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Glory of Ramakrishna

Advaita Vedanta, or monism, asserts oneness of existence. In the scientific way of analysis, ultimate generalization can be 'Absolute Consciousness' as the only Reality. As convention dictates, it is also referred to as 'Atman' or 'Brahman.' Use of various synonyms also helps to bring out subtleties in expressions and cuts down the monotony of language.

More important than this, however, is our inability to express Absolute Reality in the language and words of relative human consciousness. How can the whole be expressed fully by its own parts? How can the whole be divided in any part? It will then be no longer the Whole! In his language of wonderful simplicity and wisdom, Sri Ramakrishna poses this question as, "How can a two litre container accommodate five litres of milk?"

In our empirical world of sense reality, most often, we can not think about such matters with any seriousness or depth. The power of logical reasoning is too difficult to be found in all persons at any given time. But in every stage of human history, certain souls are born who are intuitively capable of expressing (at least one aspect of) this Reality in full. Their lives and sayings closely approximate the Truth, and become a religion for future generations. We call such a person an Incarnations or Avatar Purusha. As one human being is capable of reflecting one or at the best a few aspects of Reality, the religion he or she establishes reflects partial Truth, depending on the priorities and preferences determined according to the need of the time. Hence, with passage of time, externals of religions appear to change and fade into oblivion, but principles remain the same.

Sri Krishna, Lord Buddha, and Jesus Christ are a few examples of such phenomena. Their glory is sung today with great devotion; they are worshipped in temples and churches; many a religion is named after them. However, with passage of time, lethargy about their teachings and sayings sets in, creating doubts in the minds of average persons. This results in confusion about the meaning and definition of Truth or true religion.

Sri Krishna described this very succinctly in the Gita as, "Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhawati Bharata...", whenever religion seems to be on decline, I incarnate to re-establish righteousness and Dharma.

In the recent age, Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa can be considered such God-Incarnate - a 'Avatar Purusha.'

Sri Ramakrishna:

Divinity -Reality- has its own laws! This time It tried to manifest Itself, as if, in Its full glory in the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. Hence we see tremendous upheaval in today's society in a very short duration of time. The progress of science in leaps and bounds, and simultaneous study of Vedas, Upanishads, and other scriptures all over the world are a few indications of Divine Play with a difference.

To express such a vast Divine Consciousness, one human and one life were insufficient, so to say. Hence Sri Ramakrishna took help of two more souls: Holy Mother Ma Saradadevi and Swami Vivekananda. His mission was to establish true religion on the face of earth and replace the atmosphere of lethargy, materialism, and sense pleasure as prevalent today.

He maintained that Religion is an attempt to become one with Reality, to see everything as One Reality, to fully manifest Divinity within us. And to show to both the Eastern and the Western world the glory of Truth, Sri Ramakrishna lived three lives: of Self, of Ma Saradadevi, and of Swami Vivekananda.

Sri Ramakrishna himself was simplicity, truth, and knowledge personified. One must remember that for him knowledge meant both transcendental and immanent realization of Absolute Reality, same as Truth, Consciousness, God, Brahman, and Mother of Universe- (Ma Kali), etc. According to his teachings all these ideas or concepts are basically one; and this he proved by his spiritual practices involving various religious and spiritual disciplines and traditions, namely: Vedantic, Tantric, Vaishnavite, Muslim, Christian, etc. It is a phenomenal task for any human being to attempt and manifest Divinity with such practices as austerities, meditation, concentration as mentioned in various scriptures. But out of love for humanity, to show the path of righteousness, to establish religion in the world, and to fulfil his promise in Gita, Sri Ramakrishna showed the 'modern man', and 'scientific minded people' that the goal and meaning of human birth is to Realize God or Self, and none other.

The task was not as simple as one may think.

The scientific discoveries and inventions of 19th century;
attempts to introduce modern methods in education so as to perpetuate the colonialism;
progressive impact of materialism; and
contempt of religion on the basis of 'reason',
such and similar concepts created confusion in the minds of millions of educated youths of India. That there is a larger dimension to human consciousness was forgotten. The only thought was to treat and accept sense-pleasure as the highest goal that can be, and should be, achieved in the life. The truth, that manifestation of Divine Consciousness is a natural and logical culmination of human endeavour in the evolutionary process, was about to be forgotten in the din and bustle of modernism when Sri Ramakrishna appeared on the scene in the year 1836: To reestablish Dharma - Religion.

