Ramakrishna


Ramakrishna

Infobox Hindu leader
name= Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


caption = Ramakrishna at Dakshineshwar
birth-date= birth date|1836|2|18|mf=y
birth-place= Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
birth-name= Gadadhar Chattopadhyay
death-date= death date and age|1886|8|16|1836|2|18|df=y
death-place= Garden House in Cossipore
guru=
philosophy=
honors=
quote=He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realise God in this very life. [cite news|url=http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-501997,prtpage-1.cms|title=The Art of God-Realisation|publisher=Times of India|accessdate=2008-10-09]
footnotes=

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (Bangla: রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংস "Ramkṛiṣṇo Pôromôhongśo") (February 18, 1836 - August 16, 1886), born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay (Bangla: গদাধর চট্টোপাধ্যায় "Gôdadhor Chôţţopaddhae"),Smart, Ninian "The World’s Religions" (1998) p.409, Cambridge] is a famous mystic of nineteenth century India.cite book
last = Georg
first = Feuerstein
authorlink = Georg Feuerstein
coauthors =
title = The Yoga Tradition
publisher = Motilal Banarsidass
date = 2002
location =
pages = p.600
] His religious school of thought led to the formation of the Ramakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekanandacite book
last = Clarke
first = Peter Bernard
title = New Religions in Global Perspective
publisher = Routledge
date = 2006
pages = p.209
quote = The first Hindu to teach in the West and founder of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897, Swami Vivekananda, [...] is also credited with raising Hinduism to the status of a world religion.
] cite book
author = Jeffrey Brodd
coauthors = Gregory Sobolewski
title = World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery
publisher = Saint Mary's Press
date = 2003
location =
pages = p.275
quote = In 1897 Swami Vivekananda returned to India, where he founded the Ramakrishna Mission, and influential Hindu organization devoted to education, social welfare, and publication of religious texts.
] [cite book
last = Smith
first = Bardwell L.
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
pages = p.93
] —both were influential figures in the Bengali Renaissancecite book
last = Miller
first = Timothy
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = America's Alternative Religions
publisher = SUNY Press
date = 1995
pages = pp.174-175
quote = …Bengalis played a leading role in the wider Hindu renaissance, producing what can be termed the Bengali "Neo-Vedantic renaissance"
isbn = 9780791423974
] and the Hindu renaissance of the late 20th century.cite book
last = Pelinka
first = Anton
authorlink =
coauthors = Renée Schell
title = Democracy Indian Style
publisher = Transaction Publishers
date = 2003
pages = pp.40-41
quote = The Bengali Renaissance had numerous facets including the spiritual (Hindu) renaissance, represented by the names of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, the combination of spiritual, intellectual, and political aspects…
isbn = 9780765801869
] [cite book
last = Bhattacharyya
first = Haridas
title = The Cultural Heritage of India
chapter = Part IV : Sri Ramakrishna and Spiritual Renaissance
publisher = Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture
date = 1978
location = University of Michigan
pages = p.650
] Ramakrishna practiced Vaishnava and Śakti "bhakti", Vedanta, Tantra, and other spiritual disciplines and taught that all paths lead to the same ultimate goal. [Cite book | title=The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna | author=Swami Nikhilananda | publisher=Sri Ramakrishna Math | location=Chennai | pages=p. 129 | quote=I had to practise each religion for a time — Hinduism, Islām, Christianity. Furthermore, I followed the paths of the Śāktas, Vaishnavas, and Vedāntists. I realized that there is only one God toward whom all are travelling; but the paths are different.] He was considered an avatar or incarnation of God by many of his disciples, and is considered as such by many of his devotees today. [cite book|last=Jackson|first=Carl T.|title=Vedanta for the West|publisher=Indiana University Press|date=1994|pages=p.78|isbn=9780253330987]

Biography

Birth and childhood

Ramakrishna was born in 1836, in the village of Kamarpukur, in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, into a very poor but pious, orthodox brahmin family. His parents were Khudiram Chattopâdhyâya, and Chandramani Devî. Various supernatural incidents are recounted in connection with Ramakrishna’s birth. It is said that Ramakrishna was named Gadadhar in response to a dream Khudiram had in Gaya before Ramakrishna’s birth, in which Lord Gadadhara, the form of Vishnu worshipped at Gaya, appeared to him and told him he would be born as his son. Chandramani Devi is said to have had a vision of light entering her womb before Ramakrishna was born. Ramakrishna was born as the fourth and last child to his parents.cite book
authorlink = Christopher Isherwood
title = Ramakrishna and His Disciples
chapter = The Birth of Ramakrishna
pages = p.13
]

Gadadhar, as Ramakrishna was known in his early days, was an extremely popular figure in his village. He had a natural gift for the fine arts like drawing and clay modelling. However, he disliked attending school, and rejected his schooling saying that he was not interested in mere "bread winning education". Though Ramakrishna shunned the traditional school system, he showed great desire and ability to learn. [cite book
title = Transformation of Ramakrishna
pages = p.70
quote = …The point to be made is that we are not dealing with an uneducated or ignorant ecstatic. Rather, because of his intelligence, his interest, his own study and his subsequent contact with Hindus of all schools of thought, we should realize that we are dealing with a well versed Hindu thinker who, because of the ecstatic nature of his religious experience, refused to be bound in and restricted by what he viewed as dry, rationalistic requirements of systematic discourse.
] [Cite journal
last = Bhawuk
first = Dharm P.S.
title = Culture’s influence on creativity: the case of Indian spirituality
journal = International Journal of Intercultural Relations
volume = 27
issue = 1
pages = pp. 1-22
publisher = Elsevier
date = February 2003
quote = "…scholars have called him "the illiterate genius""
] He easily mastered the songs, tales and dramas which were based on the religious scriptures.cite book | first=Christopher | last=Isherwood | year=1974 | title=Ramakrishna and His Disciples | pages=p. 28 | publisher=Advaita Ashrama] At a very early age he was well versed in the "Purāṇas", the "Rāmāyaṇa", the "Mahābhārata", and "Śrīmad Bhāgavatam", hearing them from wandering monks and the "Kathaks" — a class of men in ancient India who preached and sang the "Purāṇas" for the uneducated masses. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.33
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
] He learned to read and write in Bengali [cite book
last = Saradananda
first = Swami
title = The Great Master
pages = p.59
] and was able to follow Sanskrit even though he could not speak the language. [cite book
last = Nikhilananda
first = Swami
title = The Gospel of Ramakrishna
date = 1942
chapter = Chapter 20 — RULES FOR HOUSEHOLDERS AND MONKS
chapterurl= http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/chapter20.htm
quote = "During my boyhood I could understand what the Sadhus read at the Lahas' house at Kamarpukur, although I would miss a little here and there. If a pundit speaks to me in Sanskrit I can follow him, but I cannot speak it myself.… The realization of God is enough for me. What does it matter if I don't know Sanskrit?"
] He would serve wandering monks who stopped in Kamarpukur on their way to Puri and listen to their religious debates with rapt attention. Ramakrishna loved nature and spent much time in fields and fruit orchards outside the village.

