Volume 45, 2008
Philosophy of Religion
Swami Vivekananda’s Vision
Swami Vivekananda formulated religious universalism for solving various issues of society. Religion, for him was realization. He gave a wide definition of religion in the form of humanism. Religion does not just teach man to refrain from evils but it is doing well for others. If religion is understood in correct sense, much of our social evils in the society would be solved. It did not consist of doctrines or dogmas. For him being religious did not mean being Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist etc. and following a set of rituals of that particulars religion. On the other hand, being religious meant that a man is on his quest towards realizing God. If such a notion of religion is accepted then there is undoubtedly no difference between any two religions. Vivekanand stressed that each religion lays down the path to be followed in order to attain the ultimate. For him various religions are but different paths leading to the same goal. Swamiji’s teachings underlined unity, accepting all possible diversity. Talking of the multiplicity of religions he says, that society is richer which has greater number of occupations in it, so the world of thought also gets enriched as the number of religions increases.
He proclaimed that in Vedanta lies the basis of all religions. The Vedanta applied to the various ethnic customs and creeds of India is Hinduism. He gave equal significance to physical as well as spiritual planes. Vivekananda’s Advaitic philosophy was aimed at making people religious in real sense of the term. In his manner he spread the Vedantic gospel all his life. This timely speaks of the two greatest influences on Vivekananda, that of Upanishads and his Guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa, who not only taught but ‘lived’ religion.
As Vedanta could harmonise the divergent trends of various religions, Vivekananda found it to be the most suitable philosophy on which he could found the concept of universal religion. By universal religion, he did not mean any one set of myths, rituals and philosophical tenets. It only means acceptance of variety and harmony of all variations. Different religions should be looked upon as the different stages of growth.