History of the Vedanta Society of Portland
Portions originally published in Prabuddha Bharata, January 1994.
All Rights Reserved.
Swami Prabhavananda came to the United States in 1923, initially to assist Swami Prakashananda in San Francisco. He eventually founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California which grew under his direction to a large collection of dedicated temples and monasteries from Santa Barbara to San Diego. With Christopher Isherwood, Frederick Manchester, and other authors the Swami Prabhavananda published many books on Vedanta, including original translations of the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras
Swami Vividishananda was sent from India in 1929 to take charge of the Portland Centre. The Society still had no place of its own, and he too lived in a modest apartment at the Wheeldon. Sometimes they screened his bed off with a curtain and held meetings in the balance of the same room. Unfortunately after a year of service he went to San Francisco on account of ill health.
Swami Devatmananda, who was in the New York Vedanta Society at the time, was asked to take charge of the Portland Centre. Accordingly, he came to Portland in 12/1932 and started his mission of service while the entire country was steeped in the depth of depression. It is well known amongst the old members and friends of the Society that the Swami, when he started his work in Portland, had not enough money even to pay his milk bill.
Succeeding Swami Devatmananda at Portland came Swami Aseshananda. Swami Aseshananda was initiated by Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi, in 1917. He joined the Ramakrishna Order in 1921 and was initiated into brahmacharya by Swami Brahmananda in 1922. Subsequently he took his final vow of sannyasa from Swami Saradananda in 1923.
Swami Shantarupananda came from India in July, 1991 to assist him. Swami Asheshananda passed away October 16, 1996. Swami Shantarupananda served his devotees and the community with great love and energy until June 10, 2015 when he passed away suddenly. He joined order at the Ramakrishna Mission, Cherrapunjee. He served as assistant editor of the Bengali magazine of the order at Ramakrishna Math, Udbodhan, Kolkata.
Swami Aparananda, a senior monk and former head of Ramakrishna Mission, Mauritius and the Vedanta Society, Berkeley CA, was appointed as interim swami-in-charge until Swami Chandrashekarananda was able to come to Portland. The Portland Temple is very grateful to Swami Aparanandaji.
Swami Chandrashekharananda was welcomed by Swami Aparananda and a group of devotees on Tuesday December 29, 2015 and was appointed as swami-in-charge on January 1, 2016. Before moving to Portland he served in Vedanta Centre of Sydney, Australia and in its branch centers, as assistant minister for 10 years. He joined the order in 1977 at the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Lucknow and served there in various capacities up till 2001. He was then posted to Ramakrishna Mission Sevapratishthan, Kolkata another hospital Center for 2 years before moving to Belur Math for preparation and then to Australia.