At the age of six or seven, Ramakrishna described an intense experience of spiritual ecstasy. He was walking along the paddy fields and suddenly looked up to find a flock of white cranes flying with dark thunder-clouds as a background. He became so absorbed that he lost consciousness of everything outward. He later said that in that state he had experienced an indescribable joy. [cite book | author=Swami Nikhilananda | title=The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna | publisher=Ramakrishna Math, Chennai | pages=p. 4] Gadadhar had experiences of similar nature a few other times in his childhood—while worshipping the goddess "Vishalakshi", and portraying Shiva in a drama during "Shivaratri" festival. From his tenth or eleventh year on, trances became common. [cite book
author = Neevel
title = Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna
pages = p.70
]

Ramakrishna's father died in 1843, after which the responsibilities of the family were handled by his elder brother Ramkumar. This event had a profound effect on the boy and is considered as one of the determinative points in Ramakrishna's religious life. This loss drew him closer to his mother, and he spent his time in household activities, including the daily worship of the household deities. He also became more involved in contemplative activities such as reading the sacred epics. [cite book
author = Neevel
title = Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna
pages = p.68
]

At the age of nine, Ramakrishna was to be invested with the sacred thread. However, contrary to tradition and despite firm opposition from his family, Ramakrishna took his first alms—which marks the formal recognition of the boy as brahmin, from a low-caste woman. [cite book
last = Vrajaprana
first = Pravrajika
title = Living Wisdom
pages = p.246
publisher = Vedanta Press
year = 1994
]

When Ramakrishna was into his teens, the family's financial position worsened. Ramkumar started a Sanskrit school in Calcutta and also served as a purohit priest. Ramakrishna moved to Calcutta in the year 1852 and started assisting his elder brother in the priestly work. [cite book
authorlink = Christopher Isherwood
title = Ramakrishna and His Disciples
chapter = The Boyhood of Ramakrishna
pages = p.37
]

Priest at Dakshineswar Kali Temple

In 1855 Ramkumar was appointed as the priest of Dakshineswar Kali Temple, built by Rani Rashmoni—a rich woman of Calcutta who belonged to the untouchable "kaivarta" community. [Amiya P. Sen, "Sri Ramakrishna, the "Kathamrita" and the Calcutta middle Classes: an old problematic revisited" "Postcolonial Studies", 9: 2 p 176] Ramakrishna moved in with his brother only after some persuasion, since the temple was constructed by a low caste woman. Ramakrishna, along with his nephew Hriday, became assistants to Ramkumar, with Ramakrishna given the task of decorating the deity. When Ramkumar passed away in 1856, Ramakrishna took his place as the priest of the Kāli temple. He was allotted a room in the northwestern corner of the temple courtyard, where he spent the rest of his life. [Cite book | title=Ramakrishna and his Disciples | pages=pp. 55–57 | first=Christopher | last=Isherwood | publisher=Advaita Ashrama | year=1974] The name Ramakrishna is said to have been given him by Mathur Babu, the son-in-law of Rani Rasmani. [Life of Sri Ramakrishna, Advaita Ashrama, Ninth Impression, December 1971, p. 44]

After Ramkumar's death Ramakrishna became more contemplative. He began to look upon the image of the goddess Kāli as his mother and the mother of the universe. He became seized by a desire to have a vision of Kāli—a direct realization of her reality—and believed the stone image to be living and breathing and taking food out of his hand. At times he would weep bitterly and cry out loudly while worshiping, and would not be comforted, because he could not see his mother Kali as perfectly as he wished. At night, he would go into a nearby jungle and spend the entire night meditating on God, without any consciousness of even his clothes falling off. [cite book
authorlink = Mahendranath Gupta
title = Kathamrita
chapter = Chapter I
chapterurl = http://www.kathamrita.org/kathamrita2/k2sec01.htm
volume = 2
quote = When I [Ramakrishna] was in that state, everything blew away from me as if by the cyclone of Aswin. No indication of my previous life remained! I lost external awareness! Even my dhoti fell off, so how could I care for the sacred thread? I said to him, ‘If you once experience that madness for the Lord, you will understand.’
] People became divided in their opinions—some held Ramakrishna to be mad, and some took him to be a great lover of God. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.37
chapter = Râmakrishna's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
]

One day, he was so impatient to see Mother Kāli that he decided to end his life. Seizing a sword hanging on the wall, he was about to strike himself with it, when he is reported to have seen light issuing from the deity in waves. Ramakrishna describes his first vision of Kali as follows:Quote|… What was happening in the outside world I did not know; but within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother. [cite book
last = Nikhilananda
first = Swami
title = The Gospel of Ramakrishna
date = 1942
chapter = Chapter 1 — Introduction
chapterurl= http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm
]

After the vision, Ramakrishna surrendered himself more and more to Kali. Childlike, he obeyed what he called the will of the Mother in everything, no matter how trivial or philosophical. Although Rani Rasmani and her son-in-law Mathur Babu had faith in Ramakrishna and left him free do whatever he liked, they thought that Ramakrishna was suffering from the effects of unduly prolonged continence. So Mathur arranged for prostitutes to visit Ramakrishna, but their attempts to seduce Ramakrishna only failed. He took the prostitutes to be forms of Divine Mother herself. ["Ramakrishna Kathamrita", vol. 1, [http://kathamrita.org/kathamrita/k1sec17.htm section 17] . "I used to cry uttering, ‘Mother, Mother’ in such a way that people would stand to watch me. At this state of mine someone brought a prostitute and made her sit in my room to tempt me and to cure me of my madness. She was a pretty woman with attractive eyes. I ran out of the room uttering, ‘Mother, Mother.’ And shouting for Haladhari, I said, ‘Brother, come and see who has entered in my room.’ I told about it to Haladhari and all others. In this state I used to weep uttering, ‘Mother, Mother’ and say to Her crying, ‘Mother, save me. Mother, purify me so that my mind may not go from the right to the wrong.’"] [Cite book | title=Ramakrishna and his Disciples | pages=p. 66–70 | first=Christopher | last=Isherwood | publisher=Advaita Ashrama | year=1974]

Marriage

Rumors spread to Kamarpukur that Ramakrishna had gone mad as a result of his over-taxing spiritual exercises at Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna's mother and his elder brother Rameswar decided to get Ramakrishna married, thinking that marriage would be a good steadying influence upon him—by forcing him to accept responsibility and to keep his attention on normal affairs rather than being obsessed with his spiritual practices and visions. [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages =
chapter =
] Far from objecting to the marriage, Ramakrishna mentioned Jayrambati, three miles to the north-west of Kamarpukur, as being the village where the bride could be found, at the house of one Ramchandra Mukherjee. The five-year-old bride, Sarada, was found and the marriage was duly solemnised in 1859.Sil, "Divine Dowager", p. 42] Ramakrishna was 23 at this point, but the age difference was typical for 19th century rural Bengal. Ramakrishna left Sarada in December 1860 and did not return until May 1867.Sil, "Divine Dowager", p. 42]

Religious Practices and Teachers

After his marriage Ramakrishna returned to Calcutta and took upon himself the charges of the temple again, but instead of toning down, his spiritual fervour and devotion only increased.To get rid of the thought that he belonged to a higher brahmanical caste, he would eat food cooked by the lowest classes and serve the "Pariahs"—servants and cleaners who belonged to the lowest caste. [cite book
last = Yale
first = John
title = What Religion Is
publisher = Kessinger Publishing
date = 2006
pages = p.219
isbn = 9781425488802
]

Similarly, he would take gold and silver coins, and mixing them with rubbish, repeat "money is rubbish, money is rubbish". He later said that "I lost all perception of difference between the two in my mind, and threw them both into the Ganges. No wonder people took me for mad."cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.42
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
] It is said that he had become so instinctive that his body would shrink back convulsively if were touched with a coin, even when asleep. [cite book
author = J. N. Farquhar
title = Modern Religious Movements in India
pages = pp.195
] He was unable to attend to any external duties, he suffered from sleeplessness, and burning sensations throughout his body. Physicians were consulted, and one of them told, "It seems to me that the patient's condition is due to some kind of spiritual excitement—medicine won't cure him." [Cite book | title=Ramakrishna and his Disciples | pages=p. 84 | first=Christopher | last=Isherwood | publisher=Advaita Ashrama | year=1974] [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.39
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
]

Bhairavi Brahmani and Tantra

In 1861, Bhairavi Brahmani, an orange robed female ascetic appeared at Dakshineshwar. Her real name was Yogeshwari and she was in her late thirties. [Isherwood, p. 89] Other details about her life before her arrival in Dakshineswar are unknown. [Isherwood, p. 89–90] She was well versed in scriptures and was adept in Tantric and Vaishnava methods of worship. ["The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna", [http://belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm Introduction] ] cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.43-44
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
]

Ramakrishna described the Bhairavi about his spiritual experiences and his seemingly abnormal physical conditions. The Bhairavi assured him that he was not mad but was experiencing phenomena that accompany "mahabhava"—the supreme attitude of loving devotion towards the divine and quoting from the "bhakti shastras", said that religious figures like Radha and Chaitanya had similar experiences. [cite book
last = Jestice
first = Phyllis G.
title = Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia
publisher = ABC-CLIO
date = 2004
location =
pages = p.723
] The "Bhairavi" also recommended the cure for Ramakrishna's physical ailments. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.43
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
]

