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RAMAKRISHNA PARAMAHAMSA (Bengali : রামকৃষ্ণ পরমহংস) _ Ramkṛiṣṇo Pôromôhongśo_ (help ·info ); 18 February 1836 – 16 August 1886), born GADADHAR CHATTERJEE or GADADHAR CHATTOPADHYAY (Bengali: ), was an Indian mystic and yogi during the 19th-century. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was given to spiritual ecstacies from a young age, and was influenced by several religious traditions, including devotion toward the goddess Kali
Kali
, Tantra
Tantra
, Vaishnava _bhakti_, and Advaita Vedanta . Reverence and admiration for him amongst Bengali elites led to the formation of the Ramakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
.

CONTENTS

* 1 Early life

* 1.1 Birth and childhood * 1.2 Priest at Dakshineswar Kali
Kali
Temple * 1.3 Marriage and gender identity

* 1.4 Religious practices and teachers

* 1.4.1 Rama
Rama
bhakti * 1.4.2 Bhairavi Brahmani and Tantra
Tantra
* 1.4.3 Vaishnava Bhakti
Bhakti
* 1.4.4 Totapuri and Vedanta * 1.4.5 Islam
Islam
and Christianity

* 1.5 Popularisation

* 1.5.1 Keshab Chandra Sen
Keshab Chandra Sen
and the "New Dispensation" * 1.5.2 Vivekananda
Vivekananda
* 1.5.3 Other devotees and disciples

* 1.6 Last days

* 2 Teachings

* 2.1 _The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna_ * 2.2 Style of teaching * 2.3 God-realization * 2.4 Metaphysics * 2.5 Society

* 3 Reception and legacy

* 4 Views and studies

* 4.1 Darśhana

* 4.1.1 Bhakti
Bhakti
and Tantra
Tantra
* 4.1.2 Transformation into neo-Vedantin

* 4.2 Psychoanalysis

* 4.2.1 Romain Rolland and the "Oceanic feeling"

* 5 See also * 6 Notes * 7 References * 8 Sources * 9 Further reading * 10 External links

EARLY LIFE

BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was born on 17 February 1836, in the village of Kamarpukur , in the Hooghly district of West Bengal
West Bengal
, into a very poor, pious, and orthodox Brahmin family. Kamarpukur was untouched by the glamour of the city and contained rice fields, tall palms, royal banyans, a few lakes, and two cremation grounds. His parents were Khudiram Chattopadhyay and Chandramani Devi. According to his followers, Ramakrishna's parents experienced supernatural incidents and visions before his birth. In Gaya his father Khudiram had a dream in which Lord Gadadhara (a form of Vishnu
Vishnu
), said that he would be born as his son. Chandramani Devi is said to have had a vision of light entering her womb from Shiva's temple. The small house at Kamarpukur where Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
lived (centre). The family shrine is on the left, birthplace temple on the right

Although Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
attended a village school with some regularity for 12 years, he later rejected the traditional schooling saying that he was not interested in a "bread-winning education". Kamarpukur, being a transit-point in well-established pilgrimage routes to Puri
Puri
, brought him into contact with renunciates and holy men. He became well-versed in the _ Puranas _, the _ Ramayana
Ramayana
_, the _Mahabharata _, and the _ Bhagavata Purana
Bhagavata Purana
_, hearing them from wandering monks and the _Kathaks_—a class of men in ancient India
India
who preached and sang the _Purāṇas_. He could read and write in Bengali. While the official biographies write that the name Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was given by Mathura Biswas—chief patron at Dakshineswar Kali
Kali
Temple , it has also been suggested that this name was given by his own parents.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
describes his first spiritual ecstasy at the age of six: while walking along the paddy fields, a flock of white cranes flying against a backdrop of dark thunder clouds caught his vision. He reportedly became so absorbed by this scene that he lost outward consciousness and experienced indescribable joy in that state. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
reportedly had experiences of similar nature a few other times in his childhood—while worshipping the goddess _ Vishalakshi _, and portraying god Shiva
Shiva
in a drama during _ Shivaratri _ festival. From his 10th or 11th year of school on, the trances became common, and by the final years of his life, Ramakrishna\'s _samādhi_ periods occurred almost daily. Early on, these experiences have been interpreted as epileptic seizures , an interpretation which was rejected by Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
himself.

Ramakrishna's father died in 1843, after which family responsibilities fell on his elder brother Ramkumar. This loss drew him closer to his mother, and he spent his time in household activities and daily worship of the household deities and became more involved in contemplative activities such as reading the sacred epics . When Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was in his teens, the family's financial position worsened. Ramkumar started a Sanskrit school in Calcutta
Calcutta
and also served as a priest . Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
moved to Calcutta
Calcutta
in 1852 with Ramkumar to assist in the priestly work.

