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fwentieth Century

Swami Abhedananc

Works of Swami Abhedananda

How to be a Yogi ...

Nine Lectures Pt. I

Great Saviors of the World

Divine Heritage of Man

Self Knowledge

India & Her People (Half cloth)

Do (Paper)

Lectures and Addresses of

Swami Abhedananda (in India)
Spiritual Unfoldment
Philosophy of Work
Human Affection & Divine Love (Cloth)

Do ( Paper )

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Swami Abhedananda


Religion of The Twentieth


Author of "Self Knowledge" ; "India and Her People*
"Divine Heritage of Man" ; "How to be a
Yogi" ; "Re- incarnation" ; etc. etc. etc.

Ramakrishna Vedanta Society
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The Religion of the Twentieth

Twentieth Century may be called the age
of science and reason. In this age everything
that is based upon scientific truths or upon ra-
tional foundation appeals to our minds and
we accept it as truth. Science to-day, rules
over our thoughts and reason and our present
tendency is to make all physical and mental
activities harmonize with the laws explained
by modern science. Our general tendency is
to apply the truths of science in the acts of our
daily lives. In cooking, eating, drinking, dress-
ing, walking and in all avocations of life we
try to observe the laws of nature as discovered
by the scientists of to-day. We are now ready
to reject everything which is not approved by
the scientific thinkers of the world. Every day,
science is forcing us to remodel our old ideas,
to change our habit, to rebuild our dwelling
houses, and to reform our societies.


Religion of The Twentieth Century

Scientific investigations have opened before
our eyes the doors of the unknown realms of
the universe. With the help of the torch-light
of modern science we are now able to see the
vastness and grandeur of the phenomenal uni-
verse and the most exquisite beauty and perfec-
tion, in every minute detail of the objects of
nature from the smallest to the largest. Science
has revealed to us the prof oundest depths of
nature and has taken the seekers after truth,
step by step, along the path of evolution into
the realm of the finer forces that operate upon
the invisible particles of matter known as atoms
and molecules. Scientific researches have not
only explained the constituent elements which
produce the phenomenal objects, but have
lately revealed to us that those which were
so long known as atoms are not in reality in-
divisible units. There are particles fiuer than
atoms. Each atom can be sub-divided into
a thousand corpuscles or electrons which make
up its body and form. Each of these electrons

Religion of The Twentieth Centuey

may be called an etherial centre of force similar
to negative electricity. Governed by the Law
of Attraction and Repulsion these electrons pro-
duce atoms, molecules and elements of nature.

To-day, the light of new knowledge has
dawned upon the horizon of our minds and
with its help we can see things which were
unknown to the thinkers of the past centuries.
Science has also demonstrated that the various
forces of nature, like electricity, heat, light,
motion, gravitation are nothing but so many
expressions, so many manifestations of one
eternal Cosmic Energy.

Modern science has disproved, as we all
know, the Theory of a Special Creation in a
definite period of time, but, on the contrary,
it has shown that this world has come to its
present state through a gradual process of
evolution which must have lasted for millions
and millions of years. By this Theory of
Evolution, modern science has given a death-
blow to the Biblical Cosmogony which depend-

Religion of The Twentieth Century

ed upon the Theory of a Special Creation.

The astronomical discoveries of the present
century have shown the most wonderful things
of the visible universe. Modern astronomy
teaches us that the distance to the sun from
this earth is only ninety-three millions of miles.
Most of the planets are over one hundred
millions of miles away from us and the dia-
meter of the solar system is only six-thousand
millions of miles , and to cross this space, light
travelling at the rate of one hundred and
eighty -six thousand miles per second, would
take only nine minutes to reach us. The near-
est star beyond our solar system is so distant
that the light emanating from that star, takes
three and one-half years to reach our earth.
Some of these stars are so remote that the light
which we see from them to-day, probably left
them long before Jesus was born, before the
Egyptian pyramid was built, nay, long before
the earth was created, according, to the Theory
of Genesis. Perhaps when that light reaches

Religion of The Twentieth Century

our planet, the star from which it emanated
centuries ago, has become extinct in the mean-
time. Think of the immensity of space and
vastness of the universe and conceive of the
time when these luminaries first appeared in
the heavens and compare your conception with
the stories of creation which you have learnt
from your childhood.

