Manifestations of True Religion:
Religious awakening means experiencing the presence of God in one's own self and in the world. That makes one conscious of the divine within and urges him to work for its unfoldment and enables him to grow spiritually. Simultaneously, it generates in him a sense of oneness with God's creation and, consequently, an intense fellow-feeling for the members of his own species – the human race – and prompts him to work with zest for human welfare and progress… If, and as long as the religious awakening intensifies on these lines, it is dynamic and full of tremendous potentialities for the transformation of humanity into higher and higher planes of existence. But, if it remains limited to rituals, forms of worship and offerings to God, or prayers and praises addressed to Him, it becomes static and has hardly any role to play in human advancement.
Swamiji's Call to Worship the God that We See All Around Us:
"Swami Vivekananda was the foremost among the modern religious teachers who strove to take out religion from that static condition into which it had degenerated over the centuries, and drew the attention of the people to its real role. He pointed out in no uncertain terms that ceremonies and forms are not the essence of religion but that it lies rather in the realisation of a higher life. He said, 'We may study all the books that are in the world, yet we may not understand a word of religion or of God. Temples and churches, books and forms are simply the kindergarten of religion to make the spiritual child strong enough to take the higher steps. Religion is not in doctrines or dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation. It is realisation in the heart of hearts; it is touching God; it is feeling, realising that I am a spirit in relation with Universal Spirit and all its great manifestations.' To those who lost themselves only in forms and rituals, turning their back on the people and the misery that had befallen them, he said, 'What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all around us, the Virat (Janata Janardan)? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all other gods'."
A Two-pronged Movement: The Need of the Hour:
The remedy for the ills of our country, therefore, lies in launching a mighty movement of right thought sweeping the entire country. It has to be a two-pronged move. On the one hand, it is to be aimed at (1) transforming our people's inherent God-wardness into the right spiritual urge rising out of the teachings of the Upanishads, namely, (a) each soul is potentially divine, and (b) faith in God, in turn means faith in one's self, i.e. in one's potentiality to rise to divine heights. On the other hand, it is (2) to convert the spiritual fervour thus released