by Joan Shack
Swami Tathagatananda served the Vedanta Society of New York as Resident Minister and Spiritual Leader from 1977 to 2016. An inspiring presence to members of Sri Sarada Society, he lent abiding support and guidance to the organization from the early days of its formation.
During her visit to Calcutta in 1909, Sister Devamata spent a lot of time conversing with Swami Premananda. In a letter to her, he wrote: “You may out of your goodness hesitate to claim a moment of what you suppose to be my precious time, but I assure you that to all servants of my Lord, wheresoever in the three worlds he or she may be serving Him, I feel myself absolutely sold forever.” To young or old, man or woman, Indian or American, the swami gave his time. Numerous times over twenty-five years, I heard Swami Tathagatananda express the same sentiment—a sincere interest in and respect for anyone whose life was dedicated to Them. Reflecting upon the passing away of the Vedanta Society’s long-standing dedicated workers, Jeanne Genet in 1998 and John Schlenck in 2015, his extensive written remembrances expressed his appreciation and high regard for their dedicated service. In a letter to me, he wrote: “ Without such dedicated workers (Western) Vedanta cannot function in U.S.A., or foreign countries.” More recently I heard him say, “If we cannot love others, if we cannot serve others, what are we here for?”