What was the contribution of Sri Ramakrishna as a social reformer?

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a. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansadeva:

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

Gadhar Chattopadhyay, later famous as Ramakrishna Paramahansadeva, was born in the village of Kamarpukur, in the district of Hoognly.

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He had no formal education, but his spiritual realizations were stupendous. 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 religious and spiritual practices. And thus he arrived at the realization that all religions were equally valid and ultimately led 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. It is indeed a great ideal for the Indians, who are divided into various religions and sects.

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The significance of this ideal still remains to be cherished.

Though Ramakrishna could not build up an all-India movement by his teaching as did Keshab Chandra with his oratory, he too, could not agree to the disparities of caste and creed in Indian society.

He firmly believed that by obtaining self-knowledge or proper devotion to God men would no longer go by the labels of caste and creed.

b. Swami Vivekananda:

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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.

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

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After returning to India Vivekananda devoted himself to the task of regenerating his people. He strongly opposed to the social inequality and religious bickering 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. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna 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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