Swami Yatiswarananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, visited regularly Geneva for a few years since 1933. He established a Vedantic centre in Engadin near the Austrian border. That centre did not last long, since the Swami left Europe before the World War II.
Almost twenty years later, at the invitation of Professor Jean-Aimé Baumann, Director of the Institute of Anatomy in Geneva, Swami Nityabodhananda arrived in Geneva, to give talks on Vedanta. Lodged in an apartment at 20 Avenue Peschier, the Swami began his work. Under his inspiration, the Vedanta enthusiasts created, in the second half of 1962, the Association for the Study of Vedanta in Europe (abridged name in French AEVE). Mr. Jean Treina, a Minister of Geneva, was the first President of AEVE; Dr. Baumann was the second President.
On 10th October 1969, the AEVE metamorphosed officially into an association called Centre Vedantique, and Swami Nityabodhananda became its President. This centre is affiliated to the Order of Ramakrishna of which Belur near Kolkata is the seat of the central administration.
On 25th November 1972, Centre Vedantique inaugurated its own house at Corsier in the Geneva canton at 9 Chemin des Gravannes. In March 1988, Swami Nityabodhananda left Switzerland definitively to live in India. Swami Amarananda, till that time Assistant Minister of the Vedanta Centre in France, was designated to assume the succession. Towards the end of January 1989, he came to work in Geneva. In May 1999, the Centre Vedantique sold its property at Corsier and acquired a villa at 63 Avenue d’Aire in the Charmilles area of Geneva.
Swami Yatiswarananda (1889–1966), disciple of Swami Brahmananda, came to Europe in 1933 and did seven years of pioneering work in spreading Vedanta. He was going from place to place, from Warsaw to Madrid, rousing a great interest in the age-old wisdom, which is always pertinent. He chose Engadin as the centre for his activities in Europe. Mr. Koch, who played an important role in bringing the Swami to Europe, extended his support for the Swami’s activities in important cities of Switzerland including Geneva. The centre at Engadin was active till the beginning of World War II, when the Swami left Europe for USA. Thereafter he preached Vedanta in Philadelphia, but returned to India in 1949, and headed the centre in Bangalore. Finally he became the Vice-President of the Ramakrishna Order. He was famous for his meditative life, spiritual attainment, and yogic insight. One can have a glimpse of his spiritual stature from the book “Meditation and Spiritual life”, which was published posthumously.
Swami Nityabodhananda (1914–1992) was born in Kerala in India. At the age of eighteen he came in touch with his spiritual master Swami Shivananda, direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna. After finishing his studies in the University of Madras, he joined the Order of Ramakrishna. His important assignments in India comprised the editorship of the English spiritual and cultural monthly called Vedanta Keshari (The Lion of Vedanta), and heading the centre at Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. In 1956, he came to France to assist Swami Siddheshwarananda, the spiritual head of Centre Vedantique in Gretz, 30 Kms. to the south-east of Paris. After the latter’s passing away in 1957, he succeeded him. In February 1958 he came to Geneva at the invitation of Dr. J.-A.Baumann, and worked there for 30 years till he left Geneva to settle definitively in India for health reasons. In 1968, along with Pastor Henri Babel, he had formed the “Comité consultatif des Religions”. He used to represent Hinduism and Buddhism in that committee. He secured a doctorate at Sorbonne, his thesis being on the parallel between the Mâyâ of Vedanta and the Absurd of Albert Camus. He authored the following books in French: Queste du Sacré, Science du Yoga, Mythes et Religions de l’Inde, Actualité des Upanishads, Le Chemin de la Perfection selon Yoga-Vedanta. There is a great lucidity of style in his writings. He toured in USA and in Europe extensively to lecture and debate on Vedantic topics, always attempting to put the philosophical ideas of the East and the West in consonance.
Swami Amarananda was born in Bengal in British India. He graduated in Civil Engineering (Kolkata) in 1962, and soon came in touch with his spiritual master Swami Madhavananda. He joined the Order of Ramakrishna in 1966. He was designated to supervise the restoration of the building where Swami Vivekananda lived and passed away in Belur, and participated four times in relief operations after disasters had happened in India. Thereafter, he was headmaster of a residential school for more than nine years; later, he assisted in management of a Home meant for providing food and lodging to poor students of the University of Calcutta. He was nominated as Assistant Minister, Centre Vedantique of France, in Sepember 1986. Since 25th January1989, he is the director of Centre Védantique of Geneva. Interfaith participations: On the Committee of World Faiths Development Dialogue (1998-2000), and of Inter-religious Platform, Geneva since its inception in 1992; participated in peace meets under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio; represented the Order of Ramakrishna during Third, Fourth and Fifth Parliaments of World’s Religions; he gives annual talks in WCC’s campus at Bossey on specific issues related to Hinduism. Authorship: Stories from Vedanta, Views from the Vedantic Window, drama texts for use by children; Co-author of “Biographie de Ramakrishna” which is a translation adapted from the famous biography composed by Swami Saradananda, direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.