Composition of the logo
The Ramakrishna Mission's logo is composed of a lotus, and a Swan spreading on a lake that has wavy waters, with the Sun rising in the horizon, and a serpent encircling all this. The wavy water represents Karma, Lotus stands for Bhakti, the sunrise is for Jnana, and the snake is for the Raja Yoga. The Swan in the middle of the logo, is the representation of Paramatman (the Supreme Being). On the whole, the idea of the logo of the Ramakrishna Mission is that only by the union of Karma, Jnana, Bhakti and Yoga, the vision of Paramatman is reached.
With this logo, Swami Vivekananda gives an image of his ideal of the Yogas harmony.
Karma yoga: The Moving Water :
The Karma Yoga represents activity.Like the moving water, this world of Karma is always in motion. It changes all the time, taking new shapes, developing new situations, and new horizons. In Sanskrit, this moving world is called Bhava-Sagara, the ocean of relative existence. A Karma Yogi learns to travel through these changes by remaining calm and detached. Sri Ramakrishna best describes the ideal of the Karma Yogi by comparing the human spirit to a boat. He says that the boat may be in the water, but that the water doesn't come in the boat.
Bhakti Yoga : The Lotus :
The lotus represents the heart. Mahanarayana Upanishad says : "In the citadel of the body, there is this little lotus, pure and devoid of all sin, where the heart is the supreme being." The lotus is the symbol of the love of God. It also represents purity and absence of attachment. Bhakti of the love of God is not a means to achieve a goal but a goal in itself.
Jnana Yoga :The sunrise :
Knowledge is always related to the Sun. Intelligence reveals the truth and lights up the darkness of ignorance. According to Swami Vivekananda, sunrise represents Jnana, or the path to Jnana. Jnana Yoga consists in suppressing ignorance by purifying the spirit through the denial of existence of ignorance itself.
Jnana Yoga does not aim at collecting knowledge on objects of our senses or to understand the maximum of ideas in a book. It is, rather, a process of discovering the inner being. It's like searching unbiased knowledge and at the best level, discovering what makes the world in an existential manner.
Raja Yoga: The snake :
The snake represents the Kundalini. Kundalini means "wrapped around". The Hindu texts attest the presence of a spiritual power present in each of us: the Kundalini. From a physiological point of view, the Kundalini is at the base of the spine, the first and lowest of the Chakras along the spine. When the power of our Kundalini is asleep, we live only to eat, sleep and reproduce ourselves. The world remains of interest only to satisfy material needs. It is only when we begin to live in denial of ourselves, in service and prayer, that the journey towards higher Chakras and higher life begins.
An approach to channel and guide the spiritual power has been explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The basic principle of this Yoga is controlling mind to separate us from the grip of the body through concentration and meditation. This path is called the royal road, Raja Yoga, because it is the most direct approach to the science of the mind.
Paramatman: The Swan :
The Swan is the symbol of ultimate reality for reasons more than one. The Swan is the symbol of the knowledge born out of differentiating between the real and the unreal. This representation is based on a belief that if milk diluted in water is given to a Swan, he will drink the milk, leaving behind the water. Water is ignorance, unreal. The milk symbolizes the real knowledge.
Swami Vivekananda believed that only the combination of the four kinds of Yoga (Karma, Bhakti, Jnana and Raja) may permit the experience of the Supreme Reality, represented by the Swan. And the realization of the Supreme Reality is the ultimate goal of human existence