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Source: Mahendra Nath Gupta. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Authorised version, edited by Swami Abhedananda. New York: The Vedanta Society, 1907.

Sarada Devi painting by Franz Dvorak.
Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920), wife of Ramakrishna

Preliminary Matter


Preface to Ramakrishna Stories

Guru tales. These tales are of and by the phenomenon Sri Ramakrishna (1836–86). He lived and taught in India. If you are fond of catchy and exotic stories, here are some good ones about and by Ramakrishna. He taught by stories, including parables, and in the following there are lots of them.

Heed the signals. At several places in this text, Ramakrishna advocates meditation above reading tall teachings: "First try to realise God," he teaches, and "One cannot realise Divinity by reading books . . . After realisation, all books, sciences and scriptures seem to be like worthless straw." Accordingly, reading Ramakrishna and lots of others is not the best thing there is, and "first things first." That is to say, reading these Ramakrishna Stories could be done away with, but all the same, very many like stories and benefit from good and suitable ones among them.

Perhaps slowly, much in a life may be changed through what we happen to hear or read, and what makes a favourable impact of that again, depending on how we are, or how conditioned, and in what ways. Some matches between books and readers may work for good. That is my opinion and experience. As a student I was favourably influenced by the hardworking loafing advocate Lin Yutang. But still more by TM - it is ◦mantra meditation.

Reading books and getting book learning may work well up to a level. And "While speaking learned words, you are mourning . . . Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead." [Bhagavad Gita, 2:11 (excerpt)] So there should be little ground for lamentation in a life lived well, and not really any great need for learned words either - not to the happy loafer who battles against becoming marringly serious. But I trust Plain English can help a whole lot.

Stilted language may not suit everyone. It is not important to this editor to have any stilted Biblical ring to the teachings. But for the updated language, the text is quite as in its source, a book called The Gospel of Ramakrishna. You get nearly all of the content in it. It is a long-time hit among guru classics, but not without dogmatic stances that do not suit everyone, not all of them. There are also a host of terms that are dear to yogis, but largely unknown to common Westerners. I have supplied a glossary (there is a link to it on top of the pages). I have also decided to add brief comments here and there, aiming at wet nurses most of all. Such comments are marked by ❖ and text in italics. Further, if the comment is not a short one, I set it off in quite the same way as this preface itself.

Why do such things? Why work? Good reasons for adding comments include such as:

  • Different strokes for different folks. Ramakrishna gives different kinds of counsels to different sorts of people at various times. Thus, one counsel may not suit all, and there is a need to take in a wider scenario before "falling for" just one set of counsels. There could be more fit ways of thinking and handling for the readers, and some such ways may well be found in other places in the work too. One given set of rules or regulations may not suit everyone full well (apart from basic moral requirements such as those given by Buddha: Abstain from killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct/abuse, from false speech/testimony, and from getting drunk/heedless or worse.) It is not good to get insolvent either, by the way. Also, there are differences among people, and a basic is not to violate one's innermost structures, but, rather, help it progress. Adhering to our yin-yang balancing while moving on and up, is a great solvency deal. Maybe some readers deserve the better ways than what Ramakrishna advocates at any point - for he too adjusts his counsel to differences among persons he talks to - adjusts to how they are deep within, their standing, circumstances and still further.
  • Tempting others by demagogic ways is not smart enough. [Example: "The calf says, "Hamma!""] It is a joke, but some might take it seriously. A human frailty is at times exposed by the attitude, "Hail the God Incarnate without really knowing for sure if its is true, wholly true or partly true, and so on." Buddha offers long-range help for keeping your self-assertiveness and reasoning ability intact. To be frank, to be able to assess God Incarnate truly you need to be God Incarnate too, at least according to "It takes one to know one." Ramakrishna is not against the idea, for he pricked that hail-along balloon in his way. One mask is to implicitly say one knows who are gurudevas or Divine Incarnations by hailing them as such, rightly or wrongly, by being told or overawed somehow, but not from first-hand knowledge. Such hailing is hardly fully clean, hardly fully proper.
  • And naturally, many things may deserve more mention.

