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Books > Hindu > Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master
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Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master
Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master
Description
Preface

BY the grace of God, the First Part of Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master is now published. It contains a detailed account of the early life of Sri Ramakrishna and the purpose of his advent. An attempt is made herein to present to the reader the mental picture we have formed through hearing from various people a number of unrelated incidents from the Master's life at that time. Although persons like Hridayram Mukhopadhyaya, Ramlal Chattopadhyaya and others gave as much help as they could for ascertaining the correct dates of certain events, there still remains, in places, some doubt on such points. They could not produce the horoscopes of Sri Ramakrishna's father, his elder brother and other near relatives; but they gave instead the approximate dates of certain events connected with the Master's life, saying, for example: "At the time of Sri Ramakrishna's birth his father was sixty-one or sixty-two year's old"; "Ramkumar, his eldest brother, was his senior by thirty-one or thirty-two years"; and so on.

Nevertheless the reader will be convinced, when he reads the fifth chapter of this part, "A Great Soul Is Born", that there is no doubt regarding the date of the birth of Sri Ramakrishna as recorded therein. We have been reassured about this and many other events recorded in this book by the Master's own words, some of which were heard by the author himself. It is to the Master, therefore, that we are beholden for this information. When we first set about describing certain periods of his life, it seemed impossible for us to narrate the events of his childhood and youth in such a detailed and connected way. Realizing, therefore, that it is by the grace of the Lord, who “makes the dumb wax eloquent and the lame nimbler enough to cross a mountain”, that this has become possible, we bow down to Him again and again.

It may also be said in conclusion, that if the reader after finishing this part of the book, goes through the other parts, namely, “As the spiritual Aspirant” and “As the Spiritual Teacher (I & II)”, he will find the history of the master’s fire recorded chronologically from the date of his birth to the year 1881.

Introduction

1. Spirituality is the pivot of life in India
WHEN we make a comparative study of the spiritual beliefs and ideals of India and of other countries, we notice a vast difference between them. From very ancient times India has taken the entities beyond the senses, like God, the self, the next world, ete., to be real, and has employed all its efforts to their direct realization, with the result that it has made their immediate experience or direct knowledge the final goal of the national as well as the individual endeavour. All its activities have accordingly been coloured by intense spirituality throughout the ages.

2. The frequent birth of great souls in India is its cause
When we seek out the source, of this absorbing interest in -things beyond the senses, we find that it is due to the frequent birth in India of men possessing a direct knowledge of these things and endowed with divine qualities. India came to acquire a firm faith in their extraordinary visions and unique manifestations of power, and became deeply interested in them, because it always had an opportunity to witness and discuss them. Its national life was thus established from very ancient times on the solid foundation of spirituality; and keeping its gaze firmly fixed on this, it brought into existence a society of unique customs and practices, which enabled its individual members to attain the ultimate object of God-realization in a most natural manner through the performance of their daily duties according to their special tastes and qualities. As these rules and regulations have been followed generation after generation, the spiritual ideas of India are still alive and vigorous. In consequence, men and woman have, even today, a strong conviction that with the help of austerity, self-control and intense yearning everyone can have a direct vision of God, the Cause of the universe, and become forever united with Him.

3. The religion of India is founded on direct realization of God
That the religion of India is founded on God-vision becomes clear when we reflect upon the significance of words and expressions like Rishi (seer), Apta (one who has attained the goal of life), Adhikari (one possessed of authority), Prakriti-lina Purusha (a person merged in the cause of the universe), etc. These names have been used since Vedic times to describe the teachers who came to re-establish religion. It is beyond doubt that such men were designated by these names because they had given proof of their unique powers, acquired as a result of direct knowledge of the reality beyond the senses. This statement holds good in the case of every one of them, from the Rishis of the Vedic period to the divine incarnations of the Puranic (Epic) Age.

4. The origin and development of the idea of the divine incarnation: Isvara as the controller of a cycle is found in the Sankhya philosophy
It does not take-one long to understand that certain Rishis of the Vedic period came to be recognized during the Puranic period as incarnations. In the Vedic period it was understood that certain persons had the power to perceive the reality beyond the senses, but not that they possessed different degrees of that power. People were content to call all of them "Rishis". In course of time, however, as their intelligence and sense of discrimination became keener, they realized that not all the Rishis were endowed with the same degree of power. In shedding light on the spiritual world, some of them shone like the sun, some like the moon, some again, like bright stars, and others like ordinary fire-flies. They then began to classify the Rishis, and in so doing found that some of them were endowed with especial powers for manifesting spiritual truths or possessed these powers pre-eminently. Thus, in the Philo- sophic Age, some Rishis came to be known as Adhikari-Purushas (persons of authority). Even Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, who was sceptical regarding the existence of God, had to accept the existence of these Rishis; for he could not doubt what he actually saw. Accordingly, Kapila and his followers, in their writings, put these "Adhikari Purushas" in the class of those "merged in Prakriti". Searching for the cause of the advent of these uniquely powerful persons, the Sankhya philosophers came to the conclusion that, endowed with good qualities, such as purity, self-control, etc., they had acquired infinite knowledge, but that an intense desire to do good to the people had prevented them, for a time, from being merged in the real nature of the Self of infinite glory. Plunged, instead, into the all-powerful Prakriti, by virtue of that desire, they had come to know its powers to be their own; and, possessing the special powers, they did good to men in an infinite number of ways for one cycle, and at last became completely identified with the Self.

