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 Our Ideals

The ideology of Ramakrishna Math and Mission consists of the eternal principles of Vedanta as lived and experienced by Sri Ramakrishna and expounded by Swami Vivekananda.  This ideology has three characteristics: it is modern in the sense that the ancient principles of Vedanta have been expressed in the modern idiom; it is universal, that is, it is meant for the whole humanity; it is practical in the sense that its principles can be applied in day-to-day life to solve the problems of life... (http://www.belurmath.org/Ideology.htm)
 

 SRI RAMAKRISHNA:

Sri Ramakrishna was born on 18 February 1836 in a poor and pious Brahmin family in Kamarpukur, a village sixty miles to the north-west of Kolkata. His parents were Kshudiram Chattopadhyaya and Chandramani Devi. From his early boyhood Sri Ramakrishna was devoted to God and spiritual matters and showed lack of interest in worldly affairs. Hence he was appointed a priest at the newly built Kali temple at Dakshineswar in Kolkata. From then on for another eleven years he remained absorbed in the practice of various spiritual disciplines of Hinduism. After attaining the highest goals of these disciplines, which included the experience of Advaita or non-dual state of consciousness, he turned to the spiritual paths of Islam and Christianity. These paths led him finally to the same ultimate Reality which he had earlier attained through the spiritual paths of Hinduism. From all these experiences Sri Ramakrishna came to the following conclusions regarding Reality and religious life.

Although Sri Ramakrishna had been ordained a monk, he lived like an ordinary person, and hardly ever left the precincts of the Kali temple where he was given a room to stay. The fame of his holiness began to spread, and disciples, mostly belonging to the educated middle class in Kolkata, began to gather around him. He trained some of his young disciples to become monks. The foremost among them was Swami Vivekananda. Sri Ramakrishna passed away on 16 August 1886 at the age of fifty years.

Teachings:

God realization is the ultimate goal of human life because that alone can bring man supreme happiness and peace.
God is One, Personal as well as Impersonal, and is known by different names in different religions.
God can be realized through various paths taught in world religions.
All religions are true in so far as they lead to the realization of the Ultimate Truth.
Purity of mind is a basic condition for the realization of God, but divine grace can redeem even the worst sinner.
With this faith in God one should cultivate a positive outlook on life instead of yielding to self-condemnation or depression.
God dwells in all people as the Supreme Self; hence all people are to be treated with respect.

 

 Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi

When Sri Ramakrishna was twenty-three and was engaged in intense meditation seeking continuous and direct vision of God, his relatives at Kamarpukur, in the hope of bringing his mind down to the world, arranged his marriage. The girl they found for the marriage was only five years old at the time. She was Saradamani, daughter of Shyamasundari Devi and Ramachandra Mukherjee, of nearby Jayrambati villlage. Sarada family were very poor and pious and the little girl grew up in the typical happy rural surroundings of a Bengali village. She helped her parents in all the household chores and looked after her younger brothers, helping to bring them up. She had no formal schooling and could hardly read or write. At the time, her marriage to Sri Ramakrishna was merely a bethrothal. Immediately afterward, her husband returned to Dakshineswar to resume his priestly duties at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Sarada saw her husband only briefly once or twice in the next decade.

At the age of eighteen, hearing that her husband, had become somehow mentally unbalanced due to the practice of excessive spiritual austerities, she determined her duty as wife was to be with him. She availed the opportunity to go with her father to Dakshineswar, coming on foot the whole distance of about 60 miles. Happily she found that Sri Ramakrishna was in good health and he readily received her and made arrangements for her to stay. The couple lived absolutely pure lives and never established a conjugal relationship. Sarada served her husband as a wife and disciple but always a nun. On his part Sri Ramakrishna, who worshipped God as the Divine Mother, looked upon Sarada Devi as a special manifestation of the Divine Mother, literally worshipping her, and thus awakening in her the Holy Presence.

When disciples began to gather around Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi looked upon them as her own children; they too saw in her the World Mother, their own Mother. After the Master’s passing away in 1886 Sri Sarada Devi became more than ever the real Mother and Guru to the Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples and to thousands of devotees who flocked to her for solace and spiritual guidance. Sarada Devi’s Mother-heart expanded to enfold them all in a luminous consciousness.

Owing to her immaculate purity, extraordinary forbearance, selfless service, unconditional love, wisdom, and spiritual illumination, Swami Vivekananda regarded Sri Sarada Devi as the Ideal woman for the modern age. In her lifetime she became accepted as such by millions of people in both India and abroad. With Sri Ramakrishna, her photo is now worshipped in households all over the world. Holy Mother lived both in Kolkata and in her village home in Jayrambati until the end of her life on 21st July 1920. In 1953 during the Centenary of her Birth her fame grew world-wide. In her name a new Monastic Order for women was founded at Dakshineswar, the Ramakrishna Sarada Math, along the same lines, but totally separated from the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission with headquarters at Belur Math.

What Holy Mother taught:

It is enough to remember that there is someone— call Him Father or Mother— who is always protecting you…. Love of God is essential for spiritual progress. If you love a human being you will have to suffer for it. He is blessed, indeed, who can love God alone. There is no suffering in loving God. Be devoted to God and take shelter in Him.

To surrender oneself to God and cherish sincere faith in Him is itself a spiritual discipline (tapas).

Be devoted to God and take shelter at His feet. Blinded by egotism, people think of themselves as independent agents in regard to their work. They do not depend on God. God protects one who relies on Him.

Is misery an unmitigated evil? Is not its presence a reminder to men of the ultimate reality of God? Misery is truly a gift of God. I believe it is a symbol of His compassion.

To see faults of others! Forgiveness is a great religious austerity. There is no virtue higher than forbearance.

