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Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar
Date of Birth February 18, 1836(1836-02-18)
Place of birth Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
Birth Gadadhar Chattopadhyay
Date of death 16 August 1886 (aged 50)
Place of death Garden House in Cossipore
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.[1]

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Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (Bangla: রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংস Ramkṛiṣṇo Pôromôhongśo) (February 18, 1836 - August 16, 1886), born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay[2] (Bangla: গদাধর চট্টোপাধ্যায় Gôdadhor Chôţţopaddhae), was a famous mystic of 19th-century India.[3] His religious school of thought led to the formation of the Ramakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda[4][5][6][7] - both were influential figures in the Bengali Renaissance[8] as well as the Hindu renaissance during the 19th and 20th centuries.[9][10][11]Many of his disciples and devotees believe he was an avatar or incarnation of God.[12]

Ramakrishna was born in a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal. He became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition.[2] His first spiritual teacher was an ascetic woman skilled in Tantra and Vaishnava bhakti.[13] Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, and according to Ramakrishna, he experienced nirvikalpa samadhi under his guidance. Ramakrishna also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God.[2] Though conventionally uneducated, he attracted the attention of the middle class and numerous Bengali intellectuals.

Contents

Biography

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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.[14] Located far from the railroad, Kamarpukur was untouched by the glamour of the city and contained rice fields, tall palms, royal banyans, a few lakes, and two cremation grounds.[15] His parents were Khudiram Chattopâdhyâya and Chandramani Devî. According to traditional accounts, Ramakrishna's parents experienced supernatural incidents, visions before his birth. His father Khudiram had a dream in Gaya in which Lord Gadadhara (a form of god Vishnu), said that he would be born as his son. Chandramani Devi is said to have had a vision of light entering her womb from Shiva's temple.[16][17]

The small house at Kamarpukur where Ramakrishna lived (centre). The family shrine is on the left, birthplace temple on the right

Ramakrishna was a popular figure in the village, with a natural gift for fine arts. Though he attended a village school with some regularity for 12 years,[18] he later rejected the traditional schooling saying that he was not interested in a "bread-winning education".[19][20][21] Kamarpukur, being a transit-point in well-established pilgrimage routes to Puri, brought him into contact with renunciates and holy men.[22] He became well-versed in the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavata Purana, hearing them from wandering monks and the Kathaks—a class of men in ancient India who preached and sang the Purāṇas.[20][23] He could read and write in Bengali.[20]

Ramakrishna describes his first spiritual ecstasy at the age of six: while walking along the paddy fields, a flock of white cranes flying against a backdrop of dark thunder clouds caught his vision. He reportedly became so absorbed by this scene that he lost outward consciousness and experienced indescribable joy in that state.[24][25] Ramakrishna reportedly had experiences of similar nature a few other times in his childhood—while worshipping the goddess Vishalakshi, and portraying god Shiva in a drama during Shivaratri festival. From his tenth or eleventh year on, the trances became common, and by the final years of his life, Ramakrishna's samādhi periods occurred almost daily.[25][26]

Ramakrishna's father died in 1843, after which time family responsibilities fell on his elder brother Ramkumar. This loss drew him closer to his mother, and he spent his time in household activities and daily worship of the household deities and became more involved in contemplative activities such as reading the sacred epics.[27] When Ramakrishna was in his teens, the family's financial position worsened. Ramkumar started a Sanskrit school in Calcutta and also served as a priest. Ramakrishna moved to Calcutta in 1852 with Ramkumar to assist in the priestly work.[14][20][28]

Priest at Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Dakshineswar Kāli Temple, where Ramakrishna spent a major portion of his adult life.
Bhavatārini Kali, the deity that Ramakrishna worshipped.

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 kaivarta community.[29] Ramakrishna, along with his nephew Hriday, became assistants to Ramkumar, with Ramakrishna given the task of decorating the deity. When Ramkumar died in 1856, Ramakrishna took his place as the priest of the Kali temple.[30] The name Ramakrishna is said to have been given to him by Mathur Babu, the son-in-law of Rani Rashmoni.[31]

After Ramkumar's death Ramakrishna became more contemplative. He began to look upon the image of the goddess Kali as his mother and the mother of the universe. He became seized by a desire to have a darshana (vision) of Kali—a direct realization of her reality—and believed the stone image to be living and breathing and taking food out of his hand.[32] At times he would weep bitterly and cry out loudly while worshipping, and would not be comforted, because he could not see his mother Kali as perfectly as he wished. People became divided in their opinions—some held Ramakrishna to be mad, and some took him to be a great lover of God. Ramakrishna was said to become deeply offended when others would not show the same level of devotion for the goddess Kali as he did. He would become angry when others would tell him that he was not really experiencing the presence of Kali. Yet Through his faith, and his spiritual devotion, others would soon begin to believe in not only what Ramakrishna was seeing, but in his teachings as well.[33][34] One day, brought to the point of suicide by this longing, he had the experience of goddess Kali as the universal Mother,[14] which he described as "... houses, doors, temples and everything else vanished altogether; as if there was nothing anywhere! And what I saw was an infinite shoreless sea of light; a sea that was consciousness. However, far and in whatever direction I looked, I saw shining waves, one after another, coming towards me."[35]

Marriage

Rumors spread to Kamarpukur that Ramakrishna had become unstable as a result of his 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.[36] Far from objecting to the marriage, Ramakrishna mentioned that they could find the bride at the house of Ramchandra Mukherjee in Jayrambati, three miles to the north-west of Kamarpukur. The five-year-old bride, Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya was found and the marriage was duly solemnised in 1859.[37] Ramakrishna was 23 at this point, but the age difference was typical for 19th century rural Bengal.[38] They later spent three months together in Kamarpukur. Sarada Devi was fourteen while Ramakrishna was thirty-two. Ramakrishna became a very influential figure in Sarada’s life, and she became a strong follower of his teachings. Their marriage is now seen in India, to be one of the most spiritual and perfect unions between a man and a woman. .[39] After the marriage, Sarada stayed at Jayrambati and joined Ramakrishna in Dakshineswar at the age of 18.[40]

Religious practices and teachers

After his marriage Ramakrishna returned to Calcutta and resumed the charges of the temple again, but instead of toning down, his spiritual fervour and devotion only increased. To cultivate humility and eliminate the distinction between his own high Brahmin caste and pariahs belonging of low caste he would clean their quarters with his own hands and long hair.[41][42]

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."[42] According to Swami Vivekananda, his hatred for money became so instinctive that his body would shrink back convulsively if it were touched with a coin, even when asleep.[43]

Many of his religious views were based on traditional Hindu thought and practice. Ramakrishna’s personal and religious views focused on living a traditional life, with Hindu gods at the center. It was very much a philosophy of godly worship and dependence. He believed that everything in life–caste, wealth, family, and personal achievement–was already determined by the gods. Though in regards to other religions, Ramakrishna did not hold traditional biased views. He believed that every religion was welcome, and that worshiping a god in any way was better than not worshiping one at all. He became very known for his views on religious tolerance and was seen as a saintly figure to many because of them. His views of tolerance were also passed on through the Ramakrishna Mission and his followers.[33]

Bhairavi Brahmani and Tantra

In 1861, Bhairavi Brahmani, an orange-robed, middle-aged female ascetic, appeared at Dakshineshwar. She carried with her the Raghuvir Shila, a stone icon representing Ram and all Vaishnava deities.[13] She was thoroughly conversant with the texts of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and practiced Tantra.[13] According to the Bhairavi, Ramakrishna was experiencing phenomena that accompany mahabhava—the supreme attitude of loving devotion towards the divine[44]–and quoting from the bhakti shastras, she said that other religious figures like Radha and Chaitanya had similar experiences.[45]