PRIEST AT DAKSHINESWAR KALI TEMPLE

Dakshineswar Kāli Temple , where Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
spent a major portion of his adult life.

In 1855 Ramkumar was appointed as the priest of Dakshineswar Kali Temple , built by Rani Rashmoni —a rich woman of Calcutta
Calcutta
who belonged to the _kaivarta _ community. Ramakrishna, along with his nephew Hriday, became assistants to Ramkumar, with Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
given the task of decorating the deity. When Ramkumar died in 1856, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
took his place as the priest of the Kali
Kali
temple.

After Ramkumar's death Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
became more contemplative. He began to look upon the image of the goddess Kali
Kali
as his mother and the mother of the universe. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
reportedly had a vision of the goddess Kali
Kali
as the universal Mother, which he described as "... houses, doors, temples and everything else vanished altogether; as if there was nothing anywhere! And what I saw was an infinite shoreless sea of light; a sea that was consciousness. However far and in whatever direction I looked, I saw shining waves, one after another, coming towards me."

MARRIAGE AND GENDER IDENTITY

Sarada Devi (1853–1920), wife and spiritual counterpart of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna

Rumors spread to Kamarpukur that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
had become unstable as a result of his spiritual practices at Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna's mother and his elder brother Rameswar decided to get Ramakrishna married, thinking that marriage would be a good steadying influence upon him—by forcing him to accept responsibility and to keep his attention on normal affairs rather than his spiritual practices and visions. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
himself mentioned that they could find the bride at the house of Ramchandra Mukherjee in Jayrambati , three miles to the north-west of Kamarpukur. The five-year-old bride, Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya (later known as Sarada Devi) was found and the marriage was duly solemnised in 1859. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was 23 at this point, but the age difference was typical for 19th century rural Bengal. They later spent three months together in Kamarpukur. Sarada Devi was fourteen while Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was thirty-two. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
became a very influential figure in Sarada's life, and she became a strong follower of his teachings. After the marriage, Sarada stayed at Jayrambati and joined Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
in Dakshineswar at the age of 18.

By the time his bride joined him, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
had already embraced the monastic life of a sannyasi; as a result, the marriage was never consummated. As a priest Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
performed the ritual ceremony—the _Shodashi Puja_–where Sarada Devi was made to sit in the seat of goddess Kali, and worshiped as the Divine mother. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
regarded Sarada as the Divine Mother in person, addressing her as the Holy Mother
Holy Mother
, and it was by this name that she was known to Ramakrishna's disciples. Sarada Devi outlived Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
by 34 years and played an important role in the nascent religious movement.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
proved that the gender identity of the body could be conquered. A disciple Mahendranath Gupta quotes the Master as follows:

How can a man conquer passion? He should assume the attitude of a woman. I spent many days as the handmaid of God. I dressed myself in women's clothes, put on ornaments and covered the upper part of my body with a scarf, just like a woman. With the scarf on I used to perform the evening worship before the image. Otherwise how could I have kept my wife with me for eight months? Both of us behaved as if we were the handmaid of the Divine Mother.

RELIGIOUS PRACTICES AND TEACHERS

After his marriage Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
returned to Calcutta
Calcutta
and resumed the charges of the temple again, and continued his _sadhana_. According to his official biographers, he continued his _sadhana_ under teachers of Tantra, Vedanta and Vaishnava.

Rama
Rama
Bhakti

At some point in the period between his vision of Kali
Kali
and his marriage, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
practised _dāsya bhāva_, during which he worshiped Rama
Rama
with the attitude of Hanuman
Hanuman
, the monkey-god, who is considered to be the ideal devotee and servant of Rama. According to Ramakrishna, towards the end of this _sadhana_, he had a vision of Sita
Sita
, the consort of Rama, merging into his body.

Bhairavi Brahmani And Tantra

See also: Ramakrishna\'s views on Tantra
Tantra
Sadhana

In 1861, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
accepted Bhairavi Brahmani, an orange-robed, middle-aged female ascetic, as a teacher. She carried with her the _Raghuvir Shila _, a stone icon representing Ram and all Vaishnava deities. She was thoroughly conversant with the texts of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and practised Tantra
Tantra
. According to the Bhairavi, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was experiencing phenomena that accompany _mahabhava_, the supreme attitude of loving devotion towards the divine, and quoting from the _bhakti shastras_, she said that other religious figures like Radha
Radha
and Chaitanya had similar experiences.

