Introduction--Ramakrishna Math and Mission
In order to propagate the life-giving eternal principles of Hindu religion such as unity of existence, potential divinity of soul, intra and inter religious harmony, Swami Vivekananda founded a monastic organization named Ramakrishna Mission.
These eternal principles were practically demonstrated in the life of his Guru, Shri Ramakrishna a great spiritual personality of 19th century. Swami Vivekananda gave special emphasis on the unity of existence i.e. immanent aspect of God and potential divinity of soul. All objects of the world, sentient and insentient are the manifestations of God and by serving them through work individual soul can raise himself to the level of highest spiritual experience, and at the same time bringwelfare to the society.
In May 1897, Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission Association.While living in the society and doing similar work that the society does but with spiritual outlook, this monastic body of the organization forms a model, demonstrating practical application of this great ideal. Foundation of the Ramakrishna Math can be traced to the day on which Shri Ramakrishna himself distributed the ochre clothes to his disciples and entrusted with Swami Vivekananda the responsibility to see that they live together and lead spiritual life and also do good to the humanity. Today this twin organization which has branches all over the world, are infusing spiritual ideas and ideals into whole humanity.
As said above the eternal principles of Hindu religion expressed in Vedanta, form the ideology of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. In short they are as follows.
1. God realization is the ultimate aim of life: The everlasting fulfillment and peace in the life can be achieved only by God realization. The ultimate reality God is personal as well as impersonal. In its impersonal aspect it appears as Pure Consciousness, while in personal aspect it is known by many names, like Ishwara, Jehovah and so on.
2. Potential divinity of the soul: The true nature of man is divine. Its nature is of pure consciousness. However because of ignorance he identifies itself with body and mind and sufferers from the cycles of birth and death. Once the ignorance is removed,he recognizes his identity with his true nature and becomes one with absolute peace , happiness, and existence. This is called God realization.
3. Synthesis of the Yogas: The identification with body and mind born of ignorance can be removed by selfless work (Karma Yoga), love for God (Bhakti Yoga) meditation (Raja Yoga) and by analysis(Jnana Yoga). Though each yoga is an independent path it is better to cultivate all Yogas simultaneously as it leads to the harmonious development of human personality.So Swami Vivekananda laid emphasis on the simultaneous development of all Yogas by the spiritual aspirant.This ideal is expressed in the Emblem of Ramakrishana Math and Mission. In the Emblem the wavy waters represent Karma Yoga; the lotus flower represents Bhakti Yoga; the rising sun represents Jnana Yoga; the coil serpent represents Raja Yoga; the Swan represents the Supreme Self. Thus by combined practice of all the four Yogas the Supreme Self can be realized.
4. Harmony of Religions: Sri Ramakrishna practiced all religious paths within Hinduism and also the paths of religions other than Hinduism and came to the same experience of the Reality. He thus proclaimed that all paths lead to the same goal. If there is sincere longing and renunciation one can realize the goal by any path. The differences in the paths are only in the non essential aspects of the religion. He showed God is personal as well as impersonal. Various deities are the manifestations of the same Godhead. Recognizing the fact that each individual is Divine can form a basis of Universal Religion.
5. Work as worship: Swami Vivekananda gave special emphasis on the immanent aspect of God. All objects of the world are the manifestations of God and individual soul is also Divine. Therefore serving the Jiva as Shiva one can make work as worship -a potent means for realization of God.
6. Avatarhood of Sri Ramakrishna: According to the Hindu Religious tradition, God incarnates himself as the Avatara in every age, and infuses vitality into the existing religions. Sri Ramakrishna not only gave new impetus to the Hindu religion but through his message of harmony of all religions helped people of all religions to develop respectful attitude towards their own religion. He thus helped everyone to strengthen his faith in his own religion.