By Jyotirmaya Sharma
Sharma’s illuminating narrative is a wonderful reexamination of 1 of India’s such a lot debatable spiritual figures and a desirable examine of the symbiosis of Indian background, faith, politics, and nationwide identity. It is an important tale for someone attracted to the evolution of 1 of the world’s nice religions and its function in shaping modern India.
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During this 3rd installment of his accomplished historical past of “India’s faith” and reappraisal of Hindu id, Professor Jyotirmaya Sharma bargains an interesting portrait of Swami Vivekananda and his courting along with his guru, the mythical Ramakrishna. Sharma’s paintings makes a speciality of Vivekananda’s reinterpretation and formula of numerous Indian non secular and mystical traditions and practices as “Hinduism” and the way it served to create, distort, and justify a countrywide self-image.
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Additional resources for A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism
78. , pp. 603-4. In the Bengal Vaishnava tradition, bhakti is classified as Samanya-bhakti, Sadhana-bhakti, Bhava-bhakti and Prema-bhakti. Sadhana-bhakti is further classified into Vaidhi-bhakti and Raganuga-bhakti. In Raganuga-bhakti, the aspirant attempts to meditate on the feelings of the people of Vraja towards Krishna and make efforts to live physically or mentally in the same state as the people of Vraja did for Krishna. They consider Krishna as the only male in Vraja and so their worship to him can only realize the ecstatic passion required to simulate the state of gopis in Vraja when they see themselves as females.
While it is no surprise that Ramakrishna looked at him ‘steadfastly’ and fell into a trance, Vivekananda losing outward consciousness is unusual; Vivekananda had little sympathy for Ramakrishna’s trances and often termed them as hallucinations. Also, having stated that ‘She’ whom Ramakrishna used to call Kali entered his body, he does not actually directly acknowledge Kali entering his body but equates that experience to a subtle force like an electric shock. Equally puzzling is why Ramakrishna, who was a sanyasi, would feel like a ‘beggar’ after having given his ‘all’ to Vivekananda.
What do you understand of religion? You are only good at praying with folded hands, ‘O Lord! how beautiful is Your nose! ’ and all such nonsense... As if God is such an easy thing to be achieved! 22 Bhakti and the primacy of attaining God as outlined by Ramakrishna are to be brushed aside. But Vivekananda also seems to know God’s mind and even God’s distaste for imbeciles. The outburst above is not merely one where Ramakrishna’s idea of bhakti in its pure devotional form clashes with Vivekananda’s credo of study, public preaching and doing humanitarian work; Vivekananda’s religious nationalism appropriates and refashions Ramakrishna beyond recognition: You think you have understood Shri Ramakrishna better than myself!