Ramakrishna Paramhansa (1836-1886) highlighted the essential unity of religions and the need to lead a spiritual life. He believed that the different religions of the world are only different ways to reach the same god. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was his foremost disciple.
Vivekananda was the first spiritual leader who thought beyond religious reforms. He felt that Indian masses needed secular as well as spiritual knowledge to empower them to believe in themselves. Vivekananda established the Ramakrishna mission after the name of his guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Through his speeches and writings, he brought out the essence of Hindu culture and religion.
The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the Divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do not strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith in himself or itself, death comes. Believe first in yourself, and then in God. – Swami Vivekananda.
He believed in the spirit of Vedanta and the essential unity and equality of all religions. He laid stress on the removal of religious superstitions, obscurantism, and outdated social customs. He tried to remove caste rigidities, and untouchability. He motivated the people to respect women while he himself worked for women’s upliftment and education. Vivekananda attached primary importance to the removal of ignorance among the people.