Sri Ramakrishna and Kundalini

Ramakrishna in Keshab's house

Ramakrishna in Keshab's house

by © Alf Walker

Sri Ramakrishna is perhaps the most widely known mystic that India has produced in the past few hundred years. In The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, written by a close student of Ramakrishna who refers to himself as ‘M’, we find a most thorough and beautiful documentation of the last few years of the Master’s life and teachings.
In the case of Sri Ramakrishna we find unmistakable evidence in support of the fact that Kundalini activity and mystical experience are connected.

In Ramakrishna’s own words “After great effort and spiritual practice the Kundalini is awakened. After passing through the six centres, the Kundalini reaches the thousand petalled lotus known as Sahasrara, and the aspirant goes into Samadhi. In that lotus dwells Satchidananda Siva, the Absolute. There Kundalini, the awakened Power, unites with Siva. This is known as the union of Siva and Sakti.”

His Youth

On February 18, 1836 the boy Gadadhar was born in Kamarpukur, a rural area of Bengal in India. From most humble beginnings began the life of this spiritual prodigy who later was known as Sri Ramakrishna, or the Master to his disciples. His parents were poor, simple and pious people, living in a small village. Ramakrishna himself once said, “My mother was the personification of rectitude and gentleness. She did not know much about the ways of the world, innocent in the art of concealment, she would say what was in her mind. People loved her for her openheartedness. My father was an orthodox Brahmin. He spent much of his time in worship and meditation, and repeating God’s name and chanting His glories. Whenever in his daily prayers he invoked the Goddess Gayatri his chest flushed and tears rolled down his cheeks. He spent his leisure hours making garlands for the family deity, Raghuvir.”

In the Hindu religion the primordial creative energy is worshipped in many forms. The concentrated reservoir in man is known as Kundalini. The same energy in the differing aspects is worshipped as Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, as Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, as Kali the Destroyer, and so on. Gayatri too, as the Goddess of complete Knowledge is a reference to Kundalini. From the words of Ramakrishna’s own description of his parents and especially his father, it would appear that the hereditary relationship with regard to the activity of Kundalini is once again borne out. It is a well-known fact that high intelligence or talent, sometimes genius and often insanity are transmitted from parent to offspring. Can it be that the combination of hereditary influences can mean as much towards the awakening of Kundalini as a life time spent in religious practices and disciplines? Perhaps herein lies the reason why for one person, even forty years of extreme self-discipline and observances of all the various spiritual practices may not yield any tangible fruits in the realm of Higher Consciousness and yet other people attain to very lofty experiences with seemingly no effort directed in the pursuit. A righteous life of the parents could well be a deciding factor in the success of the offspring’s efforts.

The young Gadadhar was a healthy, active boy who loved painting and listening to the stories of Hindu mythology. He learned the art of moulding and made images of the various gods and goddesses. He had a prodigious memory and could recount the stories from the Hindu epics and myths, much to the delight of the local villagers. He would attend dramas and religious songs and dances, and would be overwhelmed by emotion. He would be absorbed in the performances he was witnessing. His powers of concentration were extraordinary.

At the age of five he was put to school. Everything that required imagination and artistic taste was very appealing to him. But, he would engage only in activities he was interested in, leaving other things completely alone. He was self-willed and could not be persuaded to become involved if he decided not to be. He was very intelligent though he disliked arithmetic. In later life, when upon his own request a disciple gave him a brief lesson on how the moon in its cycles is responsible for the tides, he soon asked the disciple to stop as such things gave him a headache.

One summer’s day, when still a young boy, Gadadhar fell unconscious at the sight of a flock of snow-white cranes passing by a dark, majestic thunder-cloud. Some villagers found him and carried him home. Later the boy said that he had experienced an indescribable joy while in that state. This was, perhaps his first mystical experience.

In his seventh year the boy’s father died. The death had a deep effect on him. He became much more serious in his thoughts and he began to help his mother in her daily tasks. His study of religious stories became more concentrated. He fetched water for the pilgrims on their way to Puri via Kamarpukur and he listened intently to their thought about renunciation of the world, meditation and worship. Much of his education about traditional, spiritual life was learned in this way. At the age of nine the boy underwent the sacred thread ceremony, after which his training in meditation began.