5. The all pervading Personal God during the Age of Devotion
The Sankhya teachers have, again, divided the "persons merged in Prakriti", according to the difference in their powers, into two classes: "Kalpaniyamaka Isvara" (ruler for one cycle) and "Isvarakotis" (those within the orbit of the former).

After the Philosophic Age, came a period when love for the divine was especially developed. At that time, through the overwhelming influence of Vedanta, people came to believe in an Isvara, an all-pervading Person, the aggregate of all beings. They acquired also the strong faith that Knowledge and Yoga could be had to the fullest degree by meditation on Him with single-minded devotion. And they soon came to believe that Isvara, in His capacity as ruler for a cycle, was either a partial or a full manifestation of the all-pervading Personal Isvara who is by nature eternally pure, eternally awake and eternally free. Thus the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate arose in the Puranic Age, and those Rishis of the Vedic Age who possessed unique and extraordinary qualities began to be known as incarnations. It was the advent of persons endowed with such qualities that made people gradually believe in the existence of incarnations. Founded on the super sensuous visions and experiences of these persons, the unshakable edifice of religion gradually rose, like the snow-capped Himalayas, to reach the sky. Because these persons had achieved the highest goal of life, they were called "Aptas", and their words, expressing the highest knowledge, came to be known as the Vedas.

6. The worship of the spiritual teacher (Guru) is another reason for the belief
Another reason for accepting certain Rishis as incarnations was the practice of worshipping the spiritual teacher (Guru). In India, from the time of the Vedas and the Upanishads, men and woman worshipped the teacher, the giver of spiritual knowledge, with great reverence. This worship, combined with meditation, convinced them in course of time that no man could occupy the position of a spiritual teacher till the divine, super-conscious power manifested itself in him. At first they looked upon and worshipped the Guru as belonging to a different and higher type of humanity, because they found that, in contrast with the selfishness of the ordinary human being, the true teacher did good to the people out of pure compassion and without any selfish motive. Later, through faith, reverence and devotion, they perceived directly in the Guru the manifestation of the divine power, and this convinced them more and more of his divine attributes. They had prayed for so long a time to the gracious Lord, imploring Him to "protect them with His compassionate face" (Rudra yat te dakshinam mukham, tena mam pahi nityam)' that their prayer was granted at last; and the com- passion of the Lord stood revealed before them in the person of the Guru.

7. The doctrine of God-incarnate is founded on the knowledge gained from the Vedas and through Samadhi
When men had proceeded thus far in the worship of the Guru, it did not take them long to identify him-through whom the special Lila (play) of the divine power was being manifested-with the knowledge-giving, benign form of the divine Lord. Thus it seems that the continued worship of the Guru strengthened the idea of God-incarnate. As already mentioned, the doctrine of incarnation actually dates from the Puranic Age, but the idea itself originated in the Vedic Age. The experience of the attributes, actions and nature of Isvara, during the ages of the Vedas, Upanishads and Darsanas (Philosophical systems), appears to have gradually assumed a more definite shape and then given rise to the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate, it may also be that in the age of the Upanishads, Rishis, coming down by the reverse process -from the state of Samadhi achieved by the path of "not this", "not this", through self-control, austerity, etc., realized that the whole universe was actually the manifestation of the unqualified (Nirguna) Brahman. It was only then, perhaps, that they acquired devotion to the all-pervading Brahman with attributes (Saguna), called Isvara, and began to worship Him. Having thus obtained a clear idea of Isvara's qualities, actions, nature, etc., they might have become convinced of the possibility of His being manifested in a special way.

8. The experiences of God's compassion spreads the idea of God incarnate in the Puranic Age
It was in the Puranic Age, then, that belief in the existence of incarnations was especially developed. Notwithstanding various defects in the development of spirituality in that age, it was faith in the glory of God-incarnate that made it really great. This belief in the existence of the incarnation also enabled men to comprehend the eternal play of the Saguna Brahman. As a consequence they realized that God, the Cause of the universe, was their only guide in the spiritual world; and they were convinced that the infinite compassion of the divine Lord would never let them to be doomed, however reprobate they might be, but that the Lord would in every age take form as an incarnation, discover new paths suited to man's nature and make Self-realization easy for him.

9. The essence of what the Sastras say about the divine nature of the incarnation
It will not be out of place to give here a brief summary of the essential ideas recorded in the Smritis and Puranas about the birth, action, etc. of the divine incarnation, who is by nature eternally pure, awake and free. Unlike a Jiva (mortal being), he never gets entangled in or bound by his actions, for, content in the Atman from his very birth, no selfish idea of worldly enjoyment arises in his mind, as it does in the ease of a Jiva. His whole life is dedicated to the good of others. Being always free from the meshes of Maya, he retains the memory of his previous lives.

