One of the most influential spiritual leaders from India, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is remembered for his mysticism, religious ecstasy, devotion to the goddess Kaali and his association with Swami Vivekananda. Although Ramakrishna was born on February 18, 1836, his birth anniversary is celebrated according to the Hindu lunar calendar. This year, Ramakrishna’s birthday is being celebrated on March 15. Below we share some key facts from his life.
As per the book, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Leelaprasanga, written by Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is an incarnation of the god Vishnu. His father, Khudiram Chattopadhyay, had a dream in which Vishnu told him that he’ll be born as his son. Ramakrishna’s mother Chandramani Devi also experienced divine visions.
Ramakrishna was only six years old when he had his first profound spiritual experience. He was walking along a rice field when he spotted some cranes in the sky, with dark clouds hanging behind them. He felt overwhelming joy at this sight and fainted. Such experiences evolved into his practice of the Samādhi, a state of meditative consciousness.
Marriage to Sarada DeviDespite their marriage, Sarada Devi and Ramakrishna practised lifelong continence. She aided Ramakrishna in his spiritual pursuits and herself lived the life of an ascetic. Like Ramakrishna, she too experienced spiritual visions.
Work with Rani RashmoniThe Dakshineshwar Kali temple was founded by Rani Rashmoni, a wealthy landlord and philanthropist who appointed Ramakrishna as the head priest there. It is here that he had his first vision of the goddess, whom he had been desperately seeking through prayer.
Guiding VivekanandaBorn as Narendranath Dutta, Swami Vivekananda was spiritually inclined from a very young age and met Ramakrishna, despite his initial resistance to the latter’s teachings. The death of his father and the subsequent poverty of his family brought him closer to Ramakrishna. He devoted his life to social service and to realising the divine.
Religious toleranceRamakrishna taught that all religions had the same spiritual aim despite their differences. He also taught that gods and leaders across religions were the same divine spirits.