From an early age Ramakrishna evinced a marked ability to concentrate his mind. Often he became totally absorbed in his contemplations and was oblivious of the world. Once again we see how, by nature, Ramakrishna had a constitution which was conducive to the attainment of higher faculties of mind. Undoubtedly the ability of intense concentration of the mind is a prerequisite to the higher functions of mind in both secular and spiritual areas of thought and experience. The goal of all yogic practices is to create conditions in both the body and the mind to induce the state of absorption. Intense concentration not only stimulates the Kundalini energy but also leads to states of mind where consciousness can begin to focus on itself without any object. In Ramakrishna we find that these factors were present in his makeup and finally led to a higher dimension of consciousness.

He was imbued, from his youth, with the restless yearning for spiritual realization. At the age of sixteen the boy went to Calcutta at the request of his elder brother who was operating a Sanskrit Academy. His brother’s intention was that the boy, Gadadhar, would become involved in the school as a prelude to a career in teaching. However, the brother was in for disappointment on this matter. The boy was only interested in worship and decoration of the divine images.

Temples at Dakashineswar

After patiently observing Gadadhar’s indifference to his world future, his brother reminded him of the duties which were awaiting him as a Brahmin householder. To this the boy Ramakrishna replied, “Brother, what shall I do with a mere bread-winning education? I would rather acquire that wisdom which will illumine my heart and give me satisfaction forever.” His brother persisted; however he finally realized that the boy’s resolve was final.

In 1855 Ramakrishna and his elder brother Ramkumar, went to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar which had been recently constructed. Ramakrishna soon became quite attached to the lovely temple and surrounding area which was situated about four miles north of Calcutta and right on the Ganges river. Ramakrishna impressed the keeper of the temple, Mathur Babu, with his religious fervour and devotional spirit and it soon became Mathur Babu’s intention to have the young Brahmin take up the responsibilities of the temple worship. Ramakrishna however, was too attached to his freedom and resisted the keeper’s proposal. Finally a young cousin of Ramakrishna’s arrived at Dakshineswar looking for work and when it was agreed that he could assist Ramakrishna in his duties he agreed to take on the position.

Soon after his appointment to the temple duties the priest of the Radhakanta temple located on the same grounds, was dismissed for carelessly damaging an image of Krishna. Ramakrishna proposed a most sensible remedy for the problem and he himself restored the image. He was then persuaded to fill the office of priest in the Radhakanta temple.

With his brahminical upbringing Ramakrishna was familiar with all of the various gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon and he filled his new post in a way which so impressed his brother, the temple owner and also the patrons of the temples that he was urged to learn the intricate rituals of the Kali temple. After much pleading, Mathur Babu convinced Ramakrishna to take initiation and then to take charge of the Kali temple. The young priest insisted that he did not know the scriptures well enough to fill the role. Mathur assured him that his spirit of devotion would more than compensate for any lack of formal knowledge and so Ramakrishna agreed. An appropriately qualified guru was found and the initiation was performed. When the guru spoke the holy word into Ramakrishna’s ear he cried out and went into trance.

In 1856 his older brother Ramkumar passed away. The effect of his brother’s death seemed to intensify Ramakrishna’s thirst for finding everlasting peace in the realization of the Immortal One.

His desire for realization increased steadily through his worship in the temple and he began to spend all of his free time when not engaged in the official work of the temple in his meditations. He selected a wooded area to the north of the temple grounds and there he spent hours and whole nights in rapt prayer and meditation. He would set aside his clothes and even his sacred thread while meditating and when asked about this he replied by saying, “Don’t you know that when one thinks of God one should be freed from all ties? From our very birth we have eight fetters, of hatred, shame, lineage, pride of good conduct, fear, secretiveness, caste and grief. The sacred thread reminds me that I am a Brahmin and therefore superior to all. When calling on the Mother one has to set aside all such ideas.”
He would spend hours sitting before the images of goddess Kali singing devotional songs and praying with an intense longing in his heart. He felt the pains as if he were a child separated from its mother and at times he would rub his face into the ground and cry in agony; “Art Thou true, Mother, or is it all fiction, mere poetry without any reality? If Thou doest exist, why do I not see Thee? Is religion a mere fantasy and art Thou only a figment of man’s imagination?”

Early Stages

Finally, he had his first vision of the Mother:

I felt as if my heart were being squeezed like a wet towel. I was overpowered with a great restlessness and fear that it might not be my lot to realize Her in this life. I could not bear the separation from Her any longer. Life seemed to be not worth living. Suddenly my glance fell on a sword that was kept in the Mother’s temple. I determined to put an end to my life. When I jumped up like a madman and seized it, suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself. The buildings with their different parts, the temple, and everything else vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever, and in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness. As far as my eye could see, the shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific noise, to swallow me up. I was panting for breath. I was caught in the rush and collapsed, unconscious. What was happening in the outside world I did not know; but within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother.