The Geological researches of this century
have shown that the first appearance of man on
earth was not six thousand years ago, as the
Christian Bible teaches, but in the Tertiary
period which goes way back beyond 50, 000 or
100,000 years from to-day.

Comparative Anatomy and Physiology have
proved that human organism was not the result
of a Special Creation as described in Genesis,
but that it was closely related to the organism
of the lower animals. It was the result of the
gradual process of evolution from a lower
form to a higher one. Furthermore, it has been
scientifically demonstrated that the life-prin-

Religion op The Twentieth Century

ciple manifests itself not only through animal
forms but also through vegetables and even
through inorganic metals. We have learnt to-day
that the plants have eyes and other senses, that
they have something like a nervous system,
pulsation, heartbeat and the power to feel pain
etc. Those who have read Sir J. C. Bose's
famous book entitled "Response in the Living
and Non-living" will remember that ordinary
metal like iron or tin manifests life-force and
responds to an electric shock in the same man-
ner as a living tissue or a muscle of a living
animal. This discovery has revolutionised our
conception of life and nonlife. Moreover, it
has emphasized that old truth mentioned in
the Vedas that life-force or Prana is one and
universal, although its manifestations are

Biology has disproved the old Theory that

God breathed life into the nostrils of the first

man before he became a living animal, as if

the lower animals had no breath of life at all ;


Religion of The Twentieth Centuky

on the contrary, it has proved that the
minutest protoplasm or bioplasm or amoeba
possesses life ; nay, the whole universe is
filled with the eternal life-principle or vital
energy, that there is no such thing as dead
matter, and that the life of a man is not the
result of some supernatural intervention, but
that it is as natural as the life of plants and
of lower animals.

Comparative Psychology has taught us that
the lower animals have not been created for
man's food but that they have sensation, feeling
reasoning, memory and many other mental
faculties like those of ours ; that they are as
valuable in the economy of nature as we are.
We have learnt that mind is as much subject
to evolution and growth as the gross physical
body. The scientific investigations into the
constitution of the mind have proved very
recently that the mental functions are the re-
sults of the vibrations of the finest etherial
particles ; and that thought-force is most inti-

Religion op The Twentieth Century

mately correlated to the physical forces. As
physical science has proved that the life-principle
is one and universal and has also explained by
the Theory of Evolution, persistence of energy
and correlation of forces, that all the various
forces of nature are but the expressions of one
eternal energy, so mental science has proved
the same unity in variety on the mental plane.

Thought-transference and telepathy have
proved that the individual minds are united to
one another, that they are like so many eddies
in the eternal current of the Cosmic Mind.
Every thought which we think, touches and
influences the minds of other persons whether
they are near to us or far away ; the distance
on the physical plane does not affect our
mental conditions.

As on the physical plane wireless-telegraphy
has brought us above space relations, and has
revealed to us how powerful is the atmos-
pheric electric current, so thought-transference
and telepathy have brought us above space

Religion of The Twentieth Century

relations, and it has also shown that the
atmospheric thought current is infinitely more
powerful than the thought current that is
manifested through individual centres, just as
wireless telegraphy has shown that the atmos-
pheric electric current is much more powerful
than electricity produced by artificial means.
Now, we know that if we can harmonize our
mental conditions or the vibrations of our own
minds, by tuning them in harmony with the
vibrations of the cosmic mind, then, we can
make ourselves the store-house of infinite
powers and infinite possibilities.