The Bhairavi initiated Ramakrishna into Tantra. Tantrism focuses on the worship of shakti and the object of Tantric training is to transcend the barriers between the holy and unholy as a means of achieving liberation and to see all aspects of the natural world as manifestations of the divine shakti.[36][46] Under her guidance, he went through a full course of sixty four major tantric sadhanas which were completed in 1863.[44] He began with mantra rituals such as japa and purascarana and many other rituals designed to purify the mind and establish self-control. He later proceeded towards tantric sadhanas, which generally include a set of heterodox 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.[44] According to Ramakrishna and his biographers, Ramakrishna did not directly participate in the last two of those activities, all that he needed was a suggestion of them to produce the desired result.[44] Ramakrishna acknowledged the left-hand tantric path, though it had "undesirable features", as one of the "valid roads to God-realization", he consistently cautioned his devotees and disciples against associating with it.[47][48]

Ramakrishna took the attitude of a son towards the Bhairavi.[49] 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.[49] 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.[37] Under the tutelage of the Bhairavi, Ramakrishna also became an adept at Kundalini Yoga.[44] The Bhairavi, with the yogic techniques and the tantra played an important part in the initial spiritual development of Ramakrishna.[2][50][51]

Vaishnava Bhakti

The Vaishnava Bhakti traditions speak of five different moods,[52] referred to as bhāvas—different attitudes that a devotee can take up to express his love for 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 towards her lover.[53][54]

At some point in the period between his vision of Kali and his marriage, Ramakrishna practiced dāsya bhāva. He started worshiping Rama in the attitude of Hanuman, the monkey-god, who is considered to be the ideal devotee and servant of Rama. According to Ramakrishna, towards the end of this sadhana, he had a vision of Sita, the consort of Rama, merging into his body.[53][55]

In 1864, Ramakrishna practiced vātsalya bhāva under a Vaishnava guru Jatadhari.[56] During this period, he worshipped a metal image of Ramlālā (Rama as a child) in the attitude of a mother. According to Ramakrishna, he could feel the presence of child Rama as a living God in the metal image.[57][58]

Ramakrishna later engaged in the practice of madhura bhāva— the attitude of the Gopis and Radha towards Krishna.[53] During the practise of this bhava, Ramakrishna dressed himself in women's attire for several days and regarded himself as one of the Gopis of Vrindavan. According to the Ramakrishna, madhura bhava is practised to root out the idea of sex, which is seen as an impediment in spiritual life.[59] According to Ramakrishna, towards the end of this sadhana, he attained savikalpa samadhi—vision and union with Krishna.[60]

Ramakrishna visited Nadia, the home of Chaitanya and Nityananda, the 15th-century founders of Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava bhakti. According to Ramakrishna, he had an intense vision of two young boys merging into his body.[60] Earlier, after his vision of Kali, he is said to have cultivated the Santa bhava—the passive "peaceful" attitude — towards Kali.[53]

Totapuri and Vedanta

The Panchavati and the hut where Ramakrishna performed his advaitic sadhana. The mud hut has been replaced by a brick one.

In 1865, Ramakrishna was initiated into sannyasa by Tota Puri, an itinerant monk who trained Ramakrishna in Advaita Vedanta , the Hindu philosophy which emphasizes non-dualism.[61][62]

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."[63] Under the guidance of Totapuri, Ramakrishna reportedly experienced nirvikalpa samadhi, which is considered to be the highest state in spiritual realisation.[64]

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.[65] Ramakrishna said that this period of nirvikalpa samadhi came to an end when he received a command from the Mother Kali to "remain in Bhavamukha; for the enlightenment of the people". Bhavamukha being a state of existence intermediate between samādhi and normal consciousness.[66]

Islam and Christianity

In 1866, Govinda Roy, a Hindu guru who practiced Sufism, initiated Ramakrishna into Islam. Ramakrishna said that he "devoutly repeated the name of Allah, wore a cloth like the Arab Moslems, said their prayer five times daily, and felt disinclined even to see images of the Hindu gods and goddesses, much less worship them—for the Hindu way of thinking had disappeared altogether from my mind."[67] According to Ramakrishna, after three 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".[68]

At the end of 1873 he started the practice of Christianity, when his devotee Shambu Charan Mallik read the Bible to him. Ramakrishna said that for several days he was filled with Christian thoughts and no longer thought of going to the Kali temple. According to Ramakrishna, one day when he saw the picture of Madonna and Child Jesus, he felt that the figures became alive and had a vision in which Jesus merged with his body. In his own room amongst other 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.[60][69]

Arrival of followers

Ramakrishna in samadhi at the house of Keshab Chandra Sen. He is seen supported by his nephew Hriday and surrounded by brahmo devotees.

In 1875, Ramakrishna met the influential Brahmo Samaj leader Keshab Chandra Sen.[70][71] Keshab had accepted Christianity, and had separated from the Adi Brahmo Samaj. Formerly, Keshab had rejected idolatry, but under the influence of Ramakrishna he accepted Hindu polytheism and established the "New Dispensation" (Nava Vidhan) religious movement, based on Ramakrishna's principles—"Worship of God as Mother", "All religions as true" and "Assimilation of Hindu polytheism into Brahmoism".[72] Keshab also publicized Ramakrishna's teachings in the journals of New Dispensation over a period of several years,[73] which 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.[74][75]

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 Müller.[73] 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.[73]

Ramakrishna also had interactions with Debendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a renowned social worker. He had also met Swami Dayananda.[70] Ramakrishna is considered as one of the main contributors to the Bengali Renaissance.[8][9] However, some Brahmos like Upadhyay Brahmabandhab disapproved of his avatarahood and ascetic renunciation and considered Ramakrishna's samadhi as a nervous malady.[70][76]

Among the Europeans who were influenced by Ramakrishna was Principal Dr. W.W. Hastie of the Scottish Church College, Calcutta.[77] 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 its "real meaning", they should go to "Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar." This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath Dutta (later Swami Vivekananda), to visit Ramakrishna.[73]

Devotees and disciples

Some Monastic Disciples (L to R): Trigunatitananda, Shivananda, Vivekananda, Turiyananda, Brahmananda. Below Saradananda.
Mahendranath Gupta, a householder devotee and the author of Sri-Sri-Ramakrisna-kathamrta.

Most of Ramakrishna's prominent disciples came between 1879–1885, and were influenced by his style of preaching and instructing.[78]

His chief disciples consisted of:[58]

  • Grihastas or The householdersMahendranath 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) and others.
  • 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 (practice of austerities).[79] Gauri-ma founded the Saradesvari Ashrama at Barrackpur, which was dedicated to the education and uplift of women.[80]

As his name spread, an ever-shifting crowd of all classes and castes visited Ramakrishna. According to Kathamrita it included, childless widows, young school-boys, aged pensioners, Hindu scholars and religious figures, men betrayed by lovers, people with suicidal tendencies, small-time businessmen, and people "dreading the grind of samsaric life".[81] According to his biographers, Ramakrishna was very talkative and would out-talk the best-known orators of his time. For hours he would reminisce about his own eventful spiritual life, tell tales, explain abstruse Vedantic doctrines with extremely mundane illustrations, raise questions and answer them himself, crack jokes, sing songs, and mimic the ways of all types of worldly people—visitors were kept enthralled.[82][83] 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 Sanyasi, and initiated them with Mantra Deeksha.[83]

Sarada Devi

Sarada Devi (1853–1920)

At the age of eighteen Sarada Devi joined Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar.[84] By the time his bride joined him, Ramakrishna had already embraced the monastic life of a sannyasi; as a result, the marriage was never consummated.[36][84] As a priest Ramakrishna performed the ritual ceremony—the Shodashi Puja–where Sarada Devi was made to sit in the seat of goddess Kali, and worshiped as the Divine mother.[85] Ramakrishna regarded Sarada as the Divine Mother in person, addressing her as the Holy Mother, and it was by this name that she was known to Ramakrishna's disciples. Sarada Devi outlived Ramakrishna by 34 years and played an important role in the nascent religious movement.[78][84]

Last days

The Disciples and Devotees at Ramakrishna's funeral

In the beginning of 1885 Ramakrishna suffered from clergyman's throat, which gradually developed into throat cancer. He was moved to Shyampukur near Calcutta, where some of the best physicians of the time, including Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar, were engaged. When his condition aggravated he was relocated to a large garden house at Cossipore on December 11, 1885.[86]

