Why are Sri Ramakrishna Temples called “Universal Temples”?

Srimat Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj

This article contains Excerpts from the talk given by Srimat Swami Bhuteshanandaji Maharaj during the foundation laying ceremony of the Universal Temple at Chennai. (Swami Bhuteshanandaji was the President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission worldwide at that time)

This temple is dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, who is a symbol of Universal Religion. Religion has become a bugbear nowadays, because it is often misunderstood. True religion does not create conflict, it does not disunite people; it gives meaning to our life, it gives us a binding, universal brotherhood, a universal human community.
What is meant by Universal Religion? It does not mean a new religion, but it means a religion that will be understood and appreciated by everybody. For every community, sect, or nation, this will be a binding factor.
Now, Sri Ramakrishna, if we understand him rightly, is the embodiment of what is meant by `Universal Religion’. He did not believe in sectarianism, but at the same time, he never violently discarded anything that others cherished as their ideal. All the different sects are to be united in the Universal Religion. This religion consists of the essence of all religions.
All religions are in essence the same. As Sri Ramakrishna used to say, `All jackals howl in the same way.’ All the leaders of religious thoughts speak the same language. Only, they are differently understood because of the different traditions, cultures and denominations of the different sects. That is a difference due to factors which are extraneous to religion. Religion is that which binds together. Religion becomes worthy of being called religion, only if it is universal. Sri Ramakrishna is symbolic of that Universal Religion.
Swamiji laid emphasis on this future religion of mankind which will take into account all the different sects. And yet, it will be not an artificial combination, but a bouquet which will contribute its quota to the universality of the religion of mankind.
That is what is expected to be the theme of this temple.