All in all, it can work well neither to accept nor reject things we have no experience of ourselves, but keep issues of that sort at bay, in suspensio, as it is put in Latin. Opposed to it: good and bad calls to dogmatic belief is adequately met with such an attitude. We do not have to believe things to meditate and make progress all year long, simply put. Gurus agree with that too. It is handy, savoury and careful practice over and over that matters in these waters. Positive thinking has its good sides too, but its good effects are more limited.

The book here, is a very influential classic of guru sayings and stories. It is an earlier translation of a very respected work than its translation by Nikhilananda. The author listed as "M" is Mahendra Nath Gupta (1855-1932), also known as Master Mahasaya. He transcribed diary notes into a five volume Bengali edition, and later translated them into English. English translations of the Gospel of Ramakrishna, this one included, are derived from the work of Gupta. [7}

Stiff conventions of the past give way to more current English. Today's readers may get annoyed by somewhat old-fashioned English words that mark holiness or servility. In this online story collection many nearly obsolete ways have been replaced: for example many capitalised letters. Thus: Thou, Thee, Thine, Thy, He, His are generally replaced by you, your, he, his, and upon by on, and so on.

What is termed Plain English can excel over formalised, stiff uses carried over from the past, and is rather an ongoing process than something achieved and fixed once and for all. Plain language has a wider reach than formalised language, and often a friendlier, more considerate tone. Swami Abhedananda's efforts some hundred years ago, to keep things simple. "I have endeavored to make every word of this edition as literal, simple, and colloquial as possible," he says in his preface (below). I have sought to take his efforts a few steps further, for English has become plainer over the last hundred years, and so has religious and spiritual ways of wording.

Conventions change indeed: in a host of more recent Bible translations - that some unsound "Thou uses" are borrowed from - changes such as those I have made here, are implemented far and wide. For after all, due respect for God hardly requires stiff and formal, old-fashioned language. The many and simple stylistic changes of this version should not change the purported meanings of Ramakrishna's translated, usually very simple-looking statements.

The spelling of some words have been updated and adjusted to British English. The placement of several inserted headings in the original need to be moved a bit in some places to serve as run-in subheads in this simpler format. Further, page numbers of the first edition are here put a particular set of brackets - this one: [ }. Thus, the softly intrusive [5} in the text means "here begins page 5 of the book that was published in 1907". The book references are found on top of the page.

- TK

Niranjanam Nityam anantarupam,
Bhaktânukampâ dhritavigraham vai;
Ishâvatâram Paramesham Idyam,
Tam Râmakrishnam Shirashâ Namâmah.

Salutations to Bhagavân Srî Râmakrishna, the perfect Embodiment of the Eternal Truth which manifests Itself in various forms to help mankind, and the Incarnation of the Supreme Lord who is worshipped by all.

Hari Om Tat Sat.

Preface

This is the authorized English edition of the "Gospel of Ramakrishna." For the first time in the history of the world's Great Saviours, the exact words of the master were recorded verbatim by one of his devoted disciples. These words were originally spoken in the Bengali language of India. They were taken down in the form of diary notes by a householder disciple, "M." At the request of Sri Ramakrishna's Sannyasin disciples, however, these notes were published at Calcutta during 1902-1903 AD, in Bengali, in two volumes, entitled "Ramakrishna Kathamrita" [which means "The Nectar of Sri Ramakrishna's Words"]

At that time "M" wrote to me letters authorizing me to edit and publish the English translation of his notes, and sent me the manuscript in English which he himself translated, together with a true copy of a personal [viii} letter [1] which Swami Vivekananda wrote to him.

At the request of "M" I have edited and remodelled the larger portion of his English manuscript; while the remaining portions I [ix} have translated directly from the Bengali edition of his notes. The marginal headings, footnotes, and index, as well as the division of the Gospel into fourteen chapters, were added by me. I have endeavored to make every word of this edition as literal, simple, and colloquial as possible.

