First publication page
Title Prabuddha Bharat
Document Type Journal
Language English
Publisher Name Advaita Ashram, Wellington Lane
Publisher Region Calcutta


Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India, founded in 1896 by P. Aiyasami, B.R. Rajam Iyer, G.G. Narasimha Charya, and B.V. Kamesvara Iyer in Madras, was considered one of the most important forums of secular debate on religious matters in colonial India. Inspired by Swami Vivekananda, it was Vivekananda who is said to have given the journal its name. The journal ceased publication for a few months after being published for two years and resumed publication in August 1898 under Swami Swarupananda, one of Vivekananda’s close aides based in Almora.

Swami Vivekananda always had a close connection with the journal, as is evident from the writings of his most famous disciple Sister Nivedita. In her memoirs Nivedita writes: ‘The Swami (Vivekananda) had always had a special love for this paper, as the beautiful name he had given it indicated. He had always been eager too for the establishment of organs of his own. The value of the journal in the education of modern India was perfectly evident to him, and he felt that his master's message and mode of thought required to be spread by this means as well as by preaching and by work’.

While always continuing to publish the ideals of the Ramakrishna order and edited by a series of senior monks of the order, the journal also encouraged healthy secular debate. Vivekananda, who was wooed by the Communists and Secularists alike, once answered a series of questions on key religious issues posed by the editor, an interaction that has often been referenced in recent times.

The journal moved base to Kolkata in 1924 and continued uninterrupted for the rest of the century. With time it widened its scope and started publishing travel-pilgrimage-orientated essays such as ‘A Pilgrimage through the Himalayas’ by Swami Apurvananda (March 1953). Reviews of contemporary religious publications and interviews with leaders of various religious orders found space in the pages of the journal. Prabudhha Bharat constitutes an essential resource to understanding the culture of religion and philosophy in colonial and post- Independence India, and is one of the very few colonial Indian journals that still continues publication. The South Asia Archive collection has the years between 1918 and 1953.

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