Tribute to Sri Ramakrishna
A tribute to the remarkable God Realised Soul of Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna lived on earth for 50 years between 1836 and 1886. He was a God-intoxicated Saint who realised God and taught several very devoted disciples including Swami Vivekananda.
One of Sri Ramakrishna’s great achievements was to show through practical example the unity of the world religions. After realising God, Sri Ramakrishna practised the spiritual disciplines of the main religions and their main branches. For example he went through a period of praying like a Muslim 5 times a day. He also meditated on the idealsof Jesus Christ. Sri Ramakrishna affirmed that all these different spiritual practices led to the same transcendental goal of union with the Absolute.
"Many are the names of God and infinite the forms through which He may be approached."
Ramakrishna said that God could be reached by all religions but at the same time God could not be confined by any religion. The Supreme consciousness is far beyond the domain of man’s intellectual understanding. It is no coincidence that his foremost disciple Swami Vivekananda would make such a lasting impression at the World Parliament of Religions in 1897. Vivekananda spoke most eloquently on Sri Ramakrishna’s ground breaking testimony on religious unity and religious tolerance.
Reading the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna one cannot help but be inspired by Sri Ramakrishna’s intense devotion. Ramakrishna cared little for intellectual explanation. His was not the way of the Jnani yoga. He was the supreme Bhakti yogi, his chosen deity being Mother Kali. In the Gospel of Ramakrishna M recounts how Ramakrishna was so desperate that he could not see his beloved Mother Kali he went to pick up a sword that was hanging on the temple wall. He was about to strike himself with it, when he saw light waves coming from the temple image. He fell unconscious on the floor and was inundated with the bliss of Mother Kali.
Sri Ramakrishna’s philosophy was in essence simple; pure untainted love of God
"Unalloyed love of God is the essential thing. All else is unreal."
- Sri Ramakrishna
“If you must be mad, be it not for the things of the world. Be mad with the love of God…”
- Sri Ramakrishna
Although Ramakrishna was uneducated his fame spread and often people from all walks of life would come to visit the “God intoxicated Saint of Calcutta. Many illustrious people came to visit and were often unexpectedly surprised at how he was able to answer spiritual questions so profoundly and clearly. Ramakrishna said all his wisdom and knowledge came from within. One prominent figure who became attracted to Ramakrishna was Keshab Sen leader of the Brahmo Samaj, at the time a key figure in Bengali culture.
Sri Ramakrishna, however was often disdainful of outer wealth and prestige, he was only interested in a man’s heart and whether he was genuine, in his love of God. During the last years of his life he developed a group of very dedicated disciples who he trained through his own unique blend of devotional singing, meditation and humorous parables. 2 Books “God lived with Them” and “They lived with God” tell the stories of Ramakrishna’s close monastic and non monastic disciples. They are a testament to Ramakrishna’s spiritual power and magnetism.
As soon as Sri Ramakrishna saw Naren (Vivekanada) he knew him to be a great Soul, a Liberated soul, who would work tirelessly for the Mother. However at the time Naren was quite rebellious and doubted the realisation of Ramakrishna. Despite Vivekananda’s initial scepticism Ramakrishna was the first to recognise his spiritual greatness. Ramakrishna never wavered in his praise of Vivekananda, even when people came to him saying Naren was an atheist. Later whilst in America, Vivekanada said something most profound. He said he felt unable to speak about his Spiritual Master Ramakrishna because people would not understand or appreciate his spiritual height and depth. Vivekananda never forgot his debt to his Spiritual Master Ramakrishna. He felt it was Ramakrishna and the spiritual force of Mother Kali which was responsible for all his success. Vivekananada here states how his initial scepticism of Mother Kali was imperceptibly changed by Ramakrishna.
“But I had to accept Her at last. Ramakrishna Paramahansa dedicated me to Her, and now I believe that She guides me in every little thing I do, and does with me what She wills.”
To the Paramahamsa Ramakrishna Deva
"Diverse courses of worship
from varied springs of fulfillment
have mingled in your meditation.
The manifold revelation of the joy of the Infinite
has given form to a shrine of unity in your life
where from far and near arrive salutations
to which I join my own."
- Rabindranath Tagore
"In a recent and unique example, in the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa we see a colossal spiritual capacity first driving straight to the divine realization, taking, as it were, the Kingdom of Heaven by violence, and then seizing upon one Yoga method after another and extracting the substance out of it with an incredible rapidity, always to return to the heart of the whole matter, the realization and possession of God by the power of love, by the extension of inborn spirituality into various experience and by the spontaneous play of an intuitive knowledge."
"His life is a searchlight of infinite power thrown upon the whole mass of Indian religious thought. He was the living commentary to the Vedas and to their aim. He had lived in one life the whole cycle of the national religious existence in India."
- Swami Vivekananda
"Ramakrishna, the illiterate man from the temple of conventional worship, was a veritable colossus of mystical experience; in him direct and immediate realisation of the Divine Being reached an intensity and variety which made him a marvellous summing-up of the whole spiritual history of India, with a face carrying the first gleam of a new age of the human soul - the age that will be known as the Aurobindonian."
- Ramakrishna Soul of the East by: Sri Chinmoy
"Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His sayings are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of his own experiences. They therefore leave on the reader an impression which he cannot resist."
Tributes to Sri Ramakrishna at Ramakrishna.org
Early life of Ramakrishna - a biography of Ramakrishna I hope to continue some time
- Quotes from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna