Modern Mystics: Ramakrishna
was one of the greatest Indian mystics of the past 150 years. He was
born in 1836 and died in 1886 and his short life represents the very
core of the Vedantic spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of
India throughout history.
His whole life was literally an
uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of universal
consciousness that transcended space and time and had a truly universal
appeal. Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influenced the spiritual
thought currents of his time and at his death his reputation has been
well established in his native Calcutta. But, it wasn't until Swami
Vivekananda, his most famous disciple, brought his message of universal
consciousness and Vedanta to America in 1893, that his name became
synonymous with the best of Eastern mysticism. This God-man of
nineteenth-century India did not found any cult, nor show a new path to
salvation. His message was his own living God-consciousness.
a time when the very foundation of Hinduism was crumbling under the
relentless blows of colonialism, materialism and skepticism,
Ramakrishna demonstrated that God can be a living presence and that
consiousness can transcend all material illusions and realize true
universal consiousness. Drawn by the magnetism of Ramakrishna's
mystical personality, people flocked to him from all over Bengal and
India. His small room in the Dakshineswar temple garden on the
outskirts of Calcutta became a living parliament of religions. Everyone
who came to him felt uplifted by his profound presence, boundless love,
and universal outlook. Each seeker saw in him the highest manifestation
of his own ideal.
The greatest contribution of Ramakrishna to
the modern world is his message of the harmony of all religions. To
Ramakrishna all religions are the revelation of God in His diverse
aspects to satisfy the diversity of human minds. Like different
photographs of a building taken from different angles, different
religions give us the pictures of one truth from different standpoints.
They are not contradictory but complementary. Sri Ramakrishna
faithfully practiced the spiritual disciplines of all the different
religions and came to the realization that all of them lead to the same
goal. Truth. Universal Truth. Ramakrishna declared, "As many faiths, so
many paths." The paths vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of
religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity.
Extracted from The Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center site.