Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and the Hindu Spiritual Awakening!
If the Brahmo movement of Ramamohun Roy was the outcome of external influences emanating from the enlightenment and rationalism of the modern West, the movement represented by Ramakrishna and his disciples was the result of an inner resurgence of the Hindu spirit to recover itself.
According to Ramakrishna, devotion to God was the supreme goal of the mind.
The devotion could be expressed through unbounded love. Here, he was at one with the medieval saints of the bhakti school. God could be formless or with a form. It was for man to realise God in any manner.
Ramakrishna broke down the barriers which separated various Hindu cults and took them together towards an inward search for the reality. This is a trend described at times as ‘neo-Hinduism’. Among those who became his disciples, the most celebrated was ‘Narendra Nath Dutta’, better known as Swami Vivekananda.
The Hindu spiritual concepts were interpreted by Vivekananda in the light of modern rationality and progressivism. Side by side he aimed to associate spiritual attainments with the vigour of mind and body. In America, at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, he stated that Hinduism was not really what the Westerners saw in its outward form, but something more vital and more real.
One of the most remarkable endeavours of Vivkananda was to bring spirituality out of its philosophical and unintelligible scriptural seclusion to the mind and heart of the common people who toiled in their worldly existence.
Vivekananda organised the disciples of Ramakrishna into in order and formed the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897. This was set up to engage in threefold activity, namely, spread the meaning of Vedantic spiritualism far and wide, strive for a synthesis and harmony among various faiths and cults, and regard the service of mankind as service to God.