Born as Gangadhar Chattopadhyay in 1936 in a poor, rural priest family, he became a prominent spiritual figure of 19th century. From his childhood itself he had a great interest in spiritual studies over the regular schooling. He had learnt the holy Sanatan scriptures by-heart like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagwat Gita, Puran’s etc. from sages and saints. He mastered himself in Adavaita Vedanta (it’s a Sanatana scripture which means in Sanskrit “the end of knowledge”)& Sanatana philosophies under the guidance of his spiritual Guru (master) Totapuri who initiated him & gave him the name of Ramakrishna (as per Sanatana Dharma, Rama & Krishna are the Avatar’s of Lord Vishnu) Paramhamsa. Paramhamsa means “The Divine Swan”, as swan can distinguish between water & milk & can extract the milk if there is a mixture of both hence is the symbol of knowledge who can extract only the good out of all bad things.
In later stage of his life he became the Chief Priest of India’s famous Kali temple in Kolkata (then British capital) Dakhineshwar built by Rani (queen) Rashmoni (who herself also became a great disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa). He never followed the path of traditional priesthood & used to believe that though in spite of differences every religion lead towards the ultimate truth, which is the core principal of Vedanta i.e. “Ekam Satyam” which means the truth (God) is one. He gave the message of “Joto math tato path” i.e. as many options, that many path (to reach God). At a very young age, he developed intense devotion toward deity Kali (the source of all energy in the universe as per Sanatana Dharma. As per Sanatana Dharma, God is the Supreme Father & Devi/Shakti/Kali is the Supreme Mother of the entire universe). By seeing his intense devotion toward God & his selfless attitude alarmed his family & they got him married to Sarada Devi who also started admiring Ramakrishna’s spiritual philosophies & played a key role in Ramakrishna Mission in later stage of her life & guided the society after the death of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa.
Even after marriage life of Ramakrishna and his wife didn’t change much, he continued his spiritual journey even more rigorously. He took spiritual & tantric (mystic) training under various Gurus. He mastered in meditation & attained “Nirvikalpa Samadhi” the highest spiritual experience mentioned in Sanatana Dharma, where the individual gain the highest spiritual knowledge & non-dual existence (meet with God in whatever form he/she wants) through meditation. He remained in the state of non-dual existence for six months (in this state individual looses all material senses, give up eating food, even drink anything, not aware even his/her own body, the soul travel across the entire universe, gain ultimate spiritual knowledge & get one with the almighty, the soul & God become one). According to his followers, during this period he lived the entire period of Sanatana Dharma (10,000 years).
Ramakrishna Paramhamsa broke the barrier of “my religion is the purest” & taught his followers “all Religion’s are true” as all the religion lead to the ultimate goal i.e. to attain salvation. His followers believe that he is an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, to give salvation to troubled souls from all walk of life. He used to answer difficult spiritual & other life related problems in a very simply manner. In his own life also, he lived a very simple life, who had endless love & affection for masses irrespective of religion, cast, creed, age, gender, socio-economic background. His way of explanation was so simple that even a layman could understand the complex Sanatan scripture like Vedanta. Not only common people but prominent figures (including atheist’s) from India & rest of the world especially from western countries were his admirer & used to visit him in Dakhineshwar temple to listen to him. He always avoided publicity & public meetings or any other act which could give him fame. Let’s understand some interesting facts about Ramakrishna Paramhamsa
- He is the spiritual Guru of Swami Vivekananda, who spread his teachings & philosophies all over the world.
- After his death, Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Mission to serve the society.
- One of his disciples named Girish Ghosh (a great director & organizer of a theater group in Kolkata) was suffering from cancer, as per claims Ramakrishna absorbed that cancer to his own body. Ramakrishna died out of cancer & interestingly Girish was miraculously cured from cancer.
- Ramakrishna used to worship his wife Sarada Devi as mother Kali & both of them lived a pure life.
- He practiced & initiated the path of other religions as well like Islam & Christianity & attained the highest spiritual realization. He dressed-up like Arab Muslim & sat in meditation & met with Allah. Later he dressed-up like Christian & saw mother Jesus Christ in the lap of Mother Mary. He got the realization in a very short span of time (within 3 days).
- He is known as a prophet of religious harmony.
Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, a modern Yogi who dedicated his life to work as a bridge between the east & west, the ancient & the new & translated complex spiritual concept into simple layman language. He never tried to convert anyone from other religion into his faith rather he stated “Yoto math, tato path” i.e. as many options, that many path (to reach God). He directed that the ultimate goal of human life is God-realization. His philosophies deeply touched the life of people from all walk of life. He strongly believed that ego is the root cause of all sufferings of human life. His principal of “serving people is serving God” is the core principal of Ramakrishna Mission & the organization continuously serving the society along with their spiritual journey.
British Historian Arnold Toynbee best described him. He has written about him, here we have the attitude & the spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together into a single family & in the Atomic Age, this is the only alternative to save ourselves.
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