Ramakrishna (1836-1886)

It is said that Ramakrishna meditated deeply on Hindu, Muslim and Christian religious principles and each case reached the same vision or conclusion - God is only One and can be reached through any religious path. Interestingly, Ramakrishna often addressed God as "Mother," which is more popular in India than anywhere else. Perhaps perceiving this female aspect of God helped him to maintain this open and gentle attitude towards other religious paths.

"One day I was torn with intolerable anguish. My heart seemed to be wrung as a damp cloth might be wrung (...). I was racked with pain. A terrible frenzy seized me at the thought that I might never be granted the blessing of this Divine vision. I thought if that were so, then enough of this life! A sword was hanging in the sanctuary of Kali. My eyes fell upon it and an idea flashed through the brain like a flash of lightening. 'The sword! It will help me to end it.' I rushed up to it, and seized it like a madman (...).

And lo! the whole scene, doors, windows, the temple itself vanished (...). It seemed as if nothing existed any more. Instead I saw an ocean of the Spirit, boundless, dazzling. In whatever direction I turned, great luminous waves were rising. They bore down upon me with a loud roar, as if to swallow me up. In an instant they were upon me. They broke over me, they engulfed me. I was suffocated. I lost all natural consciousness and I fell.(...)

How I passed that day and the next I know not. Round me rolled an ocean of ineffable joy. And in the depths of my being I was conscious of the presence of the Divine Mother." Quoted in: Rolland, Romain. (1994). The Life of Ramakrishna. P.33.

"The naked man, Tota Puri, taught me to detach my mind from all objects and to plunge it into the heart of the Atman. But despite all my efforts, I could not cross the realm of name and form and lead my spirit to the Unconditional state. I had no difficulty detaching my mind from all the objects with one exception of the too familiar form of the radiant Mother, the essence of pure knowledge, who appeared before me as a living reality. She barred the way to the beyond. (...)

(...) I used my discrimination as a sword, and I clove Her in two. The last barrier fell and my spirit immediately precipitated itself beyond the plane of the 'conditioned' and I lost myself in Samadhi. (...)

The Universe was extinguished. Space itself was no more. At first the shadows of ideas floated in the obscure depths of the mind. Monotonously a feeble consciousness of the ego went on ticking. Then that stopped too. Nothing remained but Existence. The soul was lost in Self. Dualism was blotted out. Finite and Infinite space were as one. Beyond word, beyond thought, I attained Brahman." Quoted in: Rolland, Romain. (1994). The Life of Ramakrishna. P.55.

"He repeated the word Nirakara two or three times and then quietly passed into Samadhi as the diver slips into the fathomless deep (...). We watched him intently. The whole body relaxed and then became slightly rigid. There was no twitching of the muscles or nerves, no movement of any limb. Both his hands lay in his lap with the fingers lightly interlocked. The sitting posture of the body was easy but absolutely motionless. The face was slightly tilted up and in repose. The eyes were nearly but not wholly closed. The eyeballs were not turned up or otherwise deflected, but they were fixed (...). The lips were parted in a beatific and indescribable smile, disclosing the gleam of the white teeth. There was something in that wonderful smile which no photograph was ever able to reproduce." Description of one of Ramakrishna's trances, quoted in: Rolland, Romain. (1994). The Life of Ramakrishna. P.163.

"Oh, the sound of the smooth flute played in the wood yonder! I come! I come! I must ... My Beloved with the dark skin awaits me ... O my friends, say, will you not come with me? ... Me Beloved! ... I fear that to you he is nothing but a name, a sound void of meaning ... But to me He is my heart, my soul, my life! ... Plunge, plunge, plunge in the depths, O my soul! Plunge into the Ocean of Beauty! (...)" Ramakrishna, quoted in: Rolland, Romain. (1994). The Life of Ramakrishna. P.255.

"Let the body and its sufferings occupy themselves with each other. Thou, my mind, remain in bliss. Now I and my Divine Mother are one for ever." Ramakrishna, quoted in: Rolland, Romain. (1994). The Life of Ramakrishna. P.273.

Last updated: 2003/02/09