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Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna


The Tantras and Kundalini Power
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A Series of Articles on The Life of Sri Ramakrishna

A Series of Articles on The Life of Swami Vivekananda

A Series of eighteen Articles on The Gita

Poetry Section
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Immediate Previous Articles:
Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita

Story of Buddha

Spiritual Consciousness

Ma Saradadevi and Amzad

Introduction to Isha Upanishad

Samkhya and Vedanta

True Discipleship

More About Guru

Life of Ramakrishna and Its Relevance

Advaita Vedanta as the Quest for Knowledge

Related to Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda: Short Biography

At The Parliament of Religions: Chicago 1893

Swami Vivekananda and Madame Calve

Nature of India's Contribution

Related to Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna: A Brief life sketch

The Game of Ladder

The Illusion

Glory of Sri Ramakrishna

Distracting Noises

Related to Hinduism

What is Hiduism?

Gita: An Introduction

Path of Devotion in Gita

Karma Yoga in the Gita

Introduction to Katha Upanishad

Introduction to Isha Upanishad

Religio-Social Movements

Related to Vedanta


Practical Vedanta


Yoga: Part 1 | Yoga: Part 2


Of Special Interest:

Guided Meditation

Altered States of Consciousness

Neurophysiology of Meditation

Extra Sensory Perceptions

Frequently Asked Questions

Poetry Section

Stories From Great Indian epics:

Ramayana | Mahabharata

A series on the Gita

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French Translation: L'Histoire de Sri Ramakrishna

Spanish Translation:
El cuento de Sri Ramakrishna

Lessons From The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
Lessons From The Gospel: Part 1 | Part 3

Lessons From The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna: Part 2

By now 'M' was significantly mellowed down, his pride had taken severe beating and his ego severely shocked. In this situation Sri Ramakrishna put another peculiar question to 'M': "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?"

'M' did not understand the question clearly; he was surprised and puzzled. He said to himself: "How can one believe in both God with form and God without form? Only one of the two statements can be correct!! Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time?" Still he dared to reply: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless."

Sri Ramakrishna said: "Very good. It is enough to have faith in either aspect. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else is false. Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form. But hold fast to your own conviction."

I feel this is the crux of neovedantic teaching of the Holy Trio. There is definite progress or growth in our concept of God gradually from crude or gross conviction to higher and subtler idea. From God with form comes the stage when one starts believing in formless nature of God. For most of us the journey progresses from dualism to qualified monism and ends in Advaita monism. 'Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti', the Truth is one, but sages call it by different names. Although both the devotees who worship the Lord with form or worship the Self as Formless reach the same Blissful state, yet, as Sri Krishna says in the Gita:
"... the path of those who have their mind attached to the Formless is more rugged; for self-identification with the Formless is attained with difficulty by those who are centered in the body, i.e. still attached t body-mind complex." (Gita, XII: 5)

Unable to comprehend the loftiness of both God with form and God without form, the educated 'M' tried to lecture Sri Ramakrishna on the evils of idol worship! Said 'M', "OK, sir, let some people have faith in God with form, but certainly He is not the clay image."

Somewhat irritated by persistence of 'M', Sri Ramakrishna explained the necessity of idol worship for millions of sadhakas like most of us. As our mind is not yet controlled to the degree where it can be concentrated on the formless aspect of Brahman, we still have to fix it on a definite form representing God. It is not that God has become contracted and small by worshipping Him in an image, it still remains an image of Spirit! Further argument led Sri Ramakrishna to bluntly rebuke 'M' 'you educated fellows want to teach others through lectures without experiencing the truth of a concept. M was also told that it is God who is the only Teacher, as and when required He would teach and guide everyone according to his/her capacity and aptitude. We need not take headache on this count. We should try to realize God taking ourselves still ignorant and beginning from scratch with due humility and sincerity.