10. The Incarnation’s unbroken memory
It may be asked: Does he have that unbroken memory from childhood? The Puranas reply: Although latent within him, it is not always manifest during his childhood. But as soon as his body and mind mature, he becomes aware of it with little or no effort. This applies to all of his actions. Since he assumes a human body, he has to behave in all respects like a human being.

11. Incarnations give new shape to religion
As soon as the body and mind of the incarnation fully develops, the aim of his life is revealed to him. He then realizes that the sole purpose of his coming is to re-establish religion; and whatever aids are necessary to fulfil that purpose come of themselves in an unexpected way. He walks in light where others grope in darkness; fearless, he attains his goal and beckons to men to follow in his footsteps. Untrodden paths leading to the realization of Brahman beyond Maya, and of Isvara, the cause of the universe, are discovered by him again and again, from age to age.

12. The time and circumstances of the coming of incarnations, as stated in the Sastras
The authors of the Puranas did not merely analyse and the actions and characteristics of the incarnation; they also came to a definite conclusion regarding mg t e occasion coming to stated in the earth. With the passage of time, the eternal universal religion declines and, deluded by the inscrutable powers of Maya, men spend their lives thinking that the world and its pleasures are all- important. Eternal verities like the Self, Isvara, liberation, etc., are looked upon as dreamland imaginings of poets of a bygone age steeped in delusion and darkness. But when men at last discover that no amount of wealth and worldly enjoyment, obtained by fair means or foul, can fill the void in their hearts, and when the waves of a shoreless black sea of despair overwhelm them, they cry out in the anguish of their hearts for deliverance. It is then that, out of His innate compassion for weak humanity, God incarnates Himself and frees from the accumulated encrustations of ages the eternal religion, which then shines like the eclipsed moon freed from Rahu.' Then, taking hold of man's hand, He sets him on the path of religion. An effect is never produced without a cause, nor does Isvara assume a body in His Lila till a universal need demands it. When such a want becomes overwhelmingly felt in every part of society, the infinite mercy of the Lord becomes, as it were, crystallized, and He appears as the spiritual teacher of the world. This is the conclusion that the authors of the Puranas have arrived at after witnessing the repeated appearances of incarnations.

13. The advent of the incarnation in the modem age
It is the necessity of the age, then, that calls forth an incarnation of God, the all-knowing teacher of the world, who throws new light on religion. The land of India which has always been conducive to the practice of religion and spirituality, has become holy and sanctified by bearing upon its bosom the footprints of incarnations again and again throughout the ages. All-powerful incarnations have appeared in India, even up to the present time, whenever the necessity for them has arisen. It is well known how, a little more than four hundred years ago, the shining example of Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya I made people lose themselves in ecstasy in singing the name of Hari. Has such a time recurred? Did India, shorn of its glory and reduced to an object of contempt to foreigners, once again arouse the compassion of the Lord to incarnate Himself? That this has happened will become clear on a perusal of the life-story of the great soul, possessed of an infinite urge to do good, which is here recorded. India has once more been blessed by the coming, in response to the need of the age, of One who, incarnating Himself as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and others, renewed the eternal religion again and again.