Some repetitions are purposely kept to show how the master used the same illustrations on different occasions during the course of his eloquent conversations.

The completed work is now offered to the Western World with the sincere hope that the sublime teachings of Sri Ramakrishna may open the spiritual sight of seekers after Truth, and bring peace and freedom to all souls struggling for realization.

SWAMI ABHEDANANDA.

NEW YORK,

December 15, 1907.

Footnotes

*1 Swami Vivekananda's letter to "M." (True Copy.)

DEHRA DOON, 24th Nov., 1897.

My dear Master Mahasaya:

Many thanks for your second leaflet. It is indeed wonderful. The move is quite original, and never the life of a great teacher was brought before the public untarnished by the writer's mind as you are doing. The language also is beyond all praise. So fresh, so pointed, and withal so plain and easy.

I cannot express in adequate terms how I have enjoyed them. I am really in a transport when I read them. Strange, isn't it? Our teacher and Lord was so original and each one of us will have to be original or nothing. I now under. stand why none of us attempted his life before. It has been reserved for you, this great work. He is with you evidently. With all love and namaskar.

(Sd.) VIVEKANANDA.

P.S. – Socratic dialogues are Plato all over. You are entirely hidden. Moreover, the dramatic part is infinitely beautiful. Everybody likes it – here or in the West.

(Sd.) V.

This letter of Swami Vivekananda shows that the words of the master were accurately recorded by "M."

TO TOP

Introduction

THE Lord declares:
"Whenever true religion declines and irreligion prevails, I manifest myself and in every age I incarnate to establish spiritual law and to destroy evil." – Bhagavad Gita, 4:7-9.

Saviours. India has produced many great spiritual leaders who are recognized and worshipped as Saviours of mankind. The life and character of each of these were as wonderful, superhuman, and divine as were those of the illustrious son of man. Each has been like the embodiment of all divine attributes; each has been the giver of new life to the old spiritual truths, and the generator of that tidal wave of spirituality which has again and again inundated the religious world, surmounting the [2} barriers of superstition and prejudice and carrying the stream of individual souls toward the ocean of divinity.

The present upheaval of the spiritual tide, the waves of which, traversing nearly half the world, have touched the shores of America, was produced by the Christlike character and divine personality of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna — revered and worshipped in India today as an ideal manifestation of the Divine glory. His life was so extraordinary and unparalleled that within ten years after his departure from earth it aroused the admiration, wonder and reverence not only of all classes of people in his own country, but of many distinguished English and German scholars of the nineteenth century.

Life of Sri Ramakrishna by European Scholars. A short account of the life of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna appeared for the first time in the January number of the "Imperial and Quarterly Review" of 1896 under the title of "A Modern Hindu Saint." It was an able article penned by Prof. C. H. Tawney, who was for many years the professor of Sanskrit in Calcutta University and the distinguished Librarian of India House in London. This article excited the interest of many [3} European scholars, among whom Professor Max Muller showed his appreciation by publishing in the August number of the "Nineteenth Century" of 1896 a short sketch of this Hindu saint's life entitled "A Real Mahatman [Skt., from maha, great, and atman, spirit, soul]." In this celebrated article, which was for some time the subject of most severe criticism both in England and India among many of the Christian missionaries and the Theosophists, the noted professor showed the difference between the imaginary Mahatmas of the Theosophists and the real mahatman or the great soul of India who had reached God-consciousness and had manifested divinity in all the actions of his daily life. He gave a brief account of the extraordinary life of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna, paying him the highest tribute of honour and respect that a Christian scholar could give to a divine manifestation in the so-called heathen land. Later, in 1898, he compiled and published "Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings," collecting more facts of his life and the sayings of this exemplary character perfumed with divine personality.

