The nineteenth century was a period of expansion both of British Imperialism in India and Indian Nationalism. The consolidated British Raj and side by side, different socio-religious and cultural movements were initiated by different personalities in various parts of the country with the search for national identity as their fundamental aim.
During this pre independent era, India was torn by conflicts of creeds, cultures, dogmas, doctrines, theologies and philosophies when Shree Ramakrishna brought back the Hindu Spirituality to the core of the Society and thus begun the renaissance of Bengal vis-a-vis India.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Indian nationalism became self-conscious and assertive. Numerous factors, big and small, led to the flowering of these self-conscious nationalist sentiments. The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Move-ment with its seat in Bengal constituted a major factor towards this development.
The central figure of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement was Sri Ramakrishna himself, who was a man with complete self-realisation and became a symbol of the national soul.
Shree Ramakrishna’s ardent belief in the validity of all faiths and his stress on spiritual humanism, as distinct from modern secular humanism, fitted well with the search for identity of
the Indian self.
“Ramakrishna was a rare combination of individuality and universality, personality and impersonality. His word and example have been echoed in the hearts of Western men and women. His soul animates modern India.”— Romain Rolland
Ramakrishna’s unique characteristics were his childlike purity, his sincerity and extraordinary power to transform others' lives. Ramakrishna’s love for humanity was limitless. He often said human beings were highest manifest of God.
His disciples saw this and adopted service to God in humankind being the foremost ideals of the Ramakrishna order initiated by Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s most illustrious
disciple, is considered by some to be one of his most
important legacies. In the nineteenth-century, Indian cyclonic Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda is considered one of the most influential people of modern India. About whom Rabindranath Tagore said “everything in Vivekananda is positive”. Tagore suggested study of Vivekananda’s works to learn about India...
At the time of Vivekananda, people of India were
shrouded in tamaso the lowest Guna described in Gita meaning ig-norance, superstition, and people failed to distinguish between weakness and non-attachment. In such a situation Vivekananda brought new
light and he taught “The same soul
resides in each and all” and suggested to serve mankind consi-dering them manifestations of
God Daridranarayan : “poverty stricken god.”
Swami Vivekananda gave a message of spiritual unison and creating new consciousness amongst youth. He awakened patriotism and enthusiasm amongst people through spiritual discourses. Vivekananda stood for what was the essence of its Vedantic/Upanishadic message of the inherent divinity of man, the unity of all existence, and the validity of all religions as different paths to the same spiritual destination of truth, peace, and harmony.
Swamijee was emphatic in following truthfulness in life to reach the goal of life. He said “in Hinduism we pass from truth to truth—from a lower truth to a higher truth—and never from error to truth.”
Religion ceases to progress when unity is reached, which is the case with Hinduism.
Vivekananda declared that “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy—by one or more or all of these—and be free.”
Swamijee reminded “ALL powers – ALL purity and ALL greatness—EVERY THING IS IN THE SOUL. ….. All truth in the universe will manifest in your heart, if you are sufficiently pure. One will ascertain the verse of Upanishada “Chidananda Rupaham Shivaham-Shivaham.”
Like his spiritual master Swami Vivekananda also pronounced love, purity and truthfulness as the path for overcoming the state of Tamaso, Rajas, Sattva and reaching divinity. The other personality a messenger of Truth who emerged in late Nineteenth Century and was inspired by Swami Vivekananda was Mohondas Karamchand Gandhi.
Mohondas Karamchand Gandhi was an ardent follower of Swami Vivekananda who dedicated his life for the freedom of chained India under British Rule. For his selfless sacrifice he became Mahatma Gandhi. On February 6, 1921, Mahatma Gandhi came to Belur Math and paid homage to Vivekananda. When on this occasion he said:
“I have come here to pay my homage and respect to the revered memory of Swami Vivekananda, whose birthday is being celebrated today. I have gone though his works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousand-fold”
Gandhi said, “There is no god higher than truth.”
Mahatma Gandhi’s role and contribution to India’s Freedom Movement is noteworthy, extraordinary and exemplary. Those who are familiar with the events of the National Liberation Movement of India know how Gandhi awakened the masses through the strength of Ahimsa [non-violence].
In spite of the fact that the first goal of Mahatma Gandhi’s life was to achieve freedom for India, but it was not at all the end of his mission.
If, it was so, how could Gandhi still be considered a ray of hope by millions around the world? How could he become the source of inspiration for Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela.
The life, work and views of Mahatma Gandhi were for the welfare of the whole of humanity; the way he showed through his dynamic actions was, and is, for the entire world; India’s freedom was only a dimension of his way.
Rabindranath said “Mahatma Gandhi came and stood at the door of India’s destitute millions…who else has so unreservedly accepted the vast masses of the Indian people as his flesh and blood…Truth awakened Truth.”
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was ‘a man of the millennium’ who imparts the lesson of truth, Non- violence, selfless service and peace. His philosophy and ideology is relevant still today.
Sri Ramakrishna elevated love from the level of emotions to the level of the unity of all Selves in God. Although the principle of oneness of the Supreme Self and its immanence in all beings is a central point in the Upanishads, it was seldom applied in practical life. Sri Ramakrishna saw the Divine in his wife, in his disciples, in others, even in fallen women, and treated them all with respect.