Contents

Publisher's Note to the First EditionVII
Publisher's Note to the Fifth EditionXI
Publisher's Note to the Sixth EditionXII
ContentsXIII
List of IllustrationXCI
Part OneHistoric Background And Early Life
PrefaceXCV
Introduction1
1Spirituality is the pivot of life in India1
2The frequent birth of great souls in India is its cause1
3The religion of India is founded on direct realization of God2
4The origin and development of the idea of the divine incarnation: Isvara as the controller of a cycle is found in the Sankhya philosophy2
5The all pervading Personal God during the Age of Devotion3
6The worship of the spiritual teacher (Guru) is another reason for the belief4
7The doctrine of God-incarnate is founded on the knowledge gained from the Vedas and through Samadhi5
8The experiences of God's compassion spreads the idea of God incarnate in the Puranic Age6
9The essence of what the Sastras say about the divine nature of the incarnation6
10The incarnation's unbroken memory6
11Incarnations give new shape to religion6
12The time and circumstances of the coming of incarnations, as stated in the Sastras7
13The advent of the incarnation in the modem age8
Chapter IThe Need of The Age9
Chapter IISri Ramakrishna's Birthplace (Kamarpukur) and Ancestry18
Chapter IIIThe Pious Family At KamarPukur27
Chapter IVStrange Experiences of Chandradevi42
Chapter VA Great Soul is Born50
Chapter VIGadadhar's Childhood and The Death of His Father54
Chapter VIIGadadhar's Boyhood67
Chapter VIIIOn The Threshold of Youth80
Part TwoAs The Spiritual Aspirant
Preface97
Introduction99
1Lack of records concerning divine incarnations as aspirants99
2Devotees do not like the idea that incarnations are imperfect at any period of their lives100
3It does not stand to reason that such an idea interferes with devotion100
4The Master's teaching: "Love relation to the intimacy of 'Thou' and 'I' cannot stand when knowledge of powers intervenes", and "nobody's spiritual attitude should be transpired with"101
5An example of the destruction of spiritual attitude on the occasion of the Sivaratri at the Kasipur garden102
6When sporting like a man, the Divine behaves like a man107
7The conversation between Vishnu and Narada on this topic108
8Incarnations of God assume imperfection of man to discover paths to liberation109
9If incarnations are not thought of as human beings, we cannot get at the purpose of their lives and endeavours110
10Unenlightened souls can understand an incarnation of God only as a human being110
11God takes on a human body out of compassion for humanity. Therefore it is beneficial to study the lives of divine incarnations as human beings111
Chapter ISadhaka and Sadhana (The Spiritual Aspirant and Spiritual Discipline)112
Chapter IIThe Attitude of a Sadhaka in the life of an Incarnation of God123
Chapter IIIThe First manifestation of the attitude of a Sadhaka144
Chapter IVThe Kali Temple at Dakshineswar152
Chapter VAssumption of the office of the Priest170
Chapter VISpiritual Eagerness and the first vision183
Chapter VIISadhana and divine inebriation193
Chapter VIIIThe Last Part of the story of The first four years of Sadhana210
Chapter IXMarriage And Return to Dakhineswar240
Chapter XThe coming of the Bhairavi Brahmani252
Chapter XITantric Sadhana265
Chapter XIIThe Sadhu with Matted hair and the master's Sadhana of the Vatsalya Bhava284
Chapter XIIIThe Essence of the madhura bhava (Sweet Mood)302
Chapter XIVThe master's Sadhana of the madhura bhava324
Chapter XVThe master's Sadhana of the Vedanta338
Chapter XVIEpilogue of the master's Vedanta Sadhana and his practice of Islam358
Chapter XVIIThe Master's Visit to His Native Village369
Chapter XVIIIThe master's pilgrimage and the story of Hridayram379
Chapter XIXThe death of the master's relations390
Chapter XXThe Worship of Shodasi400
Chapter XXIEpilogue to the Story of the master's Sadhanas413
AppendixThe Principal Events of the Master's Life from after the worship of the Shodasi to the coming of His Marked Devotees427
Part ThreeAs the spiritual Teacher (I)447
Chapter ISri Ramakrishna in Bhavamukha457
Chapter IIA few words on bhava, Samadhi and Darsana491
Chapter IIISri Ramakrishna As the spiritual teacher536
Chapter IVThe first manifestation of the mood of the spiritual teacher565
Chapter VThe mood of the spiritual teacher in youth584
Chapter VIThe mood ot the spiritual teacher and Mathuranath600
Chapter VIIGrace Bestowed on Mathur in the mood of the Spiritual Teacher624
Chapter VIIIThe Relation of the Master as the spiritual Teacher with his own teacher656
Part FourAs the spiritual Teacher (II)
Chapter IVaishnavacharan and Gauri698
Chapter IIThe mood of the spiritual teacher and Various communities of Holy Men737
Chapter IIIPilgrimage of the master as the Guru and his company with the Holy Men783
Chapter IVAs the spiritual Teacher Concluded825
Chapter VSri Ramakrishna in the Company of devotees for nine days: The navayatra in A.D. 1885870
Chapter VISri Ramakrishna in the company of devotees: The story of Gopala's Mother 1-Frist Part901
Chapter VIISri Ramakrishna in the company of devotees. The return choriot journey In A.D. 1885 and the story of Gopala's Mother Last Part917
AppendixThe Human Aspect of the Master944
Part FiveThe master in the divine mood and Narendranath
Preface963
1Ascertaining the period in the Master's life, when he had especial manifestation of the divine mood965
2Why we hold the last twelve years of his life to be the period of the especial manifestation of this mood966
3The Master with the help of the divine mood has freed India from the evil effects of the onrush of Western culture and civilization966
4When does the divine mood come into play in human life?967
5The uncommon manifestation of this mood in divine incarnations makes their character so inscrutable and mysterious968
6The seven main divisions of the Master's acts performed under the influence of this mood969
Chapter ISection 1: The influence of the master on the brahmo samaj971
Chapter ISection 2: The Brahmo Festival In Manimohan Mallick's House986
Chapter ISection 3: The Master in Jayagopal Sen's House995
Chapter IIThe Beginning of the arrival of the master's devotees previously seen in vision1004
Chapter IIINarendra's Antecedents and his First visit to Dakshineswar1014
Chapter VISection 1:The extraordinary relation between the master and narendranath1062
Chapter VISection 2: The extraordinary relation between the master and narendranath1077
Chapter VIIThe master's method of testing and Narendranath1091
Chapter VIIISection 1: Narendra's schooling in the world and by the Master1127
Chapter VIIISection 2: Narendra's schooling in the world and by the Master1136
Chapter IXThe Circle of devotees of the Master and Narendranath1154
Chapter XThe Festival At Panihati1166
Chapter XIThe Master Moved to Calcutta1181
Chapter XIISection 1: The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1193
Chapter XIISection 2:The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1203
Chapter XIISection 3:The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1253
Chapter XIIISection 1:The Master in the garden house of Kasipur1250
Chapter XIIISection 2:The Vow of Service at Kasipur1256
Chapter XIIISection 3:The Master's self revelation and The Bestowal of Freedom From Fear1266
Chronology of important events1273
The Horoscope of Sri Ramakrishna1277
The Book and its author1281
Glossary1302
Index1335

Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master

Item Code:
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2010
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9788178234830
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1468 (63 B/W illustration)
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Preface

BY the grace of God, the First Part of Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master is now published. It contains a detailed account of the early life of Sri Ramakrishna and the purpose of his advent. An attempt is made herein to present to the reader the mental picture we have formed through hearing from various people a number of unrelated incidents from the Master's life at that time. Although persons like Hridayram Mukhopadhyaya, Ramlal Chattopadhyaya and others gave as much help as they could for ascertaining the correct dates of certain events, there still remains, in places, some doubt on such points. They could not produce the horoscopes of Sri Ramakrishna's father, his elder brother and other near relatives; but they gave instead the approximate dates of certain events connected with the Master's life, saying, for example: "At the time of Sri Ramakrishna's birth his father was sixty-one or sixty-two year's old"; "Ramkumar, his eldest brother, was his senior by thirty-one or thirty-two years"; and so on.

Nevertheless the reader will be convinced, when he reads the fifth chapter of this part, "A Great Soul Is Born", that there is no doubt regarding the date of the birth of Sri Ramakrishna as recorded therein. We have been reassured about this and many other events recorded in this book by the Master's own words, some of which were heard by the author himself. It is to the Master, therefore, that we are beholden for this information. When we first set about describing certain periods of his life, it seemed impossible for us to narrate the events of his childhood and youth in such a detailed and connected way. Realizing, therefore, that it is by the grace of the Lord, who “makes the dumb wax eloquent and the lame nimbler enough to cross a mountain”, that this has become possible, we bow down to Him again and again.

It may also be said in conclusion, that if the reader after finishing this part of the book, goes through the other parts, namely, “As the spiritual Aspirant” and “As the Spiritual Teacher (I & II)”, he will find the history of the master’s fire recorded chronologically from the date of his birth to the year 1881.

Introduction

1. Spirituality is the pivot of life in India
WHEN we make a comparative study of the spiritual beliefs and ideals of India and of other countries, we notice a vast difference between them. From very ancient times India has taken the entities beyond the senses, like God, the self, the next world, ete., to be real, and has employed all its efforts to their direct realization, with the result that it has made their immediate experience or direct knowledge the final goal of the national as well as the individual endeavour. All its activities have accordingly been coloured by intense spirituality throughout the ages.

2. The frequent birth of great souls in India is its cause
When we seek out the source, of this absorbing interest in -things beyond the senses, we find that it is due to the frequent birth in India of men possessing a direct knowledge of these things and endowed with divine qualities. India came to acquire a firm faith in their extraordinary visions and unique manifestations of power, and became deeply interested in them, because it always had an opportunity to witness and discuss them. Its national life was thus established from very ancient times on the solid foundation of spirituality; and keeping its gaze firmly fixed on this, it brought into existence a society of unique customs and practices, which enabled its individual members to attain the ultimate object of God-realization in a most natural manner through the performance of their daily duties according to their special tastes and qualities. As these rules and regulations have been followed generation after generation, the spiritual ideas of India are still alive and vigorous. In consequence, men and woman have, even today, a strong conviction that with the help of austerity, self-control and intense yearning everyone can have a direct vision of God, the Cause of the universe, and become forever united with Him.

3. The religion of India is founded on direct realization of God
That the religion of India is founded on God-vision becomes clear when we reflect upon the significance of words and expressions like Rishi (seer), Apta (one who has attained the goal of life), Adhikari (one possessed of authority), Prakriti-lina Purusha (a person merged in the cause of the universe), etc. These names have been used since Vedic times to describe the teachers who came to re-establish religion. It is beyond doubt that such men were designated by these names because they had given proof of their unique powers, acquired as a result of direct knowledge of the reality beyond the senses. This statement holds good in the case of every one of them, from the Rishis of the Vedic period to the divine incarnations of the Puranic (Epic) Age.

4. The origin and development of the idea of the divine incarnation: Isvara as the controller of a cycle is found in the Sankhya philosophy
It does not take-one long to understand that certain Rishis of the Vedic period came to be recognized during the Puranic period as incarnations. In the Vedic period it was understood that certain persons had the power to perceive the reality beyond the senses, but not that they possessed different degrees of that power. People were content to call all of them "Rishis". In course of time, however, as their intelligence and sense of discrimination became keener, they realized that not all the Rishis were endowed with the same degree of power. In shedding light on the spiritual world, some of them shone like the sun, some like the moon, some again, like bright stars, and others like ordinary fire-flies. They then began to classify the Rishis, and in so doing found that some of them were endowed with especial powers for manifesting spiritual truths or possessed these powers pre-eminently. Thus, in the Philo- sophic Age, some Rishis came to be known as Adhikari-Purushas (persons of authority). Even Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, who was sceptical regarding the existence of God, had to accept the existence of these Rishis; for he could not doubt what he actually saw. Accordingly, Kapila and his followers, in their writings, put these "Adhikari Purushas" in the class of those "merged in Prakriti". Searching for the cause of the advent of these uniquely powerful persons, the Sankhya philosophers came to the conclusion that, endowed with good qualities, such as purity, self-control, etc., they had acquired infinite knowledge, but that an intense desire to do good to the people had prevented them, for a time, from being merged in the real nature of the Self of infinite glory. Plunged, instead, into the all-powerful Prakriti, by virtue of that desire, they had come to know its powers to be their own; and, possessing the special powers, they did good to men in an infinite number of ways for one cycle, and at last became completely identified with the Self.

