History of the Berkeley Center

The Vedanta Society of Berkeley traces its roots to a dedicated group of devotees, who were inspired by Swami Vivekananda’s evocative lectures during his visit to the Bay Area in 1900. Among the devotees, Sarah Fox, her sister Rebecca Fox and Frank Rhodehamel formed a regular Vedanta study and discussion group in Oakland under the tutelage of Cornelius Heijblon (later Swami Atulananda). This convivial, intellectual group was instrumental in propagating the Vedantic movement in the East Bay.

In 1939 Swami Ashokananada established the Vedanta Society of Berkeley under the auspices of the Vedanta Society of Northern California with the commitment and generous financial support of the East Bay devotees. In 1970, Vedanta Society of Berkeley became an independent centre of the Ramakrishna Order. The spiritual calling of the Vedantic spirit, ignited by Swami Vivekananda’s soul-stirring lectures of 1900, found a permanent abode in the Vedanta Society of Berkeley, which continues with enthusiastic zeal and devotional fervor to this day.