Sri Ramakrishna established the glory of religion as science. Just as physics, chemistry, and biology, deal with the scientific study of external nature, religion explores the study of internal world - consciousness. Physical sciences strive to get at the root of 'matter': to find the unity there, while religion makes an attempt to go to the root of consciousness, to find unity there. The laboratory and instruments for experiments in various physical sciences are different, so also are those in science of spirituality. Here mind is the laboratory as well as the instrument of practice.

Thus with the advent of Sri Ramakrishna on this earth, religion is once again put on the scientific pedestal, where it truly belongs. The scientific books on religion, namely - Vedas, Upanishads, the Brahma-Sutra, the Gita, etc. were proved to contain Truth in the glorious life of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and Swami Vivekananda.

Ma Saradadevi

Ma Saradadevi helped in this heroic Divine mission of Sri Ramakrishna. She personified the 'purity' aspect of Divinity. The qualities of frugality, simplicity, compassion, universal love, and Motherhood were re-established as essential expressions of Holiness; and the world started to realize the necessity for human beings to cultivate these virtues in order to attain divine Realization.

In this era of information explosion and scientific discoveries, the enemy was not an outside demon or Daitya, but was inside our mind in the form of desires and wants, lust and power - vasanas. She expressed the purity of mind, speech and action in her life. In the words of Swami Gambhirananda:

"So in the present incarnation there is no clanging of weapons or the din of war; but there is abundance of modesty, humility, purity, goodness, practical love, and spiritual experience. Moreover, the Mother has not only to remove the obstacles, She has also to establish new goals and create fresh aspirations; and this is a tremendous task. As the whole of humanity has to be raised to a higher pitch of realization, Divine Power Herself takes the field."

Holy Mother's advice to one of her devotees is the supreme statement of universality of spirit, human understanding, and oneness of soul, "If you want peace, don't find faults with others, but find fault rather with yourself. Learn to make the world your own. No is a stranger, my dear; the world is yours."

Swami Vivekananda

But to arrest the onward march of 'scientific reason' and logic, to fight the onslaught of external technological progress which claimed material prosperity as the only goal for humanity, one required answers in the scientific language alone. Language of simplicity and faith was brushed aside as a weakness and defeat. Religion was on the defensive in the face of clattering advances of science. To combat this destructive march of pseudo-science, Swami Vivekananda entered the world arena as a great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.

Chicago; 11th September 1893.

His call of, "Sisters and Brothers of America..." echoed the voice of universality and oneness of life. It shook the Western thought of reason and science at its very root. He extracted scientific truths from Upanishads and Vedanta and put breaks on the criticism of religion as non-scientific mumbling. The old philosophy of Vedanta was given a new form to suit modern scientific thinking. Swami Vivekananda experienced neo-vedantic culture and evolutionary vision in the wonderful life of Sri Ramakrishna that, he maintained, was the essential pre-requisite for future survival of civilization. As a man of vision, however, Swami Vivekananda advocated unity of physical and spiritual sciences. 'One is lame without the other.' He truthfully elaborated the teachings of his Master that were in a 'seed form', so to say.

The Divinity is best manifested in human beings. Hence it is logical and rational to 'worship God in each human face', rather than try to find Him in icons and images, temples and buildings, books and scriptures. The 'blot of untouchability', exploitation, and slave mentality would vanish from the face of the earth if the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna were put in practice.

In the life of his Teacher, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda saw the unity of all religions and sects. He was convinced about this most important teaching of his Master that all religions were but so many paths to reach the same perfection or goal. Naturally, religious fanaticism, persecution, and bigotry had no place in Swamiji's concept of religion.

Thus we find an ideal synthesis of Divine qualities in the lives of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother, and Swami Vivekananda. If human race is to survive on this earth, if the value system is to be established in human beings, if altruism is to have upper hand over hedonism, if pure reason and science have to triumph, one needs to study and imbibe the teachings of Vedanta as preached in the lives and sayings of these three great souls. A new light of spirituality is dawning on the earth; let us rush to see the wonderful sunrise of Divinity and be free!
c s shah
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