5. The all pervading Personal God during the Age of Devotion
The Sankhya teachers have, again, divided the "persons merged in Prakriti", according to the difference in their powers, into two classes: "Kalpaniyamaka Isvara" (ruler for one cycle) and "Isvarakotis" (those within the orbit of the former).

After the Philosophic Age, came a period when love for the divine was especially developed. At that time, through the overwhelming influence of Vedanta, people came to believe in an Isvara, an all-pervading Person, the aggregate of all beings. They acquired also the strong faith that Knowledge and Yoga could be had to the fullest degree by meditation on Him with single-minded devotion. And they soon came to believe that Isvara, in His capacity as ruler for a cycle, was either a partial or a full manifestation of the all-pervading Personal Isvara who is by nature eternally pure, eternally awake and eternally free. Thus the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate arose in the Puranic Age, and those Rishis of the Vedic Age who possessed unique and extraordinary qualities began to be known as incarnations. It was the advent of persons endowed with such qualities that made people gradually believe in the existence of incarnations. Founded on the super sensuous visions and experiences of these persons, the unshakable edifice of religion gradually rose, like the snow-capped Himalayas, to reach the sky. Because these persons had achieved the highest goal of life, they were called "Aptas", and their words, expressing the highest knowledge, came to be known as the Vedas.

6. The worship of the spiritual teacher (Guru) is another reason for the belief
Another reason for accepting certain Rishis as incarnations was the practice of worshipping the spiritual teacher (Guru). In India, from the time of the Vedas and the Upanishads, men and woman worshipped the teacher, the giver of spiritual knowledge, with great reverence. This worship, combined with meditation, convinced them in course of time that no man could occupy the position of a spiritual teacher till the divine, super-conscious power manifested itself in him. At first they looked upon and worshipped the Guru as belonging to a different and higher type of humanity, because they found that, in contrast with the selfishness of the ordinary human being, the true teacher did good to the people out of pure compassion and without any selfish motive. Later, through faith, reverence and devotion, they perceived directly in the Guru the manifestation of the divine power, and this convinced them more and more of his divine attributes. They had prayed for so long a time to the gracious Lord, imploring Him to "protect them with His compassionate face" (Rudra yat te dakshinam mukham, tena mam pahi nityam)' that their prayer was granted at last; and the com- passion of the Lord stood revealed before them in the person of the Guru.

7. The doctrine of God-incarnate is founded on the knowledge gained from the Vedas and through Samadhi
When men had proceeded thus far in the worship of the Guru, it did not take them long to identify him-through whom the special Lila (play) of the divine power was being manifested-with the knowledge-giving, benign form of the divine Lord. Thus it seems that the continued worship of the Guru strengthened the idea of God-incarnate. As already mentioned, the doctrine of incarnation actually dates from the Puranic Age, but the idea itself originated in the Vedic Age. The experience of the attributes, actions and nature of Isvara, during the ages of the Vedas, Upanishads and Darsanas (Philosophical systems), appears to have gradually assumed a more definite shape and then given rise to the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate, it may also be that in the age of the Upanishads, Rishis, coming down by the reverse process -from the state of Samadhi achieved by the path of "not this", "not this", through self-control, austerity, etc., realized that the whole universe was actually the manifestation of the unqualified (Nirguna) Brahman. It was only then, perhaps, that they acquired devotion to the all-pervading Brahman with attributes (Saguna), called Isvara, and began to worship Him. Having thus obtained a clear idea of Isvara's qualities, actions, nature, etc., they might have become convinced of the possibility of His being manifested in a special way.

8. The experiences of God's compassion spreads the idea of God incarnate in the Puranic Age
It was in the Puranic Age, then, that belief in the existence of incarnations was especially developed. Notwithstanding various defects in the development of spirituality in that age, it was faith in the glory of God-incarnate that made it really great. This belief in the existence of the incarnation also enabled men to comprehend the eternal play of the Saguna Brahman. As a consequence they realized that God, the Cause of the universe, was their only guide in the spiritual world; and they were convinced that the infinite compassion of the divine Lord would never let them to be doomed, however reprobate they might be, but that the Lord would in every age take form as an incarnation, discover new paths suited to man's nature and make Self-realization easy for him.

9. The essence of what the Sastras say about the divine nature of the incarnation
It will not be out of place to give here a brief summary of the essential ideas recorded in the Smritis and Puranas about the birth, action, etc. of the divine incarnation, who is by nature eternally pure, awake and free. Unlike a Jiva (mortal being), he never gets entangled in or bound by his actions, for, content in the Atman from his very birth, no selfish idea of worldly enjoyment arises in his mind, as it does in the ease of a Jiva. His whole life is dedicated to the good of others. Being always free from the meshes of Maya, he retains the memory of his previous lives.

