Our New Ashrama
The purpose of a new Vedanta Ashrama in the name of Sri Ramakrishna is to provide a guide, to keep up the spiritual values in society through the lives and teachings of men and women of realization. Sri Ramakrishna is such an ideal. Realization of God is the message his life presents. For facilities of transferring spiritual ideas a group is necessary. A group requires some common practices. Realization is putting into practice the ideas and some common practices which are standardized, and that is called ritual. Rituals should be meaningful. Spiritual teachings give the values necessary for life, and people develop the capacity through practice. Character is repeated habits, said Swami Vivekananda. Society and individuals need self-mastery. Quiet thinking and effort to have self-control as a technique, is meditation. It helps in spiritual realization, which is the ultimate goal of life. Even a little practice of spiritual values saves one from real danger, says the Gita. Even if some people feel they don’t need such groups and practices for themselves, at least they should support them for keeping up the values and atmosphere for the later generations to imbibe the culture, including the practices.
Swami Vivekananda recommended maintaining a private shrine to Protestant America in the 1890’s. Meditating and unburdening to God in a corner of the house would gradually gather the vibrations, which will be uplifting whenever one goes there. That is the basic idea of a church or a temple. There are many religions and many systems. Many religions support the congregational method of prayer. Sri Ramakrishna was the harmonizer of all religions through his life and Vedantic ideals. That is why he is considered as the best among the humanized Gods. As the highest peak is the one from which one can see every other peak, so through Sri Ramakrishna one can appreciate all other religions. Many people are more impressed since Sri Ramakrishna was photographed and his form is not imaginary.
Sri Ramakrishna had direct perception of the Divine; and that is the ultimate proof of religion. Mahatma Gandhi said that his life helps us to see God face to face. The need for real spirituality is in every person, because it is the organic necessity. Religion could not be thrown out by Communistic or other materialistic systems. Religions often speak about the transitory nature of human life. Sri Ramakrishna stresses the positive aspect of God realization. There is some goal in the midst of impermanence. That gives a positive value to our life and activities. He teaches the highest virtues like unselfishness, truthfulness, renunciation, and service. Swami Vivekananda used to say that if there is God, no amount of sacrifice matters, and if there is no God, what does our life matter?
Such an ideal is the necessity of this age. A spiritual center enshrining these ideas is very necessary for us. These Ashramas are meant for practicing, preserving, and preaching these high ideals. May Sri Ramakrishna inspire us all.