During his last days, he was looked after by his monastic disciples and Sarada Devi. Ramakrishna was advised by the doctors to keep the strictest silence, but ignoring their advice, he incessantly conversed with visitors.[74] According to traditional accounts, before his death, Ramakrishna transferred his spiritual powers to Vivekananda[86] and reassured Vivekananda of his avataric status.[86][87] Ramakrishna asked Vivekananda to look after the welfare of the disciples, saying, "keep my boys together"[88] and asked him to "teach them".[88] Ramakrishna also asked other monastic disciples to look upon Vivekananda as their leader.[86] Ramakrishna's condition gradually worsened and he expired in the early morning hours of August 16, 1886 at the Cossipore garden house. According to his disciples, this was mahasamadhi.[86] After the death of their master, the monastic disciples lead by Vivekananda formed a fellowship at a half-ruined house at Baranagar near the river Ganga, with the financial assistance of the householder disciples. This became the first Math or monastery of the disciples who constituted the first Ramakrishna Order.[78]

Biographical sources

According to Malcolm Mclean, the principal source for Ramakrishna's teaching is Mahendranath Gupta's sri-sri-ramakrisna-kathamrita.[89] Kripal calls it "the central text of the tradition". The text was published in five volumes from 1902 to 1932. Based on Gupta's diary notes, each of the five volumes purports to document Ramakrishna's life from 1882–1886.[90]

The main translation of the Kathamrita is The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda. Nikhilananda's translation rearranged the scenes in the five volumes of the Kathamrita into a linear sequence.[91] Malcolm Mclean[92] and Jeffrey Kripal argue that the translation is unreliable.[91] Philosopher Lex Hixon writes that the Gospel is "spiritually authentic" and "powerful rendering of the Kathamrita"[93]

Teachings

Ramakrishna's teachings were imparted in rustic Bengali, using stories and parables.[2] These teachings made a powerful impact on Calcutta's intellectuals, despite the fact that his preachings were far removed from issues of modernism or national independence.[94] His spiritual movement indirectly aided nationalism, as it rejected caste distinctions and religious prejudices.[94]

In the Calcutta scene of the mid to late nineteenth century, Ramakrishna was opinionated on the subject of Chakri. Chakri can be described as a type of low-paying servitude done by educated men—typically government or commerce-related clerical positions. On a basic level, Ramakrishna saw this system as a corrupt form of European social organization that forced educated men to be servants not only to their bosses at the office but also to their wives at home. What Ramakrishna saw as the primary detriment of Chakri, however, was that it forced workers into a rigid, impersonal clock-based time structure. He saw the imposition of strict adherence to each second on the watch as a roadblock to spirituality. Despite this, however, Ramakrishna demonstrated that Bhakti could be practiced as an inner retreat to experience solace in the face of Western-style discipline and often discrimination in the workplace.[95]

Ramakrishna emphasised God-realisation as the supreme goal of all living beings.[1] Ramakrishna taught that kamini-kanchana is an obstacle to God-realization. Kamini-kanchan literally translates to "women and gold." Carl T. Jackson interprets kamini-kanchana to refer to the idea of sex and the idea of money as delusions which prevent people from realizing God.[96] Jeffrey Kripal translates the phrase as "lover-and-gold" and associates it with Ramakrishna's alleged disgust for women as lovers.[97]

Ramakrishna looked upon the world as Maya and he explained that avidya maya 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. Vidya maya, 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.[98]

Ramakrishna practised several religions, including Islam and Christianity, and recognized that in spite of the differences, all religions are valid and true and they lead to the same ultimate goal—God.[99] Ramakrishna's proclaimed that jatra jiv tatra Shiv (wherever there is a living being, there is Shiva) which stemmed from his Advaitic perception of Reality. His teaching, "Jive daya noy, Shiv gyane jiv seba" (not kindness to living beings, but serving the living being as Shiva Himself) is considered as the inspiration for the philanthropic work carried out by his chief disciple Vivekananda.[100]

Language

Ramakrishna used rustic colloquial Bengali in his conversations. According to contemporary reports, Ramakrishna's linguistic style was unique, even to those who spoke Bengali. It contained obscure local words and idioms from village Bengali, interspersed with philosophical Sanskrit terms and references to the Vedas, Puranas, Tantras. For that reason, according to philosopher Lex Hixon, his speeches cannot be literally translated into English or any other language.[101] Scholar Amiya P. Sen argued that certain terms that Ramakrishna may have used only in a metaphysical sense are being improperly invested with new, contemporaneous meanings.[102]

Ramakrishna was skilled with words and had an extraordinary style of preaching and instructing, conveying to even the most skeptical visitors to the temple.[78] His speeches reportedly revealed a sense of joy and fun, but he was not at a loss when debating with intellectual philosophers.[103] Philosopher Arindam Chakrabarti contrasted Ramakrishna's talkativeness with Buddha's legendary reticence, and compared his teaching style to that of Socrates. [104]

Ramakrishna's explicitly sexual language shocked 19th-century Westerners, even scholars Max Müller who were otherwise his admirers. Müller wrote that his language was at times "abominably filthy". He admitted however that such direct speech was natural to contemporary hindus, "where certain classes of men walk stark naked", and should not be considered intentional filthiness or obscenity. Citing examples of classical poems like Bhartrihari, the Bible, Homer, and Shakespeare, Müller felt that few of the sayings would have to be bowdlerized.[105] .[105]

Impact

The marble statue of Ramakrishna at Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission

Several organizations have been established in the name of Ramakrishna.[106] The Ramakrishna Math and Mission is one of the main organizations founded 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.[11][106] Other organizations include the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society founded by Swami Abhedananda in 1923, the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Mission formed by Swami Nityananda in 1976, and the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission founded in 1959 as a sister organization by the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.[106]

Ramakrishna was born during a period of social upheaval in Bengal in particular and India in general. During Ramakrishna's time, Hinduism faced a significant intellectual challenge from Westerners and Indians alike. The Hindu practice of Idol worship came under attack especially in Bengal, and many had denounced Hinduism and embraced Christianity or atheism. Ramakrishna and his movement, the Ramakrishna Mission, played a leading role in the modern revival of Hinduism in India, and on modern Indian history. His life and teachings were an important part of the renaissance that Bengal, and later India, experienced in the 19th century. Many great thinkers including Max Müller, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo, and Leo Tolstoy have acknowledged Ramakrishna's contribution to humanity. Ramakrishna's influence is also seen in the works of artists such as Franz Dvorak (1862–1927) and Philip Glass.

Views and studies

Photograph of Ramakrishna, taken on 10 December 1881 at the studio of "The Bengal Photographers" in Radhabazar, Calcutta (Kolkata).

Religious school of thought

Several scholars have tried to associate Ramakrishna with a particular religious school of thought—Bhakti, Tantra and Vedanta.

In his influential[107] 1896 essay "A real mahatma: Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa Dev" and his 1899 book Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings, the German philologist and Orientalist Max Müller portrayed Ramakrishna as "a wonderful mixture of God and man" and as "...a Bhakta, a worshipper or lover of the deity, much more than a Gñânin or a knower."[108][109]

In London and New York in 1896, Swami Vivekananda delivered his famous address on Ramakrishna entitled "My Master." He said of his master: "this great intellect never learnt even to write his own name, but the most brilliant graduates of our university found in him an intellectual giant."[110] Vivekananda criticized his followers for "brazenly" projecting Ramakrishna as an avatara and miracle-worker.[111][112] Narasingha Sil has argued that Vivekananda revised and mythologized Ramakrishna's image after Ramakrishna's death.[113] Amiya Sen writes that that Vivekananda's "social service gospel" stemmed from direct inspiration from Ramakrishna and rests substantially on the "liminal quality" of the Master's message.[114]

Indologist Heinrich Zimmer was the first Western scholar to interpret Ramakrishna's worship of the Divine Mother as containing specifically Tantric elements.[115][116] Neeval also argued that tantra played a main role in Ramakrishna's spiritual development.[115]

Philosopher Lex Hixon writes Ramakrishna was an Advaita Vedantin.[117] Postcolonial literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak wrote that Ramakrishna was a "Bengali bhakta visionary" and that as a bhakta, "he turned chiefly towards Kali."[118] Amiya P.Sen writes that "it is really difficult to separate the Tantrik Ramakrishna from the Vedantic", since Vedanta and Tantra "may appear to be differ in some respects", but they also "share some important postulates between them".[119]