The result of the psychological studies with
the help of powerful microscopes, has broad-
ened our views of life and mind to such an
extent that now we are able to say positively
that wherever there is the expression of life,
there is also the manifestation of certain
functions of what we call mind. All the
discoveries of the higher laws and finer forces
of nature, and all the inventions of scientific

Religion of The Twentieth Century

instruments of the present century have testi-
fied the fact that human intelligence and will
power are but the expressions of the All-know-
ing Intelligence and Almighty Will-power of

the Divine Being.

Again, the scientific Monism of this century
has given an irreparable blow to the old
dualistic theory that mind and matter were two
separate entities and that one was the cause
of the other. Now we know that matter and
mind are but the objective and subjective
manifestations of one substance or Reality
which is called by modern science the Unknown
and the Unknowable. Herbert Spencer says :
''Matter, motion and force are not the reality
but the symbols of Reality." He also says in
his Psychology : ''The same reality is manifes-
ted objectively and subjectively." It expresses
in the objective world as matter ; in the subjec-
tive world as mind ; in the objective world as
gravitation, electricity, heat and motion ; in
the subjective world as intellect, understanding

Religion of The Twentieth Century

emotion, will etc. The Reality is one but the
manifestations are diversified. Thus, the
ultimate conclusion of the Monistic science is
unity in variety. Through the help of this
monistic science we can now say positively
that the material and efficient causes of the
universe are in one substance or Being, which
is the common source of all mental and physical

The students of modern science can no longer
believe in a Creator who dwells outside the
nature, who commands from His heavenly
abode and creates the universe out of nothing.
Modern science has discarded the old absurd
idea that something could be created out of
nothing. It has also given sufficient evidence
by which it can be proved that like matter, the
germ of life is uncreatable and indestructible
and that this germ of life is subject to the Law
of Causation. It possesses infinite potentialities
and unlimited possibilities. Parents do not
create these germs of life or the individual

Religion op The Twentieth Century

souls as we call them, but they become the
principal channels through which the germs
of life manufacture gross physical bodies and
manifest those powers which are already
latent in them. This truth of science has
destroyed the foundation of the old belief that
the germs of life or individual souls were
created fresh at the time of the birth of a child
by an extra-cosmic Being. Moreover, by
proving the indestructibility of the germ of
life and of the life-force, the problem of birth
and death has been brought at the door of the
truth of pre-existence and of continuity of
existence after death.

To-day we know that we can never die, or
can never be destroyed or absolutely annihila-
ted : but that there will be other manifes-
tations so long as the germs of life will con-
tinue to exist. This leads us to the theory of
rebirth or re-incarnation.

The theory of re-incarnation, again, makes
the germs of life or individual souls act as free

Religion op The Twentieth Century

agents, reaping the results of their own thoughts
and deeds, being subject to the law of cause
and sequence. They mould their own future,
-create their own destiny and being subject to
evolution, they rise from lower to higher stages
and progress onward to the ultimate goal.
They are indestructible ; and they continue to
exist whether on this plane or on some other.
This has helped us to realize the truth of the
greatest philosophers of India, that the Souls
are immortal and eternal by their birthright.
They mean by 'Soul' the same thing which
modern science means by the germ of life.

Thus, by studying various branches of
science we learn that unity in variety is the
plan of nature, that there is one ultimate sub-
stance which is the material and efficient cause
of the universe, that the germs of life are
uncreated and indestructible and that they are
free agents.

Now these are the most salient points on
which science has been at war with the dualis-

Religion of The Twentieth Century

tic religions of the world. In ancient times
religion performed the function of science in
trying to explain the phenomena and their
causes. But now, the discoveries of modern
science have shown the errors and mistakes
which were committed by orthodox theologians
and religious teachers of the various sects of
the world. Consequently, they have been
left far behind by the advanced scientific
thinkers of the present age.

The result of this fight between science and
religion which finally began in the last century
has not ended yet. All the existing great
religions have been shaken to their very
foundations. Various attempts have been made
to harmonize religion with science but all such
attempts have ended in complete failure. Now,
science has become stronger in power than the
existing religions. Sectarian religions are
struggling hard to keep up with the progress of
science and are obliged to reject those theories
and beliefs which were based upon tradition

Religion of The Twentieth Century

and not upon scientific truths.