The Bhairavi initiated Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
into Tantra. Tantrism focuses on the worship of _shakti _ and the object of Tantric training is to transcend the barriers between the holy and unholy as a means of achieving liberation and to see all aspects of the natural world as manifestations of the divine _shakti_. Under her guidance, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
went through sixty four major tantric sadhanas which were completed in 1863. He began with mantra rituals such as japa and purascarana and many other rituals designed to purify the mind and establish self-control. He later proceeded towards tantric sadhanas, which generally include a set of heterodox practices called _vamachara _ (left-hand path), which utilise as a means of liberation, activities like eating of parched grain , fish and meat along with drinking of wine and sexual intercourse. According to Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
and his biographers, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
did not directly participate in the last two of those activities (some even say he didn't indulge in meat eating), all that he needed was a suggestion of them to produce the desired result. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
acknowledged the left-hand tantric path, though it had "undesirable features", as one of the "valid roads to God-realization", he consistently cautioned his devotees and disciples against associating with it. The Bhairavi also taught Ramakrishna the _kumari-puja_, a form of ritual in which the Virgin Goddess is worshiped symbolically in the form of a young girl. Under the tutelage of the Bhairavi, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
also learnt Kundalini Yoga
Yoga
. The Bhairavi, with the yogic techniques and the tantra played an important part in the initial spiritual development of Ramakrishna.

Vaishnava Bhakti

In 1864, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
practised _vātsalya bhāva_ under a Vaishnava guru Jatadhari. During this period, he worshipped a metal image of Ramlālā ( Rama
Rama
as a child) in the attitude of a mother. According to Ramakrishna, he could feel the presence of child Rama
Rama
as a living God in the metal image.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
later engaged in the practice of _madhura bhāva_, the attitude of the Gopis and Radha
Radha
towards Krishna
Krishna
. During the practise of this _bhava_, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
dressed himself in women's attire for several days and regarded himself as one of the Gopis of Vrindavan. According to Sri Ramakrishna, _madhura bhava_ is practised to root out the idea of sex, which is seen as an impediment in spiritual life. According to Ramakrishna, towards the end of this _sadhana_, he attained _savikalpa samadhi_—vision and union with Krishna.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
visited Nadia , the home of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda
Nityananda
Prabhu , the 15th-century founders of Bengali Gaudiya Vaishnava bhakti. According to Ramakrishna, he had an intense vision of two young boys merging into his body. Earlier, after his vision of Kali, he is said to have cultivated the _Santa bhava_—the child attitude – towards Kali.

Totapuri And Vedanta

The Panchavati and the hut where Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
performed his advaitic sadhana . The mud hut has been replaced by a brick one.

In 1865, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was initiated into _sannyasa _ by Totapuri , an itinerant monk who trained Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
in _ Advaita Vedanta _, the Hindu philosophy which emphasises non-dualism.

Totapuri first guided Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
through the rites of _sannyasa_—renunciation of all ties to the world. Then he instructed him in the teaching of _advaita_—that " Brahman alone is real, and the world is illusory; I have no separate existence; I am that Brahman alone." Under the guidance of Totapuri, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
reportedly experienced _nirvikalpa samadhi _, which is considered to be the highest state in spiritual realisation.

Totapuri stayed with Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
for nearly eleven months and instructed him further in the teachings of _advaita _. Ramakrishna said that this period of _nirvikalpa samadhi_ came to an end when he received a command from the Mother Kali
Kali
to "remain in _Bhavamukha_; for the enlightenment of the people". _Bhavamukha_ being a state of existence intermediate between _samādhi _ and normal consciousness.

Islam
Islam
And Christianity

In 1866, Govinda Roy, a Hindu guru who practised Sufism , initiated Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
into Islam
Islam
. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
said that he "devoutly repeated the name of Allah
Allah
, wore a cloth like the Arab
Arab
Muslims
Muslims
, said their prayer five times daily, and felt disinclined even to see images of the Hindu gods and goddesses, much less worship them—for the Hindu way of thinking had disappeared altogether from my mind." According to Ramakrishna, after three days of practice he had a vision of a "radiant personage with grave countenance and white beard resembling the Prophet and merging with his body".

At the end of 1873 he started the practice of Christianity, when his devotee Shambu Charan Mallik read the Bible to him. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
said that for several days he was filled with Christian thoughts and no longer thought of going to the Kali
Kali
temple. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
described a vision in which a picture of the Madonna and Child became alive and he had a vision in which Jesus merged with his body. In his own room amongst other divine pictures was one of Christ, and he burnt incense before it morning and evening. There was also a picture showing Jesus Christ saving St Peter
St Peter
from drowning in the water.

POPULARISATION

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
in bhava samadhi at the house of Keshab Chandra Sen. He is seen supported by his nephew Hriday and surrounded by brahmo devotees.