The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomach of her different children. If there is a fish to cook, she prepares fish with rice for one, curry for the other, fried fish for the third and so on. The same way God Mother has created these idols to suit the temperaments and aptitudes of her millions of devotees. She has become idols of clays and stones, plastic and papers adoring various forms.

Thus, we see ego of 'M' was completely crushed. He now realized that Sri Ramakrishna had spoken truth. There is no need for him to teach others anymore. As he himself has no idea about the true nature of God it is futile waste time and energy in giving lectures and advice to others. 'M' was ashamed of himself and felt utterly foolish on his behavior. 'This is not mathematics or history, geography or literature; this is the deep mystery of God. What the Master says appeals to me.' Thus ended the first and last session of arguments between the Teacher and the disciple.

Having understood the secondary importance of worldly knowledge, 'M' humbly put a few questions about God, Self, nature of Divinity, and means and methods to have glimpse of the same. Thus 'M' asked: "How may we fix our minds on God?" The answer that Sri Ramakrishna gave might at superficial level appear naive and simplistic, but they contain very deep philosophical and spiritual truths. For instance, to the above question, Master replied, 'Repeat God's name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God's devotees and holy men."

Why? Because 'the mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God. To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practices meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by the cattle.'
Further the Master says: "One should always discriminate between real and unreal. God alone is real, the Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, i.e. impermanent. By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind."

Then 'M' puts the second question: "How ought we to live in the world?"

This is a very question that comes to the mind of every aspirant, for we feel that to seek God is not possible for most of us in our busy duty-bound schedule. Innumerable are the twists and turns in everyone's life; pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow always drift us in this unpredictable 'ocean of samsara'. Fear, anger, lust, greed, jealousy and infatuation constantly prowl around us, and attack us ruthlessly when we are slightly off the guard. In this effort to navigate our small boat in this ocean of worldly life God remains a distant necessity and concern for most of us. Thus, this question becomes relevant for everyone of us.

And the Master answers: "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all - with wife and children, father and mother - and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you."

This might appear somewhat odd, but what Sri Ramakrishna wants to emphasize is the fact that our relatives and friends are not as they appear to us. Their nature like ours is divine, and as such just as one should not think oneself as body-mind complexes. Much the same way we should see God in others and serve them. Secondly, our love for our relatives and friends is superficial, in that, it is restricted to body and senses alone; the same love should be sublimated and directed to God, which is true love.

Here Sri Ramakrishna gives one example to emphasize the point. Live in your own house like a maidservant in the house of a rich man. Perform all the household duties, but keep your thought fixed on your native village (abode of God). Bring up your children, as if they were your own. But know in your mind very well that they do not belong to you at all. You are no more than a caretaker of your children; educate them, marry them, and look after them, but give real love to God. And if you cannot do this, love your children also as representatives of God. It is possible to constantly fix some portion of your mind on God, for no work or person demands total involvement of mind!

Another interesting and valuable point made by Sri Ramakrishna in this discussion is cultivation of love for God first and then entering the world for doing our duties or work. Otherwise the dangers in the world are too powerful to overpower you and lead to sorrow and grief only.

The third question of 'M' may be just a curiosity for most of us, although for 'M' it must have had its own importance. 'M' asks: "Is it possible to see God?" And this man of God, as Sri Ramakrishna was indeed; unhesitant and confident about every aspect related to God and His Kingdom answers: "Yes, certainly. Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name, singing His glories, and discriminating between Real and the unreal - these are the means to employ to see Him."

Curious and enchanted by the nectar like words of the Master, 'M' further inquires: "Under what conditions does one see God?"

And as with the disciple, so with the Teacher! The Master also in divine mood tells 'M' that God can be seen in the state of intense yearning. When one feels such attraction towards God as of a mother for her son, of a miser for his wealth, and a chaste wife for her husband, then realization of God is not far away. Then be sure that the rosy dawn has signaled the arrival of morning sun!
Lessons From The Gospel
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C. S. Shah

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