The emblem of the Ramakrishna Order designed by Swamiji is a unique and unparalleled work of art created by one of the richest minds in contemporary history in an exalted mood of spiritual inspiration.
It is a profound symbol of harmony and synthesis for reverential meditation in this present age of conflict and disharmony. This symbol is the epitome of Swamiji's message of harmony and synthesis, leading to life's fulfilment. This is indeed the most eloquent expression of what he really preached, what he wanted every man and woman to be, to realize, either in the East or in the West.
The goal is to realize, even in this very life, one's real Self, the self-effulgent Atman, the Swan in the emblem and through this realization to be free of all limitations, all bondages, all littleness.
This spiritual freedom is one thing to be aspired for and achieved in this very life. It releases one from one's prison-house of limited individuality and confers upon him or her, the blessing of universal existence. He then becomes one with Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.
Swamiji explained the significance of the emblem as follows, “The wavy waters in the picture are symbolic of Karma; the lotus of Bhakti; and the rising-sun, of Jnana. The encircling serpent is indicative of Yoga and the awakened Kundalini Shakti, while the swan in the picture stands for the Paramatman (Supreme Self). Therefore the idea of the picture is that by the union of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, and Yoga, the vision of the Paramatman is obtained .
Explaining the four yogas he said, “Our main problem is to be free. It is evident then that until we realise ourselves as the Absolute, we cannot attain to deliverance. Yet there are various ways of attaining to this realisation. These methods have the generic name of Yoga (to join, to join ourselves to our reality). These Yogas, though divided into various groups, can principally be classed into four; and as each is only a method leading indirectly to the realisation of the Absolute, they are suited to different temperaments. Now it must be remembered that it is not that the assumed man becomes the real man or Absolute. There is no becoming with the Absolute. It is ever free, ever perfect; but the ignorance that has covered Its nature for a time is to be removed. Therefore the whole scope of all systems of Yoga (and each religion represents one) is to clear up this ignorance and allow the Atman to restore its own nature. The chief helps in this liberation are Abhyasa and Vairagya. Vairagya is non - attachment to life, because it is the will to enjoy that brings all this bondage in its train; and Abhyasa is constant practice of any one of the Yogas.”