Keshab Chandra Sen
Keshab Chandra Sen
And The "New Dispensation"

In 1875, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
met the influential Brahmo Samaj leader Keshab Chandra Sen . Keshab had accepted Christianity, and had separated from the Adi Brahmo Samaj . Formerly, Keshab had rejected idolatry, but under the influence of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
he accepted Hindu polytheism and established the "New Dispensation" (_Nava Vidhan_) religious movement, based on Ramakrishna's principles—"Worship of God as Mother", "All religions as true" and "Assimilation of Hindu polytheism into Brahmoism". Keshab also publicised Ramakrishna's teachings in the journals of _New Dispensation_ over a period of several years, which was instrumental in bringing Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
to the attention of a wider audience, especially the Bhadralok (English-educated classes of Bengal) and the Europeans residing in India.

Following Keshab, other Brahmos such as Vijaykrishna Goswami started to admire Ramakrishna, propagate his ideals and reorient their socio-religious outlook. Many prominent people of Calcutta—Pratap Chandra Mazumdar , Shivanath Shastri and Trailokyanath Sanyal —began visiting him during this time (1871–1885). Mazumdar wrote the first English biography of Ramakrishna, entitled _The Hindu Saint_ in the _Theistic Quarterly Review_ (1879), which played a vital role in introducing Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
to Westerners like the German indologist Max Müller . Newspapers reported that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was spreading "Love" and "Devotion" among the educated classes of Calcutta
Calcutta
and that he had succeeded in reforming the character of some youths whose morals had been corrupt.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
also had interactions with Debendranath Tagore , the father of Rabindranath Tagore , and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar , a renowned social worker. He had also met Swami Dayananda . Ramakrishna is considered one of the main contributors to the Bengali Renaissance .

Vivekananda

Among the Europeans who were influenced by Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was Principal Dr. William Hastie of the Scottish Church College, Calcutta
Calcutta
. In the course of explaining the word _trance_ in the poem _The Excursion_ by William Wordsworth , Hastie told his students that if they wanted to know its "real meaning", they should go to " Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
of Dakshineswar." This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath Dutta (later Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
), to visit Ramakrishna.

Despite initial reservations, Vivekananda
Vivekananda
became Ramakrishna's most influential follower, popularizing a modern interpretation of Indian traditions which harmonised Tantra, Yoga
Yoga
and Advaita Vedanta. Vivekanda established the Ramakrishna order , which eventually spread its mission posts throughout the world. Monastic disciples, who renounced their family and became the earliest monks of the Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
order, included Rakhal Chandra Ghosh ( Swami Brahmananda ), Kaliprasad Chandra ( Swami Abhedananda ), Taraknath Ghoshal (Swami Shivananda ), Sashibhushan Chakravarty ( Swami Ramakrishnananda ), Saratchandra Chakravarty ( Swami Saradananda ), Tulasi Charan Dutta ( Swami Nirmalananda ), Gangadhar Ghatak ( Swami Akhandananda ), Hari Prasana ( Swami Vijnanananda ) and others.

Other Devotees And Disciples

Main articles: Disciples of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
_ Some Monastic Disciples (L to R): Trigunatitananda, Shivananda , Vivekananda
Vivekananda
, Turiyananda , Brahmananda . Below Sadananda . Mahendranath Gupta, a householder devotee and the author of Sri-Sri-Ramakrisna-kathamrta _.

As his name spread, an ever-shifting crowd of all classes and castes visited Ramakrishna. Most of Ramakrishna's prominent disciples came between 1879–1885. Apart from the early members who joined the Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Order, his chief disciples consisted of:

* _Grihasthas_ or _The householders_— Mahendranath Gupta , Girish Chandra Ghosh , Mahendra Lal Sarkar , Akshay Kumar Sen and others. * A small group of women disciples including _ Gauri Ma _ and _Yogin Ma_. A few of them were initiated into _sanyasa_ through _mantra deeksha_. Among the women, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
emphasised service to other women rather than _tapasya_ (practice of austerities). Gauri Ma founded the Saradesvari Ashrama at Barrackpur , which was dedicated to the education and uplift of women.

In preparation for monastic life, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
ordered his monastic disciples to beg their food from door to door without distinction of caste. He gave them the saffron robe, the sign of the Sanyasi , and initiated them with _ Mantra Deeksha_.

LAST DAYS

The disciples and devotees at Ramakrishna's funeral

In the beginning of 1885 Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
suffered from clergyman's throat, which gradually developed into throat cancer . He was moved to Shyampukur near Calcutta, where some of the best physicians of the time, including Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar , were engaged. When his condition aggravated he was relocated to a large garden house at Cossipore on 11 December 1885.