10. The Incarnation’s unbroken memory
It may be asked: Does he have that unbroken memory from childhood? The Puranas reply: Although latent within him, it is not always manifest during his childhood. But as soon as his body and mind mature, he becomes aware of it with little or no effort. This applies to all of his actions. Since he assumes a human body, he has to behave in all respects like a human being.

11. Incarnations give new shape to religion
As soon as the body and mind of the incarnation fully develops, the aim of his life is revealed to him. He then realizes that the sole purpose of his coming is to re-establish religion; and whatever aids are necessary to fulfil that purpose come of themselves in an unexpected way. He walks in light where others grope in darkness; fearless, he attains his goal and beckons to men to follow in his footsteps. Untrodden paths leading to the realization of Brahman beyond Maya, and of Isvara, the cause of the universe, are discovered by him again and again, from age to age.

12. The time and circumstances of the coming of incarnations, as stated in the Sastras
The authors of the Puranas did not merely analyse and the actions and characteristics of the incarnation; they also came to a definite conclusion regarding mg t e occasion coming to stated in the earth. With the passage of time, the eternal universal religion declines and, deluded by the inscrutable powers of Maya, men spend their lives thinking that the world and its pleasures are all- important. Eternal verities like the Self, Isvara, liberation, etc., are looked upon as dreamland imaginings of poets of a bygone age steeped in delusion and darkness. But when men at last discover that no amount of wealth and worldly enjoyment, obtained by fair means or foul, can fill the void in their hearts, and when the waves of a shoreless black sea of despair overwhelm them, they cry out in the anguish of their hearts for deliverance. It is then that, out of His innate compassion for weak humanity, God incarnates Himself and frees from the accumulated encrustations of ages the eternal religion, which then shines like the eclipsed moon freed from Rahu.' Then, taking hold of man's hand, He sets him on the path of religion. An effect is never produced without a cause, nor does Isvara assume a body in His Lila till a universal need demands it. When such a want becomes overwhelmingly felt in every part of society, the infinite mercy of the Lord becomes, as it were, crystallized, and He appears as the spiritual teacher of the world. This is the conclusion that the authors of the Puranas have arrived at after witnessing the repeated appearances of incarnations.

13. The advent of the incarnation in the modem age
It is the necessity of the age, then, that calls forth an incarnation of God, the all-knowing teacher of the world, who throws new light on religion. The land of India which has always been conducive to the practice of religion and spirituality, has become holy and sanctified by bearing upon its bosom the footprints of incarnations again and again throughout the ages. All-powerful incarnations have appeared in India, even up to the present time, whenever the necessity for them has arisen. It is well known how, a little more than four hundred years ago, the shining example of Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya I made people lose themselves in ecstasy in singing the name of Hari. Has such a time recurred? Did India, shorn of its glory and reduced to an object of contempt to foreigners, once again arouse the compassion of the Lord to incarnate Himself? That this has happened will become clear on a perusal of the life-story of the great soul, possessed of an infinite urge to do good, which is here recorded. India has once more been blessed by the coming, in response to the need of the age, of One who, incarnating Himself as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and others, renewed the eternal religion again and again.