Ramakrishna a real Mahatman. Professor Max Muller was deeply impressed by the originality of this great saint and real mahatman, who was not brought up within the [4} precincts of any university and who drew the water of his wisdom neither from any book nor Scripture nor from any ancient prophet but directly from the Eternal Fountainhead of all knowledge and wisdom. He was also struck by the broad, liberal and absolutely unsectarian spirit which pervades the utterings of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. Indeed the life and sayings of the bhagavan have given a death-blow to the sectarian bigotry and fanaticism of the so-called religious world. Whoever has read his sayings is impressed with the universality of his spiritual ideals which embraced the ideals of all mankind.

From his childhood Sri Ramakrishna fought against all sectarian doctrines and dogmas, but yet at the same time he showed that all sects and creeds were but the paths which lead sincere and earnest souls to the one universal goal of all religions. Having realized the highest ideal of every religion by following the methods and practices of the various sects and creeds of the world, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna gave to humanity whatever spiritual experience and realization he had acquired. Every idea which he gave was fresh from above and unadulterated [5} by the product of human intellect, culture or scholastic education. Each step of his life from babyhood to the last moment was extraordinary. Every stage was like the unfoldment of a chapter of a new scripture especially written out by the Unseen Hand to fit the minds of the East and the West and to fulfil the spiritual needs of the twentieth century.

Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna is not only the greatest saint of modern India but he is the "Real Mahatman." A real Mahatman as described in the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter VII, verse 19) is one who, having realized the Absolute, perceives the Divine Being in all animate and inanimate objects of the universe. His heart and soul never turn away from God. He lives in God-consciousness, and Divine qualities constantly flow through his soul. He cares neither for fame nor power nor worldly prosperity. A true Mahatman has no attachment to his body or to sense-pleasures; he is a living God; he is absolutely free and his inner nature is illumined by the self-effulgent light of Divine wisdom and his heart is overflowing with Divine Love. His soul becomes the playground of the Almighty, his body and mind become the instrument of the Divine will. And Bhagavan [6} Sri Ramakrishna was such a real Mahatman.

Even in this age when the vast majority of educated people do not believe in the existence of God and of the human soul, when scientific knowledge has turned the minds of students away from the path of spirituality, when sense pleasures and the luxuries of life have become the ideals of earthly existence and human beings have degenerated into money-making machines, we have witnessed with our eyes a Great Soul who is recognized as a Real Mahatman by hundreds and thousands of thoughtful men and women of India, Europe and America. This Great Soul manifested his Divine qualities and lived in God-consciousness at every moment of his earthly career, and to-day thousands of people prostrate before his picture and, worship him as the latest manifestation of Divinity. Whosoever has heard of his most wonderful life has felt in his soul that Ramakrishna was the perfect Ideal of mankind.

Ramakrishna's influence on the mind of Scholars. He made his appearance in an obscure part of Bengal where he passed his early boyhood, but his youth and maturity were spent near Calcutta, the capital of British India, as cosmopolitan a city as London, New York, [7} or any other large city of the civilized world and the seat of education, refinement and scientific knowledge. He allowed the sceptical minds of the students and professors of colleges and universities as well as of educated men and women of the world to come in direct touch with the self-effulgent light of Divine wisdom which was shining in its full glory through his childlike, soft, and tender form. Scholars and intelligent people of all classes poured from every quarter to that spot which was sanctified by the presence of the bhagavan. He was the living example of the spiritual greatness and Divinity which had been manifested by the great Incarnations like Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Chaitanya [**] and other Saviours of the world.

We know a number of sceptics and agnostics who had never believed in Christ or Buddha or Krishna as Divine Incarnations, who had never accepted the authority of the Scriptures, but on [8} the contrary had maintained that the lives of Christ and of other Saviours were but exaggerated accounts based on the imagination of their disciples, anxious to deify their human masters – such sceptics and unbelievers when they met Ramakrishna and watched his superhuman life, were convinced that the lives of Christ, Buddha, Krishna, and other Avataras must have been true and real. The same sceptics, when they beheld his Divine powers, were so deeply impressed with his personality that they prostrated before him, kissed the dust of his holy feet and realized that he was the Personification of the Sermon on the Mount, the Incarnation of Divinity on earth, and the remanifestation of Christ, Buddha, Krishna, and Chaitanya in one form. All the special qualities and Divine powers that had adorned the wonderful character of each of these great personages were witnessed by them in this uncommon Divine manifestation of the nineteenth century.