During his last days, he was looked after by his monastic disciples and Sarada Devi. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was advised by the doctors to keep the strictest silence, but ignoring their advice, he incessantly conversed with visitors. According to traditional accounts, before his death, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
transferred his spiritual powers to Vivekananda
Vivekananda
and reassured Vivekananda
Vivekananda
of his avataric status. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
asked Vivekananda
Vivekananda
to look after the welfare of the disciples, saying, "keep my boys together" and asked him to "teach them". Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
also asked other monastic disciples to look upon Vivekananda
Vivekananda
as their leader. Ramakrishna's condition gradually worsened, and he died in the early morning hours of 16 August 1886 at the Cossipore garden house. According to his disciples, this was _mahasamadhi _. After the death of their master, the monastic disciples led by Vivekananda formed a fellowship at a half-ruined house at Baranagar
Baranagar
near the river Ganges
Ganges
, with the financial assistance of the householder disciples. This became the first Math or monastery of the disciples who constituted the first Ramakrishna Order .

TEACHINGS

Main article: Teachings of Ramakrishna

_THE GOSPEL OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA_

Main article: Books on Ramakrishna

The principal source for Ramakrishna's teaching is Mahendranath Gupta's _ Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita _, which is regarded as a Bengali classic. Kripal calls it "the central text of the tradition". The text was published in five volumes from 1902 to 1932. Based on Gupta's diary notes, each of the five volumes purports to document Ramakrishna's life from 1882–1886.

The most popular translation of the _Kathamrita_ is _The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
_ by Swami Nikhilananda . Nikhilananda's translation rearranged the scenes in the five volumes of the _Kathamrita_ into a linear sequence. Malcolm Mclean and Jeffrey Kripal argue that the translation is unreliable. Philosopher Lex Hixon writes that the _Gospel_ is "spiritually authentic" and a "powerful rendering of the _Kathamrita_".

STYLE OF TEACHING

Ramakrishna's teachings were imparted in rustic Bengali, using stories and parables. These teachings made a powerful impact on Calcutta's intellectuals, despite the fact that his preachings were far removed from issues of modernism or national independence.

Ramakrishna's primary biographers describe him as talkative. According to the biographers, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
would reminisce for hours about his own eventful spiritual life, tell tales, explain Vedantic doctrines with extremely mundane illustrations, raise questions and answer them himself, crack jokes, sing songs, and mimic the ways of all types of worldly people, keeping the visitors enthralled.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
used rustic colloquial Bengali in his conversations. According to contemporary reports, Ramakrishna's linguistic style was unique, even to those who spoke Bengali. It contained obscure local words and idioms from village Bengali, interspersed with philosophical Sanskrit terms and references to the Vedas, Puranas, and Tantras. For that reason, according to philosopher Lex Hixon, his speeches cannot be literally translated into English or any other language. Scholar Amiya P. Sen argued that certain terms that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
may have used only in a metaphysical sense are being improperly invested with new, contemporaneous meanings.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was skilled with words and had an extraordinary style of preaching and instructing, which may have helped convey his ideas to even the most skeptical temple visitors. His speeches reportedly revealed a sense of joy and fun, but he was not at a loss when debating with intellectual philosophers. Philosopher Arindam Chakrabarti contrasted Ramakrishna's talkativeness with Buddha's legendary reticence, and compared his teaching style to that of Socrates
Socrates
.

GOD-REALIZATION

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
emphasised God-realisation as the supreme goal of all living beings. Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
taught that _kamini-kanchana_ is an obstacle to God-realization. _Kamini-kanchan_ literally translates to "woman and gold." Partha Chatterjee wrote that the figure of a woman stands for concepts or entities that have "little to do with women in actuality" and "the figure of woman-and-gold signified the enemy within: that part of one's own self which was susceptible to the temptations of ever-unreliable worldly success." Carl T. Jackson interprets _kamini-kanchana_ to refer to the idea of sex and the idea of money as delusions which prevent people from realising God. Jeffrey Kripal translates the phrase as "lover-and-gold" and associates it with Ramakrishna's alleged disgust for women as lovers. Swami Tyagananda , considered this to be a "linguistic misconstruction." Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
also cautioned his women disciples against _purusa-kanchana_ ("man and gold") and Tyagananda writes that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
used _Kamini-Kanchana_ as "cautionary words" instructing his disciples to conquer the "lust _inside_ the mind."

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
practised several religions, including Islam
Islam
and Christianity, and taught that in spite of the differences, all religions are valid and true and they lead to the same ultimate goal—God.