The Bhairavi initiated Ramakrishna into the tantric practices, which expose the sense and spirit to all the disturbances of the flesh and imaginations, so that these may be transcended. [Romain Rolland, p. 22–37] [cite book
author = Jean Varenne
coauthors = Derek Coltman
title = Yoga and the Hindu Tradition
publisher = University of Chicago Press
date = 1977
pages = p.151
quote = we know that certain Tantric practices, condemned as shockingly immoral, are aimed solely at enabling the adept to make use of the energy required for their realization in order to destroy desire within himself root and branch
] Under her guidance, he went through a full course of sixty four major tantric sadhanas.Neevel, p. 74-75] He began with mantra rituals such as japa and purascarana and many other rituals designed to purify the mind and establish self-control. The tantric sadhanas generally include a set of heteredox practices called "vamachara" (left-hand path), which utilize as a means of liberation, activities like eating of parched grain, fish and meat along with drinking of wine and sexual intercourse. According Ramakrishna and his biographers, Ramakrishna did not directly participate in the last two of those activities, that all he needed was a suggestion of them to produce the desired result. Though Ramakrishna acknowledged the left-hand tantric path as another means of spiritual enlightenment, he did not recommend it to anybody. [Isherwood, p. 76, "I tell you, this is also one of the paths -- though it's a dirty one. There are several doors leading into a house -- the main door, the back door, and the door by which the sweeper enters to clean out dirt. So, this too, is a door. No matter which door people use, they get inside the house, all right. Does that mean you should act like them, or mix with them?"] Later, when Ramakrishna's chief disciple Vivekananda asked him about the left-hand path, he would say, "It is not a good path. It is very difficult and often brings about the downfall of the aspirant." [cite book
title = Kathamrita
volume = 2
chapter = Chapter II
chapterurl = http://www.kathamrita.org/kathamrita2/k2sec01.htm
]

The Bhairavi also taught Ramakrishna the "kumari-puja", a form of ritual in which the Virgin Goddess is worshiped symbolically in the form of a young girl.Sil, "Divine Dowager", p. 42] Under the tutelage of the Bhairavi, Ramakrishna also became an adept at Kundalini Yoga. Ramakrishna completed his tantric sadhana in 1863. [Isherwood, p. 101]

Ramakrishna took the attitude of a son towards the Bhairavi.cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.22-37
chapter = The Two Guides of Knowledge
] The Bhairavi on the other hand looked upon Ramakrishna as an "avatara", or incarnation of the divine, and was the first person to openly declare that Ramakrishna was an "avatara". But Ramakrishna was indifferent and unconcerned about people calling him an incarnation. [Isherwood, p. 96] The Bhairavi, with the yogic techniques [cite book
last = Richards
first = Glyn
title = A Source-book of modern Hinduism
publisher = Routledge
date = 1985
quote= [Ramakrishna] received instructions in yogic techniques which enabled him to control his spiritual energy.
pages = p.63
] and the tantra [cite book
last = Jackson
first = Carl T.
title = Vedanta for the West: The Ramakrishna Movement in the United States
date = 1994
pages = p.18
quote = A woman referred to as the "Bhairavi Brahmani" now introduced Ramakrishna to Tantrism, a significant influence on his early development.
] [cite book
title = Transformation of Ramakrishna
pages = p.70
quote = Ramakrishna's practice of tantra played a important role in Ramakrishna's transformation from the uncontrollable and self-destructive madman of the early years into the saintly and relatively self-controlled—if eccentric and ecstatic—teacher of the later years.
] played an important part in the initial spiritual development of Ramakrishna. [cite book
last = Sen
first = Siba Pada
title = Social and Religious Reform Movements in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
publisher = Institute of Historical Studies
date = 1979
location = Calcutta
pages = p.49
quote = The Bhairavi was with him and took an active part in shaping his religious views which were marked by simplicity and toleration and rejection of all external formalities in regard to spiritual development
]

Vaishnava Bhakti

The Vaishnava Bhakti traditions speak of five different "bhāva"s—different attitudes that a devotee can take up in order to express his love for the God. They are: "śānta ", the serene attitude; "dāsya", the attitude of a servant; "sakhya", the attitude of a friend; "vātsalya", the attitude of a mother toward her child; and "madhura", the attitude of a woman toward her lover. [cite book
last = Nikhilananda
first = Swami
authorlink = Swami Nikhilananda
title = The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
chapter = ADVICE TO HOUSEHOLDERS
chapterurl = http://belurmath.org/gospel/chapter04.htm
date = 1942
location =
pages = p.115
] Ramakrishna is known to have practised some of these "bhavas"cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
authorlink =
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
date = 1976
pages = p.72-83
]

At some point in the period between his vision of Kali and his marriage, Ramakrishna practiced "dāsya bhāva"—the attitude of a servant towards his master. He started worshiping Rama in the attitude of Hanuman, the monkey-god, who is considered to be the ideal devotee and servant of Rama. In doing so, Ramakrishna completely identified himself with Hanuman, he ate and walked like a monkey, spent much of his time in trees and his eyes got a restless look like the eyes of a monkey. According to Ramakrishna and his biographers, there was even a small growth in the lower part of his spine resembling the tail of a monkey.Isherwood, p. 70–73] As a climax to his "dāsya" experiment, Ramakrishna had a vision of Sita, the consort of Rama, merging into his body.

In 1864, Ramakrishna practiced "vātsalya bhāva", the attitude of a mother towards God. During this period, he worshipped a metal image of Ramlālā (Rama as a child) in the attitude of a mother. As he was doing so, his character became filled with motherly tenderness, and he began to regard himself as a woman. His speech and gestures changed to that of a woman. According to Ramakrishna and his biographers, he could actually feel the presence of child Rama as a living God in the metal image. [Isherwood, p. 197–198.] cite book
last = Nikhilananda
first = Swami
title = The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
date =
pages =
chapter = Introduction
chapterurl= http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm
]

Ramakrishna later engaged in the practice of "madhura bhāva"— the attitude of Gopis and Radha towards their lover, Krishna. Ramakrishna, in order to realise this love, dressed himself in women's attire for several days and regarded himself as one of the Gopis of Vrindavan. At the end of this sadhana, he attained "savikalpa samadhi"—vision and union with Krishna.Parama Roy, "Indian Traffic: Identities in Question in Colonial and Post-Colonial India" Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998]

At some point, Ramakrishna visited Nadia, the home of Chaitanya and Nityananda, the 15th-century founders of Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava "bhakti". He had an intense vision of two young boys merging into his body.

Earlier, after his vision of Kali, he is said to have cultivated the "Santa bhava" — the passive "peaceful" attitude — towards Kali.

Totapuri and Vedanta

In 1864, Ramakrishna was initiated into "sanyassa" by a vedantic ascetic, a wandering monk named Totapuri. Ramakrishna described Totapuri as "a teacher of masculine strength, a sterner mien, a gnarled physique, and a virile voice". [cite book
last = Nikhilananda
first = Swami
title = The Gospel of Ramakrishna
date = 1942
chapter = Chapter 1 — Introduction
chapterurl= http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm
] He addressed Totapuri as "Nangta" or "Langta" ("Naked One"), because as a wandering monk of the Naga sect [cite book
authorlink = Christopher Isherwood
title = Ramakrishna and His Disciples
chapter = Tota Puri
pages = p.116
] he did not wear any clothing. Totapuri looked at the world as illusory and the worship of Gods and Godesses as fantasies of the deluded mind. Instead, he believed in formless Brahman.cite book
last = Harding
first = Elizabeth U.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar
publisher = Motilal Banarsidass
date = 1998
pages = p.263
isbn =
]

Totapuri first guided Ramakrishna through the rites of "sannyasa"—renunciation of all ties to the world. Then he instructed him in the teaching of "advaita"—that "Brahman alone is real, and the world is illusory; I have no separate existence; I am that Brahman alone." [ "The Great Master", p. 255.] Under the guidance of Totapuri, Ramakrishna experienced "Nirvikalpa Samadhi" which is considered to be the highest state in spiritual realisation.Roland, Romain "The Life of Ramakrishna" (1984), Advaita Ashram]