Contents

Publisher's Note to the First EditionVII
Publisher's Note to the Fifth EditionXI
Publisher's Note to the Sixth EditionXII
ContentsXIII
List of IllustrationXCI
Part OneHistoric Background And Early Life
PrefaceXCV
Introduction1
1Spirituality is the pivot of life in India1
2The frequent birth of great souls in India is its cause1
3The religion of India is founded on direct realization of God2
4The origin and development of the idea of the divine incarnation: Isvara as the controller of a cycle is found in the Sankhya philosophy2
5The all pervading Personal God during the Age of Devotion3
6The worship of the spiritual teacher (Guru) is another reason for the belief4
7The doctrine of God-incarnate is founded on the knowledge gained from the Vedas and through Samadhi5
8The experiences of God's compassion spreads the idea of God incarnate in the Puranic Age6
9The essence of what the Sastras say about the divine nature of the incarnation6
10The incarnation's unbroken memory6
11Incarnations give new shape to religion6
12The time and circumstances of the coming of incarnations, as stated in the Sastras7
13The advent of the incarnation in the modem age8
Chapter IThe Need of The Age9
Chapter IISri Ramakrishna's Birthplace (Kamarpukur) and Ancestry18
Chapter IIIThe Pious Family At KamarPukur27
Chapter IVStrange Experiences of Chandradevi42
Chapter VA Great Soul is Born50
Chapter VIGadadhar's Childhood and The Death of His Father54
Chapter VIIGadadhar's Boyhood67
Chapter VIIIOn The Threshold of Youth80
Part TwoAs The Spiritual Aspirant
Preface97
Introduction99
1Lack of records concerning divine incarnations as aspirants99
2Devotees do not like the idea that incarnations are imperfect at any period of their lives100
3It does not stand to reason that such an idea interferes with devotion100
4The Master's teaching: "Love relation to the intimacy of 'Thou' and 'I' cannot stand when knowledge of powers intervenes", and "nobody's spiritual attitude should be transpired with"101
5An example of the destruction of spiritual attitude on the occasion of the Sivaratri at the Kasipur garden102
6When sporting like a man, the Divine behaves like a man107
7The conversation between Vishnu and Narada on this topic108
8Incarnations of God assume imperfection of man to discover paths to liberation109
9If incarnations are not thought of as human beings, we cannot get at the purpose of their lives and endeavours110
10Unenlightened souls can understand an incarnation of God only as a human being110
11God takes on a human body out of compassion for humanity. Therefore it is beneficial to study the lives of divine incarnations as human beings111
Chapter ISadhaka and Sadhana (The Spiritual Aspirant and Spiritual Discipline)112
Chapter IIThe Attitude of a Sadhaka in the life of an Incarnation of God123
Chapter IIIThe First manifestation of the attitude of a Sadhaka144
Chapter IVThe Kali Temple at Dakshineswar152
Chapter VAssumption of the office of the Priest170
Chapter VISpiritual Eagerness and the first vision183
Chapter VIISadhana and divine inebriation193
Chapter VIIIThe Last Part of the story of The first four years of Sadhana210
Chapter IXMarriage And Return to Dakhineswar240
Chapter XThe coming of the Bhairavi Brahmani252
Chapter XITantric Sadhana265
Chapter XIIThe Sadhu with Matted hair and the master's Sadhana of the Vatsalya Bhava284
Chapter XIIIThe Essence of the madhura bhava (Sweet Mood)302
Chapter XIVThe master's Sadhana of the madhura bhava324
Chapter XVThe master's Sadhana of the Vedanta338
Chapter XVIEpilogue of the master's Vedanta Sadhana and his practice of Islam358
Chapter XVIIThe Master's Visit to His Native Village369
Chapter XVIIIThe master's pilgrimage and the story of Hridayram379
Chapter XIXThe death of the master's relations390
Chapter XXThe Worship of Shodasi400
Chapter XXIEpilogue to the Story of the master's Sadhanas413
AppendixThe Principal Events of the Master's Life from after the worship of the Shodasi to the coming of His Marked Devotees427
Part ThreeAs the spiritual Teacher (I)447
Chapter ISri Ramakrishna in Bhavamukha457
Chapter IIA few words on bhava, Samadhi and Darsana491
Chapter IIISri Ramakrishna As the spiritual teacher536
Chapter IVThe first manifestation of the mood of the spiritual teacher565
Chapter VThe mood of the spiritual teacher in youth584
Chapter VIThe mood ot the spiritual teacher and Mathuranath600
Chapter VIIGrace Bestowed on Mathur in the mood of the Spiritual Teacher624
Chapter VIIIThe Relation of the Master as the spiritual Teacher with his own teacher656
Part FourAs the spiritual Teacher (II)
Chapter IVaishnavacharan and Gauri698
Chapter IIThe mood of the spiritual teacher and Various communities of Holy Men737
Chapter IIIPilgrimage of the master as the Guru and his company with the Holy Men783
Chapter IVAs the spiritual Teacher Concluded825
Chapter VSri Ramakrishna in the Company of devotees for nine days: The navayatra in A.D. 1885870
Chapter VISri Ramakrishna in the company of devotees: The story of Gopala's Mother 1-Frist Part901
Chapter VIISri Ramakrishna in the company of devotees. The return choriot journey In A.D. 1885 and the story of Gopala's Mother Last Part917
AppendixThe Human Aspect of the Master944
Part FiveThe master in the divine mood and Narendranath
Preface963
1Ascertaining the period in the Master's life, when he had especial manifestation of the divine mood965
2Why we hold the last twelve years of his life to be the period of the especial manifestation of this mood966
3The Master with the help of the divine mood has freed India from the evil effects of the onrush of Western culture and civilization966
4When does the divine mood come into play in human life?967
5The uncommon manifestation of this mood in divine incarnations makes their character so inscrutable and mysterious968
6The seven main divisions of the Master's acts performed under the influence of this mood969
Chapter ISection 1: The influence of the master on the brahmo samaj971
Chapter ISection 2: The Brahmo Festival In Manimohan Mallick's House986
Chapter ISection 3: The Master in Jayagopal Sen's House995
Chapter IIThe Beginning of the arrival of the master's devotees previously seen in vision1004
Chapter IIINarendra's Antecedents and his First visit to Dakshineswar1014
Chapter VISection 1:The extraordinary relation between the master and narendranath1062
Chapter VISection 2: The extraordinary relation between the master and narendranath1077
Chapter VIIThe master's method of testing and Narendranath1091
Chapter VIIISection 1: Narendra's schooling in the world and by the Master1127
Chapter VIIISection 2: Narendra's schooling in the world and by the Master1136
Chapter IXThe Circle of devotees of the Master and Narendranath1154
Chapter XThe Festival At Panihati1166
Chapter XIThe Master Moved to Calcutta1181
Chapter XIISection 1: The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1193
Chapter XIISection 2:The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1203
Chapter XIISection 3:The Master's Stay at Shyampukur1253
Chapter XIIISection 1:The Master in the garden house of Kasipur1250
Chapter XIIISection 2:The Vow of Service at Kasipur1256
Chapter XIIISection 3:The Master's self revelation and The Bestowal of Freedom From Fear1266
Chronology of important events1273
The Horoscope of Sri Ramakrishna1277
The Book and its author1281
Glossary1302
Index1335
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