METAPHYSICS

To a devotee Sri Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
said:

It has been revealed to me that there exists an Ocean of Consciousness without limit. From It come all things of the relative plane, and in It they merge again. These waves arising from the Great Ocean merge again in the Great Ocean. I have clearly perceived all these things.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
regarded the Supreme Being to be both Personal and Impersonal, active and inactive:

When I think of the Supreme Being as inactive - neither creating nor preserving nor destroying - I call Him Brahman or Purusha, the Impersonal God. When I think of Him as active - creating, preserving and destroying - I call Him Sakti or Maya or Prakriti, the Personal God. But the distinction between them does not mean a difference. The Personal and Impersonal are the same thing, like milk and its whiteness, the diamond and its lustre, the snake and its wriggling motion. It is impossible to conceive of the one without the other. The Divine Mother and Brahman are one.

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
regarded maya to be of two natures, _avidya maya_ and _vidya maya_. He explained that _avidya maya_ represents dark forces of creation (e.g. sensual desire, selfish actions, evil passions, greed, lust and cruelty), which keep people on lower planes of consciousness. These forces are responsible for human entrapment in the cycle of birth and death , and they must be fought and vanquished. _Vidya maya_, on the other hand, represents higher forces of creation (e.g. spiritual virtues, selfless action, enlightening qualities, kindness, purity, love, and devotion), which elevate human beings to the higher planes of consciousness.

SOCIETY

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
taught that _jatra jiv tatra Shiv_ (wherever there is a living being, there is Shiva
Shiva
). His teaching, "Jive daya noy, Shiv gyane jiv seba" (not kindness to living beings, but serving the living being as Shiva
Shiva
Himself) is considered as the inspiration for the philanthropic work carried out by his chief disciple Vivekananda.

In the Calcutta
Calcutta
scene of the mid to late nineteenth century, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was opinionated on the subject of Chakri. Chakri can be described as a type of low-paying servitude done by educated men—typically government or commerce-related clerical positions. On a basic level, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
saw this system as a corrupt form of European social organisation that forced educated men to be servants not only to their bosses at the office but also to their wives at home. What Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
saw as the primary detriment of Chakri, however, was that it forced workers into a rigid, impersonal clock-based time structure. He saw the imposition of strict adherence to each second on the watch as a roadblock to spirituality. Despite this, however, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
demonstrated that Bhakti
Bhakti
could be practised as an inner retreat to experience solace in the face of Western-style discipline and often discrimination in the workplace.

His spiritual movement indirectly aided nationalism, as it rejected caste distinctions and religious prejudices.

RECEPTION AND LEGACY

Main articles: Ramakrishna\'s influence and Ramakrishna Mission The marble statue of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
at Belur Math , the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission

Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
is considered an important figure in the Bengali Renaissance of 19th–20th century. Several organisations have been established in his name. The Ramakrishna Math and Mission is the main organisation founded by Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
in 1897. The Mission conducts extensive work in health care, disaster relief, rural management, tribal welfare, elementary and higher education. The movement is considered as one of the revitalisation movements of India. Amiya Sen writes that Vivekananda's "social service gospel" stemmed from direct inspiration from Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
and rests substantially on the "liminal quality" of the Master's message.

Other organisations include the Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Vedanta Society founded by Swami Abhedananda in 1923, the Ramakrishna Sarada Math founded by a rebel group in 1929, the Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Vivekananda
Vivekananda
Mission formed by Swami Nityananda
Nityananda
in 1976, and the Sri Sarada Math and Ramakrishna Sarada Mission founded in 1959 as a sister organisation by the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem on Ramakrishna, _To the Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Deva_:

Diverse courses of worship from varied springs of fulfillment have mingled in your meditation.

The manifold revelation of the joy of the Infinite has given form to a shrine of unity in your life where from far and near arrive salutations to which I join my own.

During the 1937 Parliament of Religions, which was held at the Ramakrishna Mission in Calcutta, Tagore acknowledged Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
as a great saint because

...the largeness of his spirit could comprehend seemingly antagonistic modes of sadhana, and because the simplicity of his soul shames for all time the pomp and pedantry of pontiffs and pundits.

Max Müller, Mahatma Gandhi , Jawaharlal Nehru , Sri Aurobindo , and Leo Tolstoy have acknowledged Ramakrishna's contribution to humanity. Ramakrishna's influence is also seen in the works of artists such as Franz Dvorak (1862–1927) and Philip Glass .

VIEWS AND STUDIES

Main article: Views on Ramakrishna Photograph of Ramakrishna, taken on 10 December 1881 at the studio of "The Bengal Photographers" in Radhabazar, Calcutta
Calcutta
(Kolkata).

DARśHANA

Ramakrishna's _darśhana _, or religious practice and worldview, contained elements of bhakti, Tantra
Tantra
and Vedanta.

