Contributions to World Culture
One of the important contributions of Sri Ramakrishna is the reestablishment of the ideal of God realization in the modern world. In a world in which people’s faith in traditional religions has been considerably reduced by the relentless attack of the forces of atheism, materialism and scientific thinking, Sri Ramakrishna established the possibility of having direct experience of transcendent Reality. His life has enabled thousands of people to gain or regain faith in God and in the eternal verities of religion. As Mahatma Gandhi has stated: “His (Ramakrishna’s) life enables us to see God face to face. No one can read the story of his life without being convinced that God alone is real and that all else is an illusion.”
Harmony of Religions
Sri Ramakrishna, however, is more well known all over the world as the Prophet of Harmony of Religions. He did not say that all the religions are the same. He recognized differences among religions but showed that, in spite of these differences, all religions lead to the same ultimate goal, and hence they are all valid and true. This view is nowadays known as “Pluralism”: Sri Ramakrishna is its primary originator. The uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna’s view is that it was based, not on speculation, but on direct experience gained through actual practice. Since conflicts among religions and the rise of religious fundamentalism are a major threat to the peace, prosperity and progress of humanity, Sri Ramakrishna’s doctrine of harmony of religions has immense importance in the modern world. Regarding this, the distinguished British historian Arnold Toynbee has written: “… Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence and Sri Ramakrishna’s testimony to the harmony of religions: here we have the attitude and the spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together into a single family – and in the Atomic Age, this is the only alternative to destroying ourselves.”
Bridge between the ancient and the modern
Sri Ramakrishna is the real link between the ancient and the modern. He showed how the ancient ideals and experiences could be realized even while following the normal modern way of life.
Boost to moral life
Sri Ramakrishna’s emphasis on truthfulness and renunciation of lust and greed has given a great boost to moral life in modern times. He also cleansed religious life of immoral practices, external pomp, miracle mongering, etc.
Divinization of love
Sri Ramakrishna elevated love from the level of emotions to the level of the unity of all Selves in God. Although the principle of oneness of the Supreme Self and its immanence in all beings is a central point in the Upanishads, it was seldom applied in practical life. Sri Ramakrishna saw the Divine in his wife, in his disciples, in others, even in fallen women, and treated them all with respect. The famous dictum of the New Testament, “God is Love”, found its verification in Sri Ramakrishna. Divinization of love and human relationships is another contribution of Sri Ramakrishna which has immense significance for the welfare of humanity.