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A PRICELESS JEWEL OF A BOOK...
on August 26, 2001
Over the course of my life, I have been presented on various occasions with texts described as being 'comparative' of different religions -- usually one religion being stood up against Christianity, the author being a Christian, in an attempt to debunk the teachings of non-Christian faiths. I saw those books as little more than thinly-veiled attempts at propaganda, attempts to spread the Christian message (as the authors saw it) to the 'unsaved, misled masses'.
This book, which I originally stumbled across quite by accident, couldn't be further in theme and temperament from that lot -- this is aboslutely the gentlest, most respectful, most loving book that I could imagine on the subject. It makes no attempts at conversion, but in a very scholarly -- yet very readable -- way, takes Christ's Sermon on the Mount (paying special attention to the Beatitudes and the Lord's Prayer) and makes line-by-line comparisons to the ancient teachings of Hinduism.
Prabhavananda was a monk of the Ramakrishna Order -- and one of Sri Ramakrishna's most fundamental teachings was the 'oneness of all religions', that, when sincerely believed and practiced, 'all paths lead to the same goal'. This incredible, tender book shows how deeply true his teachings were. Ramakrishna -- a Hindu saint of the 19th century who worshiped God in the form of the Divine Mother, and who experienced ecstatic visions of Christ, Mohammed and Buddha as well -- was one of the most unique, unpretentious, all-encompassing figures in any religion. He embraced them all. Would that we had, in this 'modern, civilized era', when people are still killing each other over the way they each worship God, a teacher so unifying, so true of heart, that could shine the light of wisdom on our folly.
Prabhavananda's book brings Ramakrishna's unifying word to modern readers in a wonderful way. I was touched to the core of my soul by this book -- I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who honestly, in their heart, practices ANY faith. It was written to unify, not to divide -- it could be treasured for that alone.
For anyone interested in further readings on Sri Ramakrishna, I can recommend THE GOSPEL OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA, or (if this 1000+ page volume is too 'heavy' for you) Lex Hixon's stunning book GREAT SWAN -- MEETINGS WITH RAMAKRISHNA.