He was born in a tiny
Obscure Bengali village in India.
He lived in a tiny corner
Of a big temple.
A Kali-worshipper he was.
A man-lover he became.
A world-teacher he is
Forever shall remain.
Sri Chinmoy 1
No Indian youth of the rising generation can ever dream of escaping the subtle influence of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. This simple Brahmin conquered the hearts of men with a spiritual weapon which is commonly called Intuition-Power. He was born with it. He did not much care for the other weapon which is Brain-Power.
Looked at with human eyes, his appearance was so helpless — a storm-tossed raft seemed more dependable than the frail frame of this prophet. But going deep within, one could discover his true personality. To one's surprise, one could find in his teachings a colossal Will that could shake the world.
Here was a man whose authoritative voice declared that he had not only seen the Omnipotent, but could show Him to his beloved disciple, Naren (Vivekananda). He further claimed that he saw God more clearly than he saw the disciple standing before him.
As Ramakrishna’s life was replete with wonderful visions, his beloved Naren's life was surcharged with the power to fulfil those visions here on earth. Awakened India must ever remain beholden to Ramakrishna-Vivekananda, for it is they who were the most outstanding spiritual figures to appear on Indian soil during the last century. The Master and the disciple were hardly two distinct individuals. Each helped to shape the other. To our deeper vision, they formed an integral whole.
Sri Ramakrishna’s precepts were couched in the simplest language, in words that flew straight into the hearts of the people. The blessings that India, nay the world, received from him, his unique universal sympathy, stand matchless. "I do not care," he said, "I will give up a thousand such bodies to help one man. It is glorious to help even one man."
To live the truths that one has preached is often an impossibility. Glory to Sri Ramakrishna that he was a triumphant living example of the truths that he preached. To him, religion was nothing short of realisation. He synthesised most of the major world religions by his direct and immediate realisation of each of them. One by one, he pierced the core of each religion, extracted its essence and became the perfect embodiment of that path to the Supreme. Sri Ramakrishna firmly believed, too, that a time would come when an aspirant would be able to attain to God-realisation by three days' practice.
"Ramakrishna was God manifested in a human being… Vivekananda was a radiant glance from the eye of Siva", so said Sri Aurobindo, the founder of the Integral Yoga.
Vivekananda looked upon his Master as the embodiment of perfection. "In the presence of my Master, I found out that man could be perfect even in this body." 3
Question: Who was Ramakrishna?
Sri Chinmoy: Ramakrishna is the child of Mother Kali, the child of the Divine Mother, who is compassion and love. First he came to Mother Kali, the cosmic Mother, then he became the Mother Herself. 5
Sri Chinmoy related the following story to his students.
Sometimes I can play the role of Sri Ramakrishna! When he cared deeply for some disciples, at times he treated them with an iron rod. Dearer than the dearest was his Naren. Nobody could come near Naren! Sri Ramakrishna gave the ocean to Naren. To others, he gave perhaps a few drops or a few waves. To Naren he said, “I have given you everything. I have nothing more to give. Everything I have poured into you, only you.” This was Sri Ramakrishna’s blessingful utterance before he breathed his last. But once, when there were twenty or thirty close disciples gathered, Sri Ramakrishna said to Swami Vivekananda, “I cannot look at your face. I cannot look! Stop, stop the life you are leading!”
On the one hand, Sri Ramakrishna said that if anybody spoke ill of Swami Vivekananda, he would not look at the face of that person. But on that day Sri Ramakrishna was in another mood. When he spoke to Swami Vivekananda in that way, each disciple got the shock of his life. Swami Vivekananda got that kind of treatment!
This is all written in Bengali, in Kathamrita.6 Kathamrita I read, I read. I have such love and devotion for Swami Vivekananda. But Swami Vivekananda also was one day assailed by Sri Ramakrishna, in front of the disciples. Swami Vivekananda was so humiliated, but he was awakened. Then Swami Vivekananda shed tears of ecstasy because Sri Ramakrishna had scolded him. I read this at the age of seven.
All these things we get from “M.” “M” wrote everything about his Master in Kathamrita. It has now come out in five volumes. Everything is there!
One evening Sri Ramakrishna was with five or six very close disciples. He said, “I am telling you something. Do not tell anybody else. I am God, I am God, I am God!” But those four or five definitely told “M,” who was not there. He said to his disciples, “I am God, I am God, I am God!” 7
More stories about Sri Ramakrishna
Photo: Adarini Inkei.↩︎
Sri Chinmoy, "Ramakrishna: Soul of the East", Vivekananda: an ancient silence-heart and a modern dynamism-life, Agni Press, 1993.↩︎
Video by Kedar Misani.↩︎
Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita was compiled by Mahendranath Gupta (under the pen-name M.) from diaries of his visits to Sri Ramakrishna. An English edition is available, titled The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.↩︎