Totapuri stayed with Ramakrishna for nearly eleven months and instructed him further in the teachings of "advaita". After the departure of Totapuri, Ramakrishna reportedly remained for six months in a state of absolute contemplation. ["For six months in a stretch, I [Ramakrishna] remained in that state from which ordinary men can never return; generally the body falls off, after three weeks, like a mere leaf. I was not conscious of day or night. Flies would enter my mouth and nostrils as they do a dead's body, but I did not feel them. My hair became matted with dust." Swami Nikhilananda, "Ramakrishna, Prophet of New India", New York, Harper and Brothers, 1942, p. 28.] Ramakrishna said that this period of "nirvikalpa samadhi" came to an end when he received a command from the Mother Kali, "Remain in Bhavamukha; for the enlightenment of the people, remain in Bhavamukha", referring to a state of existence intermediate between "samadhi" and normal consciousness. [cite book | last = Isherwood | first = Christopher | title = Ramakrishna and his Disciples | chapter = Tota Puri | pages = p.123]

Islam and Christianity

In 1866, Govinda Roy, a Hindu guru who practiced Sufism, initiated Ramakrishna into Islam. Ramakrishna said [cite book | last = Isherwood | first = Christopher | title = Ramakrishna and his Disciples | pages = p.124] : After few days of practice he had a vision of a "radiant personage with grave countenance and white beard resembling the Prophet and merging with his body".cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.49-62
chapter = The Return to Man
]

Seven years later, at the end of 1873 he started the practice of Christianity, when his devotee Shambu Charan Mallik read the Bible to him. For several days he was filled with Christian thoughts and no longer thought of going to the Kali temple. One day when he was sitting in the room he saw on the wall a picture of Madonna and Child Jesus. He felt that the figures became alive and had a vision in which Jesus came and merged with him. [cite journal
author = Ramakrishna Mission Singapore
title = Lay Disciples of Ramakrishna
journal = Nirvana
volume =
issue =
pages =
publisher = Ramakrishna Mission, Singapore
url = http://www.ramakrishna.org.sg/Nirvana_Apr%202007.htm
date=April 2007
] Parama Roy, "Indian Traffic: Identities in Question in Colonial and Post-Colonial India" Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998] In his own room amongst his Divine pictures was one of Christ, and he burnt incense before it morning and evening. There was also a picture showing Jesus Christ saving St.Peter from drowning in the water.

Sarada Devi

When the child bride, Sarada Devi attained the age of seventeen or eighteen, as the customs dictated, she had to join her husband, Ramakrishna. She had heard rumours that her husband had become mad, and was in deep grief. Then again she heard that he had become a great religious man. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.52-53
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
]

As a priest he performed the ritual ceremonies, the "Shodashi Puja"—the adoration of womanhood and considered her as the Divine Mother. Sarada Devi was made to sit in the seat of Kali, and worshipped her with flowers and incense. His view of woman as Mother was not limited to his companion Sarada Devi. He recognised the mother even in the most degraded prostitutes. [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = p.59
chapter = The Return to Man
] The marriage was never consummated because he regarded Sarada as the Divine Mother in person. [Isherwood, "Ramakrishna and His Disciples", pp. 144-146.]

With respect to Ramakrishna's treatment of her, Sarada Devi said that, "I was married to a husband who never addressed me as 'tui.'("you") Ah! How he treated me! Not even once did he tell me a harsh word or wound my feelings." [cite book
author = Sri Ramakrishna Math
title = The Gospel of The Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi
date = 1984
pages = p.xx
chapter = Her Devotee-Children
]

Sarada Devi is considered as his first disciple. Ramakrishna referred to his wife as the Holy Mother, and it was by this name that she was known to his disciples. After Ramakrishna's death in 1886, Sarada Devi continued to play an important role in the nascent religious movement.

Influence on Keshub Chunder Sen and Bhadralok

In 1875, Ramakrishna met the influential Brahmo Samaj leader Keshab Chandra Sen.cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.110-130
chapter = Ramakrishna and the Great Shepherds of India
] [cite book
last = Farquhar
first = John Nicol
title = Modern Religious Movements in India
publsher = Macmillan Co.
date = 1915
page = p. 194
quote = About 1875, Keshab Chandra Sen made his acquaintance and became very interested in him (Ramakrishna).
] Sen had separated from the Brahmo Samaj, and formed his own organisation. Sen had accepted Christianity. Attracted by Ramakrishna's teachings, Keshab Sen publicized them over a period of several years in his journal "The New Dispensation".cite journal
last = Mukherjee
first = Dr. Jayasree
title = Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society
journal = Prabuddha Bharatha
date = May 2004
url = http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/library/prabuddha_bharata/sri_ramakrishna%27s_impact_on_contemporary_indian_society_may04.php
accessdate = 2008-09-04
] Sen was instrumental in bringing Ramakrishna to the attention of a wider audience, especially the Bhadralok (English-educated classes of Bengal) and the Europeans residing in India.cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.56-57
chapter = Râmak"ri"sh"n"a's Life
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm
] [cite book|last=Debarry|first=William Theodore|coauthors=Ainslie Thomas Embree|others=Stephen N. Hay|title=Sources of Indian Tradition: From the Beginning to 1800|publisher=Columbia University Press|date=1988|pages=p. 63|isbn=9780231064156]

Following Keshab, other Brahmos such as Vijaykrishna Goswami started to admire Ramakrishna, propagate his ideals and reorient their socio-religious outlook. Many prominent people of Calcutta—Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, Shivanath Shastri and Trailokyanath Sanyal—began visiting him during this time (1871-1885). Mozoomdar wrote the first English biography of Ramakrishna, entitled "The Hindu Saint" in the "Theistic Quarterly Review" (1879), which played a vital role in introducing Ramakrishna to Westerners like the German indologist Max Muller. Some former Brahmos proclaimed Ramakrishna's message to the educated public of Bengal through their speeches and writings, published in several newspapers and journals. Newspapers reported that Ramakrishna was spreading "Love" and "Devotion" among the educated classes of Calcutta and that he had succeeded in reforming the character of some youths whose morals had been corrupt.

Ramakrishna also had interactions with Debendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a renowned social worker. He also met Swami Dayananda.

Not all Brahmos were uncritical admirers of Ramakrishna. Some disapproved of his ascetic renunciation. They measured him according to their own deals of the householder's life. Some could not understand his Samadhi and considered it to be a nervous malady. Upadhyay Brahma­bandhab was originally a critic of Ramakrishna and refused to recognize him as an "avatara". [cite journal
last = Mukherjee
first = Dr. Jayasree
title = Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society
journal = Prabuddha Bharatha
date = May 2004
url = http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/library/prabuddha_bharata/sri_ramakrishna%27s_impact_on_contemporary_indian_society_may04.php
quote = Another contemporary scholar described Ramakrishna as "an illiterate priest, crude, raw, unmodern and the commonest of the common. … He respected women, in the only way open to Indians, by calling them ‘mother’, and avoiding them.… He would allow non-Brahmins to be initiated. … Yet, and this is the tragedy of the situation, with all the help of the dynamic personality of Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Deb’s influence has not succeeded in shaking our social foundations. A number of people have been inspired, no doubt, but the masses have not trembled in their sleep."
accessdate = 2008-09-22
]

Ramakrishna's influence was not confined to the elite educated class of Calcutta. During his lifetime (1836-86) his ideas and influence spread beyond the intelligentsia to other sections of Bengali society, including the Bauls and the Kartabhajas, and beyond Bengal itself. During his lifetime, however, there was little of an active movement. Ramakrishna played an important role in the Bengali Renaissance as the link between the Brahmo Samaj and the emergence of the Hindu Revival Movement.

