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Work For The Idea Not The Person – Swami Vivekananda – Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna taught his disciples not to make his person prominent. Being the chief of the disciples, Swami Vivekananda took upon himself the hard task of remaining true to Sri Ramakrishna’s precept. He was more for the propagation of Sri Ramakrishna’s ideas and cared less to project him as a person. He was very particular about this.

There arose much misunderstanding between him and some of his brother disciples over this issue. Those brother disciples who differed were of the opinion that he was not giving due importance to the Master and his uniqueness. He in turn tried to convince them that he was doing so only in accordance with Sri Ramakrishna’s wish and command, and that he was trying to preach his precepts in preference to his person.

Personally, he was convinced that as a person Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was infinitely greater than what even his disciples were capable of conceiving him to be. The originality, catholicity, and profundity of Sri Ramakrishna’s ideas were remarkable. Swami Vivekananda was, therefore, all for presenting those ideas to humanity at large and was least bothered whether the Master as a person was highlighted or not.

In his letter of 12 January 1895 to Alasinga Perumal, he wrote: The disciples of all the prophets have always inextricably mixed up the ideas of the Master with the person, and at last killed the ideas for the person. The disciples of Shri Ramakrishna must guard against doing the same thing. Work for the idea, not the person.’ (Letters of Swami Vivekananda (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2007), 198.)

Swami Vivekananda was keen that Sri Ramakrishna’s grand ideals be held high above all other things, in spite of criticism and denouncement. He wrote to Alasinga - I have a message to give, let me give it to the people who appreciate it and who will work it out. What care I who takes it? ‘He who doeth the will of my Father’ is my own’. Swami Vivekananda’s entire life was a burning illustration of the message he received from his Master. He was satisfied to be the ‘voice’ the ‘form’ being that of Sri Ramkrishna.

Source - excerpts from  article titled 'Swami Vivekananda: A Prophet with a Difference' by Swami Purnatmananda published in the February 2009 edition of Prabuddha Bharata Magazine.