The description of his internal experience, in his own words, can leave no doubt that Ramakrishna’s mind had made a leap into a very new and unexpected dimension. This experience, although rare considering the vast number of souls who have lived and breathed on this earth, is not a singular incident at all. Vision of God, Ecstasy, Mystical Experience, Turiya, Nirvana, Rebirth and other names have been applied to similar breakthroughs as they occurred to other individuals in different cultures at various times throughout history. That the human mind can, as the result of certain conditions in the mind and physiology of some individuals, contact or unfold other realms of creation is an indisputable fact based on the utterances found in the scriptures of the different faiths of the world. Modern man, for the most part, has no clue of this basic fact concealed in his religions. An unbiased review of the various scriptures of the world and a little investigation into the lives of saints, prophets and mystics will at once reveal evidence of this potential in man. As the ancients have written, though often in veiled ways, Kundalini or the Serpent Power is the mechanism by which the transformation in man’s consciousness occurs.

Ramakrishna was, however, still in the beginning stages of his transformation. His behavior became increasingly more questionable to the temple officials who suspected that he was going insane. His mind was enraptured with love for divine Mother Kali and his every act was pervaded with his devotional fervour. He would touch the image on the chin and speak affectionately to it. He would offer food to the image and wait until in his mind She was satisfied. He was seeing flashes of light before his eyes as if swarms of fireflies were about him and he perceived a sea of deep mist around him with luminous waves of molten silver.

On one occasion the manager of the temple garden saw Ramakrishna feed a cat from the food which was to be offered to Kali. He reported this seemingly insane behaviour to Mathur Babu. Ramakrishna gives us his side of the story:

The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of consciousness. The image was Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water vessels were Consciousness, the door-sill was consciousness, the marble floor was Consciousness – all was Consciousness. I found everything inside the room soaked, as it were, in Bliss – the bliss of God. I saw the wicked man in front of the Kali temple; but in him also I saw the power of the Divine Mother vibrating. That was why I fed the cat with the food that was to be offered to the Divine Mother. I clearly perceived that all this was the Divine Mother – even the cat.

Subjective and Physiological Indications

Some of the subjective experiences which Ramakrishna reported are definitely symptoms of an awakened Kundalini: Uncontrollable emotions and intense longing for the Divine vision, seeing lights and sparks before the eyes, and the perception that All is One and that the Foundation of that One is Consciousness. Often, though not always, entrancement occurs when all the life energy of the body is required by the brain which has opened inside to the Super-mundane levels of existence.

Besides these subjective signs we find that Ramakrishna also exhibited definite physiological indications that a very radical alteration was occurring in his body besides his trances. He lost track of his appetite or perhaps he lost the desire for food. He suffered insomnia for long periods of time. He reports that he had an intense burning sensation all over his body from which he found no relief save prayer. Tears flowed endlessly from his eyes while at times his breast would be flushed red. Often his face had an angelic glow. During his trances his mind withdrew itself completely from our shared world of the five senses. He would be totally lost in his inner being for hours on end, while birds could even perch on his head without notice.

To one unfamiliar with the concept of Kundalini these symptoms sound perhaps like some strange disorder in the mind and body. Actually in the case of a powerful awakening of Kundalini the energy does disrupt all of the metabolic systems in the body in its efforts to purify the nervous system and adjust it to feed the newly budding faculty in the brain. Many of the preliminary exercises in Yoga aim at creating a high level of purity in the body and nerves as also a higher level of control of the appetites in the aspirant to enable him to cope, in the event that the energy does begin to awaken in him.

Although Ramakrishna was familiar with the traditional ideas about Kundalini from the start, still we see that there were many aspects of the energy’s activities for which he had not been prepared. A Brahmin lady who was an adept in the Tantric and Vaishnava methods of worship came to stay at the temple. She was so impressed with the level of Ramakrishna’s spiritual development that she arranged a conference of the leading religious scholars of the time to discuss his experiences and to determine if he was an Incarnation of God, as she believed he must be. Two of the highest pundits were invited to the discussion and after lengthy debate they declared Ramakrishna had indeed attained to the mahabhaava state and therefore was one of the rare cases of God in man, an Avatar.

Here however we get a most interesting insight from Ramakrishna himself as to his condition and its causes. Once it had been stated that he was an incarnation of God, he leaned over to Mathur Babu in his child-like way and said, “Well, I am glad to learn that after all it is not a disease.”

