Vivekananda traveled to the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893, and became an influential figure in synthesising Eastern and Western thought. He played a major role in the spread of Vedanta to Western nations. His travel to the West was criticised by some orthodox Hindus. His proponents claim that he made Vedanta living, by understanding how it could be applied to the modern world, and by investing it with his own spirit. For Vivekananda, Vedanta was not something dry or esoteric, but a living approach to the quest for self-knowledge.
In his interpretation of Advaita (as in Shankara's), there is still a place for Bhakti (devotion). Monks of the Ramakrishna order suggest that it is easier to begin meditation on a personal God with form and qualities, rather than the formless Absolute, of which everyone is said to be part. Saguna Brahman and Nirguna Brahman are viewed as obverse and reverse of the same coin.