Among the Europeans he influenced was Principal Dr. W.W. Hastie of the Scottish Church College, Calcutta. [cite news
last = Joseph
first = Jaiboy
title = Master visionary
language = English
publisher = The Hindu
date = 002-06-23
url = http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mag/2002/06/23/stories/2002062300310400.htm
accessdate = 2008-10-09
] In the course of explaining the word "trance" in the poem "The Excursion" by William Wordsworth, Hastie told his students that if they wanted to know the real meaning of it, they should go to Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar. This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath Dutta (later Swami Vivekananda), to visit Ramakrishna.cite journal
last = Mukherjee
first = Dr. Jayasree
title = Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society
journal = Prabuddha Bharatha
date = May 2004
url = http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/library/prabuddha_bharata/sri_ramakrishna%27s_impact_on_contemporary_indian_society_may04.php
accessdate = 2008-09-04
]

Devotees and Disciples

Most of his prominent disciples came between 1879-1885. Many were highly educated, atheists and a few of them came to meet him out of curiosity. However, they were deeply influenced by Ramakrishna's teachings and a few became his ardent disciples. Devotees like Surendranath Mitra, a confirmed libertine, first approached Ramakrishna with an intent to "twist his ears" (a gesture of insult), only to end up as an inveterate follower. [cite book |last=Chetanananda |first=swami |title=They Lived with God |pages= p.110] Ramakrishna had an extraordinary style of preaching and instructing, convincing even the most skeptical visitors.Cite journal
author = Leo Schneiderman
date = Spring, 1969
title = Ramakrishna: Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of a Religious Movement
journal = Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
volume = 8
pages = 60-71
publisher = Blackwell Publishing
location = London
url = http://www.jstor.org/stable/1385254
year = 1969
]

His chief disciples consisted of:
* "Grihastas" or "The householders"—Mahendranath Gupta, Girish Chandra Ghosh, Akshay Kumar Sen and others.
* "Monastic disciples" who renounced their family and became the earliest monks of the Ramakrishna order—Narendranath Dutta (Swami Vivekananda), Rakhal Chandra Ghosh (Swami Brahmananda), Kaliprasad Chandra (Swami Abhedananda), Taraknath Ghoshal (Swami Shivananda), Sashibhushan Chakravarty (Swami Ramakrishnananda), Saratchandra Chakravarty (Swami Saradananda) to mention a few.
* A small group of women disciples including "Gauri Ma" and "Yogin Ma". A few of them were initiated into "sanyasa" through "mantra deeksha". Among the women, Ramakrishna emphasized service to other women rather than tapasya. ["No, no. You must stay in this city and work here. You have done enough "tapasya". Now use this life for the service of women."cite book
last = Chetanananda
first = Swami
title = They Lived with God
date = 1989
pages = pp.163
publisher = Vedanta Society of St. Louis
place = St. Louis
]

As his name spread, an ever shifting crowd of all classes and castes visited Ramakrishna—"Maharajas and beggars, journalists and pandits, artists and devotees, Brahmos, Christians, and Mohammedans, men of faith, men of action and business, old men, women and children".cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.131-142
chapter = The Call of disciples
] cite journal
last = Sen
first = Amiya P.
title = Sri Ramakrishna, the "Kathamrita" and the Calcutta middle classes: an old problematic revisited
journal = Postcolonial Studies
volume = 9
issue = 2
pages = p.165-177
date = June 2006
quote = the author of the "Kathamrita" offers information about a great variety of people with very different interests converging at Dakshineswar. There are, for instance, childless widows, young school-boys (K1: 240, 291; K2: 30, 331; K3: 180, 185, 256), aged pensioners (K5: 69-70), Hindu scholars or religious figures (K2: 144, 303; K3: 104, 108, 120; K4: 80, 108, 155, 352), men betrayed by lovers (K1: 319), people with suicidal tendencies (K4: 274-275), small-time businessmen (K4: 244), and, of course, adolescents dreading the grind of samsaric life (K3: 167).
] Ramakrishna incessantly conversed with them, mostly about religious matters with his visitors, along with some "Sankirtana" and "bhajans". Ramakrishna used very simple rustic language, parables, apologues and humor, in a style which kept visitors enthralled.cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.143-168
chapter = The Master and his Children
]

Even though he had a band of dedicated renunciates, he never asked householders to renounce their family life. [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.143-168
chapter = The Master and his Children
quote = "What will you gain by renouncing the world? Family life is like a fort. It is easier to fight the enemy from within the fort than from without. You will be in a position to renounce the world when you can bestow three-fourths of your mind on God, but not before." , "What is the necessity of giving up the world altogether? It is enough to give up the attachment to it."
] In preparation for monastic life, Ramakrishna ordered his monastic disciples to beg their food from door to door without distinction of caste. He gave them the saffron robe, the sign of the Sanyasin, and initiated them with "Mantra Deeksha".cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.143-168
chapter = The Master and his Children
]

The Last Days

In the beginning of 1885 he suffered from "clergyman's throat", which gradually developed into throat cancer. Ramakrishna moved to Calcutta ( Shyampukur ), where some of the best physicians of that time, such as Dr.Mahendralal Sarkar, were engaged. But the illness showed signs of aggravation and he was moved to a large garden house at Cossipore on December 11, 1885.

During his last days, he was looked after by his disciples and Sarada Devi. Ramakrishna was advised by the doctors to keep the strictest silence; but he ignored them and incessantly conversed with visitors.

Before his death, it is reported that Ramakrishna said to Naren,cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.201-214
chapter = The River Re-Enters the Sea
] "Today I have given you my all and am now only a poor fakir, possessing nothing. By this power you will do immense good in the world and not until it is accomplished will you return to the absolute."

It is reported that when Naren, doubted Ramakrishna's claim of "avatara"cite book
title = The Life of Swami Vivekananda : By His Eastern and Western Disciples
publisher = Advaita Ashrama
date = July 2006
volume = I
location = Mayavati
chapter = Cossipore and the Master
pages = p.183
quote = …Naren thought, "The Master has said many a time that he is an Incarnation of God. If he "now" says in the midst of the throes of death, in this terrible moment of human anguish and physical pain, 'I am God Incarnate', then I will believe."
] , Ramakrishna said, "He who was Rama, He who was Krishna, He himself is now Ramakrishna in this body."

His condition worsened gradually and he expired on early morning hours of August 16, 1886 at the Cossipore garden house. According to his disciples, this was "Mahasamadhi". [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.201-214
chapter = The River Re-Enters the Sea
quote =The final moments before his death were described by Sashi (Swami Ramakrishananda) as follows,"On that last night Ramakrishna was talking with us to the very last... He was sitting up against five or six pillows, which were supported by my body, and at the same time I was fanning him...Narendra took his feet and began to rub them and Ramakrishna was talking to him, telling him what he must do. "Take care of these boys", he repeated again and again... Then he asked to lie down. Suddenly at one o'clock he fell towards one side, there was a low sound in his throat... Narendra quickly laid his feet on the quilt and ran downstairs as if he could not bear it. A doctor who was feeling his pulse saw that it had stopped... We all believed that it was only Samadhi. Suddenly, at two minutes past one, a thrill passed through the Master's body, making the hair stand on end... The Master entered into Samadhi. It was Mahasamadhi, for never more did he return to the mortal plane..."
]

After the death of their master, the monastic disciples formed a fellowship at a half-ruined house at Baranagar near Ganga, with the financial assistance of the householder disciples. This became the first Math or monastery of the disciples, headed by Narendranath Dutta, as indicated by Ramakrishna. The Ramakrishna Mission was in its nascent stage at this point of time.

Teachings

God-realisation

Key concepts in Ramakrishna’s teachings included the oneness of existence and the unity and truth of all religions. [cite book|last=Flood|first=Gavin|title=An Introduction to Hinduism|publisher=Cambridge University Press|date=1996|pages=pp. 256-257|isbn=9780521438780]

Ramakrishna emphasised that God-realisation is the supreme goal of all living beings. ["Kathamrita", 1/10/6] Ramakrishna’s mystical experiences through different religions led him to teach that various religions are different means to reach absolute knowledge and bliss—and that the different religions cannot express the totality of absolute truth, but can express aspects of it. [Flood, p. 257.]

