Do the students of Vedanta realize that they have great responsibility on their shoulders? None can deny that humanity is just now passing through a period of great storm and stress, when every ideal is being remodeled, old ideas are being challenged and accustomed ways of doing things are being questioned. Economically, politically, culturally, spiritually, in every respect, the human mind and affairs are undergoing great changes. We are finding that every aspect of life has to be conceived in terms of the entire humanity. Take the economic problem itself. It is being increasingly realized that if the people of the world are to escape depression and unemployment, the economic system of each nation has to be adjusted in reference to the needs of the other nations. In fact, there has to be one interrelated economic system throughout the world. We can no longer remain self-contained and self-sufficient. Every nation has to learn from and teach the other nations, and there is no doubt that the intermingling of cultures that is going on so rapidly at the present time will eventually lead to a universal culture in which the whole of humanity will participate. Religion, too, is aiming at that universality. The future is surely going to reveal a universal religion of which the different creeds will be parts. This universality is going to be the keynote of future mankind. And man’s honest efforts at the present time should be to actualize this much-desired future as early as possible. For on this depends the peace and prosperity and the spiritual welfare of mankind.
But prejudice dies hard. We are too timid. We are loath to give up our mental narrowness. When the rising sun is calling us into the open to bathe in its golden rays, we are still moping in the dark corners of our hovels. This is the tragedy. We are afraid of the new things that are happening and are going to happen. But, of course, we have to change and remodel ourselves after the future ideals. And herein lies the great responsibility of the Vedanta students. Vedanta stands above all for universality, oneness, synthesis, harmony, and infinite affirmation. Vedanta is a philosophy and religion of infinite hope. It promises infinite glory to mankind. It invites men to march forward from one achievement to another, till the very highest is attained. It stands for the unity of mankind. All true students of Vedanta have to feel and realize this fact. They have, above all, to be all-inclusive and harmonious. By their life they have to prove to the timid world the beauty of the new ideals towards which humanity is reaching. … They have to demonstrate to others that these new ideals are infinitely more helpful than the older creedal and sectarian ideals. Do they feel that they are the forerunners of the new age? Those who feel so, will surely prove a valuable asset to humanity None may know of them, they may be looked upon as ordinary; yet the high potency of their thought and life will bring about revolutionary changes n the mental plane of humanity and will eventually set forces in motion which will greatly alter also the outer life.
The challenge of Vedanta is tremendous. The weak may shrink from it, but those who have any strength in them will take it up and rise to the required heights. It is of these that Jesus said they were the salt of the earth. Let the best (and everyone has got the best in him or her) in us come out, let the Divine in us shine forth! Let the light in us be a beacon to the blundering world!
—Swami Ashokananda, 1931