The time when the nation had fallen into yet another shackle of slavery under the British yoke, there prevailed among the people the utter moral and intellectual confusions. Where, on one side, there were badly mushrooming mutually conflicting religious sects and sub-sects rabidly hell bent in deluding the people with their respective exclusivist theology and obscurantist rituals; on the other, utterly mesmerised with western mode of life, there grew a breed of so-called social-reformers and intelligentsia engaged in their ?missions? with their self-denigrating and fantastic notion of rejecting outrightly everything dharma and, ipso facto, recasting the society and everything indigenous in the western moulds. In such a crucial hour Swami Vivekananda was the one to rise on the national horizon to not only guide the people out of this confusion, but also reveal to them what true dharma and its indispensability in the national life is.
After having attained super-conscious revelation, living in the virtues of divine proximity of his master?Ramakrishna Paramhansa, he chose the Vedantic ideals to dispel the myriads of false notions then held on the national and international level regarding India and dharma. Bringing the vivid illustration of dharma to light, he made the people aware of the fact that the dharma basically comprised of Karmakanda and Gyan-kanda. Karmakanda, he told, consists in Smritis and Puranas, which deals mainly with the manners, customs, practices and all forms of worships. These are codified to fulfill the needs of the circumstances prevailing in the particular course of period, hence subjected to modification from time to time. Whereas, Gyankanda is the spiritual portion of dharma comprising the Upanishads, which is also called Vedanta. This expounds all the subtle questions of cycle of life and death and everything universe comprised of. Immutable, this holds good even to this day, for it is based on the eternal truth.
Then, coming to the problems which India was facing those days, he told that what was being practised then in the name of dharma was nothing but an aberration made inroad to it (dharma), which could be well understood in the light of Vedanta. All the customs and practices i.e. Karmakanda is required to be the expression of Vedanta ideals, and, hence, any of them contradicting them (Vedanta ideals) must be rejected. Highlighting in this context the instance of untouchability prevailed then, he exhorted that it was in sheer contravention to what is essentially preached in Gita?a commentary on Vedanta. For, Shri Krishana says in it, ?One who sees everyone in himself and himself in everyone, thus, seeing the same God living in all is the sage. And, therefore, the discrimination on the basis of caste is altogether unethical, against the very spirit of dharma.?
As for integrating the different sects, belonging to the cult of dualism, monism, qualified monism and such other, who were then badly indulged in bitter feud to gain supremacy over each other, Vivekananda drew their attention to the doctrines common to them. And, those doctrines, as revealed to them by Vivekananda, are?Doctrine of reincarnation; perfection is in atma (soul); the body consists of, apart from the material body of panchtatva, the mind, the intellect and, atma; infallibility of Vedas; the God is all creating, preserving and destroying power; and also, that the religion means nothing short of divine realisation or anubhuti. So also, it was his firm belief that India with its varied languages, customs and social identities could remain united but only in the virtues of dharma. For, underlying all such diversities, it is only dharma that is common to the various groups.
He, though, unequivocally emphasised for emulating spiritualism, yet he was strongly opposed to the escapist attitude viz. pseudo renunciation, more common a phenomena then. To him moksha (renunciation) means not to turn coward or stagnated to inaction. But, all the more, it is through the action only does one attain the moksha, as is pointed out by Shri Krishna in Gita.
In order to extend globally the pious mission of his elevating the nation and Hindu dharma, he toured a number of countries, representing India in various dharmasabhas (religious assemblies) held on international forums. Availing these occasions, he, through his captivating oratory power and impregnable arguments, debunked all the fallacies and contemptuous views then held by the westerners regarding everything Indian. It was the time when so as to serve their imperialistic motives the colonial-missionary nexus were abjectly indulged in coining and, thus, foisting upon the Indians the host of perverse theories and so-called findings concerning their origin, history and culture etc. In the face of one such theory?the infamous ?Aryan invasion theory?, Swamiji put forth so many excerpts from the Vedas and other scriptures and disproved its validity. He argued that if there is any truth in it then why not even a single instance comes in its support in the Vedas which have been proved to be the most ancient and authentic source of knowledge.