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
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.
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
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
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.
Weekly Message Archive