International Forum for NeoVedantins

Significance of Visions

Visions of Sri Ramakrishna:

Visions of Sri Ramakrishna are many. I give just a few examples. It is indeed beyond the scope of anyone to enumerate and understand these visions in his life. Swami Saradananda has attempted the same in his biography of the Master: Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master. A few descriptions are found in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by "M", and Swami Yogeshananda has compiled these visions in his book 'The Visions of Sri Ramakrishna' (Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai, India Publications).

i. "A terrible frenzy seized me at the thought that I might never be blessed with the divine vision. I thought that if that were so then enough of this life! A sword was hanging in the sanctuary of Kali. My eyes seized upon it and thought ran through my brain like a flash of lightening - 'The sword it will help me put an end to it.' I rushed up to it and seized it like a madman ... And lo! The whole scene, doors, windows, the temple itself simply vanished. It seemed as if nothing existed anymore. Instead I saw the 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. I lost all normal consciousness and fell to the ground... How I passed that day and the next I know not, round me rolled an ocean of unspeakable joy such as I had never experienced before."

ii. Master (Sri Ramakrishna) said: "God talked to me. It was not merely His vision. Yes, He talked to me. Under the Banyan tree I saw Him coming from the Ganges. Then we laughed so much! By way of playing with me He cracked my fingers. Then He talked. Yes, He talked to me."

iii. "When I sat and meditated, I had, in the beginning, the vision of particles of light like group of fire-flies, I saw sometimes all quarters covered with masses of mist-like light, and at other times I perceived that all things were pervaded by bright waves of light like molten silver. I saw these things sometimes with my eyes shut and sometimes with my eyes open. I did not understand what I saw nor did I know whether it was good or bad to have such visions."

Significance of Visions

Visions are short-lived experiences of divinity. These visions give one the confidence of presence of Reality, something different and more pleasant than the body-mind sense perceptions. Visions are the milestones on the path of spirituality.

Sri Ramakrishna used to say that one should not be satisfied with these visions, but should try to go beyond them so that still higher experiences can be possible. Secondly, it is not necessary that everyone should have same visions, or everyone will have frequent visions. A few persons get one or two visions and then these visions do not come to him for a pretty long period of time, although the person is progressing on the path of spirituality. Most importantly, such visions are not possible unless one undertakes spiritual practices sincerely and with a deep yearning.

"Visions are not whole religion. Spiritual visions and experiences may indicate how far the aspirant has gone forward towards the goal, the goal of attaining non-dual state by transcending the mind and human consciousness. It is also not true that the person who has had no such experiences of vision is not spiritual. Spirituality and miracle mongering are not the same thing. Trying to work miracles and making use of the powers bestowed on the path of spirituality makes the person basically weak."

"That which increases renunciation, discrimination, strength of character; that which enables the person to take side of purity and truth against all odds; that which frees the person from the bondage of desires, that is whole realm of spirituality. These are the criteria to judge whether the person is proceeding on the right path or not."

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C S Shah

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