Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ramakrishna Paramahansa

About Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna was one of the greatest religious leaders ever born in India. He believed that every individual must have only one aim in life i.e., the realization of the Ultimate Reality. To achieve this aim, one of the preconditions is the purity of mind. He also played a significant role in the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century. His disciple, Swami Vivekanada, founded the Rama Krishna Mission after his demise, to propagate his teachings throughout the world. Read on the biography further to know more about Sri Ramakrishna.

His Life
As per his life history, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa was born as Gadadhar Chattopadhyay in the year 1836. When the time came for Gadadhar to be ritually initiated as a Brahmin, he declared that he would take his first arms not from a Brahmin, but a certain low-caste woman of the village. No amount of persuasion could make him budge from his stand. Finally, Ramkumar, the elder brother of Ramakrishna, gave in to his wishes. After the passing away of his father, Ramkumar took the position of a priest in the Dakshineswar Temple. The same position was later occupied by Rama Krishna, after the retirement of his brother.

A wandering monk, known as Totapuri, initiated Ramakrishna in the Advaita Vedanta. The initiation took place in the city of Dakshineswar. It is said that after being initiated by Totapuri, Rama Krishna remained in a state of absolute meditation, for a period of approximately six months.

Marriage and Later Life
Ramakrishna married Sarada, when she was only five years old. His wife, Sarada became his first disciple. After the passing away of Ramakrishna, Sarada became a religious leader in her own right. With time, Ramakrishna came to be known as Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He developed throat cancer in the later years of his life and breathed his last on16 August, 1886.

Rama Krishna Mission
Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, founded the Rama Krishna Mission to promote the teachings of his Guru. Headquartered at the Ramakrishna Ashram of Belur, the mission aims at helping people in attaining salvation.

Teachings of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna believed and taught that…

* All living beings are divine.
* Human beings are equal and there is oneness of existence.
* The main obstructions in the attainment of salvation are lust and greed.
* There is only one God.
* The main aim of each and every human being is to become one with God.

More than a century ago an adolescent boy of Calcutta, Narendra Nath Dutta was obsessed with the idea of seeing God. He was firmly grounded in the works of occidental philosophers, but none could fulfil his cherished aspiration. His search took him to the ghats of Ganges where atop an anchored barge sat the leader of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, a Guru in spiritual matters, father of the poet Tagore. But the 'Great Seer' was taken aback by Narendra's question - 'Sir, have you seen God?' - and tried to assuage him by saying that his eyes resembled that of a yogi, and that he should spiritually prosper by meditation.

Disappointed and desperate the young man one day, along with his friends, went to meet Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a somewhat eccentric priest of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar in Calcutta. At the first opportunity Narendra put him the same question - "Sir, have you seen God?" But this practically illiterate priest, unlike the erudite Maharshi, replied in rural dialect without mincing words - "Yes, I have seen God. I have seen Him more tangibly than I see you. I have talked with him more intimately than I am talking to you. But my child, who wants to see God! People shed jugs of tears for money, wife and children. But if they weep for God for only one day they would surely see Him."

Narendra intuitively knew that here was a genuine man to whom God was a living reality and not at all a philosophical concept or an intellectual pastime. As we know it was under the ecclesiastical tutelage of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-86) that Narendra Nath Dutta graduated into a full-blossomed spiritual soul, later to be known as Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902).

According to Vivekananda, "My master was not learned but learning personified." This inhibition of highest spiritual knowledge comes not from cramming spiritual texts but from attaining direct realisation of Divinity through various paths prescribed by the spiritual masters of yore. The boldness of 'Sanatan Dharma' we call Hinduism is that it emphasises nothing short of direct perception of Truth as the goal of human life.

The sage in Upanishad proclaims unequivocally "I know this great Person who is resplendent like the sun, and beyond darkness. By knowing him alone one can transcend death, there exists no other path (alternative)". So it is by a first-hand perception of this effulgent truth - 'Satchit Ananda' (Existence-Consciousness-Delight) - whose amaranthine visage according to scriptures is covered with a lid of gold and one can cleave into the supreme secret of All-being which is also All-becoming. There lies the validity of religion in particular and life in general.

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