Bhakti
Bhakti
And Tantra

Max Müller portrayed Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
as

...a Bhakta, a worshipper or lover of the deity, much more than a Gñânin or a knower.

Postcolonial literary theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak wrote that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
was a "Bengali _bhakta_ visionary" and that as a _bhakta_, "he turned chiefly towards Kali."

Indologist Heinrich Zimmer was the first Western scholar to interpret Ramakrishna's worship of the Divine Mother as containing specifically Tantric elements. Neeval also argued that tantra played a main role in Ramakrishna's spiritual development. Jeffrey J. Kripal argued that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
rejected Advaita Vedanta in favour of Shakti Tantra.

Transformation Into Neo-Vedantin

Main article: Neo- Vedanta

Vivekananda
Vivekananda
portrayed Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
as an Advaita Vedantin. Vivekananda's approach can be located in the historical background of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
and Calcutta
Calcutta
during the mid-19th century. Neevel notes that the image of Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
underwent several transformations in the writings of his prominent admirers, who changed the 'religious madman' into a calm and well-behaving proponent of Advaita Vedanta. Narasingha Sil has argued that Vivekananda
Vivekananda
revised and mythologised Ramakrishna's image after Ramakrishna's death. McDaniel notes that the Ramakrishna Mission is biased towards Advaita Vedanta, and downplays the importance of Shaktism
Shaktism
in Ramakrishna's spirirtuality. Malcolm McLean argued that the Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Movement presents "a particular kind of explanation of Ramakrishna, that he was some kind of neo-Vedantist who taught that all religions are the same."

Carl Olson argued that in his presentation of his master, Vivekananda had hid much of Ramakrishna's embarrassing sexual oddities from the public, because he feared that Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
would be misunderstood. Tyagananda and Vrajaprana argue that Oslon makes his "astonishing claim" based on Kripal's speculations in _Kali's Child_, which they argue are unsupported by any of the source texts.

Sumit Sarkar argued that he found in the _Kathamrita_ traces of a binary opposition between unlearned oral wisdom and learned literate knowledge. He argues that all of our information about Ramakrishna, a rustic near-illiterate Brahmin, comes from urban _bhadralok _ devotees, "...whose texts simultaneously illuminate and transform."

Amiya Prosad Sen criticises Neevel's analysis, and writes that "it is really difficult to separate the Tantrik Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
from the Vedantic", since Vedanta and Tantra
Tantra
"may appear to be different in some respects", but they also "share some important postulates between them".

PSYCHOANALYSIS

Romain Rolland And The "Oceanic Feeling"

The dialogue on psychoanalysis and Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
began in 1927 when Sigmund Freud 's friend Romain Rolland wrote to him that he should consider spiritual experiences, or "the oceanic feeling ," in his psychological works. Romain Rolland described the mystical states achieved by Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
and other mystics as an "'oceanic' sentiment", one which Rolland had also experienced. Rolland believed that the universal human religious emotion resembled this "oceanic sense." In his 1929 book _La vie de Ramakrishna_, Rolland distinguished between the feelings of unity and eternity which Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
experienced in his mystical states and Ramakrishna's interpretation of those feelings as the goddess Kali.

In his 1991 book _The Analyst and the Mystic_, Indian psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar saw in Ramakrishna's visions a spontaneous capacity for creative experiencing. Kakar also argued that culturally relative concepts of eroticism and gender have contributed to the Western difficulty in comprehending Ramakrishna. Kakar saw Ramakrishna's seemingly bizarre acts as part of a _bhakti_ path to God

SEE ALSO

* List of Hindu gurus and saints * Dakshineswar Kali
Kali
Temple * Relationship between Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
and Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda
* The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

NOTES

* ^ According to Anil D. Desai, Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
suffered from psychomotor epilepsy, also called temporal lobe epilepsy . See Devinsky, J.; Schachter, S. (2009). "Norman Geschwind's contribution to the understanding of behavioral changes in temporal lobe epilepsy: The February 1974 lecture". _Epilepsy & Behavior_. 15 (4): 417–24. PMID 19640791 . doi :10.1016/j.yebeh.2009.06.006 . for a description of characteristics of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy , including increased religiosity as "a very striking feature." See also Geschwind syndrome , for descriptions of behavioral phenomena evident in some temporal lobe epilepsy patients, and Jess Hill _Finding God in a seizure: the link between temporal lobe epilepsy and mysticism_ for some first-hand descriptions of epilepsy-induced "visions and trance-like states." * ^ The Vaishnava Bhakti
Bhakti
traditions speak of five different moods, referred to as _bhāva_s, different attitudes that a devotee can take up to express his love for God. They are: _śānta_, the "peaceful attitude"; _dāsya_, the attitude of a servant; _sakhya_, the attitude of a friend; _vātsalya_, the attitude of a mother toward her child; and _madhura_, the attitude of a woman towards her lover. * ^ In his influential 1896 essay "A real mahatma : Sri Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Paramahansa Dev" and his 1899 book _Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings_.