Not very long ago, the Dean ofWestminister
Abbey, London, said in the course of an
address : "That much which was accepted
literally by our forefathers could not be ac-
cepted literally by us to-day. The first chapter
of Genesis no longer means to us that the
world was made in six days. The second
chapter of Genesis no longer means to us that
God moulded clay into a human figure and
breathed upon it or that, He took a rib from
Adam and made Eve. These and many other
stories like that of the talking serpent and the
talking ass, we do not take now as historical
facts, but as imagery which clothed certain
spiritual lessons."

Most deplorable is the mental condition of
those who still cling to the belief that the
scriptural texts are the revealed words of God
and that they are infallible. The eyes of the
masses are now opened to scientific truths and
the world now demands absolute harmony

Religion of The Twentieth Century

between religion and science.

Thus, when the scientific minds of Europe
and America took their stand against super-
natural revelation and showed its errors by
impartial criticism the ready-witted defenders
of the traditional religion tried their best to
avoid the conflict between religion and science
and to support the theological dogmas either
by taking shelter under history and calling
their religion historical, or by making it stand
on faith alone, because faith according to them
is above all criticism.

But the archeological researches and the
higher cirticisms of the old and new Testa-
ments have enlightened the minds of the
present generation by explaining the origin,
authorship and the dates of the composition
of each of the canonized books of the Christian
Scriptures. If we study the various religious
scriptures of the world, we shall find that one
religion is just as good as any other, and that
one set of scriptural writings which claims to

Religion of The Twentieth Century

be a direct revelation of God, has just as much
argument for such a claim as the others have.
If we accept one Scripture as the revealed
Word of God, we shall have to accept all the
Scriptures of the world. We cannot reject any.
If, for instance, we accept the Christian Bible
as the revealed Word of God, we shall have to
accept the Vedas, the Koran, the Zend-Avesta,
because the reason and arguments given in
each case are exactly the same. Furthermore,
comparative study of the various religions of
the world has taught us a great lesson that no
religion whether great or small ever had a
supernatural origin, but that every religion, on
the contrary, is the natural result of the
attempts of the human mind to grasp the truths
and to explain the mysteries of the pheno-
menal universe.

The comparative mythology has shown that
mythical elements exist in the Christian
Scriptures just as much as among the non-
Christian Bibles of the world. Some myths
2 17

Religion op The Twentieth Century

were but personifications of natural forces or
events, some were the developments of
metaphors, some were the survivals of early
superstition ; while others were the exagger-
ated accounts or descriptions of some real
events in the life of some great spiritual leader
or holy personage who was * diefied by the

Prof, Bacon of Yale University says : "The
earliest narratives of Genesis are already pro-
phetic in character, because they turn to the
mass of mere folk-tale and legend current in
the eighth or ninth Century before Christ".

Regarding Abraham, for instance, the learn-
ed Professor says : "The figure of Abraham
appears purely and simply as the type of pre-
historic Israel brought from the far off East by
Yahveh to inherit the land of Cannan". He
also says : "The Abraham of the New Testa-
ment would not be the historic figure, if there
were one ; it would be but the ideal heir of
Yahveh. The true Abraham is the ideal and

Religion op The Twentieth Century

this Abraham lived only in the minds of Pro-
phets and Seers". The story of the Deluge
and Noah's Ark has been proved to be absurd
and meaningless by Huxley and other scientists.
A parallel for the story of Noah, is to be found
in the mythological story of Deulcilion among
the ancient Greeks ; such stories existed among
the ancient Hindus, the Chinese and other

The accounts of immaculate conception and
of the virgin birth are to be found in connec-
tion with the lives of all the great Saviours of
the world, most of whom lived long before
Christ was born. The healing miracles of
iEsculapius (Esclepius), the ancient Greek
physician, suggested those of the New Testa-
ment. Thus, we see that the scientific research-
es of the 19th Century have removed the
historical prop of the traditional religions.

