Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hindu Revivalism-Ramkrishna-Vivekananda movement (contd-3)

Several attempts were made to revive the ancient Hindu religion and culture independently of the movements for modernising the Hindu Society.Typical examples of such movements were those started by Sri Ramkrishna and Vivekananda in Bengal and others in different parts of India.The Ramkrishna-Vivekananda movement tried to create a feeling among the people that there was no basis at all for their inferiority complex. Of all these movements, the one started by Sri Ramkrishna Paramhamsa was the most prominent. Brought up in an orthodox atmosphere, he reached the Dakshineshwar temple where from he conducted his early activities as the priest of the temple. Soon his name spread as a man of peace who would solve the problems of his devotees through sacrifice. In short, he was a devout person and an idealist untouched  by even a tinge of bourgeois social reform, cultural renaissance or urge for national independence.
Neverthless, even under this idealism and spiritualism Sri Ramkrishna's preachings and deeds did provide a fertile soil for the growth of modern bourgeois nationalism. His teachings and practices contained elements which were distasteful to orthodox Hindu culture. His spiritual teachings and practices surmoned religious and caste distinctions. He tried to convert people into devotees of Kali and Shiva, where they be Brahmins or non-Brahmins, Muslims or Christians. In fact, he became the priest of the temple of Kali, challenging the then existing communal practices and customs. Later, he also tried to adjust himself with Muslims and Christians by studying their scriptures and practices. Thus, he built a new spiritual movement which although devoid of modernism, stood above the caste distinction, religious superstitions and prejudices which were considered as black spots in the fabric of the Hindu society.
Even the new generation of the bourgeois intellectuals working with the aim of modernizing the society and holding modern outlook which were distinctly different from that of Ramkrishna, were attracted towards him. Lawyers, Doctors,Professors, high officials in Government service and such others became the disciples of Sri Ramkrishna. Many scholars engaged in a comparative study of the philosophy of Hinduism and of ancient Greece and Modern Europe designed to establish the superiority of Indian culture and civilisation found Ramkrishna's spiritual teachings and practice of meditation attractive.
One of the young disciples  of Ramkrishna who rose to eminence and fame was Narendranath Dutt. He was attracted towards Sri Ramkrishna at a time when he was seeking some means to overcome certain family problems after the completion of his higher education. He soon became a disciple of Sri Ramkrishna, and after the demise of his master became the foremost amongst the founders of an order of Sanyasins pledged to propagate the message of teachings of Sri Ramkrishna throughout the world.  As the leader of the order of Sanyasins, he adopted the the name of Swami Vivekananda and it was in this name that he, later on, became famous.
The tours Vivekananda conducted to propagate the message of Sri Ramkrishna throughout India and abroad were ostensibly a movement for the propagation of Hindu religion. But in effect, it turned out to be a movement for the resurgence of India's soul which was being trampled upon by foreign rulers and for challenging their culture.
The address he delivered at the world religious convention held in Chicago and the appreciation it received from the intellectuals of the western world helped Indians to overcome their sense of inferiority.