Essay on reform movement in Bengal led by Ramakrishna and Vivekananda

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a. Introduction:

The reform movement in Bengal initiated by Rammohan Roy, Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and others were transformed into a revolution, as it were, by the efforts of Keshab Chandra Sen and the Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, etc.

The theme of their teaching was that one could adapt oneself to modernisation even while remaining faithful to his own religion.

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All of them believed in the unity of godhead and wanted that the Indians should unite together forsaking all their religious differences and caste barriers.

b. Ramakrishna Paramahansadeva:

Sri Ramakrishna of the temple of goddess Kali at Dakshineswar (near Kolkata) is a spiritual wonder.

Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, later famous as Ramakrishna Paramahansadeva, was born in the village of Kamarpukuur in the district of Hooghly. He had no formal education, but his spiritual realisations were stupendous.

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His power of explaining puzzling philosophical points in simple and easy metaphors and analogies was astounding even to the highly educated persons of his time.

He was born a Hindu, and yet he went through divergent religions and spiritual practices. And thus he arrived at the realization that all religions are equally valid and ultimately lead to the same goal, if professed with sincerity and devotion.

No other saint has ever made this point so clear as did Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansadeva. He inspired a Muslim to be a true Muslim, and a Christian a real one.

Under his inspiration the Hindus retrieved their faith in Hinduism, even though they had an English education.

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It is, indeed, a great ideal for the Indians, who are divided into various religions and sects. The significance of these ideal still remains to be cherished.

c. Swami Vivekananda and the Ramakrishna Mission:

After Ramakrishna’s demise in 1886, his disciple, Swami Vivekananda carried the message of his guru all over the world. He proclaimed to the world the superiority of the Hindu culture and civilization, the greatness of India’s past and the hopes for her future.

Vivekananda’s programme for the regeneration of the Indian people began with his speech delivered to the Parliament of Religion convened at Chicago (in U.S.A.) in 1893.

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Through his speech delivered there Vivekananda introduced the spirituality of the Indian faith to the West, and restored India’s past glory.

After returning to India Vivekananda devoted himself to the task of regenerating his people. He strongly opposed to the social inequality and religious bickerings prevalent amongst the Indian people.

Vivekananda sincerely believed that the misfortune of India was primarily due to the lack of unity in her people. That is why Vivekananda’s programme of reform aimed at establishing a new social order based on freedom and equality.

His image of a classless society helped the process of unity amongst the Indian people. Vivekananda’s keen sense of patriotism is evident in his writings e.g. ‘Prachya-O-Pashchatya’ (The East and the West), ‘Bartaman Bharat’ (The Present India), etc.

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Vivekananda founded the Ramkrishna Mission in 1897 to provide a platform to the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna for practising religious life along with working for a national awakening, social reform and service.

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