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Swami Vivekananda on Uniqueness of Vedanta

This Vedanta philosophy has certain peculiarities. In the first place, it is perfectly impersonal; it does not owe its origin to any person or prophet: it does not build itself around one man as a centre. Yet it has nothing to say against philosophies, which do build themselves around certain persons.

In later days in India, other philosophies and systems arose, built around certain persons — such as Buddhism, or many of our present sects. _ ey each have a certain leader to whom they owe allegiance, just as the Christians and Mohammedans have. But the Vedanta philosophy stands at the background of all these various sects, and there is no fight and no antagonism between the Vedanta and any other system in the world.

One principle the Vedanta claims to be found in every religion in the world – that man is divine, that all this which we see around us is the outcome of that consciousness of the divine.

Everything that is strong, and good, and powerful in human nature is the outcome of that divinity, and though potential in many, there is no difference between man and man essentially, all being alike divine. There is, as it were, an infinite ocean behind, and you and I are so many waves, coming out of that infinite ocean; and each one of us is trying his best to manifest that infinite outside.


So potentially each one of us has that infinite ocean of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss as our birthright, our real nature; and the difference between us is caused by the greater or lesser power to manifest that divine.

Therefore the Vedanta lays down that each man should be treated not as what he manifests, but as what he stands for.

Each human being stands for the divine, and therefore, every teacher should be helpful, not by condemning man, but by helping him to call forth the divinity that is within him. It also teaches that all the vast mass of energy that we see displayed in society and in every plane of action is really from inside out; and therefore what is called inspiration by other sects, the Vedantist begs the liberty to call the expiration of man.

At the same time it does not quarrel with other sects; the Vedanta has no quarrel with those who do not understand this divinity of man. Consciously or unconsciously, every man is trying to unfold that divinity. Man is like an infinite spring, coiled up in a small box, and that spring is trying to unfold itself; and all the social phenomena that we see are the result of this trying to unfold.

Source - From The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2013), 1.398-99.