"Kama-Kanchana"

Ramakrishna taught that that the primal bondage in human life is "Kama-Kanchana" (lust and gold). When speaking to men, Ramakrishna warned them against "kamini-kanchan", or "women and gold". [Jackson, pp. 20-21.] When speaking to women, he warned them against "purusha-kanchana", or "man and gold." Gauri-Ma, one of Ramakrishna's prominent women disciples, said that:Quote| [Ramakrishna] has uttered this note of warning, against gold and sensuality, against a life of enjoyment, but surely not against women. Just as he advised the ascetic-minded men to guard themselves against women's charms, so also did he caution pious women against men's company. The Master's whole life abounds with proofs to show that he had not the slightest contempt or aversion for women; rather he had intense sympathy and profound regard for them. [cite book
last = Chetanananda
first = Swami
title = They Lived with God
date = 1989
pages = pp.146-147
publisher = Vedanta Society of St. Louis
place = St. Louis
]

"Avidyamaya" and "vidyamaya"

Devotees believe that Ramakrishna’s realisation of "nirvikalpa samadhi" also led him to an understanding of the two sides of "maya", or illusion, to which he referred as "Avidyamaya and vidyamaya". He explained that "avidyamaya" represents dark forces of creation (e.g. sensual desire, evil passions, greed, lust and cruelty), which keep people on lower planes of consciousness. These forces are responsible for human entrapment in the cycle of birth and death, and they must be fought and vanquished. "Vidyamaya", on the other hand, represents higher forces of creation (e.g. spiritual virtues, enlightening qualities, kindness, purity, love, and devotion), which elevate human beings to the higher planes of consciousness. [Neevel, p. 82.]

Harmony of religions

Ramakrishna recognised differences among religions but realised that in spite of these differences, all religions lead to the same ultimate goal, and hence they are all valid and true.cite journal
last = Cohen
first = Martin
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Spiritual Improvisations: Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, and the Freedom of Tradition
journal = Religion and the Arts
volume = 12
issue = 1-3
pages = pp. 277-293(17)
publisher = BRILL
location =
date = 2008
url =
doi = 10.1163/156852908X271079
] Amiya P. Sen writes that the deep foundations in "bhakti" or devotion and faith in God makes Ramakrishna's teachings look universalistic and not his culturally determied forms.cite journal
last = Sen
first = Amiya P.
title = Sri Ramakrishna, the "Kathamrita" and the Calcutta middle classes: an old problematic revisited
journal = Postcolonial Studies
volume = 9
issue = 2
pages = p.165-177
publisher =
location =
date = June 2006
url =
doi = 10.1080/13688790600657835
] The distinguished British historian Arnold J. Toynbee has written: “… Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence and Sri Ramakrishna’s testimony to the harmony of religions: here we have the attitude and the spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together into a single family–and in the Atomic Age, this is the only alternative to destroying ourselves.” [ [http://www.belurmath.org/sriramakrishna.htm#Contributions Contributions of Sri Ramakrishna to World Culture] ] [Lao Russell "God Will Work With You But Not For You", pp. 3-12, University of Science and Philosophy, 1981 ISBN-10: 1879605201; 1st ed. 1955]

Rergarding Harmony of Religions, Ramakrishna said,

Bhawuk in his journal, "Culture’s influence on creativity: the case of Indian spirituality" wrote that Ramakrishna's contribution to humanity is particularly significant for the world after the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Bhawuk writes that, Islam is not to be blamed for the incident of September 11, and no religion should be blamed for any act of terrorism, because the life of Ramakrishna proclaims that all religions lead to the same God. [Cite journal
last = Bhawuk
first = Dharm P.S.
title = Culture’s influence on creativity: the case of Indian spirituality
journal = International Journal of Intercultural Relations
volume = 27
issue = 1
pages = pp. 1-22
publisher = Elsevier
date=February 2003
]

Other teachings

Ramakrishna’s proclamation of "jatra jiv tatra Shiv" (wherever there is a living being, there is Shiva) stemmed from his Advaitic perception of Reality. This would lead him teach his disciples, "Jive daya noy, Shiv gyane jiv seba" (not kindness to living beings, but serving the living being as Shiva Himself). This view differs considerably from what Ramakrishna’s followers call the "sentimental pantheism" of, for example, Francis of Assisi.Fact|date=September 2008

Ramakrishna, though not formally trained as a philosopher, had an intuitive grasp of complex philosophical concepts.Hixon, Lex, "Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna", (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1992, 2002), p. xvi] According to him "brahmanda", the visible universe and many other universes, are mere bubbles emerging out of "Brahman", the supreme ocean of intelligence [ "Gospel of Ramakrishna", vol. 4"] .

Like Adi Sankara had done more than a thousand years earlier, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa revitalised Hinduism which had been fraught with excessive ritualism and superstition in the Nineteenth century and helped it become better-equipped to respond to challenges from Islam, Christianity and the dawn of the modern eraDas, Prafulla Kumar, "Samasamayik Banglar adhymatmik jibongothone Sri Ramakrishner probhab", in "Biswachetanay Ramakrishna", (Kolkata: Udbodhon Karyaloy, 1987,1997- 6th rep.), pp.299-311] . However, unlike Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna developed ideas about the post-"samadhi" descent of consciousness into the phenomenal world, which he went on to term "vignana". While he asserted the supreme validity of Advaita Vedanta, he also stated that "I accept both the "Nitya" and the "Leela", both the Absolute and the Relative." [cite book|last=Long|first=Jeffrey D.|title=A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism|publisher=I.B.Tauris|date=2007|pages=p. 126|isbn=9781845112738]

Parables

Parables formed a very important part of Ramakrishna's teachings. [cite book
last = Smart
first = Ninian
title = The World's Religions: old traditions and modern transformations
publisher = Cambridge University Press
pages = p.410
quote = Ramakrishna was a teacher with some popular appeal, speaking in vivid images and stories and parables.
] Like Christ, Ramakrishna conveyed his spiritual and moral messages through tales and parables. [cite book
title = Studies on Sri Ramakrishna
pages = p.109
publisher = Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (Original from the University of Michigan)
year = 1988
]

"The Parable of the Greatest Devotee", is one of his famous parables—Cquote
Once upon a time conceit entered into the heart of Narada and he thought there was no greater devotee than himself. Reading his heart, the Lord said, "Narada, go to such and such a place, a great devotee of mine is living there. Cultivate his acquaintance; for he is truly devoted to me." Narada went there and found an farmer who rose early in the morning, pronounced the name of Hari (God) only once, and taking his plough, went out and tilled the ground all day long. At night,. he went to bed after pronouncing the name of Hari once more. Narada said to himself "How can this rustic be a lover of God? I see him busily engaged in worldly duties and he has no signs of a pious man about him." Then Narada went back to the Lord, and spoke what he thought of his new acquaintance. There upon the Lord said, "Narada,take this cup of oil and go round this city and come back with it. But take care that you do not spill even a single drop of it." Narada did as he was told, and on his return the Lord asked him, "Well, Narada, how many times did you remember me in the course of your walk round the city?" "Not once, my Lord," said Narada, "and how could I, when I had to watch this cup brimming over with oil?" The Lord then said, "This one cup of oil did so divert your attention that even you did forget me altogether. But look at that rustic, who, though carrying the heavy burden of a family, still remembers me twice every day."

Impact

Ramakrishna is notable for modern revival of Hinduism in India, contributions to humanity and on Indian nationalism. The Ramakrishna Mission was founded on his principles by Swami Vivekananda in 1897. The Mission conducts extensive work in health care, disaster relief, rural management, tribal welfare, elementary and higher education. The movement is considered as one of the revitalization movements of India. [cite book
author = Cyrus R. Pangborn
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Ramakrishna Math and Mission
pages = p.98
]

Views on Ramakrishna

Ramakrishna's personality, religious experiences and his "sadhanas" such as tantra, "Madhura Bhava" have been studied by many philosophers, academic scholars. One of the areas of studies has been on the Psychoanalysis including scholars Romain Rolland, Sudhir Kakar, Narasingha Sil, Jeffery Kripal, Alan Rolland, Dr.Jean Openshaw, Somnath Bhattacharyya, Kelley Ann Raab, J.S. Hawley. The psychoanalysis has generated considerable debate and controversy. His personality and teachings which led to the formation a socio-religious movement, the Ramakrishna Mission has been studied by scholars including Leo Schneiderman, Walter G Neevel, Cyrus R. Pangborn, Amiya P. Sen.

