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Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda

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In this new feature of our website, we present every week a new selection of the teachings of Vedanta, taken from a variety of sources – lectures and writings of Swami Adiswarananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, and other spiritual texts.





Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda





Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center

New York


All great men of original thought prefer anonymity, and Sri Ramakrishna was no exception. Only after his passing did his influence begin to spread. During the concluding years of his life, he met with many distinguished thinkers of his time. But none could really understand him.

Not until 1881, with the arrival of Narendranath, later Swami Vivekananda, was Sri Ramakrishna truly discovered. Only another great mind could comprehend the depth of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual experiences. Sri Ramakrishna could be fully recognized and understood only by another Sri Ramakrishna. When the young Narendranath first visited the Dakshineswar Temple garden, the Godman saw in the face of that young iconoclast the reflection of his own self.


Sri Ramakrishna saw in the rebel Narendranath a true man, a spiritual hero who was not content to believe in the beliefs of others, but was determined to experience Truth for himself, who could convince others of the Truth revealed to him, and who was prepared to single-handedly challenge all old beliefs and superstitions. A contemplative philosopher or mountain dwelling holy man might have found in that rebel spirit an unwelcome disturber of the peace, but Sri Ramakrishna discovered in him a messenger whose torch, once lit from the divine flame, would never be extinguished. Only such an apostle could fathom the divine mysteries of Sri Ramakrishna’s mind. Narendranath’s criticisms of Sri Ramakrishna’s experiences were often bitter, and his arguments against them stubborn, but Sri Ramakrishna found pleasure in the turbulent questioning of his disciple. He knew that Narendranath would heed his call and, setting aside his own arguments and agnosticism, deliver his message of harmony to the world.


On Monday, September 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda addressed an audience of seven thousand at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He was a delegate of no particular faith, dogma, or sect, but one who represented the Universal Religion of the Vedas and spoke for the spiritual upliftment of all humanity. The swami did not condemn or criticize any faith, believing that all religions were equally valid paths to reach the one goal. But he warned of the dangers that would come if the message of harmony of religions continued to be ignored or neglected:

Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

These words of interreligious unity spoken by Swami Vivekananda in the West were what he learned from his Master.

[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]

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