Why would Ramakrishna be glad to learn after all that it was not a disease? Perhaps we still have a lot to learn in the realm of religious experience and its connection with the brain, body and nervous system. As it is, mankind is very much in the dark about the inter-relationship between the conscious principle and the body. We know that changes in the body, as for instance during illness, do cause very marked changes in our minds and emotions, but what do we know about the inter-relationship between the body and the extraordinary states of mind in the prophets, mystics and sages?

Ramakrishna’s physique must have been originally extraordinary since it could sustain the ordeal of his severe and intense austerities for decades. Ramakrishna once remarked that any other body would have been shattered long ago. Even so, his normal health had been wrecked and he came to look quite fragile and emaciated.

The disciplines of Yoga indicate that the condition of the body is a most important factor in man’s efforts to win liberation. In all religions we see injunctions for the believers to live healthy lives, to be moderate, to use pure foods, to be controlled in all habits, including procreative activity. Why? Why in religion, where our concern is the Divine, the ‘Unearthly’, or the Beyond, must we concern ourselves with the body so much? Is there some unsuspected link between the mind’s ability to perceive other realms and the processes of the body? Considering our lack of information on this interdependence in modern times it could be that we are misinterpreting the real purpose of religion and in so doing creating problems for ourselves through our lack of understanding. Perhaps the rapidly increasing numbers of the neurotic, unbalanced and insane in the modern world is related to our ignorance of this transformative mechanism within.

Ramakrishna systematically studied and practiced each of the traditional paths of spiritual discipline. First he underwent Tantric disciplines, then Vaishnava, Vedantic and the Islamic code of worship. Later he became fascinated with the Christian teachings and had one of his disciples read to him from the Bible. After he had practiced all of these paths he came to the conclusion that all paths verily reach the same end, God realization.

Ramakrishna himself comments on his experience:

Ah, what a state of mind I passed through. My mind would lose itself in the Indivisible Absolute. How many days I spent that way, I renounced bhakti and bhakta, devotion and devotee. I became inert. I could not feel the form of my own head. I was about to die. I ordered the removal of all the pictures and portraits from my room. When I regained outer consciousness, when the mind climbed down to the ordinary level, I felt as if I were being suffocated like a drowning person. At last I said to myself, “If I can’t bear people then how shall I live?”, “What has happened to me?” I kept asking people. Bholnath said to me, “This state of mind has been described in the Mahabharata.” How can a man live on coming down from the state of Samadhi? Surely he requires devotion to God and the company of devotees. Otherwise, how will he keep his mind occupied?

As time went by the knowledge of Ramakrishna’s experiences spread. Seekers from all backgrounds came to the temples at Dakshineswar in hopes of meeting him. Old, young, educated, illiterate, beggars, wealthy men, journalists, pundits and sadhus filled the ranks of those who sought to see and listen to this humble man who himself had no formal education nor material wealth but who had that knowledge and that wealth which is most rare and most precious of all, an illuminated mind.

His Teachings

Ramakrishna’s teachings were mostly in the form of simple informal talks where he would use stories and allegories drawn from everyday life experiences to illustrate the truths of the spiritual path. Everyone who came received his light. He would teach all and any who came and he himself often talked around the clock missing sleep and meals in his effort to satisfy those who came in search of guidance.

In a discourse to some devotees, one of whom was a great ritualist, Ramakrishna once said, “Can one attain to God by merely repeating the word ‘God’? There are two indications of such knowledge. First, longing, that is to say, love for God. You may indulge in reasoning or discussion, but if you feel no longing or love, it is all futile. Second, is the awakening of Kundalini. As long as the Kundalini remains asleep, you have not attained knowledge of God. You may be spending hours poring over books or discussing philosophy, but if you have no inner restlessness for God, you have no knowledge of Him.”

“When the Kundalini is awakened, one attains bhava, bhakti, prema, and so on. This is the path of devotion. The path of religious rites and rituals is very difficult. Through it one obtains some powers – I mean occult powers.” This is a clear statement from Ramakrishna’s own lips of the involvement of Kundalini in the spiritual transformation. Usually, in the course of a life devoted to spiritual practices the energy moves in a very subtle way to adjust the brain and nervous system and so it goes unnoticed by the aspirant. Perhaps the evolutionary ripeness of the nervous system is the cause for this situation. As a result many people are not aware of the importance of this evolutionary mechanism in spiritual striving. Ramakrishna, who evinced a very powerful awakening, clarifies the issue in the lines quoted above.

