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Practical Spirituality (An Old and Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAE273
Author: Swami Lokeswarananda
Publisher: The Ramakrishna Mission
Edition: 2018
ISBN: 9788185843139
Pages: 272
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 7.0 inch x 5.0 inch
Weight 230 gm
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Book Description
Introduction

All Indians will know of the Ramakrishna Mission and many Indians, especially if they are Bengalis, will know, or know of, Swami Lokeswarananda, the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Calcutta, one of the most important educational institutions of that great city. The Swami has had a long career of devoted service, both to the great organization of which he is a member and to humanity at large. What follows may be common knowledge to many Indian readers of this book, but it is mainly intended for non-Indians, and it is hoped that many non-Indians will read this book, which reflects the ethics of modern, reformed Hinduism better than any other book known to me.

The Ramakrishna Mission was founded in 1897 by Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest of modern Indians, on the basis of the teaching of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, of whom he was the devoted disciple. These names recur frequently in Swami Lokeswarananda’s articles, and their importance in the history of ‘the Indian Renaissance’ cannot be exaggerated. The Ramakrishna Mission is today the foremost organization for the propagation of a reformed Hinduism emancipated from the caste prejudices and ritualism accumulated over many centuries, and its religious activities are accompanied by much social work among the poor and by educational projects designed to help Indians to understand their own cultural background.

The book which I have been given the honour of introducing consists of a number of short essays originally contributed to the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. They are not in any rigid sequence and the reader who has only a little time may sample them in any order; but if he goes through the book from beginning to end he will obtain a very clear picture of the moral and ethical thinking of a modern Hindu, a highly educated man who, for all his long career in a monastic order, has kept in touch with everyday contemporary life, and with the drives and needs of ordinary people. Some of his advice may seem rather like a counsel of perfection but behind it all there seems to be an implicit recognition that the ordinary reader will not be persuaded to alter his way of life drastically, but will nevertheless be inspired by these writings to think harder about his own moral position and perhaps to change it for the better.

The western reader may be impressed by the numerous references to Jesus Christ, who is more than once linked with the Buddha and with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as one of the rare examples of perfected humanity who arise in the world from time to ‘time. This does not mean, however, that the author is on the way to becoming a Christian in any real sense of the term. Most modern Hindu reformers have been in varying measure influenced by Christianity. Ramakrishna became for some time to all intents and purposes a Christian, and had a very vivid vision of jesus; but he also became a Muslim in the same manner, and as a result of his spiritual experiments he uttered his famous dictum ‘All religions are true’ Mahatma Gandhi loved the Christian gospels, and made use of them to reinforce his doctrine of non-violent resistance to oppression. Swami Lokeswarananda borrows themes and concepts from Christianity for his own purposes. It cannot be over-emphasized that Hinduism is an inclusive religion. ‘Whatever God you worship, I answer the prayer,’ says the incarnate Cod Krishna in as many words in the Bhagavad Gita, an attitude diametrically opposite to the Hebrew ‘Thou shalt have no other gods beside me’, inherited by the older forms of Christianity. From many passages in this book the reader will realize that modern Hinduism is comprehensive and all- inclusive. To attain the highest bliss one does not even need to be a’ Hindu. The message of Swami Lokeswarananda is that the goal is hard to attain and may demand tremendous effort and self-sacrifice, but it is open to everyone, even to the man who declares himself an unbeliever in-any organized religion.

The doctrines of the Ramakrishna Mission-are based on the ancient scriptures known as Upanishads, as interpreted by the non-dualist (Advaita) Vedanta of the great philosopher Sankara (c. A.D. BOO). Sankara formulated a brilliant metaphysical system, which maintains that the only entity in the universe-which is absolutely real is Brahman, an impersonal spirit underlying all appearance, which have only a qualified reality. On ultimate analysis this Brahman is identical with the inmost self of every being, known as atma. In order to achieve the highest state of permanent bliss the individual. personality must fully merge itself in the absolute Brahman so that no trace of selfhood remains. It must be emphasized that this is only one among several schools of Hindu philosophy; there are others which maintain the ultimacy of a personal Cod and the eternity of the individual soul, which never completely loses its individuality. But this non-dualist doctrine has had the greatest influence on the intellectual Hinduism of the present day, and this is the system which Swami Lokeswarananda interprets for his readers. Nowhere does he reject outright the existence of a personal God, but for him the ultimate divinity is the pure impersonal being which is one with the human soul; and all earnest seekers after truth should strive for full reali7ation of that identity, when they will achieve a state of bliss which is indescribable in words, but which many saints and sages at all times have experienced.

The Swamis approach, however, is not one of withdrawal or life-denial, and for him the seeker of the highest bliss is not cut off from the world. F6llowing the example of Vivekananda, he plays a full part in the drama of human affairs; but behind his efforts is a calm detachment. His greatest service to mankind is not in helping to establish and develop hospitals for the sick, kitchens for the hungry, or educational institutions for those seeking knowledge. Rather it is in the example he sets by showing his fellow-men the heights which the human spirit nay achieve by its own efforts.

I am very pleased and proud to have been invited to introduce this book, which, rather than the writings of some of the miracle workers and ‘streamlined swamis’ who pullulate nowadays both in India and the West, will introduce to the world some of the finest ethical thoughts of the twentieth century.

 

**Contents and Sample Pages**













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