Psychoanalysis and sexuality

Main article : Views_on_Ramakrishna#Religious_Practices_and_Experiences

The dialogue between psychoanalysis and Ramakrishna began in 1927 when Sigmund Freud's friend Romain Rolland wrote to him that he should consider spiritual experiences, or "the oceanic feeling," in his psychological works.[120][121] Romain Rolland described the mystical states achieved by Ramakrishna and other mystics as an "'oceanic' sentiment," one which Rolland had also experienced.[122] Rolland believed that the universal human religious emotion resembled this "oceanic sense."[123] In his 1929 book La vie de Ramakrishna, Rolland distinguished between the feelings of unity and eternity which Ramakrishna experienced in his mystical states and Ramakrishna's interpretation of those feelings as the goddess Kali.[124]

Christopher Isherwood who wrote the book Ramakrishna and his Disciples (1965) said in a late interview,"Ramakrishna was completely simple and guileless. He told people whatever came into his mind, like a child. If he had ever been troubled by homosexual desires, if that had ever been a problem he'd have told everybody about them.(...) His thoughts transcended physical love-making. He saw even the mating of two dogs on the street as an expression of the eternal male-female principle in the universe. I think that is always a sign of great spiritual enlightenment."[125][126]

In 1995, Kripal argued that the Ramakrishna Movement has manipulated Ramakrishna's biographical documents, that the Movement has published them in incomplete and bowdlerized editions, that the Movement has suppressed Ram Chandra Datta's Srisriramakrsna Paramahamsadever Jivanavrttanta.[127] These views were disputed by Swami Atmajnanananda, who wrote that Jivanavrttanta has been reprinted nine times as of 1995 and the translations of Kathamrita considered "western decorum" into consideration and are not "bowdlerized".[128] In the 1997 book review of Kripal's book, Malcolm McLean of Otago University supported Kripal's view and argued that the movement presents "a particular kind of explanation of Ramakrishna, that he was some kind of neo-Vedantist who taught that all religions are the same".[129] In 1998, Kripal wrote that he had "overplayed" the suppression of Jivanavrttanta and "the Ramakrishna Order reprinted Datta's text the very same summer Kali's Child appeared, rendering my original claims of a conscious concealment untenable."[130]

Some scholars of Indian religion, including Narasingha Sil,[131] Jeffrey Kripal,[132] and Sudhir Kakar,[133] analyze Ramakrishna's mysticism and religious practices using psychoanalysis,[134] arguing that his mystical visions, refusal to comply with ritual copulation in Tantra, Madhura Bhava, criticism of Kamini-Kanchana (women and gold) reflects homosexuality. Jeffrey Kripal's controversial[135] Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna (1995) argued that Ramakrishna rejected Advaita Vedanta in favor of Shakti Tantra.[136] In this psychoanalytic study of Ramakrishna's life, Kripal argued that Ramakrishna’s mystical experiences were symptoms of repressed homoeroticism.[137] Other scholars and psychoanalysts including Romain Rolland,[83] Alan Roland,[120][138] Kelly Aan Raab,[139] Somnath Bhattacharyya,[140], J.S. Hawley[141] and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak[142] argue that psychoanalysis is unreliable and Ramakrishna's religious practices were in line with Bengali tradition.[139]

In his 1991 book The Analyst and the Mystic, Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar saw in Ramakrishna's visions a spontaneous capacity for creative experiencing.[143] Kakar also argued that culturally relative concepts of eroticism and gender have contributed to the Western difficulty in comprehending Ramakrishna.[144] Kakar saw Ramakrishna's seemingly bizarre acts as part of a bhakti path to God.[143]

Postcolonial studies

Postcolonial studies try to locate Ramakrishna in the historical background of Calcutta during the mid-19th Century.

In 1999, postcolonial historian Sumit Sarkar argued that he found in the Kathamrita traces of a binary opposition between unlearned oral wisdom and learned literate knowledge. He argues that all of our information about Ramakrishna, a rustic near-illiterate Brahmin, comes from urban bhadralok devotees, "...whose texts simultaneously illuminate and transform."[145]

Other postcolonial studies have been done by Partha Chaterjee, Amiya P. Sen.[146]

