Puran Chandera Sharma
M Romain Rolland aptly remarks, ‘ the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred million people.. a symphony built up of a hundred different musical elements emanating from the Past’. How was it possible? The answer to this question- the story of Shri Ramakrishana’s breathless struggle and intense heart-searchings- from one of the most glorious and unforgettable chapters of human history.
On the memorable date of the 18th February, 1836, the baby eyes of Sri Ramakrishna opened to the light of earthly existance, in a little village called Kumarpukur in the district of Hooghly in Bengal. This village has now become famous as the birth place of this greatest of Indian sages of modern times, whose life and teachings have penetrated into every nook and corner of this earth and have enlightened many a dark home.
He was born in a highly respectable though poor Brahmin family. The only wealth they possessed was spirituality. Sri Ramakrishna’s father, Khudiram Chattopadhyaya, was a pious devotee and his affectionate mother, Chandramani Devi, was the personification of love and kindness. In Gadadhar, the early name of the boy, there were signs of future greatness marked out in indelible characters both in his childhood and in his youth. He learned the three R’s at his village school and even as a child was taught to lead a pure and pious life by his parents. In youth he became imbued with the life and teachings of the various incarnations of God. We shall not be far wrong if we say that every fibre of his being was attuned to the highest philosophical and religious ideals, so much so that when he was only seven years old he saw within himself a transcendent vision of glory.
He practised in himsef a universal tolerance, a great harmony and supreme love. When he was barely seventeen, he went to Calcutta with his elder brother for his further study and to lookafter his household. And when the pious Rani Rasmani built the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, a village four miles from Calcutta, Pt Ram Kumar, the elder brother of Sri Ramakrishna, was appointed the officiating priest of the temple, and later Sri Ramakrishna himself was appointed assistant priest there. The image of mother Kali has a fascination for him and riveted his attention.
Thinking that marriage might bring him round to worldly pursuits, his parents married Sri Ramakrishna to Sri Saradamani Devi, the daughter of Ramchandra Mukhopadhyaya of Jayrambati, the bride being only five years old. After the marriage Sri Ramakrishna returned to the temple garden of Dakshineswar, and the worship of Mother Kali became his daily routine. By his earnestness and passionate love he was soon blessed with a vision of his Divine Mother, and on many occasions he enjoyed the ecstatic bliss of superconscious realization. The carnal idea of marriage never appealed to him,and his consort was looked upon as a helpmate in his spiritual endeavour. The marriage itself was but a union of souls for the achievement of higher ends.
Sri Ramakrishna desired very much to acquaint himself with all the priceless teachings of the great religions prevailing in India and abroad, including various forms of Vaishnavism, Christianity and Mohammedanism and he believed that in order to assimilate them and make them part and parcel of his nature he could not do better than live the life according to the teachings of the Prophet of each religion. Strange to say, he succeeded in realizing the highest ideals of each religion in an incredibly short time, and thus qualified himself for the lofty role of world teacher that he was destined to play. His ever-increasing piety, his God intoxicated life, his extreme renunciation of lust and gold, the ceaseless flow of his words of wisdom, simple, clear and convincing, his wonderful insight into human character, his universal toleration and world embracing love, these and a thousand of the qualities of head and heart soon brought round him a growing number of admires. Among them was Keshab Chandra Sen who brought him to the notice of the Calcutta people.
In 1882, Narendra, later known as the world-renowed Swami Vivekananda- the foremost of his disciples, joined him, together with a number of others, and grew in the likeness of his much revered and beloved master. Supreme monarch of the spiritual Kingdom, Sri Ramakrishna applied himself heart and soul to form the character of these boys so that they might realize their nature and serve as teachers of mankind.
Sri Ramakrishna was the living commentary to the Vedas and to their aim. He lived in one life the whole cycle of the national religious existence in India. Whatever the Vedas, the Vedanta and all other incarnations have done in the past, Sri Ramakrishna lived to practise in the course of a single life. One cannot understand the vedas, the vedanta, the incarnations and so forth, without understanding his life. For he was the explanation. His life is a searchlight of infinite power thrown upon the whole mass of Indian religious thoughts.
Sri Ramakrishna was of opinion that among the three paths that of ‘Bhakti’ was the one which is suitable for the ordinary householder, because all that it required was intense devotion, firm faith, and great love on the part of the devotees to their Ishta Devata (chosen Ideal)
In his ringing voice, Swami Vivekananda speaks of his Master’ message to the modern world thus :- Stand you up and realize God! If you can renounce all wealth and all sex, it will not be necessary for you to speak. Your lotus with have blossomed, and the spirit will spread. Whoever approaches you will be warmed, as it were, by the fire of your spirituality.
Care not for doctrines or for dogmas, for sect or for Churches. All these counts for but little, compared with that essence of existence which is in each one and called spirituality. The more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good.
The more such men any country produces, the higher is that country raised. The land where no such men exist is doomed. Nothing can save it. Therefore my Master’s message to the world is, ‘Be ye all spiritual! Get ye first realization’! And to the young and strong of every country he would cry that the time has come for renunciation. Renounce for the sake of humanity ! You have talked of the love of man, till the thing is in danger of becoming words alone. The time has come to act. The call now is, Do! Leap into the breach, and save the world !
The message of Sri Ramakrishna Deva is one of intense light and love, of infinite harmony and tolerance, and of selfless service and sublime renunciation its peace, producing and soul refreshing charm has reached each nook and corner of this vast globe.
Sri Ramakrishna entered final beatitude in August 1886, leaving the world much better than he had found it.