His teachings can be divided into two different categories – one for monks and one for householders. To the monks he pointed out the path of total renunciation of both the outer world and the inner world. They had to take a vow of absolute continence, which indicates too that he was fully cognizant of the role played by the reproductive system on the path to future human consciousness. All thoughts of self and greed were to be eschewed. He recommended that the monks gain complete self control and that they remain in absolute purity of thought and deed. Romain Rolland tells us in his beautiful book, Life of Ramakrishna, about the attention the Master paid to his disciples. Considering the task they were undertaking, “He did not blindly depend upon his own intuition. He visited the tutors of his disciples, learned all about them and studied them in meditation. With a remarkable and scrupulous attention he noted their physiological characteristics of respiration, sleep, and even digestion. He held that they were of considerable importance in confirming his diagnosis of their spiritual faculties and destiny.” Two important points are brought out here about Ramakrishna’s own understanding of the process of enlightenment. Firstly, he shows that after his own experience he knew of the physiological implications involved should one of his disciples successfully awaken the energy. Secondly, he realized the necessity and had that concern for his students, to first guage how their systems might react to the disciplines which he was giving out and then to monitor the individual’s progress.

Too often it is the case in the modern world that the so-called guru, who usually has not had an experience of enlightenment himself, gives out even powerful yogic exercises to all and sundry without himself knowing the dangers and difficulties which he may be bringing down on his naïve students. Unfortunately this lack of concern or even ignorance regarding the true goal of religious disciplines and yogic exercises, the stimulation of Kundalini energy towards the awakening of a new faculty in the brain, goes undetected as also do the risks involved. Perhaps these facets of the subject are left untouched in favour of the more profitable aspects of modern guru business?

To householders his teachings took a less intense form. He did not prescribe the hard path of renunciation but instead he held that the householder owed a duty to his family. He told them that while they were fulfilling their duties they were to be mentally renouncing the world. They were to grasp God with one hand and their responsibilities with the other and all the while pray to God that he would so arrange their lives that they would be soon able to grasp Him with both hands.

Married couples he thought should live together as brother and sister after one or two children were born; that they should spend their time in prayer and spiritual conversation and retreat into solitude to pray and meditate from time to time. He often said that indeed the life of the householder had the advantage over that of the monk in that it was easier to fight evil from inside a fortress than in the open field.

To one of his first householder disciples, who was skeptical about God, Ramakrishna said, “God really exists. You don’t see the stars in the day time but that doesn’t mean the stars don’t exist. There is butter in milk but can anyone see it by merely looking at the milk? To get butter you must first churn milk in a cool place. You cannot realize God by a mere wish. You must go through some mental disciplines.”
To another disciple he said, when questioned about the reality of God, “God reveals himself to the devotee who thinks of Him as the nearest and dearest. Because you do not draw a response by praying to Him once, you must not conclude that He does not exist. Pray to God thinking of Him as dearer than your very self. He is much attached to His devotees. He comes to a man even before He is sought. There is none more intimate and affectionate than God.”

His Self-Image

Sri Ramakrishna was very shy. He never went to address meetings nor did he preach publicly. But for his Samadhi, nobody could have got his photograph. He said to one of his followers :

Why do you write about me in your paper? You cannot make a man great by writing about him in books and magazines. If God makes a man great, then everybody knows about him even if he lives in a forest. When flowers bloom in the deep woods, the bees find them though the flies do not. What can man do? Do not look up to him. Man is but a worm. The tongue that praises you today will abuse you tomorrow. I do not want name and fame. May I always remain the humblest of the humble and the lowliest of the lowly.

Although he was now discoursing to some of the most learned and influential men of his time, he remained unmoved by the thought of himself as a great teacher and preferred to remain the simple child of the divine Mother. He referred to his own body as “a pillow case”, a mere shell that could not fail to act as the indwelling Motherhood willed. He seldom spoke in terms of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. He preferred to say “She who dwells here,” submitting to the Mother who is in this body. His own soul power had as great an effect on his listeners as his words. He seemed to stir the hearts of all who came to see him as much through his personality as by his great love.

One day in January 1884 he was walking in the temple garden towards the pine grove to the north when he suddenly went into trance. With nobody to support him he fell down and broke his left arm. The pain of this injury had the effect of keeping his mind on the earthly level. He made fun of those who claimed that he was a Divine Incarnation and said to them, “Have you ever heard of God breaking his arm?” Could it be that Ramakrishna saw himself and his new found higher faculty in a much different way than the average man, with his beliefs in Avatars and Divine Incarnations?