Notes

  1. ^ a b "The Art of God-Realisation". Times of India. http://spirituality.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-501997,prtpage-1.cms. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Smart, Ninian The World’s Religions (1998) p.409, Cambridge
  3. ^ Georg, Feuerstein (2002). The Yoga Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 600. 
  4. ^ Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006). New Religions in Global Perspective. Routledge. p. 209. "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." 
  5. ^ Jeffrey Brodd; Gregory Sobolewski (2003). World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery. Saint Mary's Press. p. 275. "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." 
  6. ^ Smith, Bardwell L. (1976). Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. p. 93. 
  7. ^ Jackson, p. 35.
  8. ^ a b Miller, Timothy (1995). America's Alternative Religions. SUNY Press. pp. 174–175. ISBN 9780791423974. "...Bengalis played a leading role in the wider Hindu renaissance, producing what can be termed the Bengali "Neo-Vedantic renaissance"" 
  9. ^ a b Pelinka, Anton; Renée Schell (2003). Democracy Indian Style. Transaction Publishers. pp. 40–41. ISBN 9780765801869. "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..." 
  10. ^ Bhattacharyya, Haridas (1978). "Part IV: Sri Ramakrishna and Spiritual Renaissance". The Cultural Heritage of India. University of Michigan: Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture. p. 650. 
  11. ^ a b Cyrus R. Pangborn. "The Ramakrishna Math and Mission". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. p. 98. 
  12. ^ Jackson 1994, p. 78
  13. ^ a b c Sen 2001, p.101
  14. ^ a b c Heehs 2002, p. 430
  15. ^ "Introduction". The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. 1942. p. 3. 
  16. ^ "The Birth of Ramakrishna". Ramakrishna and His Disciples. p. 13. 
  17. ^ Harding 1998, pp. 243-244
  18. ^ Jackson 1994, p.17
  19. ^ Hindu Revivalism in Bengal, 1872-1905: Some Essays in Interpretation. Oxford University Press. 1993. p. 307. 
  20. ^ a b c d Jackson 1994, p.17. "During these years, he read widely in Bengali religious texts, committing long portions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata to memory. Though hardly well educated by modern standards, he was no illiterate."
  21. ^ Harding 1998, p. 248
  22. ^ Sen 2001, p.92
  23. ^ Müller, Max (1898). "Râmakrishna's Life". Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. p. 33. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm. 
  24. ^ Zaleski, Philip (2006). "The Ecstatic". Prayer: A History. Mariner Books. pp. 162–163. 
  25. ^ a b Bhawuk, Dharm P.S. (February 2003). "Culture’s influence on creativity: the case of Indian spirituality". International Journal of Intercultural Relations (Elsevier) 27 (1): 8. doi:10.1016/S0147-1767(02)00059-7. 
  26. ^ Neevel, Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna, p.70
  27. ^ Neevel, Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna, p.68
  28. ^ Harding 1998, p. 250
  29. ^ Sen 2006, p. 176
  30. ^ Harding 1998, p. 251
  31. ^ Life of Sri Ramakrishna, Advaita Ashrama, Ninth Impression, December 1971, p. 44
  32. ^ Müller, p. 36
  33. ^ a b Leo Schneiderman, Ramakrishna: Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of a Religious Movement (Blackwell Publishing, 1969) 60-63.
  34. ^ Müller, Max (1898). "Râmakrishna's Life". Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. p. 37. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm. 
  35. ^ Isherwood, Christopher (1965). Ramakrishna and his Disciples. p. 65. 
  36. ^ a b c Jackson 1994, p.18
  37. ^ a b Sil, Divine Dowager, p. 42
  38. ^ Jackson 1994, p. 18 "Such child marriages were still widespread in nineteenth-century India, despite vehement condemnations by both English authorities and Hind reformers. Analogous to the Western betrothal, child marriage committed the partners to one another, with the actual of living together and assuming family responsibilities delayed until puberty."
  39. ^ Ghanananda, Swami; John Stewart-Wallace (1979). "Sri Sarada Devi". Women Saints of East and West. Vedanta Press. pp. 94-121. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=6IhLSGtuW_EC&pg=PA94
  40. ^ Spivak 2007, "Moving Devi", pp.207-208
  41. ^ Yale, John and Isherwood, Christopher, ed (2006). What Religion is, in the Words of Swami Vivekananda. Kessinger Publishing. p. 219. ISBN 9781425488802. 
  42. ^ a b Müller, Max (1898). "Râmakrishna's Life". Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings. p. 42. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm. 
  43. ^ J. N. Farquhar (1915). Modern religious movements in India. New York: The Macmillan Company. p. 195. 
  44. ^ a b c d e Neevel, pp. 74-77
  45. ^ Jestice, Phyllis G. (2004). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 723. 
  46. ^ Jean Varenne; Derek Coltman (1977). Yoga and the Hindu Tradition. University of Chicago Press. p. 151. "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" 
  47. ^ Sen 2001, p. 99
  48. ^ Hixon 2002, p. xliii
  49. ^ a b Rolland, Romain (1929). "The Two Guides of Knowledge". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. 22–37. 
  50. ^ Richards, Glyn (1985). A Source-book of modern Hinduism. Routledge. p. 63. "[Ramakrishna] received instructions in yogic techniques which enabled him to control his spiritual energy." 
  51. ^ Neevel, Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna, p.70, "Ramakrishna's practice of tantra played an 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."
  52. ^ Spivak 2007, p.197
  53. ^ a b c d Neevel, Walter G; Bardwell L. Smith (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. pp. 72–83. 
  54. ^ Allport, Gordon W. (1999). "Its meaning for the West". Hindu Psychology. Routledge. p. 180. 
  55. ^ Isherwood, pp. 70–73
  56. ^ Sen 2001, p. 138
  57. ^ Isherwood, p. 197–198.
  58. ^ a b Nikhilananda, Swami. "Introduction". The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. http://www.belurmath.org/gospel/introduction.htm. 
  59. ^ Sharma, Arvind (1977). "Ramakrishna Paramahamsa: A Study in a Mystic's Attitudes towards Women". in Rita M. Gross. Beyond Androcentrism. Scholars Press ( American Academy of Religion ). pp. 118–119, p.122, p.124. 
  60. ^ a b c Parama Roy, Indian Traffic: Identities in Question in Colonial and Post-Colonial India Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998
  61. ^ Jackson 1994, p.19
  62. ^ Harding 1998, p. 263
  63. ^ The Great Master, p. 255.
  64. ^ Roland, Romain The Life of Ramakrishna (1984), Advaita Ashram
  65. ^ "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.
  66. ^ Isherwood, Christopher. "Tota Puri". Ramakrishna and his Disciples. p. 123. 
  67. ^ Isherwood, Christopher. Ramakrishna and his Disciples. p. 124. 
  68. ^ Rolland, Romain (1929). "The Return to Man". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. 49–62. 
  69. ^ Ramakrishna Mission Singapore (April 2007). "Lay Disciples of Ramakrishna". Nirvana (Ramakrishna Mission, Singapore). http://www.ramakrishna.org.sg/Nirvana_Apr%202007.htm. 
  70. ^ a b c Rolland, Romain (1929). "Ramakrishna and the Great Shepherds of India". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. 110–130. 
  71. ^ Farquhar, John Nicol (1915). Modern Religious Movements in India. Macmillan Co.. p. 194. "About 1875, Keshab Chandra Sen made his acquaintance and became very interested in him (Ramakrishna)." 
  72. ^ Y. Masih (2000). A Comparative Study of Religions. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 198–199. 
  73. ^ a b c d Mukherjee, Dr. Jayasree (May 2004). "Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society". Prabuddha Bharatha. http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/library/prabuddha_bharata/sri_ramakrishna%27s_impact_on_contemporary_indian_society_may04.php. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  74. ^ a b Müller, Max (1898). "Râmakrishna's Life". Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. pp. 56–57. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rls/rls14.htm. 
  75. ^ Debarry, William Theodore; Ainslie Thomas Embree (1988). Sources of Indian Tradition: From the Beginning to 1800. Stephen N. Hay. Columbia University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780231064156. 
  76. ^ Mukherjee, Dr. Jayasree (May 2004). "Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society". Prabuddha Bharata. http://www.eng.vedanta.ru/library/prabuddha_bharata/sri_ramakrishna%27s_impact_on_contemporary_indian_society_may04.php. Retrieved 2008-09-22. "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."". 
