Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
 Ramakrishna was a Bengali ascetic.
His original name was Gadadhar Chatterji.
Born on 20th February 1834 in a village called Kamarpukur in the Hooghly District of West Bengal. His was a poor Brahmin family.
It is ascribed that quite a boy, he had wonderful power of memory. Used to remember religious books and stories.
Did not receive formal education.
At the age of 17 he lost his father and then moved to Calcutta with his elder brother Pandit Ram Kumar to try to make a living.
Some time worked as pujari for household idols.

A wealthy Bengali lady (Rani Rashmoni) constructed a temple at Dakshinesvara, four miles north of Calcutta, on the bank of river Hooghly. It was opened on 31 may 1855. His elder brother was appointed chief priest.
Soon Gadadhar was appointed as one of the assistant priests.

Worship of the image of Kali in the temple crated new religious assertion in Gadadhar’s life.  There was a new religious passion.
He thought of her as her own mother and the mother of the universe.
He felt that she was eating and he was talking to her.
Often he went into Samadhi( a form of trance), became unconscious.
Thus sat in a fixed position for a short time or long and then became conscious.
It is claimed that during such time there was no pulse or heartbeat in him.
He was able to induce this samathi in others.

His brother and mother thought that marriage would make him normal. He was taken to home and married in 1859. He was 25 years and bride was only six. ( The Hindu marriage was binding but do not live together until she is 11 or 12.

He left the girl in her father’s house and continued his work in the temple.
He entered into new phase of religious experience.
He desired to realize the existence and the presence of his mother, the goddess.
He believed that God can be seen.
His continuous Samthi deprived his position in the temple.

Thus he left the temple and lived in a little wood nearby.
From now on he spent 12 years of self-repression to reach union with god.
During this time a Brahmin nun(sannyasin) who understood his religious condition helped him. She was a learned person. She knew and practiced yoga. She was aware of books on tantra. After a stay of sometime in the temple she left and did not return.
Gadadhar was not satisfied yet. He longed for higher knowledge.

Later he met a sannyasi by name TataPuri in the temple. Tata Puri followed monistic Vedanta. He explained it to Gadadhar.
Tata Puri also taught Gadadhar Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Higher trance).
He initiated Gadadhar as Sannyasi.
It is claimed that he had forgotten that he had married.

After initiation Gadadhar got the new name Ramakrishna. Later his friends called him Paramahamsa- a title for sanctity.

Ramakrishna then sought the Vaishnava ideal for God. He imagined himself as Radha the cowherd mistress of Krishna, wore woman’s attire, spoke like woman and lived among the women of his own family. It is claimed that after sometime he saw the beautiful form of Krishna.

12 years of spiritual storm passed and now at peace (1871).
His wife became 18, and came to see him after hearing his fame.
Ramakrishna refused to live with her as husband.
Thus she became his pupil and lived in the temple. She revered him as a divine being.
Sri Sarada Devi (Wife) was his first disciple. she is called holy mother.

His next impulse was to conquer the feeling of caste. He did through performing all caste works.

In order to overcome the desire for money he repressed himself.

To overcome the instinct of sex treated every woman as mother.

About God he said, God is impersonal. All deities are the manifestation of God.
Even Kali he considered as one of the manifestations of God.
 He wanted to have the religious experience of the Muslims. To do so he lived among them.

It is said that he also had seen a vision of Jesus. And continued to speak of his love for three days.

At the end he came to the conclusion that “all religions were true, that they were simply various paths leading to the same goal.”

He was met by learned leaders. For example Sen met him in 1875. Ramakrishna died in 1886.

Ramakrishna did not write anything.
After his death, his disciples collected his sayings a published with the title “The Gospel of Sri Rama Krishna”. It is treated almost like gospel.

Ramakrishna was simple.
His simple motive was passion for God.

Some people commented negatively about his religious experience- he was mad.
Narendra Nath Dutt said that Ramakrishna was ‘a wonderful mixture of God and man’.
Others said Ramakrishna was a simple Hindu with pressing new thoughts.
He did not have English education.
He did not learn Sanskrit. Nor scholarly knowledge in Bengali.

His speeches were filled with humor.
He was not a formal teacher.

Ramakrishna’s context was that Christianity was claiming universality. It urged its ethics on others.
Islam also was present but not very active.
To respond to this situation he said: “all religions were true, that in their inner essence they were identical and that each man should remain in the religion in which he had been born.”

It was Ramakrishna’s teaching on religions that laid hold of his disciples particularly his defense of everything Hindu and all religions are true.

After the death of Ramakrishna a group of disciples renounced the world and devoted their lives to spread his teaching.
One among them was Narendra Nath Datta (Svami Vivekananda).

Rama Krishna was so devoted tot he past yet universal.
he balanced between the personal and impersonal God.
balanced the householder and the renouncer.
balanced religion and social work.

in a way it was a starting point of true Hindu renaissance.


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