Beloved Pranams at the holy feet of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ji Maharaj. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is a legendary figure in India’s spiritual arena. He was a great Bhakta as well as a great Jnani. He was a Jivanmukta, a liberated soul even while in the physical body. His life was literally a constant contemplation of God. He was a devotee of Mother Kali and conversed with her as though she were in physical form before him. He did intense Sadhana for several years. He also practiced different means to reach God and thus proved the equality of different religions. There is hardly anybody in India and perhaps in the whole world who hasn’t heard of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Sri Ramakrishna was born in 1836 in Bengal in a pious Brahmin family. He showed his spiritual inclinations right from the childhood. The worldly affairs did not attract him. After growing up, he moved from his native place of Kamarpukur to Dakshineshwar in Calcutta to assist his elder brother, as a priest in the temple of Mother Kali. Eventually he became the priest after his brother retired. He began to question if he was worshipping a piece of stone or a living Goddess. If he was worshipping a living Goddess, why should she not respond to his worship? This question nagged him day and night. Then, he began to pray to Kali: “Mother, you’ve been gracious to many devotees in the past and have revealed yourself to them. Why would you not reveal yourself to me, also? Am I not also your son?” He would weep bitterly and sometimes even cry out loudly while worshipping. At night, he would go into a nearby jungle and spend the whole night praying.
The peaceful atmosphere of Dakshineshwar was ideally suited for Sri Ramakrishna to practice spiritual austerities. He was initiated into Advaita Vedanta by a wandering monk named Totapuri. He became absorbed in Samadhi for 6 months after this.
Sri Ramakrishna was married to Sarada Devi. She was Sri Ramakrishna’s first disciple. He attempted to teach her everything he had learned. She mastered every religious secret as quickly as Ramakrishna had. Impressed by her religious potential, he began to treat her as the Univeral Mother Herself and performed a puja considering her as veritable Tripura Sundari Devi. He said, ‘I look upon you as my own mother and the Mother who is in the temple’.
The key concepts in Ramakrishna’s teachings were the oneness of existence; the divinity of all living beings; the unity of God and the harmony of religions; that the primal bondage in human life is lust and greed(kamini and kanchana).
Sri Ramakrishna left behind a devoted band of 16 young disciples headed by Swami Vivekananda who propagated his message throughout the world.