[su_tabs active=”3″][su_tab title=”Sri Ramakrishna”]
Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. Sri Ramakrishna is now regarded as the Prophet of the Modern Age by a large number of people in different parts of the world. Nobody can deny the fact that he is the greatest spiritual personality born in the modern age. No other religious leader has exerted so profound and pervasive influence on modern thought as Sri Ramakrishna did, although much of that influence has been indirect and unrecognized as such. Among the contributions that Sri Ramakrishna has made to modern thought, three need special mention. They are: re-establishment of the supremacy of the spiritual ideal, harmony of religions, and spiritualization of the humanistic impulse.
[su_expand]The modern world is characterized by the dominance of the materialistic outlook and the multiplication of the objects of enjoyment. Mechanization of life’s activities and the endless quest for material enjoyment has alienated man not only from nature but also from the source of power and joy in the soul within him. As a result, modern man’s life has come to be characterized by a sense of futility, meaninglessness and boredom. There is also an enormous increase in acts of violence, crime, immorality and strange new diseases. It is in this context of the predicament of modern man that we can understand the true import of Sri Ramakrishna’s central teaching, Ishvar-Iabh-i manush jivaner uddeshya “God-realization alone is the great purpose of human life”. By God, Sri Ramakrishna meant the Supreme Self, the Ultimate Reality, of which the individual Selves are parts of reflections. This means, as Swami Vivekananda put it, each soul is potentially Divine; every person has in him or her the power to attain Supreme Knowledge, power and happiness. Religion is a discipline, which enables a person to unfold and manifest the infinite possibilities that he holds in his soul. Thus, religion for Sri Ramakrishna is not mere subservience to certain social customs and external observances but a process of inner growth known as spiritual development, which enables man to overcome his limitations, solve the problems of life, and attain supreme fulfillment and immortally. This is actually the central principle of Vedanta, the ancient system of philosophy and spirituality, which forms the foundation of Indian culture.
Sri Ramakrishna reestablished this ancient ideal through his life and teachings. Sri Ramakrishna rediscovered forgotten spiritual paths and revalidated the authenticity and practicability of the spiritual traditions of India. Not only that. By following the spiritual paths of other religions, Sri Ramakrishna, revalidated the spiritual authenticity of the other world religions as well. This has enabled millions of people to recover faith in God and eternal verities. No less a person than Mahatma Gandhi has borne testimony to this fact. ‘The story of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s life, wrote Gandhiji, ‘is a story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face.’ Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people.
The second major contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought, for which he is more famous, is the principle of harmony of religions. This principle was derived from the profound realization of the oneness of the Ultimate Reality, which Sri Ramakrishna attained by actually following the spiritual paths of different religions. He did not subscribe to the popular notion that all religions are the same. On the contrary, he recognized the differences among religions, but held that, in spite of these differences, every religion has an essential core of spirituality, which constitutes the common ground of all religions. The differences among religions pertain to their nonessential aspects. As regards the Ultimate Reality, just as the same water in a pond is called pani, jal, etc, by different linguistic groups, so the same God is known by different names. This idea had been expressed more than four thousand years ago by the Vedic sages in the dictum, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti, ‘Truth is one; sages call it by various names’. What Sri Ramakrishna did was to validate this ancient Truth through personal experience and apply it in the field of inter-religious relations. Thus he declared, “As many faiths, so many paths.” The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal — communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness. In the present-day world, threatened by nuclear war and torn by religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna’s message of harmony gives us hope and shows the way.
Yet, another important contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to world thought is the spiritualization of human relationships. He saw God in all people-in the poor, the sinner, and the suffering as well as in the rich, the virtuous and the joyful. He treated all with respect. He did not like the idea of showing compassion to people, which implied an attitude of condescension. Instead, he taught that man should be served as God. It was this idea of service as worship that Swami Vivekananda later on developed into his famous Gospel of social service and made it the basis of all social service activities carried on by the different institutions of the Ramakrishna Movement.[/su_expand][/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Sri Sarada Devi”]
Maa Sri Sarada Devi:
Sri Sarada Devi, the immaculate wife of Sri Ramakrishna and helpmate in his mission, is adored as Holy Mother by many devotees around the globe. Since her passing away in 1920, she has continued to grow in the horizon of man’s consciousness as a unique mother-teacher of the world, whose life and teachings have the power-potency to soothe, awaken and uphold anyone in the world, anywhere.
