On Saturday, February 23, 2013, the Vedanta Society of Northern California held an all-day program “Exploring Yoga and Freedom” in honor of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco. The morning session was a panel discussion on “Yoga and the American Quest for Freedom.” The panel consisted of Michael Krasny, senior editor of KQED-FM radio’s award-winning Forum, a presenter as well as moderator, Jacob Needleman, a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University, Ann Louise Bardach, writer-at-large for Newsweek Global/The Daily Beast, and Swami Tattwamayananda, assistant minister of the Vedanta Society of Northern California.
The afternoon session was an audio-visual presentation entitled “Freedom: The Song of the Soul” with slides of Swami Vivekananda, places, and people associated with his stay in America, interspersed with narration by Pravrajika Virajaprana, a nun at the Vedanta Society of Northern California, readings from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda by Bidyut Bose, a longtime student of yoga and Indian philosophy, and music from Swami Vivekananda’s works composed and conducted by John Schlenck, secretary of the Vedanta Society of New York, and performed by a quartet of professional singers. In the lobby of the theatre, there were photo displays of Swami Vivekananda encompassing both East and West, and a bookshop featuring books on Swami Vivekananda, as well as the Complete Works and photographs of the Swami. In addition, a souvenir booklet on Swamiji’s life and universal message was distributed.