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Tagged as a "neo-hindu" by scholars, the death of Śrĩ Atmananda was also the loss of a sage, guru and philosopher. His direct teachings are also analysed by many Indian scholars.
Died on 14th May 1959
The most amazing thing about the Hindu religion is that it nullifies the need of Freud. This might sound too out of the box. But think of how the religion functions in the subcontinent. All those dramatic Bollywood film scenes where the bleeding hero or crying heroine reach the temple that looks like it will be blown away at any moment because of the high winds, go on a challenging dual with God. It is another matter that only the protagonist speaks while Gods listen in silence!
The Hindu Gods with their human forms and fascinating mythology connect much more intimately with their followers than any other distant God could. Moreover, there is a God for every problem! There are 330 million Gods in one religion. With so much diversity, the religion stands as one united whole. The reason behind it?
Hinduism is an evolving religion. It is not fixed like its brothers and sisters.
So when Vedas were losing their stand, Upanishads emerged that talked about one universal soul and all organisms as small parts of that brahman. Later, there were Shastras and Sutras, epic tales of great kings of the past, Puranas, and their stories on Gods. Even today, as we talk, newer texts are being written that will slightly change the path of religion. The water of Hinduism keeps flowing like a river!
The waterfall in this river was the Renaissance movement that brought a New Hinduism. While the terms remain contested, many things changed when the traditional Indian practices came face-to-face with the Western culture. Perhaps all for the good.
Some things were revived and others reformed. Prominent Hindus talked about the Brahmo Samaj, Ramakrishna Mission, and Rama-Rajya.
The Advaita Vedanta philosophy was the most explored because it propagated dualism. What emerged was called Neo-Hinduism and it had more connections with nationalist politics than with religion as it did not emerge in a shakha of Hinduism but the debates and discussions of politically important people.
This did not mean that Neo-Hinduism was limited to political circles. In Travancore, Kerala was born a boy, named P. Krishna Menon on his birth, who would go on to become a sage and philosopher, and follower of neo-Hinduism.
Nobody could have guessed his future when he was studying law or serving as a Government advocate or District Superintendent of Police that his destination would have been of a guru.
But he always kept searching for one unless he met one Swami Yogananda. Life changed but not very dramatically. Krishna Menon became Shri Atmananda and started teaching that liberation could come only through a path of self-realization and knowledge - Jnana Yoga.
Over the last two thousand years, Hinduism has given many ways to obtain moksha (liberation). Shri Atmananda believed in the Direct Path, a spiritual method based on Upanishadic philosophy, in contrast to karma yoga and bhakti yoga. He asked deeper questions than what had been asked before.
'Where are you between two thoughts?' That is to say, you are thinking all the time, and you have an image of yourself. Well, where are you between two thoughts? Do you ever have a glimpse beyond your thinking of that which transcends anything you can think about yourself? That’s the source field out of which all of your energies are coming."
When he retired from government service, he went back to his home Anadavadi and died peacefully in Trivandrum on 14 May 1959. His son followed his path and continued teaching people after him on the path of Advaita Vedanta or Neo-Hinduism.
As far as standing in a temple premise and talking with a deity is concerned, all Advaitins do is shift the power of that deity inside every human and then it is in peace and meditation and not in loud cries or devotional prayers, that God is found. No need for Freud and his psychoanalysis!
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