Ramakrishna adhered to the Bengali Tantra, central to which is Shakti, in the form of Kali. These Shakti-worshippers represent the most morbid part of old-time Hinduism, that with strong sexual connotations.
Ramakrishna regarded his human consort, Sri Sarada Devi, as a manifestation of the Divine Mother, as the Supreme Goddess, and his followers adopted the attitude. Spiritual leadership after the death of Ramakrishna consequently fell onto her and upon Vivekananda.
Ramakrishna, The Mother, and Vivekananda are worshipped in Vedanta Centers as the supreme "trinity". Vivekananda himself continued the Tantric tradition of Ramakrishna. The kundalini system and its importance for the human mind were often described in his books.5) The Tantric nature of the Ramakrishna mission is clearly expressed in the emblem of the movement. It consists of a serpent which encircles the other symbols, the most important of which is the Tantnic swan, resting on a lotus, thus riding on the sea of this world. Vivekananda himself designed this emblem, and it is interpreted officially in this way:
The Ramakrishna Mission is scarcely growing any longer, but still today it is the "real structure of the Vedanta Centers" all over the world. Each of these centers is given spiritual leadership by a swami of the order sent from India, and all spiritual jurisdiction is still at "the home-base."
During a visit to a Vedanta Center in the US the author of this article experienced what one could call "split level religion." Taking his guests around the ashrama the local swami showed them the emblem but in a very "reformed" version. When this was pointed out to him he answered: We could not tell these North-Americans about the serpent-power, could we? But upstairs in the chapel you will find Mother Kundalini. When taking the visitors into the library (where the pictures of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda — but instead of the Mother a later president of the mission was found on the wall), the swami again defended the arrangement by saying: We could not tell these North-Americans that a swami has a consort, could we? But upstairs in the chapel you will find Holy Mother.
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