In this writer’s opinion, Sri Ramakrishna (SR) was the greatest mystic of nineteenth century (widely quoted from two books. See sidebar; The gospel of SR......., and footnote 1), and one of the greatest, of all times (prophets or messengers of God are higher than mystics or saints). I base my opinion on one fact, and that is the effect of love for God on the person. When divine mood would come on SR, which came frequently, he would visibly reel, like a drunk, or go in Samadhi (see footnote). In the words of one of his direct disciples:” ….under the overpowering feeling of that intoxication he reeled so much that he had to take hold of one of us…” To my knowledge, only St Teresa of Avila, showed similar effects (with spiritual hurricane, she would even be lifted from ground in the air)
His father made a pilgrimage to Gaya to visit the temple of Lord Vishnu. At Gaya he had a dream in which Lord Vishnu came in his dream and told him that He would be born as his son. At about the same time SR’s mother, who had not gone on pilgrimage with her husband, had a vision in front of the Siva temple, that she will have a divine child.
When he was six or seven years of age, one day, while he was walking on the balk of a corn field, and eating rice from a basket, he happened to look at a beautiful black rain cloud. A flock of milk-white cranes flew by, with the black rain cloud in the background. The young boy was mesmerized by the beauty of the scene. In his own words,” it looked so beautiful that I became absorbed in an extraordinary mood. ……my external consciousness was lost. I fell down and the rice that I was eating scattered near the balk. ……..That was the first time I lost consciousness in ecstasy.”
The Sadhana (spiritual practices carried out by a seeker in order to realizes God) of SR are a legend. The period lasted for about 12 years (1856 to1867). He almost died. During that time he was considered mad by ordinary people. He could not keep his loin-cloth many a times and would be wandering stark naked. He would take concrete steps to conquer, what he perceived as defects, in his character. For instance to remove his attachment to money, he will take a rupee ( the coin used in India ) and a clod of earth, and throw them both in the river Ganges, as if both were equal, and equally useless to him. To conquer lust, he will consider and address every woman as mother. He would eat from the leftovers of food-remnants from leaves (leaves were used as plate by the poor). To conquer pride and egoism, he cleaned like a sweeper the abominably dirty places with his own hands. He remained unfed or poorly fed for 12 long years.
To be continued.
1. Sri Ramakrishna, the great master by Swami Saradananda
2. Samadhi. Super conscious state. Trance. A state of God-union. Person becomes oblivious of the surrounding and his body appears rigid and lifeless. There are various forms of Samadhi. The initial stage is called Sabikalpa Samadhi. The highest form is called nirbikalpa Samadhi , which is the closest a mortal can be with God
3. .One of the trinity of Godhead; Brahma, Vishnu, Siva (or Shiva), whose universal work is, respectively, creation, preservation, and destruction.