One fact has been quietly exploding in this distracted world of ours: and that is the creative power of Holy Mother’s stupendous simple life of absolute holiness and absolute love. Nobody noticed when her power crossed the national frontiers of India and made the whole world virtually her own parlour. The secret of this power she gave away one day in a few spontaneous words. And this was practically her last message to humanity from her deathbed. She said among other things to a sorrowing devotee who was painfully conscious that the Mother would not live long: “Learn to make the whole world your own. Nobody is a stranger here, my dear. Everybody is your own” What a tremendous thing to say from one’s soulful experience! These are not merely words of piety but heart-acts of realization. She literally lived in her ‘own’ – made world. This world has yet to work out the implication of this complete emancipation of highest philosophy and religion in the rhythm of the casual and the tenor of the commonplace.
[su_expand]Holy Mother knew everyone as her very own – not from a polished courtesy standpoint but because it was the fact of existence, and so in many lands people adore her above all as their very own mother. It is not a generalized, collective relationship with an impersonal personal growth. Nobody can think of the Holy Mother without getting spiritually awakened. And when so many have been meditating on her in so may countries what doubt can be there about a spiritual ministration going on in the world in the manner of dews’ work in the souls of flower-buds?
Holy Mother was an unusual awakener of souls. With her disciples she served as teacher, dissolving their doubts, as mother, who through love and compassion won their hearts, and as the Divinity, who assured them of liberation. Herself nearly illiterate, through simple words she taught them that the most profound truths. Her affectionate maternal love tamed their rebellious spirits; but her great power lay in her solicitude for all. Often she said, “I am the Mother, who will look after them if not I?” She encouraged them when they were depressed because of slow spiritual progress, and she took upon herself their sins and iniquities, suffering on that account.Holy Mother was conscious of her divine nature, but she rarely expressed this awareness. For many years Sri Ramakrishna practised great austerities and formally renounced the world, but Holy Mother lived as a simple householder, surrounded by quarrelsome and greedy relatives. As a teacher she taught that the realization of God alone is real, and everything else, impermanent. The human body so treasured by most people, survives cremations as only three pounds of ashes. Holy Mother, humility itself — claimed that she was in no way different from other devotees of the Master. Her disciples felt awed and uplifted when she blessed them by touching their head with the same hand, which had touched the feet of God. No one went away from her with a downcast heart not even robber and prostitutes.
What is the source of the mesmerism of this name and personality? Even a slight acquaintance with her life will make us realize that this mesmerism does not proceed from any aspects of her personality, which the modern world recognizes, as significant in women. To all outward appearances the Holy Mother was just ordinary, or even less than ordinary. Rustic in simplicity, almost unlettered, and shy and modest, she was far removed from the educated, self-conscious, active type of modern women. And yet her life finds powerful responsive echoes from the hearts of all men and women, rustic and modern alike. It is evident that she has captured in her life and being the fundamental value which lies at the back of the womanliness of woman and which transcends all distinctions based on mere sex and the attractions thereof. This fact alone explains her universal appeal, representing, as she does, not a mere national or racial type, but the fulfillment of woman as woman, the realization in flesh and blood of the Eternal Feminine.[/su_expand][/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Swami Viviekananda”]
[su_expand height=””]The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colourful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.
In America Swami Vivekananda’s mission was the interpretation of India’s spiritual culture, especially in its Vedantic setting. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In America he became India’s spiritual ambassador and pleaded eloquently for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.
In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.
The Swami’s mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, he strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soul-stirring language of poetry.[/su_expand][/su_tab]