Meet a Guru: Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna is a well known teacher from the 1800s who is often referred to as a Hindu saint. It is said that he helped start a renaissance in Hinduism.

Background

Born Vaishnava in 1836, he was spiritual from the time he was a child and was more interested in spiritual pursuits than a “bread winning education.” He had many periods of feeling universal consciousness and getting lost in that feeling (samadhi). As a young man he began working as a priest.

His family, concerned that he wasn’t taking responsibility in worldly matters, married him off to a five year old bride (he was twenty three). Such marriages, I’m told, were common in rural areas of the time. His wife, when she grew up, joined Ramakrishna in the spiritual life and it is said that their marriage was never consummated, as Ramakrishna was already living the life of an ascetic sanyasin. Ramakrishna worshiped his wife as the divine mother.

Ramakrishna tried out and experienced many different forms of Hinduism and different religions. He practiced Vaishnavism as well as Shakti Tantra and Advaita. He learned meditation from an Advaitan.

Teaching

He believed that all religions lead to the same God and meditated in both Christianity and Islam, having visions of how the Gods were merging with his person. He also rejected caste distinctions.

God is everywhere but He is most manifest in man. So serve man as God. That is as good as worshiping God.
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ramakrishna.html#wECjDTC2uw7VtKjl.99

If you desire to be pure, have firm faith, and slowly go on with your devotional practices without wasting your energy in useless scriptural discussions and arguments. Your little brain will otherwise be muddled.
-http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ramakrishna.html#wECjDTC2uw7VtKjl.99

Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind. If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.
-http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/r/ramakrishna.html#wECjDTC2uw7VtKjl.99

Knowledge leads to unity, but Ignorance to diversity. So long as God seems to be outside and far away, there is ignorance. But when God is realised within, that is true knowledge. -http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ramakrishna

It’s enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real and that God with form is also real. Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you. -http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Ramakrishna

There are now schools and organizations built around him and his “gospel.”

My Experience

I’ve heard his name mentioned plenty of times and seen a quote here and there, but I knew very little about Ramakrishna before researching for this post.

Learn More

For this guru there are a number of books:

* I am not endorsing any of the teachers highlighted in this feature

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Hosni Hernandez

    I just checked out today The Gospel of Ramakrishna from the library. Kali Maa Shakti De

    • Ambaa

      Excellent! I’m going to be doing the same :) I hope you’ll let me know how you like it.

  • Kat

    i’ve been slowly rading the gosple online, i <3 Sri Ramakrishna
    Just what he talks about and how much it makes sense even now as well as his acts of kindess and non discrimination all are relevent even now

  • Art MacAilein

    Thank you for writing about Sri Ramakrishna.


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