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Author: Swami Ghanananda
Swami Vireswarananda/Several Contributors
Translator(s)/ Editors(s): Swami Sarvabhutannda
Publisher: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
ISBN/UPC (if available): 9789381325223
The title and rational for this volume deserves explanation. First, the word ‘culture’ is a complex term encompassing multiple facets and conveying various shades of meaning. At the risk of oversimplification, one may hold culture to mean whatever distinguishes a particular people from another, geographically and temporally. These geographical and temporal demarcations are generally done on the basis of materials, ideas, linguistics, religion and personal characteristics.
Inter-cultural dialogue is an important means for fostering inter-national understanding and peace, while intra-cultural dialogue is an important means for maintaining communal harmony.
Given the heterogeneous nature of world civilization and the pluralistic nature of India’s own population, religion, language, race, and culture, it is inevitable that over time there would be tensions that disrupt the tenor of harmony behind diversity – both at the national and the international arenas. When such tensions lead to antagonism there arises the need to restore balance by revolving back to time tested principles.
These principles hold good irrespective of time, place and circumstance and are embedded in the knowledge portion of the Vedas. They refer to not only the Ultimate reality or ontology, but to the means of realizing the ultimate Reality that have been periodically reinvigorated by the advent of exceptional manifestations of the divine.
Swami Vivekananda, in his article entitled, ‘The Hindu Religion and Sri Ramakrishna’ and in his two lectures that are published as ‘My Master’ argues that Sri Ramakrishna ‘is the reformed mani-festation of the ancient holy founders of the religions of the past’. His advent is essentially to set in motion a trajectory or a ‘wave of adjustment’ for achieving intra and inter-cultural harmony by reverting to the essential principles of the Vedas.
The Rg-Vedic declaration ‘Ekam sat Vipra bahudha vadanti’ resonates in the later pauranic period in the Bhagavad-Gita as ‘Ye yatha man prapadyente tamstatthaiva bhajamyaham. Here mam’ does not refer to Sri Krsna alone, but to ‘Ajopi san avyatma…’ or ‘Ekam sat’ of the Rg-Veda. Most recently Sri Ramakrishna revived the spirit of harmony through his realization ‘Yato mat tato path’, where ‘Yato mat’ refers to the different readings of the one sat or existence, analogues to ‘vipra bahudha vadanti’.
This is testimony to India’s spirit of not only tolerance, but acceptance of diversity. This diversity is not only with respect to conceiving the divine but also approaching it. The continuity of principles such as this, the celebration of diversity and the openness for synthesis are all hallmarks of Indian culture.
The present volume entitled Aspects of Indian Culture by the Monks of the Ramakrishna order is essentially a collection of all the articles that were written by the monks of the Ramakrishna order and published in the cultural heritage of India.
Biographical information of the Contributors
Part 1 – Vedic Basis to Indian Culture
1. The Vedas and their Religious teachings by Swami Sharvananda
2. The Dawn of Indian Philosophy by Swami Madhavananda
3. A Bird’s eye view of the Upanisads by Swami Madhavananda
Part 2 – Vedic Resonance in the Epics and Puranas
4. The Culture of the Ramayana by Swami Nihsreyasananda
5. The Teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita by Swami Shuddhananda
6. The Religion in the Bhagavad-Gita by Swami Tapasyananda
7. The Bhagavad-Gita : Its Synthetic Character by Swami Vireswarananda
8. Philosophy of the Bhagavata by Swami Tyagishananda
Part 3 – Systematization, Practice and Experience of Vedic Philosophy and Spirituality
9. Upanisadic Meditation by Swami Gambhirananda
10. Indian Theism by Swami Hiranmayananda
11. A Glimpse into Hindu Religious Symbolism by Swami Yatiswarananda
12. Extra-Sensory and Super-Conscious experiences by Swami Akhilananda
13. Pilgrimages and Fairs – Their Bearing on Indian Life by Swami Pavitrananda
Part 4 – The Spirit of Harmony in Indian Culture
14. Vedanta and Science by Swami Tejasananda
15. The Origin and growth of Tamil literature by Swami Vipulananda
Part 5 – The Continuity of Vedic Culture in the Modern World
16. Sri Ramakrishna and the spiritual renaissance by Swami Nirvedananda
17. Philosophical Ideas of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda by Swami Bhajanananda