Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, is one of the Masters whose name in the 19 century adorned the ancient Guru tradition of India.
Birth And Early Days
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was born in a poor but a pious family to Kshudiram and Chandramni Devi in Kamarpukur, West Bengal on February 18, 1836. The very conception of Ramakrishna in His mother's womb foretold the birth of one of the most significant beings. His father dreamt of Lord Ghadhadar who said that He would incarnate as his son; His mother is said to have a vision of light entering her womb.Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was named Gadadhar by His parents on the account of His father's dream. Ramakrishna was seldom interested in His studies and had a natural inclination to fine arts and nature. He showed more interest in the religious debates of pious monks who visited Kamarpukur enroute their pilgrimage to Puri.
He exhibited kindness irrespective of differences in caste and creed. He received His first alms from an untouchable when the sacred thread was invested.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's Advent To Dakshineshwar
After His father's death, He moved to Dakshineswar with His brother who was to take up the role as the priest of a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali (Bhavatarini), built by a woman called Rani Rashmoni. Ramakrishna was assigned with the job to decorate the idol of Mother Kali. Later after His brother's death, He assumed the role of the priest of the temple.
Ramakrishna's devotion for the Mother grew day by day. He craved for the vision of the Mother and spent long hours of meditation in the grove at the edge of the temple. He once seized the sword in the temple and attempted to kill Himself at the deity's nonchalance . At this juncture a flood of limitless bright light emanated from the deity and engulfed Him causing Him to collapse. But the experience opened up a new vista of undiluted bliss and consciousness in Him.
Ramakrishna identified Himself with roles of mythical figures like Radha, Hanuman etc and merged totally with them. He met Totapuri, a wandering monk who exposed the Advaita philosophy of Non-Dualism after which He was found to have experienced Nirvikalpa Samadhi where His soul was absorbed in Consciousness.
Ramakrishna's spiritual behaviour was misunderstood as being erratic by His worried family who thought that it was the outcome of His celibacy. He was then married to Sarada Devi, to whom He taught all that He had learned and who later became a saint in Her own right.
Disciples & Teachings
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa attracted a lot of devotees and disciples from all walks of life including the sophisticated and educated class as well. He was then addressed as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa by His disciples, the prime among whom was Narandra Dutta, who later became Swami Vivekananda.
Ranakrishna Paramahamsa taught Advaita which embraced the oneness of existence. He emphasized that the supreme goal of human life was God realization. He further saw two aspects of Maya (Illusion) as Avidyamaya which consisted of sensual desires, evil intentions and other like qualities and Vidyamaya which consisted of spiritual virtues and other good qualities. He stated that with Vidyamaya, one can overcome Avidyamaya and be free of Illusion.
He recognized the harmony in different religions and beliefs by exposing Himself to Islam, Christianity and Tantrism and taught that all religions worked towards the same goal. His teachings further revived the principles of Hinduism that was losing popularity due to its complex rituals in the 19th century. His teachings affirmed the divinity in the idol when people were opting for Christinaity, Atheism or for Brahmo Samaj that denounced idol worship. While doing so His teachings also propagated a more practical aspect in Hinduism, easily digestible by the contemporary age.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa then shed His body on 16th August 1886 of throat cancer. However He lives on as the imperishable Brahman guiding multitudes to tis day!
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Sayings
1. You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises. Can you therefore
say that there are no stars in the heavens during day? O man because you cannot find God
in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.
2. He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God this very life. 3. A man is rewarded according to his thoughts and motives. The Lord is like Kalpataru,
the widh yielding tree of heaven. Everyone gets from Him whatever he seeks. A poor
man's son having received education and become a judge of the High Court by hard work
is apt to think,"Now I am happy, I have reached the highest rung of the ladder. It is alright
now." To him the Lord says, "Do thou remain so." But when the judge of the High Court
retires on pension and reviews his past, he understands that he has wasted his life and
exclaims alas,"Alas, what is the real work have I done in this life!" To him the Lord says,
"Alas! What hast thou done!"
4. Man is born in this world with two tendencies-Vidya, the tendency to pursue the path
of liberation and Avidya, the leaning towards worldliness and bondage. At his birth, both
these tendencies are as it were, in equilibrium like the two scales of the balance.The
world soon places its enjoyments and pleasures in one scale and the Spirit, its attractions
in the other. If the mind chooses the world, the scale of Avidya becomes heavy, and man
gravitates towards the earth; but if it chooses the Spirit, the scale of Vidya becomes
heavier and pulls him towards God.
5. Know the one, and you will know the all.Ciphers placed after the figure 1 get the
value of hundreds and of thousands, but they become valueless if you wipe out the figure.
The many ciphers have the value only because of their one. First the one and then the
many. First God and then the Jivas and the Jagat (creatures and the world)
6. First gain God and then gain wealth; but do not try to do the contrary.if, after acquiring spirituality, you lead a worldly life; you will never lose your peace of mind.
7. Do you talk of social reform?Well, you may do so after realizing God.Remember,
the Rishis of old gave up the world in to attain God. This is the one thing needful. All
other things shall be added to you, if indeed you care to have them. First see God, and the
talk of lectures and social reforms.
8. A new-comer to a city should first secure a comfortable room for his rest at night, and after keeping his luggage there, he may freely go about the city for site-seeing. Otherwise he may have to suffer much in darkness of night to get a place for rest.Similarly, after securing his eternal place in God, a new-comer to this world can fearlessly move about doing his daily work. Otherwise when the dark and dreadful night of death over him, he will have to encounter great difficulties and sufferings.