[Advaita-l] Vedanta .. Ramakrishna Mission ... Swami Vivekananda

Dilip Dhopavkar dilip.dhopavkar at gmail.com
Sun May 18 01:55:48 CDT 2008

Dear All,

I have been  reading with a keen interest  the debate on the topic of
evolution of Vedanta . The  debate includes the role of Sw Vivekananda and
RK Mission +  Math. in the vedanta  movement which has been termed as neo
Vedanta. Many individuals have written on the contribution / damage to the
Vedanta movement  by Vivekananda. I am attempting to correct some
misgivings, highlight some important aspects  of the contribution of

1)  *Ideal of service*: Swamiji uneuivocally declared that renunciation and
service are the  national  ideals  suited to the modern age.Many are of the
opinion that this ideal is borrowed from  christianity, which is factually
incorrect. The ideal took shape in the mind of Swamiji  over a period of
many formative years under the guidance of his Guru.

 Once when Sri Ramakrishna was descending from a Bhavasamadhi, he said,
there are three pillars of Vaishnava dhrama , one of them being Jiver Daya(
compassion towards jivas). Next moment he said ,  'nonsense, who are you to
show compassion to the jivas ? You, an insignificant creature .. showing
Jiver Daya. .. No .. No not jiver Daya , but Shivjnane Jivaseva( service of
God in the form of man) . Swamiji was present with all his  gurubhais. Only
he understood the significance of this revealed truth. He remarked, " God
willing, if ever I get a chance to spread this wonderful truth, I will do

Sri Ramakrishna once asked him what his wish was. Swamiji replied , " I want
to be immeresed in Nirivikalpa samadhi for days together , and occasionally
descend to the  body level " Sri Ramakrishna was disappointed  and
castigated him saying," Naren , I had thought you would be a banyan tree
providing a shade to the distressed people. I never imagined that you could
be so selfish. *There is a higher state beyond even Nirvikalpa Samadhi . You
are qualified for that*" The siginificance was not lost  to Swamiji.

These are just two incidents among many. Swamiji's concept of service is
rooted in the above two incidents.The points are .. ....

1)The ideal of service  is not borrowed  from christianity

2) There is a higher state , beyond even nirvikalpa samadhi. ( coming from
an enlightened person like Sri Ramakrishna)

Sw Vivekananda  was the pioneer ( if not the first ) who  attempted to bring
a paradigm shift in the conventional  spiritual practice. He wanted to bring
the Vedanta which was hidden in the forests to the doorstep of a teacher,
student, fisherman, and in every walk of life. Vedanta is not the
prerogative of a few. It belongs to all and must be taught to all according
to his qualifications. Conservatives naturally opposed  him and are
opposing even now. Bhagvan Sankara also wrote commentaries on the
Upanishadas, the Gita and Brahmasutras, for what ? For the benefit of all.

2) *Study of Scriptures :* As far as the study of scriptures  is concerned,
Bhagvan Sankara's commentary is considered as the most authoritative  in the
literature published by RK Mission + Math. If  any of you has attended the
lectures by swamis of RK Math, you will see that  the base for the
interpretation of the scriptures is always Acharya Sankara.They may not be
shastric in flavour. They need not be. They are  not trying to prove the
superiority  of their knowledge. Ultimately  the application of Vedanta in
life ( daily living) is more important than the dry knowledge. I think this
approach  is more  fulfilling than mere exhibition of knowledge.

3) *Swami Vivekananda was not an Advaitin*: I am rather intrigued by this
assertion. What are the yardstics to determine who is Advaitin ? Nisrgadatta
Maharaj was asked once, " Can a Jnani know another Jnani? " He replied ' "
Yes, but you cant know it by his outward conduct." We cant really debate
this point as we have no standard algorithm  to come to a conclusion. The
news , whether one is a Jnani (I mean  Avaitin ), is supplied by heart, not
by debate or reasoning. My own conclusion was that  Swamiji was an Advaitin
par excellence. One has to read the description of the last two days of his
earthly life to understand this.

Pranams to all,

Dilip Dhopavkar

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