Ramakrishna as the Divine Ideal of all Sects. Have we not watched with admiration when the followers of all the great religions of the world recognized in Sri Ramakrishna their divine ideals? Have we not seen how Quakers and orthodox Christians knelt and prayed before [9} him and worshipped him as the Christ when the bhagavan went into superconscious communion with the Heavenly Father after hearing the holy name of Jesus of Nazareth? The Mahometan saints who came to see him, prostrated at his holy feet and recognized in him the highest Ideal of Islam. The Buddhists regarded him as Sambuddha, the Enlightened. The followers of Chaitanya, like Vaishnava Charan, [n9a] and others, worshipped him as the second Prophet of Nuddea when Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna occupied the altar which was reverentially dedicated to Sri Chaitanya by hundreds of devoted Vaishnavas, who always prostrated before that altar and prayed to their Lord Guaranga. The worshippers of Krishna called Him the Incarnation of Krishna. The devotees of the Divine Mother realized that the Mother of the universe was playing through him; the followers of Shiva declared that Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna was their living Deity; while the Sikhs, the faithful votaries of Guru Nanaka, [n9b] [10} regarded him as their Holy Master. his followers, seeing all these powers, marvelled at his greatness and believed that his many-sided personality was the living example and the consummation of all the previous Avataras and Divine manifestations. And the truth of this was again and again verified and confirmed by his acts as well as by his own words: "He who was Krishna, Rama, Christ, Buddha, Chaitanya has now become Ramakrishna." Bhagavan was always conscious of this truth and spoke of it before the world as well as before his dearest disciples.

His mission. As his Divine personality was many-sided yet one, so was his great mission. It was to show the underlying unity in the variety of religions and to establish that universal religion of which sectarian religions are each but partial expressions. Like all other Saviours the life of the Bhagavan exemplified his mission. He spent the best part of his life in practising in full the different [11} methods of Yoga. He went through every minute detail of the devotional exercises and different forms of worship ordained by the Scriptures of different nations and practised by the followers of the various sects and creeds of the world. His object in devoting so much time to these practices was to find out whether they had any real value in the path which leads to perfection.

Ramakrishna's mind was always open to Truth. He would not accept anything on second-hand authority. He would not believe in anything because it was written in a book or because it was declared by some great personage. He must know the Truth first hand. Before accepting any statement, he must realize it in his own life and then he would speak of his personal experience to others in order that they might gain benefit from it. For nearly twelve years before he appeared in public or made any disciples Sri Ramakrishna, like a scientific investigator, inquired into the beliefs of the various sects of every religion, followed their methods and performed their rituals and ceremonies with perfect faith and earnest devotion that he might realize the goal which could be reached by each of them. To his great [12} surprise, however, he discovered that he arrived at God-consciousness through each sectarian method. Whenever, furthermore, he desired to follow any particular path, there came to him a perfected soul of each sect who had realized the Ideal, to direct him in that path. Everyone of these great saints recognized in Sri Ramakrishna the manifestation of Divine powers, when in a short time he attained to that which they had not been able to acquire during years of austerity, worship and extreme devotion.

Having finished his investigations, he was ready to proclaim his message and give to the world the fruits of his own experience and realization. But unlike other spiritual teachers, he did not go out in search after his disciples and followers. As a fragrant flower does not hunt for bees but waits patiently for the bees to come, so the full-blown flower of spirituality in the form of Sri Ramakrishna waited for his disciples to come to him in the Temple garden at Dakshineswara on the bank of the Ganges.

