New Understanding of Religion
One of the most significant contributions of Swami Vivekananda to the modern world is his interpretation of religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity. Swamiji met the challenge of modern science and said that religion is the 'science of consciousness'. As such, religion and science are not contradictory to each other but are complementary. This universal conception frees religion from the hold of superstitions, dogmatism and intolerance, and makes religion the highest and noblest pursuit.
New View of Man
Vivekananda's concept of 'potential divinity of the soul' gives a new, ennobling concept of man. He says that the present age is the age of humanism which holds that man should be the chief concern and centre of all activities and thinking. Vivekananda's concept of potential divinity of the soul prevents this degradation, divinizes human relationships, and makes life meaningful and worth living. Swamiji has laid the foundation for 'spiritual humanism', which is manifesting itself through several neo-humanistic movements.
New Principle of Morality and Ethics
Vivekananda has given a new theory of ethics and new principle of morality based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman. He says that one should be pure because purity is our real nature, our true divine Self or Atman. Thus one should love and serve his neighbours because all are one in the Supreme Spirit known as Paramatman or Brahman.
Sayings of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda believed that the essence of Hinduism was best expressed in the Vedanta philosophy. He summarized the Vedanta's teachings as follows,
* 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 mental discipline, or philosophy-by one, or more, or all of these-and be free.
* This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
* So long as even a single dog in my country is without food my whole religion is to feed it and serve it, anything excluding that is nonreligious.
* Awake, stop not until the goal is achieved.
* Strength is life, weakness is death.
* Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man.
According to Vivekananda, an important teaching he received from Ramakrishna Paramahansawas that "Jiva is Shiva" (each individual is divinity itself). This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra narayana seva - the service of God in and through (poor) human beings.
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