His life was a testament to truth, universality, love and purity.
Divinisation of love and human relationships is another contribution of Sri Ramakrishna which has immense significance for the welfare of humanity. All the stalwarts of that period, the spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna, the
world Spiritual Teacher Swami Vivekananda
and one of the main liberators of India, Mahatma Gandhi preached and practised the path of Truthfulness, Love and Purity in their character to realise divinity within..
These great personalities were genuine followers of the verses of Gita in letter and spirit and all of them considered the sermons as the steps to reach the divinity. The Bhagavad-Gita which is treated as, the “song of God” with deep philosophy, spirituality and divinity embodied in it. It primarily is a wartime counsel between Lord Krishna and his disciple warrior Arjuna..
Shree Ramakrishna, used to say that…… one could understand the essential meaning of Gita by repeating the word several times “Gita, Gita Gita Gita...”, and when it is done, one finds (her/him) self uttering “ta-Gi ta-Gi ta-Gi...”. The word “tag/tyag” (Bengali: ত্যাগ, "তগ" ধাতু)
means “renounce” or “one who renounces everything
for God.” Ramakrishna said, Gita teaches us to become unselfish and tyagi.
Bhagavad Gita was Swami Vivekananda’s lifelong companion. He said, if there is anything in the Gita
that I like, it is these two verses, coming out strong as the very gist, the very essence, of Krishna’s teaching — “He who sees the Supreme Lord dwelling alike in all
beings, the Imperishable in things that perish, he sees
indeed. For seeing the Lord as the same, everywhere
present, he does not destroy the Self by the Self, and thus he goes to the highest goal. Knowledge of the Atman is the highest aim of the Gita.”
For Gandhi, Gita’s stress is on attaining liberation through selfless action. Renunciation of all desire of action was ultimate message. It is undoubtedly in the state of mind that the great personality’s pure sattva prevailed. When pure Sattva prevails in consciousness then oneself transcend times and space and discovers eternal Self. The soul regains its basic purity and unites with God. Shree Ramakrishna used to reach the state of Samadhi.
The Gitâ in Chapter 14- deals with the three types of traits/qualities in man – purity (sattva), passion (rajas) and apathy (tamas). The mission of life is to go beyond these traits and gain liberation.
Three modes (goodness, passion and ignorance) are the ropes of material nature that bind the individual soul (Jiva, spirit) to the body. Three modes (or Gunas) are also the vehicles of transmigration for the individual soul. Gunas come from the eternal Brahma..
These Triguna from a personality perspective, is considered a set of three basic types of tendency. Sattva, rajas and tamas are the three components. Each of these gunas is characterized by its own properties. Triguna is basically a tendency of expression of behavior. Depending upon the observed behavioural characteristic
The tamas is the state of maximum inertia, rajas drives the activity with attachment and associated excitement and misery. Sattva is a state of equilibrium and least agitation of mind. Even in sattva state the bondage is present though the freedom is also available to a greater extent.
In order to be free from the net of transmigration, it is necessary to transcend the three Gunas. One who has transcended the three Gunas depends on the Lord and is indifferent to pain and pleasure; to him the dear and the unfriendly, a cold, a stone, and gold are alike.
In Gita Arjuna inquired: O my dear Lord, by which symptoms is one known who is transcendental to these three modes? What is his behaviour? And how does he transcend the modes of nature?
The Supreme Personality Lord Krishna ,— he who does not hate illumination, attachment and delusion when they are present or long for them when they disappear ; who is unwavering and undisturbed through all these reactions of the material qualities, remaining neutral and transcendental, knowing that the modes alone are active ; who is situated in the self and regards alike happiness and distress ; who looks upon a lump of earth, a stone and a piece of gold with an equal eye ; who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable ; who is steady, situated equally well in praise and blame, honour and dishonour ; who treats alike both friend and enemy; and who has renounced all material activities -- such a person is said to have transcended the modes of nature.
Shree Krishna further said,
One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman. Shree Ramakrishna, Swamijee and Gandhiji were free from the net of transmigration of the gunas as they practised true Nishkama Karma.
The true Nishkama Karmi (performer of work without desire) is neither to be inert, nor heartless. He is not Tâmasika but of pure Sattva. His heart is so full of love and sympathy that he can embrace the whole world with his love.
The person who has given up all desires, who desires nothing, not even this life, nor freedom, nor gods, nor work, nor anything. When he has become perfectly satisfied, he has no more cravings. He has seen the glory of the Self and has found that the world, and the gods, and heaven are … within his own Self. Then the gods become no gods; death becomes no death; life becomes no life. Everything has changed.
A man is said to be illumined if his will has become firm, if his mind is not disturbed by misery, if he does not desire any happiness, if he is free of all attachment, of all fear, of all anger.
The three gunas in life. Rajas as Activity, Tamas - Inertia and Sattva as equilibrium were all controlled in their life by the Great Luminaries, Shree Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi and all of them, accepted the effects and influence of their Gunas on us.
Their love for mankind, desire less but purposeful work for society, the principle of accepting truth as God created unique position in the heart of people where Shree Ramakrishna appeared as Avatar, Swami Vivekananda as Rishi Srestha and Gandhiji as Mahan Atma.