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IDEOLOGY

5. Harmony of Religions: Although the idea that 'one Reality is known by different names' (Vedas) and the idea that 'different spiritual paths lead to the same goal' (Gita) are found in the Hindu scriptures and in the teachings of several Hindu saints, Sri Ramakrishna was the first person in history to show through direct experience the transcendental unity of all religions. His message implies two kinds of religious harmony: harmony within Hinduism and harmony among world religions.

The Harmony of Religions

a. Harmony within Hinduism: Sri Ramakrishna did not identify himself with any particular sect of Hinduism but accepted Hinduism as a whole. He showed that Dualism, Non-dualism and other schools of Hindu philosophy represent different stages of the integral experience of Reality, and that the various Hindu Deities are different aspects of one supreme Godhead. His message has brought about a great deal of harmony among the Hindu sects, and Sri Ramakrishna himself has become the symbol of the unity of Hindu religion.

b. Harmony among world religions: It should be noted that Sri Ramakrishna recognized the differences among religions but showed that, in spite of these differences, they lead to the same Ultimate Goal. This is the meaning of his famous maxim, 'Yato mat, tato path', "As many faiths, so many paths".

Apart from this, Swami Vivekananda also held the religions of the world are expressions of one eternal Universal Religion. Since Vedanta contains all the basic principles and laws of the spiritual world, Swamiji regarded Vedanta as that eternal Universal Religion. That is to say, Vedanta can serve as the common ground for all religions.

6. Avataarhood of Sri Ramakrishna: According to the Hindu religious tradition, God incarnates himself as the Avataar in every Age in order to give a new message to humanity suited to the needs of each Age. In the Ramakrishna Movement, Sri Ramakrishna is adored as the Avataar of the Modern Age. What this means is that his life and teachings have opened a new way of salvation for humanity. The uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna's Avataarhood is that it embodies the spiritual consciousness of earlier Avataars and prophets, including those who are outside the Hindu fold, and is in harmony with all religious traditions. In all the institutions of the Ramakrishna Order, worshipful reverence is shown to all Avataars and the founders of all religions.

7. A New Philosophy of Work: Swami Vivekananda has given a new philosophy of work for the modern world. All work in the Ramakrishna Math and Mission is done according to this philosophy of work, which is based on the following principles.

a. All work is sacred: According to Vedanta, the physical universe is a manifestation of God known as Viraat. Hence, as Sister Nivedita has stated, there is 'no distinction between the sacred and the secular'. What this statement means is that all work is sacred. Even menial work such as sweeping the floor or mending shoes is to be done with as much attention and devotion as work in the shrine.

b. Work as worship: The Gita states that the all-pervading God is the ultimate source of all work and the enjoyer of the fruits of all sacrifice. Hence all work is to be done as worship and the fruits of actions are to be offered to the Lord.

c. Service to man is service to God: One of the important principles Swami Vivekananda learned from his Master was 'siva-jnaane jiva-sevaa', 'to serve jiva as shiva'. Since man is potentially Divine, service to man is indeed service to God. Instead of looking upon a needy person as an object of pity, he is looked upon as an object of worship. Such an attitude elevates both the giver and the recipient.

d. Focus on service to the poor and the downtrodden: Swami Vivekananda was the first religious leader in India to speak for the poor and the downtrodden and to state boldly, 'He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak and the diseased, really worships Shiva; and...with him Shiva is more pleased that with the man who sees Him only in temples.' It was Swamiji who coined the word daridranaaraayana to refer to the poor. Swamiji's love and concern for the poor continues as a directive principle in Ramakrishna Mission's service programmes.

e. Work is a spiritual discipline: When work, any work, is done fulfilling the above conditions, it becomes a spiritual discipline: the mind gets purified and the potential Divinity of the soul manifests itself more and more. Thus work done as worshipful service benefits the doer himself spiritually: it becomes a spiritual discipline or Yoga. It is with this understanding of work as a spiritual discipline (Karma Yoga) that all the service activities of the Ramakrishna Mission, such as giving food and clothing to the poor, nursing the sick etc, are undertaken. Thus service done as worship of god in man helps in two ways: it helps physically or mentally the person who is served, and it help spiritually the person who serves.

Motto:
This two-fold aim of service activities, indeed the whole ideology of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, has been put in a nutshell in the MOTTO of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, 'Aatmano mokshaartham jagad hitaaya cha', 'For one's own salvation and for the welfare of the world', formulated by Swami Vivekananda.

from the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission :their history, ideals and activities Pub: Belur Math