teacher of the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. He was among the first notable teachers of Hinduism to lecture in the United States, travelling there in 1902, preceded by Swami Vivekananda in 1893 and followed by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920.[2][3] During his American tours Swami Rama Tirtha spoke frequently on the concept of 'practical Vedanta'[4] and education of Indian youth.[5] He proposed bringing young Indians to American universities and helped establish scholarships for Indian students.[6]

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Rama Tirtha was born in a Punjabi Brahmin family[7] to Pandit Hiranand Goswami on 22 October 1873 (Deepawali Vikram Samvat 1930) in the village of Muraliwala in the Gujranwala District of Punjab, Pakistan.[1] His mother died when he was a few days old and he was raised by his elder brother Gossain Gurudas. After receiving a master's degree in mathematics from The Government College of Lahore he became professor of mathematics at Forman Christian College, Lahore.

A chance meeting with Swami Vivekananda in 1897 in Lahore, inspired his later decision to take up the life of a sannyasi. Having become well known for his speeches on Krishna and Advaita Vedanta he became a swami in 1899 on the day of Deepawali,[1] leaving his wife, his children and his professorial chair.

"As a sannyasi, he neither touched any money nor carried any luggage with him. In spite of it he went round the world."[8] A trip to Japan to teach Hinduism was sponsored by Maharaja Kirtishah Bahadur of Tehri: from there he travelled to the United States of America in 1902, where he spent two years lecturing on Hinduism, other religions and his philosophy of "practical vedanta".[4] He frequently spoke about the iniquities of the caste system in India and the importance of education of women and of the poor, stating that "neglecting the education of women and children and the labouring classes is like cutting down the branches that are supporting us – nay, it is like striking a death-blow to the roots of the tree of nationality."[citation needed] Arguing that India needed educated young people, not missionaries, he began an organization to aid Indian students in American universities[5] and helped to establish a number of scholarships for Indian students.[9]

He always referred to himself in the third person, which is a common spiritual practice in Hinduism in order to detach oneself from Ego.[10]

Though upon his return to India in 1904 large audiences initially attended his lectures he completely withdrew from public life in 1906 and moved to the foothills of the Himalaya where he prepared to write a book giving a systematic presentation of practical vedanta. It was never finished: He died on 17 October 1906 (Deepawali Vikram Samvat 1963).

Many believe he did not die but gave up his body to the river Ganges.[1]

A significant prediction made by Swami Rama Tirtha for future India is quoted in Shiv R. Jhawar's book, Building a Noble World.[11] Rama Tirtha predicted: “After Japan, China will rise and gain prosperity and strength. After China, the sun of prosperity and learning will again smile at India.”[12]


Rama Tirtha on a 1966 stamp of India

Punjabi Indian nationalist Bhagat Singh uses Tirtha as an example of the great contributions Punjab had made to the Indian nationalist movement in his essay "The Problem of Punjab's Language and Script". The lack of memorials to Tirtha is given by Singh as an example of the lack of respect for Punjab's contributions to the movement.[13]

Indian Revolutionary Pandit Ram Prasad Bismil depicted the character of Swami Rama Tirtha in the poem Yuva Sannyasi.[1]

Two of his disciples, S. Puran Singh and Narayana Swami, wrote biographies. Puran Singh's The Story of Swami Rama: The Poet Monk of the Punjab[10] appeared in 1924 and was published in English as well as in Hindi. Narayana Swami's untitled account was published in 1935 as a part of Rama Tirtha's collected works.[4]

A further account of his life was written by Hari Prasad Shastri and published with poems by Swami Rama Tirtha translated by H P Shastri as 'Scientist and Mahatma' in 1955.[14]

Paramahansa Yogananda translated many of Rama Tirtha's poems from Bengali into English and put some of them to music:[15] one, entitled "Marching Light", appeared in Yogananda's book Cosmic Chants, as "Swami Rama Tirtha's Song".[16]

Contribution of Swami ji towards his mother tongue Punjabi language

The Swami Rama Tirtha Mission Ashram is located at Kotal Gaon Rajpura, near Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand, India.

One of three campuses of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, situated at Badshahi Thaul, New Tehri, is known as the Swami Rama Tirtha Parisar(SRTC).

His sister's son H. W. L. Poonja became a noted Advaita teacher in Lucknow, while Hemant Goswami, his great-grandson, is a social activist based in Chandigarh.


  1. ^ a b c d e Verma, M.L. Swadhinta Sangram Ke Krantikari Sahitya Ka Itihas. Vol 2. pp. 418–421
  2. ^ Brooks, Douglas Renfrew (2000). Meditation Revolution: A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage. India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 81-208-1648-X.
  3. ^ Frawley, David (2000). Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness. North Atlantic Books. p. 3. ISBN 1-55643-334-4.
  4. ^ a b c Rinehart, Robin (1999). One Lifetime, Many Lives: The Experience of Modern Hindu Hagiography. United States: Oxford University Press. pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-7885-0555-6.
  5. ^ a b Bromley, David G; Larry D. Shinn (1989). Krishna Consciousness in the West. Bucknell University Press. p. 82. ISBN 0-8387-5144-X.
  6. ^ Singh, appendix, article from Minneapolis Tribune: Would Save Countrymen: Swami Ram Plans the Redemption of the Ignorant Masses in India—American Education: He Would Have Them Come Here, as Did the Young Japanese.
  7. ^ Corinne G. Dempsey; Selva J. Raj (7 January 2009). Miracle as Modern Conundrum in South Asian Religious Traditions. SUNY Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0791476345. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  8. ^ Tirtha, Swami Rama (1949) In Woods of God-Realization, Volume V, Preface, p. vii. Lucknow, India: Swami Rama Tirtha Pratisthan.
  9. ^ Singh, appendix, article from Minneapolis Tribune.
  10. ^ a b Singh, Puran (1924). The Story of Swami Rama: The Poet Monk of the Punjab. Madras: Ganesh & Co.
  11. ^ Jhawar, Shiv R. (December 2004). Building a Noble World. Noble World Foundation. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-9749197-0-6.
  12. ^ Tirtha, Swami Rama (1913) In Woods of God-Realization, Volume IV, Chapter “Talk at Faizabad”. Lucknow, India: Swami Rama Tirtha Pratisthan, p. 286.
  13. ^ Singh, Bhagat. "The Problem of Punjab's Language and Script". Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  14. ^ Hari Prasad Shastri (1955, 2nd ed. 2006) Scientist and Mahatma, Shanti Sadan.
  15. ^ Satyananda, Swami (2006). "Yogananda Sanga", from A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus. iUniverse, Inc. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-595-38675-8.
  16. ^ Yogananda, Paramahansa (1974). Cosmic Chants. Self-Realization Fellowship Publishers. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-87612-131-3.

Further reading

External links

This page was last edited on 7 November 2023, at 06:02
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