International Forum for NeoVedantins

The Story of Sri Ramakrishna:  Part 2
A Long Series

Historical Background and Birth of Sri Ramakrishna

The period is India of last quarter of 18th century. The scene is being enacted in a village of Dere in West Bengal. Around 1775 A.D. in the pious and pure Brahmin family of Manikram Chattopadhyaya was born Khudiram the simple but pious and saintly father of Sri Ramakrishna. The village life was simple and orderly as per the rules of mediaeval India. These rules included rules of caste and hierarchy, and also the rule of system of serfdom, where Jemindar -the village chief - was the supreme authority. Such Jemindar of the Dere Village, one Ramanand Roy, was a vicious and vile man who forcibly took away possessions of his tenants who interfered or raised objections to his misrule, corruption, and exploitation. Once this Jemindar wanted Khudiram to side with him and bear false witness against one such tenant. The upright and truthful Khudiram refused, and as was expected, the ire of the Jemindar deprived the simple and poor family of Khudiram of all their possessions, and forced them out of the village Dere.

The news spread to nearby villages, which were indeed clusters of two to four villages within the radius of two to four miles. One friend of Khudiram, Sukhlal Goswami of Kamarpukur, was pleased to invite the exiled friend to his house, made arrangements for their stay, and additionally gave half an acre of land as the permanent gift to Khudiram.

Khudiram was a man of integrity, honour, and devotion. He worshipped Lord Rama, Raghuvira as his chosen deity, completely surrendering himself at the wishes of the deity. His wife Chandradevi was equally pious, simple, loving, and guileless lady of high purity and character. The couple loved Raghuvira as the all in all and the final destiny in life. They would go hungry, but would never ask for anything from anyone. Khudiram had in fact the reputation of being austere, pure, and god-intoxicated soul whom every villager paid his/her respect.

Khudiram and Chandradevi were blessed with two sons and a daughter before Sri Ramakrishna was born in their home in the year 1836. The story of the birth of Sri Ramakrishna, as Gadadhar, is divine, and would put many a reader to highest degree of surprise and astonishment. Therefore, it is given in some details.

Story of immaculate birth of Sri Ramakrishna

In the year 1835, Khudiram went on the holy pilgrimage to Gaya. As can be imagined, the journey was tiring, strenuous, and long. In those days, people had to walk on feet for miles together, camping at places in tents or roadside inns. Gaya is famous for the confluence of rivers, where rites are performed for the redemption of the spirits of one's forefathers. Khudiram was almost sixty years of age that time. Gaya is believed to be abode of Vishnu, the caretaker of the universe. His one incarnation is Rama, and the other Sri Krishna. Thus, God Vishnu is worshipped and is held in the highest esteem by all the Vaishnavas. Moreover, it is believed that out of the trinity of Gods of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh it is Vishnu who incarnates to save the mankind in crisis and decline of Dharma.

Sometime in the month of March or April 1835 Khudiram reached Gaya after paying his obeisance to Vishwanath at Benares or Varanasi. Khudiram stayed for nearly one month at Gaya, and performed all the rites and ceremonies according to the scriptural injunctions. He experienced tranquility of mind and heart, unspeakable peace and satisfaction of having performed obsequies in honor of his ancestors. He was free from all anxieties now, and was grateful to the Lord for having made it possible for an unworthy fellow like him to accomplish all this.

In such a state of mind, in the last days of his stay, one night Khudiram had the most unusual dream. He saw himself in a Holy Temple, in the act of offering worship to his forefathers at the divine feet of Gadadhar (the mace-holder), one name of Lord Vishnu. He also saw his ancestors in luminous celestial bodies. Overwhelmed with divine emotions on seeing the Lord, Khudiram could not stop the tears flowing from his eyes. He bowed at the holy feet of the Lord. The next moment the temple was filled with divine luminosity as was never seen before by him. Lord Vishnu was seated in a beautiful celestial throne in a posture of graceful deity. The Lord beckoned Khudiram near him, and said in a sweet voice: 'Khudiram, your extraordinary devotion has made me very happy. I bless you. I shall be born as your son and be the object of your loving care'. On hearing these words, strange even for a dream, Khudiram's joy knew no bounds. But the very next moment a thought struck him: how, being so poor, could he possibly feed and give proper shelter to such an exalted Being. This made Khudiram exceedingly sad and in a voice choked with emotion, he said, 'No, no! My Lord, I am not worthy of such a blessing. Is it not enough that you have blessed me by graciously revealing yourself to me? How can this poor man render proper services to God Almighty in my small and poor house?'

Hearing these words full of pathos, the Lord said, 'Do not fear, Khudiram. I shall relish whatever you give me to eat. Let my desire be fulfilled.'

With flood of conflicting emotions of joy and anxiety Khudiram lost his consciousness, and soon his dream ended. For quite some time after waking up Khudiram did not know where he was. Then he remembered the dream, and left Gaya thinking about the future.

Continued part 3...  |   Previous Part 1...
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