The philosophical element of the Ramakrishna movement is based upon the perennial and universal doctrines of Vedanta, which teaches the reality of God, the divinity of the soul, the oneness of existence, and the harmony of religions. This element is demonstrated in the life and experiences of both Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother

If one can regard God as one’s own and call on Him without seeing Him, that is God’s grace.

God’s grace is the one thing needful. One should pray for God’s grace.

In the relative world all creatures act and suffer according to their past karma. But if God so wills, He can shorten the period of a man’s evolution.

Man has separated himself from the Universal Self because of ignorance. And this separation is the cause of desire, selfishness, greed, anger, passion, fear, suspicion and all the other evil propensities which cause his suffering.

True self-surrender means the complete effacement of illusory individuality; it makes a man a channel for the expression of the power, wisdom, and majesty of the Godhead.

 

 SWAMI VIVEKANANDA:

Narendra Nath Datta, as Swami Vivekananda was known in his premonastic days, was born on 12 January 1863 in a well-to-do family in Kolkata. His parents were Viswanath Datta, an attorney, and Bhuvaneswari Devi. In his boyhood Naren was endowed with strong physique, brilliant intellect and mystic temperament. After graduating in mathematics, history and philosophy, he studied law. At the age of 18 while studying in college he met Sri Ramakrishna.
Under the loving guidance of his Master, he blossomed into a spiritual luminary. After Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away fourteen of the Master’s young disciples (two more joined later), under the leadership of Swami Vivekananda, formed a monastic brotherhood known as the Ramakrishna Math (Order). The names of these sixteen monastic disciples are: Swamis Vivekananda, Brahmananda, Yogananda, Premananda, Niranjanananda, Shivananda, Saradananda, Ramakrishnananda, Abhedananda, Adbhutananda, Turiyananda, Advaitananda, Trigunatitananda, Subodhananda, Akhandananda and Vijnanananda. The original monastery was housed in a dilapidated building at Baranagore in Kolkata.
WEBSITE PICTURE HERE
After staying in this monastery for two years, Swami Vivekananda spent a few years travelling all over India as a mendicant monk. During these travels he was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the millions of poor people in India. However, he also saw that, in spite of poverty, the people still clung to religion, and the ancient spiritual culture was a living force in their lives. At a time when social reformers were busy with widow remarriage and abolition of idol worship, Vivekananda perceived that the real cause of India’s backwardness was the neglect and exploitation of the masses who produced the wealth of the land. In order to improve their economic condition it was necessary to teach them improved methods of agriculture, village industries and hygienic way of life. But owing to centuries of exploitation and social tyranny, the poor people, especially those who belonged to the lower castes, had lost their sense of worth, hope and initiative. The people therefore needed a message of strength that would infuse faith in themselves. Vivekananda found this message in Vedanta. Thus Swamiji saw that in order to uplift the masses it was necessary to spread both secular and spiritual education among them. And for this what was needed most was an organization, ‘a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest.’
During his travels in India Swami Vivekananda heard about the plans to hold a World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his Master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. Another reason which prompted Swami Vivekananda to go to America was to seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses. His speeches at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in September 1893 made him world famous. In the West Swamiji found the people there had solved their socio-economic problems to a great extent and were seeking the ultimate truth and the ultimate meaning of life. Swamiji believed that Vedanta would fulfil their higher needs.
Further, Swamiji had developed the insight that Sri Ramakrishna was the embodiment of the eternal truths of Vedanta, that the Master’s life was the fulfulmnet of all the promises of the supreme Vedantic vision of Reality and, as Romain Rolland expressed it some years later, Sri Ramakrishna “was the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred million people.” Therefore, the best way to make the true and full significance of Sri Ramakrishna’s life understood in the modern world was to expound Vedanta in the modern idiom in the light of Sri Ramakrishna’s life and experiences.
After spreading Vedanta in the West for nearly three and a half years, Swami Vivekananda returned to India in January 1897. In response to the enthusiastic welcome that he received everywhere, he delivered a series of lectures in different parts of India (“Lectures from Colombo to Almora”). Through these lectures Swamiji attempted to do the following:
To rouse the religious consciousness of the people and create in them pride in their cultural heritage;
To bring about unification of Hinduism by pointing out its common bases;
To focus the attention of educated people to the plight of the downtrodden masses, and expound his plan for their uplift by the application of Vedanta in practical life.

In Kolkata, Swamiji convened a meeting of the disciples and devotees of Sri Ramakrishna on 1 May 1897 and inaugurated a new organization bearing the name Ramakrishna Mission. He intended it to be a unique organization in which monks and lay people cooperated in providing educational, medical and other forms of social service expecially to the poor and the disadvantaged.
After setting in motion a machinery for the propagation and practical application of the life-giving principles of Vedanta lived and taught by Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda left the mortal world on 4 July 1902 at the age of thirty-nine and a half years.

Teachings:

 

 My ideal, indeed, can be put into a few words, and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.

 Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.

 We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.

 So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.

Whatever you think, that you will be.  If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.

 If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological gods, … and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you. Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong; that is what we need.

 Strength, strength it is that we want so much in this life, for what we call sin and sorrow have all one cause, and that is our weakness. With weakness comes ignorance, and with ignorance comes misery.

 The older I grow, the more everything seems to me to lie in manliness. This is my new Gospel.

 Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success, and above all, love.

 Religion is realization; not talk, not doctrine, nor theories, however beautiful they may be. It is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging; it is the whole soul becoming changed into what it believes.

 Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man.

 Teach yourselves, teach everyone his real nature, call uon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity.

 They alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.

 This is the gist of all worship – to be pure and to do good to others.

 It is love and love alone that I preach, and I base my teaching on the great Vedantic truth of the sameness and omnipresence of the Soul of the Universe.
 

Swami Adbhutananda (Latu Maharaj)

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