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


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About Ambaa Choate

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.

  • Sri

    Sri Ramakrishna had learned meditation by himself but he learned to reach Nirvikalpa Samadhi with the help of Totapuri. Totapuri was the bearer of a philosophy new to Sri Ramakrishna, the non-dualistic Advaita Vedanta philosophy. A born non-dualist, he had no faith in a Personal God. He was the head of a monastery in that province of India and claimed leadership of seven hundred sannyasis, trained from early youth in the disciplines of the Advaita Vedanta.
    Sri Ramakrishna remained completely absorbed in Samadhi for three days. “Is it really true?” Totapuri cried out in astonishment. “Is it possible that HE HAS ATTAINED IN A SINGLE DAY WHAT IT TOOK ME FORTY YEARS of strenuous practice to achieve? Great God! It is nothing short of a miracle!”.
    Totapuri realized that the Divine Mother is the Brahman that Totapuri had been worshipping all his life. At last, Totapuri had to accept dualistic approach before leaving Dakshinewar.

    There is nothing beyond to say something about Sri Ramakrishna than the following words by Swami Vivekananda:

    “my teacher, my master, my hero, my ideal, my God in life.’ ‘If there has been anything achieved by me,’ he said with deep feeling, ‘by thoughts or words or deeds, if from my lips has ever fallen one word that has ever helped anyone in the world, I lay no claim to it; it was his. But if there have been curses falling from my lips, if there has been hatred coming out of me, it is all mine, and not his. All that has been weak has been mine; all that has been life-giving, strengthening, pure, and holy has been his inspiration, his words, and he himself. Yes, my friends, THE WORLD HAS YET TO KNOW THAT MAN.”

    “Ramakrishna, the fulfillment of the spiritual aspirations of the three hundred millions of Hindus for the past three thousand years, was the embodiment of the Hindu faith.”

    “I am what I am, and what I am is always due to him; whatever in me or in my words is good and true and eternal came to me from him. If I can show the world one glimpse of my Master, I shall not have lived in vain.”

    “If I had written the article Max Müller wanted, then I would have proved, quoting from philosophies, the scriptures and even the holy books of the Christians, that Ramakrishna was the GREATEST of all prophets born in this world.”

    “He was a jnani within, but a bhakta without; his gigantic intellect was hidden under a thin layer of devotion.”

    “The idea of personal liberation was unworthy of those who called themselves disciples of Ramakrishna, an Incarnation of God.”

    “One glance of his gracious eyes can create a hundred thousand Vivekanandas at this instant. If he chooses now, instead, to work through me, making me his instrument, I can only bow to his will.”

    – Swami vevekananda

    ALL THE RELIGIOUS TEXT IS JUST THEORIES. HIS LIFE IS A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE OF ALL THE RELIGIOUS TEXT. THERE IS LOT TO LEARN FROM IT.


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