Visions, Teaching, Swamis & Gurus
Hinduism has always recognised the contextual element in religious teachings. It recognises that every spiritual personality will offer teachings that are most suited to the needs of a society at that period in history. Hence the teachings of every prophet will reflect a contextual dimension. Recognising the contextual elements in every religious teaching is essential if we wish to reconcile different religious world-views.
Each proponent of religion will invoke and infuse spiritual teaching that fits the need of that society. The ethical and moral dimension of their teachings will necessarily reflect this need and limitation.
Though the teachings and lifestyles of ancient prophets may not necessarily be suited to the needs of modern humans, they are expressions of spiritual aspirations of different ages.
These ancient and modern figures are wonderful role models for the rest of society. They show the need to strive for higher aspirations and experience God personally. A recent day example is Ramana Maharshi. (1879-1950). He epitomised humility and peace, and experienced God as his essential nature. He urged people to seek God through self-enquiry.
Swami Ramdas who viewed God as a personality, Rama, accepted that whatever happened to him, good or bad, was the will of Rama, and taught that people must become an instrument in the hands of God, thereby eliminating the ego. Such God-realised personalities tell people how to make spiritual progress while living in the midst of materialism. They tell humans to live with a spirit of detachment from the world, treating everything as their own but knowing in their hearts that in reality it is all transient. The only reality is God.
Recent figures such as Swami Ramdas (1884-1963) are living example of how faith can destroy the ego, and how God realisation is possible.
Ramakrishna (1836-1886) is another wonderful example of a proponent of Hinduism. He taught that faith or love in God is not something that has to be cultivated; it springs up naturally when one overcomes worldly desires.