When Ramakrishna had attained to the highest ideal of each Yoga and had realized the spiritual oneness with the Absolute Brahman and the Mother of the universe, rumour spread from mouth to mouth that Ramakrishna had [13} reached perfection in this life. People from all quarters began to crowd around him. Pandits and scholars of every nationality as well as hundreds of devout men and women of all sects came to see him and listen to his original and wonderful teachings. This was the beginning of his public life as spiritual leader and guide, which continued for nearly sixteen years. During this period he did nothing but help mankind by freely distributing the priceless jewels of spiritual truths which he had earned through such struggle, hardship and austerities.

His spiritual insight. Ramakrishna had a marvellous intellect and keen insight into the true nature of things and events, and using the commonest occurrences of every-day life as illustrations, he succeeded in making the dull minds of worldly people grasp the spiritual depth, beauty and grandeur of his sublime ideals. He poured new life into every word that he uttered so as to touch the soul of his hearers. People listened with wonder and admiration to his original discourses on the most difficult problems concerning life and death, the nature and origin of the soul, the origin of the universe and our relation to God.

Realization of God. In this age of scientific rationalism Bhagavan [14} Sri Ramakrishna has shown to the world how the Lord of the universe can be realized and attained in this life, and no one except him has ventured to go through all the tests of sceptics and agnostics to prove that he had attained to God-consciousness. Those who have seen him, lived with him for years and watched him by day and by night, have proclaimed before the world that he was the embodiment of the highest spiritual ideals of all nations, and that whoever worships him with faith and reverence worships the latest manifestation of Divinity.

The bhagavan proved by his example that wherever there is extreme longing to see God, there is the nearness of the realization of the absolute Truth. His life has given to the world a grand demonstration that even in this age Divinity can be reached and Divine perfection can be acquired by one who is pure, chaste, simple and whose devotion is whole-hearted and whole-souled. We have neither seen nor heard of a character purer, simpler, more chaste, more truthful and more godly than that of this ideal Mahatman. He was like the personification of purity and chastity and the embodiment of truthfulness. [15} His life was the life of absolute renunciation. Earthly pleasures and comforts meant nothing to him. The only pleasure, comfort or happiness which he cared for was the blissful state of Samadhi or God-consciousness, when his soul, liberated from the bondage of body and mind, soared high in the infinite space of the Absolute. This Samadhi was a natural state with Ramakrishna. He never had to make a special effort to attain it. We often heard him say that when he was four years old he went into Samadhi at the sight of the beautiful colouring of a tropical cloud. This realization he always remembered and often described in his conversation. And as he grew older his Samadhi or ecstasy became stronger and deeper.

His Samadhi. In his Samadhi his body would become absolutely motionless, his pulse and heart-beat imperceptible, his eyes would be half open and if anyone pressed his eyeball with the finger, his body would not move or show the least sign of sensation. He would remain in this state sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for half an hour or an hour, and on one occasion he continued in it for three days and nights. Then he would come down on the plane of sense-consciousness and relate his [16} experiences. He had the power to separate himself from the cage of the physical organism and to go into this state of Divine communion at his will and stay there as long as he wished. Frequently he told us that he reached such a height in Samadhi that if he had been like an ordinary mortal he could never have returned to his body; that no mortal had ever come back from that kind of Samadhi; and that the Divine Mother gave him this power to return to this plane simply to help mankind and to establish his mission.

His renunciation. To him God was father, mother, brother, sister, and everything. He recognized no earthly relations. He never coveted wealth, nor had he any earthly possession. He realised that gold had no more value than earth and became absolutely unattached to riches, understanding the transitoriness of the objects which can be acquired by wealth. He often said that immortality could not be purchased by money, and emphasized by his example the true meaning of the Vedic passage: "Neither by meritorious deed, nor by progeny, nor by wealth, but by renunciation alone the Immortal Truth can be acquired." Renunciation of the attachment to worldly things is the [17} gate to God-consciousness. Christ, Buddha, Chaitanya, Sankaracharya and all other Saviours and spiritual leaders of the world exemplified this by living the life of absolute renunciation. It is very rare to find in this age a perfect ideal of the renunciation of lust and of worldly attachment. Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna practised the ideal of the renunciation of riches to such an extent that he was able to make his body respond involuntarily to the touch of coin by shrinking from it even in sound sleep. We have often seen him suffer pain when he was obliged to touch a coin of any metal. Who could be a more perfect ideal of renunciation in this age of materialism!