Notes on Biographical sources

Ramakrishna never wrote down the details of his own life. Sources for his life and teachings come from the writings of his disciples and live witnesses. Ramakrishna's recorded sayings mainly come from the last four years of his life. [cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
authorlink =
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
location =
pages = 61
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 9004044957
]

* The book "Sri Sri Rāmakrishna Kathāmrita" by Mahendranath Gupta under the pseudonym "M.," belongs to this class of evidence. Mahendranath Gupta recorded his daily interactions with Ramakrishna in his dairy which were subsequently published as "Sri-Sri-Ramakrishna-Kathamrta" in 5 Volumes in bengali. The information in these volumes is available with "stenographic precision".cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.232-237
chapter = Bibliography
]
* "Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadever Jivan-vrittanta" (1880) by Ram Chandra Dutta,Failed verification|date=September 2008 is one of the earliest published biography of Ramakrishna. Religious scholar, Narasingha Silcite book
last = Sil
first = Narasingha P
authorlink = Narasingha Sil
coauthors =
title = Ramakrishna Revisited
publisher = University Press of America
date = May 28, 1998
location = America
pages = 368
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 978-0761810520
] and Jeffery Kripal [cite book
last = Kripal
first = Jeffery
authorlink = Jeffery Kripal
coauthors =
title = Kali's Child
publisher = University Of Chicago Press
date = October 1, 1998
location =
pages = 420
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 978-0226453774
] argue that Datta's "Jivanvrttanta" is the most scandalous biography of Ramakrishna, "containing the lurid details of his "sadhana" as well as his quite suggestive encounters with his patron Mathur." They cite a letter written by Swami Vivekananda in 1884 asking to "Avoid all irregular indecent expressions about sex etc...because other nations think it the height of indecency to mention such things, and his life in English is going to be read by the whole world" [http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_5/Epistles_-_First_Series/XXII_Alasinga The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ~ Volume 5 ~ Epistle XXIII] ] and calling Ramchandra Dutta's translation a "bosh and rot". They also argue that Ramchandra Dutta faced a possible law suit from Swami Vivekananda. However, Swami Atmajnanananda and Pravrajika Vrajaprana argue that as of 1995, this book has been published in nine Bengali editionscite journal
last = Atmajnanananda
first = Swami
title = Scandals, cover-ups, and other imagined occurrences in the life of Ramakrishnaa: An examination of Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's child
journal = International Journal of Hindu Studies
volume = 1
issue = 2
pages = pp.401-420
publisher = Springer
location = Netherlands
date = August, 1997
url = http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1g8l97203k25047/
doi = 10.1007/s11407-997-0007-8
] Cite Journal
last = Vrajaprana
first = Pravrajika
title = Review of Kali's child, by Jeffrey Kripal
journal = Hindu-Christian studies bulletin
volume = 10
pages = 59-60
Year = 1997
] . Kripal later withdrew these arguments. [Cite web
title = Pale Plausibilities: A Preface for the Second Edition
author = Jeffrey Kripal,
url = http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~kalischi/pale.html
quote= "I have also, I believe, overplayed the degree to which the tradition has suppressed Datta's Jivanavrttanta. Indeed, to my wonder (and embarrassment), the Ramakrishna Order reprinted Datta's text the very same summer "Kali's Child" appeared, rendering my original claims of a conscious concealment untenable with respect to the present
]
*In 1887, Akshay Kumar Sen wrote Ramakrishna's life in verse — "Sri Sri Ramakrishna Punthi" in Bengali. Akshay Kumar Sen later wrote "Padye Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Dever Upadesh" and "Sri Sri Ramakrishna Mahima".

* "Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga" by Swami Saradananda. The book was begun in 1909 and left partially incomplete at the author's death in 1927. [cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
authorlink =
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
location =
pages = 62
url =
doi =
id =
isbn =
] Scholars Romain Rolland, Isherwood consider Swami Saradananda an authority both as a philosopher and as an historian on Ramakrishna.cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.232-237
chapter = Bibliography
] [cite book
last = Isherwood
first = Christopher
authorlink = Christopher Isherwood
title = Ramakrishna and his Disciples
chapter = The Birth of Ramakrishna
date = 1965
pages = p.2
quote = Although Saradananda did not begin his work until more than twenty years after Ramakrishna's death, there is no doubt of its authenticity. Many of those who had known Ramakrishna were then still alive, and Saradananda carefully compared his memories with theirs.
]
*"My Master", speeches by Swami Vivekananda in 1896.cite book
last = Vivekananda
first = Swami
title =
date = 1896
pages = pp.154-188
chapter =
] Religious Scholar Sil argues that Ramakrishna is a product of Vivekananda's "Mythmaking and Propaganda"cite book
last = Sil
first = Narasingha P
authorlink = Narasingha Sil
title = Ramakrishna Revisited
chapter = Vivekānanda's Rāmakṛṣṇa: An Untold Story of Mythmaking and Propaganda
chapterurl = http://www.jstor.org/stable/3270397
] , other scholars have expressed the opinion that Vivekananda has presented a accurate picture of Ramakrishna. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.30-31
chapter = The Dialogic Process
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls13.htm
quote = I had made it as clear as possible to Vivekânanda that the accounts hitherto published of his Master, however edifying they might be to his followers, would sound perfectly absurd to European students, ... that descriptions of miracles performed by the Saint, however well authenticated, would produce the very opposite effect of what they were intended for. Vivekânanda himself is a man who knows England and America well, and perfectly understood what I meant.
] [cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
pages = 53-97
quote = …Although Muller claims still to see "the irrepressible miraculising tendencies of devoted disciples", we can assume that Vivekananda, under the admonitions from the leading Indologist of the day, made every effort to make his account as factual and accurate as possible.
] [cite book
last = Isherwood
first = Christopher
authorlink = Christopher Isherwood
title = Ramakrishna and his Disciples
chapter = The Birth of Ramakrishna
date = 1965
pages = p.23
quote = When we meet Vivekananda in the latter part of this story, we shall find him a highly skeptical young man with a western-agnostic education in Calcutta, who refused utterly to believe in the supernormal until he had, so to speak, banged his head against it. And even when Vivekananda's disbelief had been modified by personal experience, even when he had become one of Ramakrishna's most passionate devotees, he still discouraged blind faith in others, still urged everyone to find out the truth for himself. And, over and over again, he asserted that it really did not matter whether you believed that Ramakrishna was a divine incarnation or not. Can we accuse such men of lying?
] Scholar Amiya P. Sen argues that Sil's thesis, "naively overlooks" several factors. [cite journal
last = Sen
first = Amiya P.
title = Sri Ramakrishna, the "Kathamrita" and the Calcutta middle classes: an old problematic revisited
journal = Postcolonial Studies
volume = 9
issue = 2
pages = p.165-177
date = June 2006
quote = More recently, a critic has argued that Vivekananda's missionary career was really chosen by default as the life of a householder or a normal secular profession eluded him.11 There are several factors that such formulations naively overlook. First, there is the vibrant religious quest created in modern Bengal primarily by the Brahmo Samaj, but also by less known bodies. Second, there are the older and continuous male-brahmanical concerns that evidently Ramakrishna and his upper-caste devotees share. Third, a religious quest does not always follow from a sense of depravity, and material success is not in every case a measure of human happiness or well-being.
]

* Other Biographic works include, Mahendranath Dutta's "Sri Ramakrishner Anudhyan", ("Sacred Memories of Sri Ramakrishna"), Satyacharan Mitra's 1897 "Sri Sri Ramakrsna Paramahamsadeber Jiboni o Upadesh" ("The Life and Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa"), and Sureshchandra Datta's 1886 "Sriramakrsnadeber Upades" ("Teachings of SriRamakrishna").

