Sri Ramakrishna (1836 - 1886)

Sri Ramakrishna was born on 18 February 1836 in Kamarpukur, West Bengal, Kolkata. His parents, Khudiram and Chandramani Devi, were greatly devoted to God. They had beautiful visions indicating that God would take birth as their son. Sri Ramakrishna (the Master) was a unique spiritual teacher who experienced the living presence of God. When he was seventeen years old he became the priest at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata, India. Sri Ramakrishna's great yearning for a vision of the Divine Mother is par excellence. His yearning for God was so intense that people thought him to be mad.

For twelve years he was oblivious of food, clothes and sleep. Soon he was blessed with a vision of the Divine Mother in Her Absolute form. Later Sri Ramakrishna explained that in whichever direction he looked and as far as the eyes could see, he saw waves upon waves of unending light. There were no doors, windows or walls. The Master experienced great bliss. Therefore he used to say, 'If you must be mad, be it not for the things of the world. Be mad with the love of God.' Drawn by the magnetism of Sri Ramakrishna's divine personality, people from all walks of life came to him for solace and spiritual guidance.Through his God-intoxicated life, Sri Ramakrishna proved that one who sincerely yearns for a vision of God and surrenders himself to the Divine can see Him, provided he leads a pure and spiritual life.

Through his spiritual realisations, Sri Ramakrishna restored faith in God and built the edifice of religion on a secure foundation. Living in a small room in the Dakshineswar temple garden, he became a veritable fountain of spirituality. Each seeker saw in him the highest manifestation of his own ideal. By coming near him the impure became pure, the pure became purer, and the sinner was transformed into a saint. Sri Ramakrishna's face always radiated joy. When the flower blossoms, bees come of their own accord to sip the nectar. The Master's nectar-like words about God, his explicit descriptions of his glorious visions and his simple teachings, attracted many sincere seekers. Sri Ramakrishna had sixteen monastic disciples and Swami Vivekananda was the leader.The greatest contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world is his message of the harmony of religions.

To Sri Ramakrishna all religions are like rivers, flowing crooked or straight, end in the one ocean called God. In the present-day world of religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna's message of harmony, peace and unity gives us hope and shows us a way forward. May Sri Ramakrishna's life and teachings ever inspire us to lead righteous and God-centred lives. His unparalleled renunciation, humility and practical teachings help us to overcome doubt, the bane of this age. Sri Ramakrishna, the noblest of divine incarnations, lives eternally in the hearts of his devotees.