He uplifted womanhood. Sri Ramakrishna taught that every woman, old or young, was the representative of the Divine Mother. He worshipped God as the Mother of the universe and frequently declared that his Divine Mother had shown him that all women represent Divine Motherhood on earth. For the first time in the religious history of the world was this ideal preached by any Divine Incarnation. And on this depends the salvation of men and especially of women of all countries from immorality, corruption and such other vices as prevail in a civilized community. [18}

By his living example the bhagavan established the truth of spiritual marriage on the soul plane even in this age of sensuality. He had a wife whom he always treated with reverence and whom he regarded as the manifestation of his Divine Mother. He never had any sex relation with her or with any woman on the physical plane. His wife, the Blessed Virgin Sarada Devi, is still [1907] living like an embodiment of Holy Motherhood with innumerable spiritual children around Her. She in turn has always regarded the bhagavan as Her Blessed Mother Divine in a human form. Up to the last moment of his earthly career the bhagavan was absolutely pure, chaste, and a perfect child of his Divine Mother of the universe. Furthermore, Ramakrishna uplifted the ideal of womanhood on the spiritual plane by accepting his first Guru or spiritual instructor in a woman form. No other Saviour or spiritual leader has ever given such an honor to womanhood in the annals of religious history.

His mission. The mission of bhagavan Ramakrishna was to show by his living example how a truly spiritual man, being dead to the world of senses, can live on the spiritual plane of God-consciousness; it was to prove [19} that each individual soul is immortal and potentially Divine. His mission was to establish harmony between religious sects and creeds. For the first time it was absolutely demonstrated by Ramakrishna that all religions are like so many paths leading to the same goal, that the realization of the same Almighty Being is the highest Ideal of Christianity, Mahometanism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, as well as of all other smaller religions of the world. Sri Ramakrishna's mission was to proclaim the eternal Truth that God is one but has many aspects, and that the same one is worshipped by different nations under various names and forms; that he is personal, impersonal and beyond both; that he is with name and form and yet nameless and formless. His mission was to establish the worship of the Divine Mother and thus to elevate the ideal of womanhood into Divine Motherhood. His mission was to show by his own example that true spirituality can be transmitted and that salvation can be obtained through the grace of a Divine Incarnation. His mission was to declare before the world that psychic powers and the power of healing are obstacles in the path of the attainment of God-consciousness. [20}

His Divine powers. Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna possessed all the Yoga powers but he seldom exercised those powers, especially the power of healing diseases. Moreover, he always prevented his disciples from either seeking or exercising those powers. But one power which we have seen him frequently exercise was the Divine power to transform the character of a sinner and to lift a worldly soul to the plane of superconsciousness by a single touch. He would take the sins of others on his own shoulders and would purify them by transmitting his own spirituality and opening the spiritual eyes of his trite followers.

The days of prophecy have passed before our eyes. The manifestations of the Divine powers of One who is worshipped to-day by thousands as the latest Incarnation of Divinity, we have witnessed with our eyes. Blessed are they who have seen him and touched his holy feet. May the glory of Sri Ramakrishna be felt by all nations of the earth; may his Divine power be manifested in the earnest and sincere souls of his devotees of all countries in all ages to come, is the prayer of his child and servant,

ABHEDANANDA

Footnotes

p 7: Chaitanya, the Founder of a sect of the Vaishnavas, is regarded in India as the Incarnation of Krishna. He is also known as the "Prophet of Nuddea," for Nuddea (or Navadvipa) in Bengal was his birthplace. His other name is Lord (see ). He was born in 1485 A.D., and was a contemporary of Luther.

p 9a: Vaishnava Charan was a great Hindu saint and a true follower of Chaitanya, whom he worshipped as the Ideal Incarnation of Divine Love.

p 9b: Guru Nanaka was the founder of the sect known as the [10] Sikhs, or disciples. He was born near Lahore in the Punjab (India) in the year 1469 AD and died in 1538 AD. He was the first of the ten Gurus or spiritual masters among the Sikh people. He is regarded by his followers as a manifestation of Divinity.

