Saturday, 23 July 2016

Practical Vedanta

Viewed as Yoga, religions cease also to be conflicting among themselves as they do when they are identified exclusively with propositions, events, rituals, institutions and so on. No proposition can exhaust the Infinite and the Absolute, nor any ritual entrap it, and no institution monopolize it. All these are but its symbols, approximations and pointers, very useful in purifying, equipping and guiding the mind of man, but none of them can exclusively contain the Infinite and the Absolute. The practical implications that Swamiji has drawn from the doctrine of man's inherent divinity is perhaps his most important contribution  to thought. "He called this Practical Vedanta. The Swami maintains that if Divinity is at our background, our religious faith should be based not on fear, but on a sense of one's inherent strength born of the feeling that one is a child of God. Faith in one's own self, in one's higher nature that forms one's background, is the basis of all spiritual growth. Without this faith, faith in God has no meaning. Sin is tantamount to weakness arising from the denial of one's inherent Divinity and virtue synonymous with strength born of a sense of one's own Divine heritage. Self-confidence, fearlessness, and self-expression become the watchword for man in all fields of life if the Gospel of Practical Vedanta is accepted. Worship also receives a new meaning.

While ritualistic worship and contemplation retain their full validity in spiritual discipline, social service also comes to have an equally important place. Service of man becomes service of God. As God is present in all as the immanent spirit, life of the individual and society is an effort on the part of Nature to manifest that divinity latent in all. If an aspirant maintains this outlook on life and performs his duties towards individuals and society as an offering to the divinity immanent in all, he performs real worship. Practical Vedanta, therefore, converts work into worship.

The claim that one's own religion alone is true and those of others are false, is like the claim of everyone that his watch is absolutely correct. No watch is in fact so exact. They are all correct in the sense that they point towards an absolutely correct  time with varying degrees of error. The same is the case with the claim of any religion to be the exclusive torch-bearer of truth. It explains also how there can be many religions and yet they can all be true. They can all co-exist and grow in their own way, each trying to learn from the other the special excellence for which it is noted.

                                                                            ........From Swami Tapasyanandaji's 'Swami Vivekananda as the Leader of the Thought'