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World Thinkers on Ramakrishna Paramhansa

by Chander M. Bhat

Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda represent one single truth, one Ramakrishna its spirit and the other its form. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s life itself is his message. As Swami Vivekananda, his great disciple, said: “He was contented simply to live the great life and to leave it to others to find the explanation.”

Inspite of the Swami Vivekananda reticence in preaching missions in the East and the West, and by establishing the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission to serve the world through spiritual teachings and also through he alleviation of suffering. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa became known to some leading minds in the West even within a few years of his passing. In India, on the other hand, some of the elite as well as other educated people had been attracted to him during his lifetime.

In the West the first noteworthy recognition of the greatness of Sri Ramakrishna and his message came from Professor Max Muller, the well-known Oriental scholar. Professor Max Muller, while introducing Sri Ramakrishna said, “If we remember that these utterances of Ramakrishana reveal to us not only his own thoughts, but the faith and hope of millions of human beings, we may indeed feel hopeful about the future of that country. The consciousness of the Divine in man is there and shared by all, even by those who seem to worship idols. This constant sense of the presence of God is indeed the common ground on which we may hope that in time not too distant, the great temple of the future will be erected, in which Hindus may join hands and hearts in worshipping the same supreme spirit…….who is not far from every one of us for in Him we live and move and have our being.” Sri Aurobindo, who started as a nationalist revolutionary, but later became the celebrated yogi of Pondicherry, wrote about Sri Ramakrishna, “Sri Ramakrishna represented a synthesis in one person of all the leaders. It follows that the movement of his age will unify and organize the more provincial and fragmentary movements of the past. Ramakrishna is the epitome of the whole. His was the superconscious life, which alone can witness to the infinitude of the current that bears us all oceanwards. He is the proof of the power behind us, and the future before us. So a great birth initiates great happenings.”

Romain Rolland, the French savant, felt attracted to Ramakrishna, he says, “The man whose image I here evoke was the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred million people. Although he has been dead forty years, his soul animates modern India. He was no here of action like Gandhi, no genius in art of thought like Goethe or Tagore. He was a little village Brahman of Bengal, whose outer life was set in a limited frame without striking incident, outside the political and social activities of his time. But his inner life embraced the whole multiplicity of men and Gods.”

Christopher Isherwood, noted man of letters in the West, writes about Sri Ramakrishna, Tthis is the story of phenomenon. A phenomenon is often something extraordinary and mysterious. Ramakrishna was extraordinary and mysterious; most of all to those who were best fitted to understand him. A phenomenon is always a fact, an object of experience. That is how I shall try to approach Ramakrishan.”

Arnold J. Toynbee, a German philosopher writes, “Ramakrishna’s message was unique in being expressed in action……..Religion is not just a matter of study, it is something that has to be experienced and to be lived, and this is the field in which Ramakrishna manifested his uniqueness……..His religious activity, and experience were, in fact, comprehensive to a degree that had perhaps never before been attained by any other religious genius in India or elsewhere.”

Alexander Shifman, Adviser to the Tolstoy State Museum, in his book Tolstoy and Indian writes: ‘During the last decade of Tolstoy’s life Ramakrishna and his pupil Vivekananda occupied his thoughts…….’ ‘On 13 February 1903, Tolstoy read the journal Theosophischer Wegweister sent to him from Germany and in his copy underlined a number of Ramakrishna’s aphorisms. “There is much in common with my conception”- he noted in his diary’.

S. Radhakrishnan, Philosopher President of India writes, “While the saying of Sri Ramakrishna did not penetrate so mush into academic circles, thy found their way into lonely hearts who have been stranded in their pursuit of pleasure and selfish desires. Under the inspiration of this great teacher there has been a powerful revival of social compassion…..He has helped to raise from the dust the fallen standard of Hinduism, not in words merely, but in works also.”

   

 

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