Sri Ramakrishna - 1
by Lowell Brams
"His Life enables us to see God face to face"-Mahatma Gandhi
The spirirual giant known as Sri Ramakrishna was born Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya
to poor Brahmin parents in Kamarpukur, a Bengali village about 80 miles
northwest of Calcutta, not far from the birthplace of Sri Sarada Devi.
As a child, Gadadhar would fall into meditative ttances. The first of
these occurred at the age of six or seven as he, by chance, looked up
to see snow-white cranes fly across a dark, thundercloudfilled sky. Although
he readily learned to read and write and easily recounted stories he heard
from Hindu mythology and the epics, the education his caste dictated held
little interest for him. Upon the death of his father, when Gadadhar was
just seven years old, his realization of the impermanence of life deepened
Gadadhar's spiritual quest.
Mother Kali. There he gave himself whole-heartedly to achieving a vision of the Divine Mother and began, in earnest, his night-long meditation vigils in nearby cremation grounds. The intensity of his spiritual practices led some to believe he was drunk or insane, but later de\'otees came to recognize this strange behavior as his all-consuming desire for God that renders outward appearance and action insignificant. During this intense period of spirirual awakening and realization, Gadadhar acquired the name by which we recognize him today, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. He began to attract disciples and to teach the basic truths of religion through parables, metaphors and his own profound observations of life.
Meanwhile, in 1858, unnerved by his strange behavior, and eager to return their son's attention to worldly responsibilities, Sri Ramakrishna's parents arranged his marriage to the young Sarada Mukhapadhyaya. His wife was not to join him at Dakshineswar for another 14 years, in early 1872. Moreover, when Sri Sarada Devi joined Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna's parents' intentions were only partially fulfilled, as he began to worship her as the Holy Mother. Likewise, her devotion to him as an incarnation of God created a most unique spirirual union.
Sri Ramakrishna's relentless desire to experience God in every possible manifestation moved him to transcend the barriers of gender and religion. He taught that the devotion to God as Mother was naturally derived from the freedom and comfort all children feel in the presence of their own mothers. Immersed in the study of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, Ramakrishna adopted various forms of worship and gave the message of inter-faith harmony. His sadhana revealed the divine truth of all religions, and he remarked, "God is realized through personal experience rather than through doctrine, and those who have seen Him do not argue about details." Sri Ramakrishna's profound life and teaching stimulated a progressive Hinduism in India, and through the ministry of his disciple Swami Vivekananda, captured the attention of the Western World. The work of the monastic orders founded by Holy Mother and Swami Vivekananda continue to bless humankind over a century after Sri Ramakrishna's Mahasamadhi. His spirirual calling and devotion to the divine in all beings resound clearly through the years. Among his words as recorded by his disciples is this prayer: "Mother, I am the instrument, you are the mover; I am the room, Thou art the tenant; I am the sheath, Thou art the sword; I am the chariot, Thou art the charioteer, I do as Thou makest me do; I speak as Thou makest me speak; I behave as Thou within me behavest; not I, not I, but Thou."