Ramkrishna Vedanta Ashram

Vivekanandapur, South 24 Parganas,West Bengal, Kolkata 700 141, India
Secretary: +91 9007 341 111
Principal:   +91 9775 758 094
Office:       +91 33 2488 1429
 rkva1971@gmail.com

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Vedanta and Indian Culture

Spirituality has always been the heart beat of the country, India. Whether commencing an action of morality or that of immoral, the doer pays homage to God before initiating it. The soul of this noble nation is spirituality, and it has been this spiritual vigor of the Hindu religious legacy, that has saved and nurtured it regardless of countless foreign invasions and limitless internal dissensions. The Hindu religious tradition itself is an extensive and complex combination of religions, which has no founder, no defining religious belief nor any centralized authority. Still, the country has subdued all impediments and has maintained overall uniformity, zeal, and widespread influence for centuries mainly because its foundation is laid on the dynamic philosophy of life called Vedanta.

Vedanta is not a religious doctrine or tenet which persons accept out of fear of divine rage or human fury. Vedanta typifies the everlasting quest of the human soul for the Eternal and the Infinite. It is the result of the quests of the ancient sages of India into the mystery of life and death, mystery of consciousness, mystery of Existence. The ancient Indian sages, known as Rishis developed methods of inner concentration, collectively called as Yoga. The supernatural knowledge perceived by the Rishis through Yoga was transmitted to their disciples, which came to be known as Upanishads. The concepts of the Upanishads, majority of which were articulated between 1,000 B.C. and 300 B.C., were ordered in subsequent centuries that leaded to the formation of the Vedanta philosophy.

Another salient feature of Indian civilization is the spirit of religious tolerance and co-existence. The Indian culture did not flourish by dominating religious liberty or vanquishing alien culture, but by incorporating their good elements. At critical juncture of Indian culture, great personages like Sri Krishna, Sri Chaitanya, Shankaracharya facilitated this assimilation process. The spirit of Indian culture is symbolized in the phrase “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which consists of several words: "vasudhā", the earth; "ēva" = indeed; and "kutumbakam", family. This loftiest philosophy of life has such intense influence, that it has become an inseparable part of the land. The context of this verse is to describe as one of the attributes of an individual who has attained the highest level of spiritual progress, and one who is capable of performing his worldly duties without attachment to material possessions. This nobility is further expressed in the hospitality of the nation, that equivalents its guest to God:“Atithi Devo Bhava” and has been a part of “code of conduct” for the Hindu society.

At the onset of the 19th century, Western culture, with its glorification of logic and science, and evangelization, caused a great challenge to Indian culture, while their secular values such as individual freedom, social equality and justice attracted the intellectuals of the land. At this trying time, Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda unhindered the challenge by rejuvenating Vedanta and by assimilating the best elements of Western culture into it. The Western world, itself being in disruption, due to diminution of moral and spiritual values owing to aggression of materialism, the sacred lives and message of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda has been intensely significant for people all over world.

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