Those who believe that Christian religion
stands on faith alone, abuse the true meaning
of the word "Faith" and mistake the sheerest

Eeligion of The Twentieth Century

credulity for it. According to most of them
"Faith" is another word for that which the old
Father Tertullian meant by "Belief", that is,
Credo quia impossible est I believe, because
it is impossible. But scientific minds do not
care to entertain this kind of belief or blind
faith ; they are not ready to give such an un-
certain foundation to the religion of the 20th

The Harmony of Religion and Science

The Twentieth Century needs a religion
which will be in perfect harmony with all the
truths discovered by modern science, which
must be based upon the principle of unity
in variety, and which should regard the mate-
rial and efficient cause of the universe as one
and the same.

The Twentieth Century needs a religion
which will advocate freedom of thought, free-
dom of speech and at the same time, which
will be in perfect harmony with the conclu-

Religion of The Twentieth Century

sions of modern scientific researches ; a religion
which will harmonize with the monistic
philosophy, and every step of which shall be
founded u,pon the solid rock of truth, unassail-
able by the critics whether of higher or of
lower order. As the spirit and ideal of modern
science have been absolute freedom of thought
and independence of the authority of books or
personalities and as its sole object has been the
discovery of truth and the worship of nothing
but Truth, so shall be the spirit, ideal and
object of that religion which will be fitted for
the present century, which shall stand on the
adamantine rock of truths, already discovered
by modern science. That true religion will
reign supreme over the minds of all the seekers
after Truth, who live in the present century.
In that religion of science there will be no
scheme of salvation ; no dogma of heaven or
hell ; no fear of eternal punishment.

The spiritualistic movement and the resear-
ches of the Psychical Societies have already

Religion op The Twentieth Century

given a death-blow to the dogma of hell-fire
and of eternal punishment. This is not a
small gain achieved by the Western people of
the present century. The system of religion
which is needed for the Twentieth Century,
must not be limited by sacerdotal institution,
must not acknowledge the divine right of the
priesthood, and must not be governed by the
authority of Scripture, of any book or persona-
lity, nor should it insist upon practising the
ceremonies and rituals which form merely the
non-essential parts of religion and which are
not absolutely necessary for the salvation of the
souls from eternal damnation.

The Twentieth Century needs a religion
which will not support any doctrine or dogma
which cannot be sustained by scientific reason-
ing. The Twentieth Century needs a religion
which will be free from all superstitious ideas,
doctrines and dogmas that give countenance
to the creation of the human being out of


Religion op The Twentieth Century

The Twentieth Century religion needs a
conception of God who is personal, impersonal,
and beyond both, and whose supreme aspect
will harmonize with the absolute Reality of
the universe called by different names, such
as the Substantia of Spinoza, Noumenon of
Herbert Spencer, the Good of Plato, the Over-
soul of Emerson, Ding an Sick or Transcen-
dental-Thing-in-itself of Kant etc., who is
transcendent as well as immanent and resident
in nature, and who is the Soul of our soul, and
the Life of our life. He should not be con-
fined by any particular name.

When we give a name and personality to
the Divine Being, we project our own ideas
and make God limited by our conception of
His personality. Why should God be limited
by our name or our conception of His persona-
lity ? We must realize Him as the infinite
Being, beyond all limitations of our concep-
tions, of our ideas ; and the Divine Being
should also harmonize with the highest ideals

Eeligion of The Twentieth Century

of the greatest philosophers of the world. In
that way, we shall find an absolute harmony
between religion and science.

The Twentieth Century needs a religion
which will harmonize with the ultimate
conclusions of all the great philosophers
of all countries and will be based upon


Online LibrarySwami AbhedanandaThe religion of the Twentieth Century → online text (page 1 of 2)