  77. ^ Joseph, Jaiboy (002-06-23). "Master visionary". The Hindu. http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mag/2002/06/23/stories/2002062300310400.htm. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  78. ^ a b c d Leo Schneiderman (Spring, 1969). "Ramakrishna: Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of a Religious Movement". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (London: Blackwell Publishing) 8: 60–71. doi:10.2307/1385254. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1385254. 
  79. ^ Chetanananda, Swami (1989). They Lived with God. St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis. p. 163. 
  80. ^ Beckerlegge (2006), Swami Vivekananda's Legacy of Service, p.27
  81. ^ Sen 2006, p. 172
  82. ^ Chakrabarti, Arindam (November 1994). "The dark mother flying kites : Sri ramakrishna’s metaphysic of morals". Sophia (Springer Netherlands) 33 (3): 14–29. doi:10.1007/BF02800488. http://www.springerlink.com/content/jp5084226827647n/. 
  83. ^ a b c Rolland, Romain (1929). "The Master and his Children". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. 143–168. 
  84. ^ a b c Spivak 2007, p. 207
  85. ^ Rolland, Romain (1929). "The Return to Man". The Life of Ramakrishna. p. 59. 
  86. ^ a b c d e Rolland, Romain (1929). "The River Re-Enters the Sea". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. 201–214. 
  87. ^ Sen 2006, p. 168
  88. ^ a b Williams, George M. (1989). ""Swami Vivekananda: Archetypal Hero or Doubting Saint?"". in Robert D. Baird. Religion in Modern India. p. 325. 
  89. ^ Malcolm Maclean, A Translation of the sri-sri-ramakrisna-kathamrita with explanatory notes and critical introduction. University of Otago. Dunedin, New Zealand. September, 1983. p vi
  90. ^ Kripal 1998, p.3
  91. ^ a b Kripal 1998, p. 4
  92. ^ Malcolm Maclean, A Translation of the sri-sri-ramakrisna-kathamrita with explanatory notes and critical introduction. University of Otago. Dunedin, New Zealand. September, 1983. p i-iv
  93. ^ Hixon 2002, p. xiv
  94. ^ a b Menon, Parvathi (November 1, 1996). "A History of Modern India: Revivalist Movements and Early Nationalism". India Abroad. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P1-3127993.html. 
  95. ^ Sumit Sarkar, “ ‘Kaliyuga’, ‘Chakri’ and ‘Bhakti’: Ramakrishna and His Times,” Economic and Political Weekly 27, 29 (Jul 18, 1992): 1548-1550.
  96. ^ Carl T. Jackson (1994), pp. 20-21.
  97. ^ Kali's Child p 281; 277-287 passim
  98. ^ Neevel, p. 82.
  99. ^ Cohen, Martin (2008). "Spiritual Improvisations: Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, and the Freedom of Tradition". Religion and the Arts (BRILL) 12 (1-3): 277–293. doi:10.1163/156852908X271079. 
  100. ^ Y. Masih (2000). A Comparative Study of Religions. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 207. 
  101. ^ Hixon, Lex (1997). "Introduction". Great Swan. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. xi. ISBN 9780943914800. 
  102. ^ Sen, Amiya P. (June 2006). "Sri Ramakrishna, the Kathamrita and the Calcutta middle classes: an old problematic revisited". Postcolonial Studies 9 (2): 165–177. doi:10.1080/13688790600657835. 
  103. ^ Isherwood, Christopher (1945). Vedanta for the Western World: A Symposium on Vedanta. Vedanta Press. p. 267. ISBN 9780874810004. 
  104. ^ Arindam Chakrabarti, "The Dark Mother Flying Kites: Sri Ramakrishna's Metaphysic of Morals" Sophia, 33 (3), 1994
  105. ^ a b Max Müller (1898), Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. Preface and chapter Râmakrishna's Language. Reviewed by A. W. Stratton (1899) , The American Journal of Theology, volume 3 issue 4, pages 761-762.
  106. ^ a b c Beckerlegge,Swami Vivekananda's Legacy of Service pp.1-3
  107. ^ John Rosselli, "Sri Ramakrishna and the educated elite of late nineteenth century" Contributions to Indian Sociology 1978; 12; 195 [1]
  108. ^ Friedrich Max Müller, Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings, pp.93-94, Longmans, Green, 1898
  109. ^ Neevel, Transformation of Sri Ramakrishna, p.85
  110. ^ Sil 1993, p. 56
  111. ^ Sen 2006, p. 173
  112. ^ John Wolffe (2004). "The Hindu Renaissance and notions of Universal Religion". Religion in History. Manchester University Press. p. 153. 
  113. ^ Narasingha P. Sil "Vivekānanda's Rāmakṛṣṇa: An Untold Story of Mythmaking and Propaganda" Numen, Vol. 40, No. 1, (Jan., 1993), pp. 38-62 BRILL http://www.jstor.org/stable/3270397
  114. ^ Sen 2006, p. 165
  115. ^ a b Carl T. Jackson (1994), p.154
  116. ^ Neeval and Hatcher, "Ramakrishna" in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005 p 7613
  117. ^ Hixon 2002, p. xv. "My study of Sanskrit and my doctoral dissertation at Columbia University on the Advaita Vedanta of Gaudapada, has enabled me to appreciate more deeply the Master's universal Vedantic approach."
  118. ^ Spivak 2007, p. 197
  119. ^ Sen 2001, p. 22
  120. ^ a b Roland, Alan (October 2004). "Ramakrishna: Mystical, Erotic, or Both?". Journal of Religion and Health 37: 31–36. doi:10.1023/A:1022956932676. 
  121. ^ "Oceanic Feeling" by Henri Vermorel and Madeleline Vermoral in International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis [2]
  122. ^ The Enigma of the Oceanic Feeling: Revisioning the Psychoanalytic Theory of Mysticism By William Barclay Parsons, Oxford University Press US, 1999 ISBN 0195115082, p 37
  123. ^ page 12 Primitive Passions: Men, Women, and the Quest for Ecstasy By Marianna Torgovnick University of Chicago Press, 1998
  124. ^ Parsons 1999, 14
  125. ^ "Christopher Isherwood: An Interview" Carolyn G. Heilbrun and Christopher Isherwood Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 22, No. 3, Christopher Isherwood Issue (Oct., 1976), pp. 253-263 Published by: Hofstra University
  126. ^ Christopher Isherwood, James J. Berg, Chris Freeman (2001). Conversations with Christopher Isherwood. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 142. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=RLaNmvugqSkC&printsec=frontcover#PPA142,M1. 
  127. ^ Kripal(1995) Kali's Child 1 edition
  128. ^ Atmajnanananda, Swami (August 1997). "Scandals, cover-ups, and other imagined occurrences in the life of Ramakrishna: An examination of Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's child". International Journal of Hindu Studies (Netherlands: Springer) 1 (2): pp.401–420. doi:10.1007/s11407-997-0007-8. http://www.springerlink.com/content/k1g8l97203k25047/. 
  129. ^ McLean, Malcolm, "Kali's Child: The Mystical and Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna." The Journal of the American Oriental Society Tuesday, July 1, 1997 http://www.articlearchives.com/humanities-social-science/religion/1048640-1.html
  130. ^ Kripal(1998) Kali's Child 2 edition
  131. ^ Ramakrishna Revisited (1998)
  132. ^ Kali's Child (1998)
  133. ^ The Analyst and the Mystic (1991)
  134. ^ Jonte-Pace, Diane Elizabeth (2003). "Freud as interpreter of religious texts and practices". Teaching Freud. Oxford University Press US. p. 94. 
  135. ^ Balagangadhara, S. N.; Sarah Claerhout (2008). "Are Dialogues Antidotes to Violence? Two Recent Examples from Hinduism Studies". Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 7 (19): 118–143. http://www.jsri.ro/new/?download=19_balagangadhara_claerhout.pdf. 
  136. ^ Parsons 1999, 135-136
  137. ^ Parsons, William B., "Psychology" in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2005 p. 7479
  138. ^ Roland, Alan. (2007) The Uses (and Misuses) Of Psychoanalysis in South Asian Studies: Mysticism and Child Development. Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America. Delhi, India: Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-8129111821
  139. ^ a b Kelley Ann Raab (Summer, 1995). "Is There Anything Transcendent about Transcendence? A Philosophical and Psychological Study of Sri Ramakrishna". Journal of the American Academy of Religion (London: Oxford University Press) 63 (2): 321–341. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1465404. 
  140. ^ Invading the Sacred, p.152-168
  141. ^ Hawley, John Stratton (June 2004). "The Damage of Separation: Krishna's Loves and Kali's Child". Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72 (2): 369–393. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfh034. http://jaar.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/72/2/369. 
  142. ^ Spivak (2007), "Moving Devi", Other Asias, pp.195-197
  143. ^ a b Parsons, 1999 p 133
  144. ^ Kakar, Sudhir, The Analyst and the Mystic, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), p.34
  145. ^ Sumit Sarkar, "Post-modernism and the Writing of History" Studies in History 1999; 15; 293
  146. ^ Sen 2001