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* Bhattacharyya, Somnath. "Kali\'s Child: Psychological And Hermeneutical Problems". Infinity Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 October 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2008. * Bhawuk, Dharm P.S. (February 2003). "Culture's influence on creativity: the case of Indian spirituality". International Journal of Intercultural Relations_. Elsevier. 27 (1): 8. doi :10.1016/S0147-1767(02)00059-7 . * Brodd, Jeffrey; Gregory Sobolewski (2003). _World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery_. Saint Mary's Press. * Chatterjee, Partha (1993). _The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories_. Princeton University Press. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-691-01943-7 . * Clarke, Peter Bernard (2006). _New Religions in Global Perspective_. Routledge. * Feuerstein, Georg (2002). _The Yoga
Yoga
Tradition_. Motilal Banarsidass. * Gupta, Mahendranath ("M.") ; Swami Nikhilananda (1942). _The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna_. Ramakrishna- Vivekananda
Vivekananda
Center. ISBN 0-911206-01-9 . * Gupta, Mahendranath ("M."); Dharm Pal Gupta (2001). _Sri Sri Ramakrishna
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Kathamrita_. Sri Ma Trust. ISBN 978-81-88343-00-3 . * Harding, Elizabeth U. (1998). _Kali, the Dark Goddess of Dakshineswar_. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-1450-9 . * Heehs, Peter (2002). " Ramakrishna
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Paramahamsa". _Indian Religions_. Orient Blackswan. * Hixon, Lex (2002). _Great Swan: Meetings With Ramakrishna_. Burdett, N.Y.: Larson Publications. ISBN 0-943914-80-9 . * Isherwood, Christopher (1980). _ Ramakrishna
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Upanishad". Vedanta Press. ASIN B0007J1DQ4 . * Ramaswamy, Krishnan; Antonio de Nicolas (2007). _Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America_. Delhi, India: Rupa & Co. ISBN 978-81-291-1182-1 . * Rolland, Romain (1929). _The Life of Ramakrishna_. Vedanta Press. ISBN 978-81-85301-44-0 . * Saradananda, Swami; Swami Jagadananda (1952), _Sri Ramakrishna
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The Great Master_, Sri Ramakrishna
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Math, ASIN B000LPWMJQ * Saradananda, Swami ; Swami Chetanananda (2003). _Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play_. St. Louis: Vedanta Society. ISBN 978-0-916356-81-1 . * Schneiderman, Leo (1969). "Ramakrishna: Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of a Religious Movement". _Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion_. London: Blackwell Publishing. 8 (1): 60–71. JSTOR 1385254 . doi :10.2307/1385254 . * Sen, Amiya P. (2001). "Three essays on Sri Ramakrishna
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and his times". Indian Institute of Advanced Study. * Sen, Amiya P. (June 2006). "Sri Ramakrishna, the _Kathamrita_ and the Calcutta
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middle classes: an old problematic revisited". _ Postcolonial Studies_. 9 (2): 165–177. doi :10.1080/13688790600657835 . * Sil, Narasingha (1998). _ Ramakrishna
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Revisited_. Lanham: University Press of America. ISBN 978-0761810520 . * Sen, Amiya P. (2010). _ Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa: Sadhaka of Dakshineswar_. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 978-81-8475-250-2 . * Smart, Ninian (28 June 1998). _The World\'s Religions_. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-63748-0 . * Smith, Bardwell L. (1976). _Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions_. Brill Archive. * Smith, Bardwell L. (1982), _Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions_, BRILL * Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty (28 December 2007). "Other Asias". Wiley-Blackwell. * Tyagananda; Vrajaprana (2010). _Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kali\'s Child Revisited_. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass . p. 410. ISBN 978-81-208-3499-6 . * Vivekananda
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FURTHER READING

Further information: Bibliography of Ramakrishna

* Gupta, Mahendranath, _The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna_, translated by Swami Nikhilananda, Chennai: Sri Ramakrishna Math * Neevel, Walter G.; Smith, Bardwell L. (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". _Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions_. Brill Archive. * Sen, Amiya P. (2010). _ Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa: Sadhaka of Dakshineswar_. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 978-81-8475-250-2 . * Jeffrey J. Kripal (1995), _Kali's Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna_. First edition. University of Chicago Press. * Tyagananda; Vrajaprana (2010). _Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kali\'s Child Revisited_. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass . ISBN 978-81-208-3499-6 .

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