The following article was written in response to the questions mentioned below.

I see basically two questions here:

1. Sri Ramakrishna's philosophy is advaita vedant or vishisht advaita?

2. Which is actually a more acceptable as a theory and is the actual TRUTH?

Pondering on the first question, I will like to qoute from one of the lectures of Swami Vivekanand. In his lecture "The Sages of India", he talks about Ramanuja, Chaitanya and Shankaracharya both and finally says: " One had a great head, the other a large heart, and the time was ripe for one to be born, the embodiment of both this head and heart;the time was ripe for one to be born, who in one body will have the brilliant intellect of Shankara and the wonderfully expansive, infinite heart of Chaitanya; one who in every sect will see the same spirit working, the same God, one who would see God in every being, one whose heart would weep for the poor, for the weak, for the outcaste..." So Swamiji mentions Shankaracharya when the 'head' is talked about, that means according to Swamiji his master in theory agreed to Shankaracharya, though he had all the beautiful qualities of a bhakta in his "heart".       

Secondly, Sri Ramakrishna had attained Nirvakalpa samadhi, which is again the final stage of advait vedant, as Dr Shah himself mentions in the article that Ramanujacharya believed in Savikalpa Samadhi as the final goal. Sri Ramakrishna always used to say that bhakti, vishisht advaita, karma yog are all ways to finally reach advait.He kept on praying to a personal God, even after reaching advaita, because he had a mission on earth, he had to set an example for the world to follow. He was an avtar and not just any person who had realised the truth. He was already God realised. Hence taking his case as a general case to interpret any theory and its implications may lead to misconceptions.

Thirdly, as far as Swami Vivekanand is concerned, he was a strict follower of advaita vedant, which is evident from his lectures. He always mentioned in his lectures that one is all powerful and brahmin himself. He even established the Mayavati centre of Ramakrishna Mission, which had no worship of any kind of form. But, there is another important point to be considered. When Swamiji was near the end of his life, he got to know about a temple which was broken by some invaders. He thought, " Had I been here I would have never let anyone destroy your temple, mother. I would have protected you" And, as if, he got an answer " Is it you who protect me or is it me who protects you" (I will like the group members to ponder on this incident) And then there was a change in his attitude. He realised that he was an instrument in the hands of the divine will. So here we see a very bad shot hit at practical vedant! And to be frank (today), I could never make sense of practical vedant, because if you are realised then you don't go for material quests (no desires) and if you are not realised, then just knowing the concept won't actually help. But this doesn't make any difference to advaita vedant because it has to be talked in context of only a God realised person.

Now in context of question 1, I will present my own understanding of Swamiji. I feel that as swamiji was an incarnation, he was a non-doer. He was there to spread a message and at the time of his existence, practical vedant was the right message for the society. Therefore, he delivered it through his lectures, but once he realised his true nature and state (during his end time), he realised himself as an instrument of divine will and the karma theory. He had forgotten his real state at will of Sri Ramakrishna for sake of the world. And a realised person doesn't need any mission for himself, no aim, no desires, nothing....but Vivekanand was not pursuing his own desires but the divine desires. I may have strayed off from the main question!! But this is my interpretation.

The second question had to be answered in another mail, but I never got time to compose it.


Other articles:

Article on the relevance of religion and why it is dimishing in the present generation Article on the relevance of karmic theory in context of the advaita philosophy
Article on the philosophy followed by Sri Ramakrishna Article on the logic behind spiritual studies


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