References

Further reading

  • Ananyananda, Swami (1981). Ramakrishna: a biography in pictures. Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta. ISBN 978-8185843971. 
  • Chetanananda, Swami (1990). Ramakrishna As We Saw Him. St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St Louis. ISBN 978-0916356644. 
  • Hourihan, Paul (2002). Ramakrishna & Christ, the Supermystics: New Interpretations. Vedantic Shores Press. ISBN 1-931816-00-X. 
  • Olson, Carl (1990). The Mysterious Play of Kālī: An Interpretive Study of Rāmakrishna. American Academy of Religion (Scholars Press). ISBN 1-55540-339-5. 
  • Prosser, Lee. (2001) Isherwood, Bowles, Vedanta, Wicca, and Me. Writers Club: Lincoln, Nebraska. ISBN 0-595-20284-5
  • Satyananda, Saraswati. Ramakrishna: The Nectar of Eternal Bliss. Devi Mandir Publications. ISBN 1-877795-66-6. 
  • Torwesten, Hans (1999). Ramakrishna and Christ, or, The paradox of the incarnation. The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. ISBN 978-8185843971. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikiquote

Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practise even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (18 February 183616 August 1886) was an Indian mystic, and a teacher of the philosophy of Advaita Vedānta.

Contents

Sourced

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna vol. 1 (ISBN 8171201091) and vol. 2 (ISBN 8171203673)
  • God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole. (p. 111)
  • One should not think, 'My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.' God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite the opinions. (page 158)
  • 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. (p. 129)
  • Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats. From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it 'jal'. From another ghat the Mussalmāns take water in leather bags and call it 'pāni'. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it 'water'. Suppose someone says that the thing is not 'jal' but 'pāni', or that it is not 'pāni' but 'water', or that it is not 'water' but 'jal', It would indeed be ridiculous. But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels. This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion. But this is not good. Everyone is going toward God. They will all realize Him if they have sincerity and longing of heart. (p. 423)
  • You must know that there are different tastes. There are also different powers of digestion. God has made different religions and creeds to suit different aspirants. By no means all are fit for the Knowledge of Brahman. Therefore the worship of God with form has been provided. The mother brings home a fish for her children. She curries part of the fish, part she fries, and with another part she makes pilau. By no means all can digest the pilau. So she makes fish soup for those who have weak stomachs. Further, some want pickled or fried fish. There are different temperaments. There are differences in the capacity to comprehend. (p. 486)
  • A man can reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or a rope-ladder or a rope or even by a bamboo pole. But he cannot reach the roof if he sets foot now on one and now on another. He should firmly follow one path. Likewise, in order to realize God a man must follow one path with all his strength. But you must regard other views as so many paths leading to God. You should not feel that your path is the only right path and that other paths are wrong. You mustn't bear malice toward others. (p. 514)
  • If there are errors in other religions, that is none of our business. God, to whom the world belongs, takes care of that. (p. 559)
  • Lovers of God do not belong to any caste.... A brāhmin without this love is no longer a brāhmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti an untouchable becomes pure and elevated. (p. 155)
  • When the fruit appears the blossom drops off. Love of God is the fruit, and rituals are the blossom. (p. 465)
  • Whether you accept Rādhā and Krishna, or not, please do accept their attraction for each other. Try to create that same yearning in your heart for God. Yearning is all you need in order to realize Him. (p. 140)
  • Can you weep for Him with intense longing of heart? Men shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their children, for their wives, or for money. But who weeps for God? So long as the child remains engrossed with its toys, the mother looks after her cooking and other household duties. But when the child no longer relishes the toys, it throws them aside and yells for its mother. Then the mother takes the rice-pot down from the hearth, runs in haste, and takes the child in her arms. (p. 149)
  • God reveals Himself to a devotee who feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions: the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man, the child's attraction for its mother, and the husband's attraction for the chaste wife. If one feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions, then through it one can attain Him. (p. 83)
  • Direct the six passions to God. The impulse of lust should be turned into the desire to have intercourse with Atman. Feel angry at those who stand in your way to God. Feel greedy for Him. If you must have the feeling of I and mine, then associate it with God. Say, for instance, 'My Rama, my Krishna.' If you must have pride, then feel like Bibhishana, who said, 'I have touched the feet of Rama with my head; I will not bow this head before anyone else.' (p. 220)
  • You have been born in this world as a human being to worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do you trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by discussing philosophy? Look here, one ounce of liquor is enough to intoxicate you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of liquor there are in the tavern? (p. 901)
  • The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, and not become sugar. (p. 133)
  • The one essential thing is bhakti, loving devotion to God. Do the Theosophists seek bhakti? They are good if they do. If Theosophy makes the realization of God the goal of life, then it is good. One cannot seek God if one constantly busies oneself with the mahātmās and the lunar, solar, and stellar planes. A man should practise sādhanā and pray to God with a longing heart for love of His Lotus Feet. He should direct his mind to God alone, withdrawing it from the various objects of the world. (p. 607)
  • I have heard that man can acquire superhuman powers through it and perform miracles. I saw a man who had brought a ghost under control. The ghost used to procure various things for his master. What shall I do with superhuman powers? Can one realize God through them? If God is not realized then everything becomes false. (p. 158)
  • It is said that truthfulness alone constitutes the spiritual discipline of the Kaliyuga. If a man clings tenaciously to truth he ultimately realizes God. Without this regard for truth, one gradually loses everything. If by chance I say that I will go to the pine-grove, I must go there even if there is no further need of it, lest I lose my attachment to truth. After my vision of the Divine Mother, I prayed to Her, taking a flower in my hands: 'Mother, here is Thy knowledge and here is Thy ignorance. Take them both, and give me only pure love. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy good and here is Thy evil. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy righteousness and here is Thy unrighteousness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.' I mentioned all these, but I could not say: 'Mother, here is Thy truth and here is Thy falsehood. Take them both.' I gave up everything at Her feet but could not bring myself to give up truth. (p. 312)
  • God laughs on two occasions. He laughs when the physician says to the patient's mother, 'Don't be afraid, mother; I shall certainly cure your boy.' God laughs, saying to Himself, 'I am going to take his life, and this man says he will save it!' The physician thinks he is the master, forgetting that God is the Master. God laughs again when two brothers divide their land with a string, saying to each other, 'This side is mine and that side is yours.' He laughs and says to Himself, 'The whole universe belongs to Me, but they say they own this portion or that portion.' (p. 105)
  • The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as 'I am such an important man' or 'I am so and so'. Level the mound of 'I' to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion. (p. 385)
  • One can easily realize God if one is free from guile. Spiritual instruction produces quick results in a guileless heart. Such a heart is like well cultivated land from which all the stones have been removed. No sooner is the seed sown than it germinates. The fruit also appears quickly. (p. 458)
  • One cannot attain divine knowledge till one gets rid of pride. Water does not stay on the top of a mound; but into low land it flows in torrents from all sides. (page 874)
  • Many people think they cannot have knowledge or understanding of God without reading books. But hearing is better than reading, and seeing is better than hearing. Hearing about Benares is different from reading about it; but seeing Benares is different from either hearing or reading. (p. 863)
  • One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred, or fear. (p. 186)
  • If one has faith one has everything. (p. 849)
  • By constantly repeating, 'I am free, I am free', a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, 'I am bound, I am bound', he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner', verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: 'I have chanted the name of God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?' (p. 274)
  • All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know their real Self. (p. 818)
  • He who has realized God does not look upon a woman with the eye of lust; so he is not afraid of her. He perceives clearly that women are but so many aspects of the Divine Mother. He worships them all as the Mother Herself. (p. 168)
  • Women are, all of them, the veritable images of Śakti. (p. 116)
  • There are three kinds of devotees: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The inferior devotee says, 'God is out there.' According to him God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says: 'God is the Antaryami, the Inner Guide. God dwells in everyone's heart.' The mediocre devotee sees God in the heart. But the superior devotee sees that God alone has become everything; He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. He finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God. (p. 909)
  • God is directly perceived by the mind, but not by this ordinary mind. It is the pure mind that perceives God, and at that time this ordinary mind does not function. A mind that has the slightest trace of attachment to the world cannot be called pure. When all the impurities of the mind are removed, you may call that mind Pure Mind or Pure Ātman. (p. 68)
  • The Pure Mind and the Pure Ātman are one and the same thing. Whatever comes up in the Pure Mind is the voice of God. (p. 844)
  • Brahman and Śakti are identical. If you accept the one, you must accept the other. It is like fire and its power to burn. If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also. You cannot think of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to burn without fire. You cannot conceive of the sun's rays without the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun without its rays. You cannot think of the milk without the whiteness, and again, you cannot think of the whiteness without the milk. Thus one cannot think of Brahman without Śakti, or of Śakti without Brahman. One cannot think of the Absolute without the Relative, or of the Relative without the Absolute. (page 134)
  • This māyā, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud. The sun cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun. If by the grace of the guru one's ego vanishes, then one sees God. (page 169)
  • Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind, right and left, everywhere there is water. In that water is placed a jar filled with water. There is water inside the jar and water outside, but the jar is still there. The 'I' is the jar. (p. 659)
  • The body was born and it will die. But for the soul there is no death. It is like the betel-nut. When the nut is ripe it does not stick to the shell. But when it is green it is difficult to separate it from the shell. After realizing God, one does not identify oneself any more with the body. Then one knows that body and soul are two different things. (p. 319)
  • Think of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, as a shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence, as it were, of the bhakta's love, the water has frozen at places into blocks of ice. In other words, God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person. But with the rising of the sun of Knowledge, the blocks of ice melt. Then one doesn't feel any more that God is a Person, nor does one see God's forms. What He is cannot be described. Who will describe Him? He who would do so disappears. He cannot find his 'I' any more. (p. 148)
  • Suppose a thorn has pierced a man's foot. He picks another thorn to pull out the first one. After extracting the first thorn with the help of the second, he throws both away. One should use the thorn of knowledge to pull out the thorn of ignorance. Then one throws away both the thorns, knowledge and ignorance, and attains vijnāna. What is vijnāna? It is to know God distinctly by realizing His existence through an intuitive experience and to speak to Him intimately. That is why Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Go beyond the three gunas.' (p. 780)
  • Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is 'I-consciousness'. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of 'I' exists. When the 'I' disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words. (p. 915)
  • Who may be called a paramahamsa? He who, like a swan, can take the milk from a mixture of milk and water, leaving aside the water. He who, like an ant, can take the sugar from a mixture of sugar and sand, leaving aside the sand. (p. 370)
  • I have no disciple. I am the servant of the servant of Rama. (p. 742)
  • There is not a fellow under the sun who is my disciple. On the contrary, I am everybody's disciple. All are the children of God. All are His servants. I too am a child of God. I too am His servant. (p. 867)
  • As for me, I consider myself as a speck of the dust of the devotee's feet. (p. 210)
  • "O Mother, I throw myself on Thy mercy; I take shelter at Thy Hallowed Feet. I do not want bodily comforts; I do not crave name and fame; I do not seek the eight occult powers. Be gracious and grant that I may have pure love for Thee, a love unsmitten by desire, untainted by any selfish ends — a love craved by the devotee for the sake of love alone. And grant me the favour, O Mother, that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching māyā, that I may never be attached to the world, to 'woman and gold', conjured up by Thy inscrutable māyā! O Mother, there is no one but Thee whom I mav call my own. Mother, I do not know how to worship; I am without austerity; I have neither devotion nor knowledge. Be gracious, Mother, and out of Thy infinite mercy grant me love for Thy Lotus Feet." (p. 731)

Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna ISBN 8171203779
  • 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 the day? O man, because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God. (1)
  • 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. (2)
  • Little children play with dolls in the outer room just as they like, without any care of fear or restraint; but as soon as their mother comes in, they throw aside their dolls and run to her crying, "Mamma, mamma." You too, are now playing in this material world, infatuated with the dolls of wealth, honour, fame, etc., If however, you once see your Divine Mother, you will not afterwards find pleasure in all these. Throwing them all aside, you will run to her. (12)
  • Water and a bubble on it are one and the same. The bubble has its birth in the water, floats on it, and is ultimately resolved into it. So also the Jivatman (individual soul) and the Paramatman (supreme soul) are one and the same, the difference between them being only one of degree. For, one is finite and limited while the other is infinite; one is dependent while the other is independent. (22)
  • As the snake is separate from its slough, even so is the Spirit separate from the body. (30)
  • Men are like pillow-cases. The colour of one may be red, that of another blue, and that of the third black; but all contain the same cotton within. So it is with man; one is beautiful, another is ugly, a third holy , and a fourth wicked; but the Divine Being dwells in them all. (37)
  • When an unbaked pot is broken, the potter can use the mud to make a new one; but when a baked one is broken, he cannot do the same any longer. So when a person dies in a state of ignorance, he is born again; but when he becomes well baked in the fire of true knowledge and dies a perfect man, he is not born again. (46)
  • The sun can give heat and light to the whole world, but he cannot do so when the clouds shut out his rays. Similarly as long as egotism veils the heart, God cannot shine upon it. (99)
  • The vanities of all others may gradually die out, but the vanity of a saint regarding his sainthood is hard indeed to wear away. (110)
  • If you feel proud, let it be in the thought that you are the servent of God, the son of God. Great men have the nature of a child. They are always a child before Him; so they are free from pride. All their strength is of God and not their own. It belongs to Him and comes from Him. (124)
  • As a piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge. (132)
  • That knowledge which purifies the mind and heart alone is true Knowledge, all else is only a negation of Knowledge. (138)
  • Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practise even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action. (152)
  • The nearer you come to God, the less you are disposed to questioning and reasoning. When you actually attain Him, when you behold Him as the reality, then all noise, all disputations, come to an end. (153)
  • Two friends went into an orchard. One of them possessing much worldly wisdom, immediately began to count the mango trees there and the number of mangoes each tree bore, and to estimate what might be the approximate value of the whole orchard. His companion went to the owner, made friends whith him, and then, quietly going into a tree, began at his host's desire to pluck the fruits and eat them. Whom do you consider to be the wiser of the two? Eat mangoes. It will satisfy your hunger. What is the good of counting the trees and leaves and making calculations? The vain man of intellect busies himself with finding out the 'why' and 'wherefore' of creation, while the humble man of wisdom makes friends with the Creator and enjoys His gift of supreme bliss. (164)
  • The young bamboo can be easily bent, but the full grown bamboo breaks when it is bent with force. It is easy to bend the young heart towards God, but the untrained heart of the old escapes the hold whenever it is so drawn. (233)
  • A boat may stay in water, but water should not stay in boat. A spiritual aspirant may live in the world, but the world should not live within him. (266)
  • As a boy holding to a post or a pillar whirls about it with headlong speed without any fear or falling, so perform your worldly duties, fixing your hold firmly upon God, and you will be free from danger. (283)
  • If a white cloth is stained even with a small spot, the stain appears very ugly indeed. So the smallest fault of a holy man becomes painfully prominent. (299)
  • Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic. (307)
  • Honour both spirit and form, the sentiment within as well as the symbol without. (308)
  • As a toy fruit or a toy elephant reminds one of the real fruit and the living animal, so do the images that are worshipped remind one of the God who is formless and eternal. (325)
  • Visit not miracle-mongers and those who exhibit occult powers. These men are stragglers from the path of Truth. Their minds have become entangled in psychic powers, which are like veritable meshes in the way of the pilgrim to Brahman. Beware of these powers, and desire them not. (372)
  • A young plant should always be protected against goats and cows and the mischief of little urchins, by means of a fence. But when it becomes a big tree, a flock of goats or a herd of cows can freely find shelter under its spreading boughs and fill their stomachs with their leaves. So when your faith is yet in its infancy, you should protect it from the evil influences of bad company. But when you grow strong in faith, no worldliness or evil inclination will dare approach your holy presence; and many who are wicked will become godly through their holy contact with you. (387)
  • One does not care for the cage when the bird has flown away from it. and when the bird of life flies away, no one cares for the body left behind. (396)
  • In a potter's shop there are vessels of different shapes and forms — pots, jars, dishes, plates, etc., — but all are made of the same clay. So God is one, but He is worshipped in different ages and climes under different names and aspects. (458)
  • Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the soul of truth. (531)
  • It is very pleasant to scratch an itching ring-worm, but the sensation one gets afterwards is very painful and intolerable. In the same way the pleasures of this world are very attractive in the beginning, but their consequences are terrible to contemplate and hard to endure. (548)
  • To drink pure water from a shallow pond one should gently take the water from the surface without disturbing the pond in the least. If it is disturbed, the sediments rise up and make the whole water muddy. If you desire to be pure, have firm faith, and slowly go on with your devotional practices, without wasting your energy in useless scriptural discussions and arguments. Your little brain will otherwise be muddled. (580)
  • Sunlight is one and the same wherever it falls; but only a bright surface like that of water, or of a mirror reflects it fully. So is the light Divine. It falls equally and impartially on all hearts, but the pure and pious hearts of holy men receive and reflect that light well. (649)
  • Who is whose Guru? God alone is the guide and Guru of the universe. (687)
  • A thief enters a dark room and feels the various articles therein. He lays his hands upon a table perhaps, and saying "Not this" passes on. Next he come upon some other article — a chair, perhaps — and again saying "Not this" continues his search, till, leaving article after article, he finally lays his hands on the box containing the treasure. Then he exclaims "It is here!" and there his search ends. Such, indeed is the search for Brahman. (733)
  • Brahman is beyond mind and speech, beyond concentration and meditation, beyond the knower, the known and knowledge, beyond even the conception of the real and unreal. In short, It is beyond all relativity. 840
  • Right discrimination is of two kinds — analytical and synthetical. The first leads one from the phenomena to the Absolute Brahman, while by the second one knows how the Absolute Brahman appears as the universe. (862)
  • As the shell, the pith and the kernel of the fruit are all produced form one parent seed of the tree, so from the one Lord is produced the whole of creation, animate and inanimate, spiritual and material. (867)
  • When the head of a goat is severed from its body, the trunk struggles for some time, still showing signs of life. Similarly, though ahamkara (egotism) is slain in the perfect man, yet enough of its vitality is left to make him carry on the functions of physical life; but it is not sufficient to bind him again into the world. (949)
  • When the tail of the tadpole drops off, it can live both in water and on land. When the tail of delusive ignorance drops off from man, he becomes free. He can then live in God and the world equally well. (955)
  • With the divine Knowledge of Advaita (non-duality) in you, do whatever you wish; for then no evil can ever come out of you. (966)
  • Do yourself what you wish others to do. (1021)
  • As long as I live, so long do I learn. (1036)

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