Collection

The Gospel of Ramakrishna by M  

Here are five good lives of Ramakrishna:

Jagadananda, sw. tr: Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master. Tr. Jagadananda. 4th ed. Mylapore: Ramakrishna Math, 1970 (and later). —— Over 900 stunning, fabulous pages that contain quite hard-to-find and extraordinary detail. Originally published in Bengali in five volumes. "When writing a biography. . . the author with a spiritual bent of mind applies himself . . . [W]e have discussed the extraordinary life of Sri Ramakrishna in the light of the scriptures . . . his unique mental functions, experiences and activities in comparison with those of great souls like Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Buddha, Sankara . . . The Master said to us in an unambiguous language again and again that in the past, 'the one who became Rama and Krishna is now (showing his own body) in this sheath" and that "the spiritual experiences of this person (meaning himself) have gone beyond those recorded in the Vedas and Vedantas." (from the dust jacket). The publisher's note to the first edition (1952) informs that Saradananda (1865–1927) was a direct disciple of Ramakrishna og General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math ["centre"] and Mission from its beginning, amd that his treatment of the subject is exhaustive and reliable. Also interesting, Jagadananda writes he restricts his descriptions to what he has been blessed to experience himself.

Gupta, Mahendra Nath. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Authorised version, translated by Swami Abhedananda. New York: Vedanta Society, 1907. – The original. Online: archive.org/stream/gospelrmakrishn00abhegoog#page/n12/mode/2up

Advaita Ashrama: Life of Sri Ramakrishna. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1971. —— Readable. "The full and official life of Ramakrishna." It is not full, for Jagadananda's work contains much more. This book's great value is that is is official and sanctioned, methinks.

Gupta, Mahendra Nath. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Translated by Swami Abhedananda. New York: The Vedanta Society, 1907. —— For those hunting for sources, without knowing the original Bengali, this early translation is of value for being written by a direct Ramakrishna disciple, for being one of the earlier records of Ramakrishna's words, by quotations, and for Abhedananda's assessments of Ramakrishna too. There are no dates given for talks and meetings in this translation. Nikhilananda (1942) gives much more as to dates, atmosphere, details, but the quotations are supposed to say just the same things in both works. I suggest the fine-flowing and readable Nikhilananda translation supplements this one, or the other way round, depending on what we are after.

Gupta, Mahendranath The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Tr. Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942. —— This famous translation contains a beautiful biography of Ramakrishna and the conversations with Mahendranath Gupta wrote down. The book is online too: [◦Link]. Also, an abridged translation is also published in book form, avoiding much of the repetition in this large text (New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1974).

Romain, Rolland: The Gospel of Ramakrishna. 8th ed. Calcutta: Advaita Asram, 1970. —— "I am bringing to Europe, (a) symphony of India, bearing the name of Ramakrishna . . . [H]e marks a new era . . . He was a little village Brahmin of Bengal . . . I wish to wet [Europe's] lips with the blood of Immortality." - Romain Rolland (1866–1944) was a French humanist and Nobel Prize winner in 1915 for Literature. Rolland wrote the book in 1929. Among his sources were Swami Shivananda (head of the Ramakrishna Order), "M", memoirs of several Ramakrishna disciples, and others. The book was written for Western readers and both perspectives and attitudes differ at times from those published by the Ramakrishna Order. After more or less useless references to several famous Westerners, like Beethoven, Balzac and Flaubert, Rolland falls short in presenting the most relevant Hindu views. But ores of sincerity is still there in the Frenchman's book. The Advaita Ashrama's Life includes more material, besides being an official version.

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