* Max Muller's book "Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings" (1898) is one of the earliest works by a Western scholar on the life of Ramakrishna and a relatively independent source of biography. [cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
authorlink =
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
location =
pages = 63
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 9004044957
] .It is based on first-hand evidence, analysed in "broad and clear critical spirit". Max Muller based this book on the testimonies of Swami Vivekananda and several independent witnesses, both favorable and unfavorable to Ramakrishna. [cite book
last = Muller
first = Max
title = Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings
date = 1898
pages = pp.61
chapter = Mozoomdar's Judgement
chapterurl= http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls16.htm
] Scholars consider this book to be "containing the just criticism needed for a true valuation of Ramakrishna's personality and teaching". [Cite journal
author = Maurice Bloomfield
date = Dec., 1899
title = Reviewed work(s): Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings by F. Max Müller
journal = The American Historical Review
volume = 5
issue = 2
pages = pp. 347-349
publisher = American Historical Association
location = American
url = http://www.jstor.org/stable/1834625
year = 1899
] Max Muller, regarded Ramakrishna as "The Real Mahatman". [cite news
author = Max Muller
title = A Real Mahatman
publisher = The Nineteenth Century
date = 1896
language = English
]
* Romain Rolland's book : "Life of Ramakrishna" (1929) is another biographic work which is based on direct disciples of whom Romain Rolland writes —"I have received glowing testimony at their hands. I have talked with some among them, who were the companions of this mystic being - of the Man-Gods- and I can vouch for their loyalty. Moreover, these eye-witnesses are not the simple fishermen of the Gospel story; some are great thinkers, learned in European thought and disciplined in its strict school." [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = pp.xxiii
chapter = Prelude
] , and independent eye-witnesses of Ramakrishna who were alive at his time. He had consulted the Christian missionaries who had interview Ramakrishna. [cite book
last = Rolland
first = Romain
title = The Life of Ramakrishna
date = 1929
pages = p.205
chapter = The River Re-Enters the Sea
]

*The English translations of "Kathamrita" were published by Swami Nikhilananda in his book The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. The book provides authentic informationCite journal
author = Carl E. Purinton
date = Jan, 1949
title = Reviewed work(s): Ramakrishna: Prophet of New India. Abridged from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda
journal = Journal of Bible and Religion
volume = 17
issue = 1
pages = pp. 67-68
publisher = Oxford University Press
location = London
url = http://www.jstor.org/stable/1456762
year = 1949
] [cite book
last = Neevel
first = Walter G
authorlink =
coauthors = Bardwell L. Smith
title = Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions
chapter = The Transformation of Ramakrishna
publisher = Brill Archive
date = 1976
location =
pages = 61-62
url =
doi =
id =
] about Ramakrishna. The book was voted as one of the "100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century" by the American scholars convened by HarperCollins publishers, [Cite Web
title = 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century
url=http://www.faithalivebooks.com/collections/harper_100_best.html
accessdate=2008-08-21
] [cite book
last = Zalewiski
first = Phillip
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = The Best Spiritual Writing 2000
publisher = HarperCollins
date = 2000
location = San Francisco
pages =
url =
doi =
id =
isbn =978-0062516701
] However, scholars argue that the book has been bowdlerized. [Sil, 1993; Hatcher, 1999; Radice, 1995; Kripal 1998] . Kripal argues that although Nikhilananda calls it a literal translation, he "substantially altered Gupta's text, combining the five parallel narratives", "as well as deleting some passages which he claimed were "of no particular interest to English-speaking readers.". ["Kali's Child" (1995), p.329-336] However other scholars Sil, Swami Tyagananda [cite paper
author = Swami Tyagananda
title= Kali's Child Revisited
date = 2000
url = http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/s_rv/s_rv_tyaga_kali1_frameset.htm
quote = What is most important to note is that Nikhilananda was honest when he said that he omitted "only a few pages of no particular interest to the English speaking readers" (Gospel, vii). He did not deny the omissions and it seems to me unfair to question his integrity-as Kripal does-simply because Kripal finds something of "particular interest" which Nikhilananda didn't.
] , Somnath Bhattacharrya [cite paper
author = Somnath Bhattacharrya
title = Kali's Child: Psychological And Hermeneutical Problems
date = 2002
quote = Anybody with an elementary knowledge of Bengali may check for himself that Kripal's charge about Nikhilananda having "ingeniously mistranslated (or omitted) almost every single secret "(KC 333) is simply untrue. As a matter of fact if one cross checks the list of these passages marked guhya-katha, one finds that in an overwhelming majority of instances Nikhilananda's translations are faithful to the letter as well as spirit of the original.
] , Swami Atmajnananda argue that Kripal's observations are incorrect. They also argue that Nikhilananda's translations were faithful and took into consideration the western decorum.cite journal
last = Atmajnanananda
first = Swami
title = Scandals, cover-ups, and other imagined occurrences in the life of Ramakrishna: An examination of Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's child
journal = International Journal of Hindu Studies
volume = 1
issue = 2
pages = pp.401-420
publisher = Springer
location = Netherlands
date = August, 1997
url = http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1g8l97203k25047/
doi = 10.1007/s11407-997-0007-8
quote = In each case, however, it is Nikhillnanda's sensitivity to Western decorum that seems to have dictated his translation decisions, not fear of revealing hidden secrets. Had this been the case, he certainly would have eliminated far more of Ramakrishna's remarks than he did. In each case also, we find Kripal's translation of the missing portion more misleading than Nikhilananda's omissions.
] [cite paper
author = Swami Tyagananda
title= Kali's Child Revisited
date = 2000
url = http://www.infinityfoundation.com/mandala/s_rv/s_rv_tyaga_kali1_frameset.htm
quote = Translating texts across cultural boundaries is not easy: if you translate the "word," you risk being misunderstood; if you translate the "idea," you are charged-as Kripal does-with "bowdlerizing" the text. His allegation that Nikhilananda omitted portions containing "some of the most revealing and significant passages of the entire text" (KC 4) is not only textually unjustified but completely untrue.
] Peter Heehs argues, [cite book
last = Heehs
first = Peter
authorlink =
title = Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Experience and Expression
publisher = C. Hurst & Co. Publishers
date = 2002
pages = p.
] that the translation in "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" turns Ramakrishna's vigorous and occasionally coarse Bengali into English of near-Victorian propriety and do not convey as much as the Bengali originals, however, the works on M and Saradananda remain documents of considerable value, which have allowed Ramakrishna to speak to a worldwide audience.

*"Life of Sri Ramakrishna, compiled from various authentic sources" (1925) by Swami Madhavananda is also one of the primary sources of Ramakrishna's biography and contains first hand accounts of his disciples, live witnesses.

Notes

References

*
*
* (reprint, orig. 1965)
*
*
*cite book | last =Nikhilananda | first =Swami | authorlink =Swami Nikhilananda | title =The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna | publisher =Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center | url=http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/ | date =1942 | isbn =0911206019
*cite book | last =Rajagopalachari | first =Chakravarti | authorlink =C. Rajagopalachari | title =Sri Ramakrishna Upanishad | publisher =Vedanta Press | date =1973 | asin =B0007J1DQ4
*
*cite book | last =Rolland | first =Romain | authorlink =Romain Rolland | title =Life of Ramakrishna | publisher =Vedanta Press | date =1929 | isbn =978-8185301440
*cite book | last =Saradananda | first =Swami | authorlink = Swami Saradananda| coauthors =Swami Chetanananda | title =Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play | publisher =Vedanta Society | date =2003 | location =St. Louis | isbn =978-0916356811
*cite book | last =Saradananda | first =Swami | authorlink = | coauthors =Swami Jagadananda | title =Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master | publisher =Sri Ramakrishna Math | date =1952 | asin =B000LPWMJQ
*

Further reading

*cite book | last =Ananyananda | first =Swami | title =Ramakrishna: a biography in pictures | publisher =Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta | date =1981 | isbn =978-8185843971
*cite book | last =Chetanananda | first =Swami | title =Ramakrishna As We Saw Him | publisher =Vedanta Society of St Louis | date =1990 | location =St. Louis | isbn =978-0916356644
*
*
*
*cite book | last =Torwesten | first =Hans | title =Ramakrishna and Christ, or, The paradox of the incarnation | publisher =The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture | date =1999 | isbn =978-8185843971

External links

* [http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/index.htm The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna]
* [http://belurmath.org/gospel/chronology.htm A chronology of the life of Ramakrishna]
*" [http://www.kathamrita.org/ Ramakrishna Kathamrita] " literally, "The Nectar of Ramakrishna’s Words"
* [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/index.htm Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings] by Max Müller
* [http://www.hinduism.fsnet.co.uk/namoma/life_thakur/life_thakur_my_master.htm My Master] - from Vivekananda's 1896 Lectures on Ramakrishna
* [http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info Works of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda]
* [http://www.rkmhq.org/ Official website of the Headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission]
* [http://www.sriramakrishna.org/apostles.htm Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna]

Persondata
NAME = Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Gadadhar Chattopadhyay
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Mystic of 19th Century India
DATE OF BIRTH = 18 February 1836
PLACE OF BIRTH = Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
DATE OF DEATH = 16 August 1886
PLACE OF DEATH = Cossipore, Calcutta


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