In April 1885, Ramakrishna developed a sore throat. It seemed to be aggravated by talking and by his samadhis. It was diagnosed as clergyman’s sore throat. He followed his doctor’s advice regarding diet and medicine but he could not prevent his trances nor would he refrain from answering the questions which visitors posed. The illness grew worse and was finally diagnosed as cancer. He was moved to Syampukur, in the northern part of Calcutta.

Despite some of the various reasons which were ascribed to be responsible for the Master’s illness, reason prevailed that the Master’s body was, after all, a material organism and as such, subject to the material laws of growth, development, decay and finally death. Despite medical treatment, special diet and much prayer by his devotees the illness progressed. He was moved to a more spacious garden house in Cossipore where he lived out the last eight months of his earthly life.

During these last few months Ramakrishna exhibited tremendous courage and selflessness. He had grown very thin as he was unable to eat solids. He said to one of the disciples, “I am bearing all this cheerfully, for otherwise you would be weeping. If you say it is better that the body should go rather than suffer this torture, I am willing.” Even in his pain he showed more concern for his followers than for himself. His attitude towards death too is evidence of his illumination. The next morning he said to another disciple seated near his bed, “do you know what I see? I see that God alone has become everything. Men and animals are only frameworks covered with skin, and it is He who is moving through their heads and limbs. I see that it is God Himself who has become the block, the executioner, and the victim for the sacrifice.”

After his passing away, “The Indian Mirror” of 21.8.1886, quoting “The Englishman”, an English daily of Calcutta, wrote of Ramakrishna, “If faith, love, self-sacrifice, purity of character, and entire resignation to the will of Almighty be the chief qualification of a religious man, they found their highest perfection in him and the veneration of the people was not misplaced.”

Perhaps the most interesting and an important aspect of Ramakrishna’s life, was his frequent, intense and enrapturing ecstasies. The duration of his trances varied from some few minutes to days at a time. He did not require any particular place or poise or pose or preliminary preparation for Samadhi. As soon as there was a certain mental climate, he would lose consciousness in whatever condition he might be. Sometimes he would go into samadhi while listening to lovely music and singing. Often he would enter the state while discoursing, or even the sight of some person might act as a trigger for his mind. It seems that the trances were beyond his control, that the Energy was in fact ruling him. While absorbed in Samadhi, his flushed face, half-shut eyes, indescribable smile, and the attitude of absolute abandon radiated to those around him the spiritual joy he was experiencing.

Still, he himself would pray, “Oh Mother, let me remain in contact with men. Don’t make me a dried-up ascetic. I want to enjoy your sport in the world. Mother, don’t make me unconscious through the knowledge of Brahman.” He clearly felt that absorption into the Absolute is not the highest spiritual status, but enjoying the love of God, and his service of man was even greater. Ramakrishna hated Gurudom. He used to say that he was the servant of all servants.

He spoke in a homely, colloquial, sometimes even crude, idiomatic Bengali. He knew no other language. He never tried to compose any poetry, but his imagination and his image making power was so prolific that what he spoke in prose always bore the marks of high poetry. A modern biographer has tried to emphasize this in a Bengali book, using innumerable quotations from his sayings.

What happened to the young man Gadadhar to turn him from the usual path in life, the path tread by millions of his contemporaries, to devote his whole being to his spiritual realization? What Internal Agency influenced his thought and behavior to create of him a genius in the world of religion? What caused the trances, visions and concommitant rich spiritual insight? What are the connections between the body and the state of man’s mind that practices such as concentration, continence, prayer, and religious disciplines can create such a revolution in his perceptual capabilities? These questions and many more related questions are raised when we review the lives of Saints, Prophets and the Enlightened of history, of whom Ramakrishna represents perhaps the most clearly documented.

The state of mind reported by this class of men and women, and the causes behind its appearance, may hold unexpected answers for the troubled mind of modern man, but when will he turn his gaze from the known and seek out the knower? Heaven knows.


The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, by "M."
The President,
Sri Ramakrishna Math,
Mylapore, Madras - 600 004,
Jan. 1981

Tales & Parables of Sri Ramakrishna,
The President,
Sri Ramakrishna Math,
Madras - 600 0041980

Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna,
Swami Ananyananda,President
Advaita Ashrama,
Mayavati, Pithoragarh, Himalayas,
May 1981