Sunday, February 15, 2009
The Sanatorium has an Out-patient Department with a General section and a Special (TB) section. The latter is for diagnosing and treating pulmonary tuberculosis cases. Diagnosis is made mainly on clinical grounds, radiography, and most importantly sputum examination. Once the diagnosis of TB is made, the patients are put on Anti-TB Treatment (ATT) using standard regimens.
The Mobile Medical Service caters to the patients of about 200 villages through its three centres at the following villages - Bandua, Landup and Gutigara - situated 20 km, 45 km and 50 km away respectively from the Sanatorium. All the patients attending Mobile Medical Centres are treated free of all charges including medicines and investigations.
The Ramakrishna Mission TB Sanatorium caters to the medical needs of patients with Tuberculosis. It also provides primary relief and medicines to persons with other diseases, free of cost.
It also engages in alleviating the sufferings of the area population (mainly local and illiterate tribals such as the Mundas and Oraons) who live in extreme poverty and are afflicted by severe malnutrition, malaria, worm infestation, and infection that contribute to the spread of TB.
These services to the locality comprise from the material, to the intellectual, to the spiritual without inducing adherence to any particular ideology or dogma, but by promoting a peaceful lifestyle with mutual understanding.
The Sanatorium had its pioneer beginning in 1948, when the treatment of TB required exclusive hospitalisation to ensure a cure. With the passage of time new medicines and methods of treatment were discovered. Gradually, and in proportion to the availability of funds and qualified personnel, the Institution has grown to extend its services to the villages, keeping the hospital infrastructure for cases that required special care.
At an altitude of 2,100 feet the wooded area around the Sanatorium is well known for its healthy climate. It is situated in the village of Dungri (District Ranchi) in a picturesque part of Chhotanagpur, within the newly formed state of Jharkhand in India.
To see the geographical location of the State of Jharkhand in India Click here.
The Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College occupies a place of prominence among the educational activities of Ramakrishna Mission in India. It was formally opened on 21st June 1946. To cope with the demand, an Evening college offering various programmes under unaided pattern was opened in 1974. These Day and Evening Colleges form a part of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith which also contains four other units, viz. 1. Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith Hostel, 2. The Institute of Vivekananda Studies, 3. Vivekananda Institute of Tropical Mycology (VINSTROM) and 4. Vivekananda Institute of Algal Technology (VIAT).
Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith
The Ramakrishna Mission was founded by Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), the chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) in 1897, "to bring into existence a band of monks devoted to leading a life of purity and renunciation, and to carry on, with lay workers, religious, philanthropic and charitable activities, looking upon all men, women and children, irrespective of caste, creed, nationality and colour, as veritable manifestations of the divine". The Math and the Mission have today 166 centres in India and abroad, with their Headquarters at Belur, West Bengal.
Swami Ramakrishnananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, established in Madras, now called Chennai, a centre of the Ramakrishna Order in 1897. The Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith is an important limb of the Mission, devoting itself to educational and research activity.
|Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission|
Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are twin organizations which form the core of a worldwide spiritual movement (known as Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement), which aims at the harmony of religions, harmony of the East and the West, harmony of the ancient and the modern, spiritual fulfillment, all-round development of human faculties, social equality, and peace for all humanity, without any distinctions of creed, caste, race or nationality.
RAMAKRISHNA MATH is a monastic organization for men brought into existence by
RAMAKRISHNA MISSION is a registered society in which monks of Ramakrishna Math and lay devotees cooperate in conducting various types of social service mainly in India. It was founded by Sri Ramakrishna's chief apostle, Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of the foremost thinkers and religious leaders of the present age, who is regarded as 'one of the main moulders of the modern world', in the words of an eminent Western scholar A. L. Basham.
The Math and the Mission together have
The Headquarters of these centres are situated in Belur Math. All branch centres of Ramakrishna Math come under the administrative control of the Board of Trustees, whereas all branch centres of Ramakrishna Mission come under the administrative control of the Governing Body of Ramakrishna Mission.
The main goals and objectives of these twin organizations, based on the principles of Practical Vedanta, are:
To spread the idea of the potential divinity of every being and how to manifest it through every action and thought.
To spread the idea of harmony of religions based on Sri Ramakrishna's experience that all religions lead to the realization of the same Reality known by different names in different religions. The Mission honours and reveres the founders of all world religions such as Buddha, Christ and Mohammed.
To treat all work as worship, and service to man as service to God.
To make all possible attempts to alleviate human suffering by spreading education, rendering medical service, extending help to villagers through rural development centres, etc.
To work for the all-round welfare of humanity, especially for the uplift of the poor and the downtrodden.
To develop harmonious personalities by the combined practice of Jnana, Bhakti, Yoga and Karma.
Atmano mokshartham jagad hitaya cha,
Sri Krishna says in the Gita that whenever virtue subsides and vice prevails, Lord takes the form of a human being to re-establish Dharma (righteousness) and to destruct the Adharma (unrighteousness). Thus, He came in different ages as Rama, as Krishna, as as Buddha, as Jesus, as Shankara, as Chaitanya in the present age, He came as Sri Ramakrishna. And when God incarnates, very often He brings with Him, His Shakti. Thus, with Sri Ramachandra came Sita, with Sri Krishna came Radha, with Buddha came Yasodhara and with Chaitanya came Vishnupriya. The same Mahamaya, in the present age came with Sri Ramakrishna as Sarada Devi.
Sri Ramakrishna was born in the early hours of the morning of February 18, 1836 in an out of the way village Kamarpukur in the Hooghly District of West Bengal. His father Sri Khudiram Chattopadhyaya went to a holy place called Gaya and there, in the Vishnu Temple, Lord Vishnu appeared to him in a dream and told that, He would like to be born as his son, as He was very much pleased with his devotion. Khudiram implored Him not to come, lest He should not be taken proper care in bringing him up because of his poverty. But the Lord out of infinite mercy assured him that in whatever way he could serve Him, He would be pleased. When Khudiram came back to Kamarpukur and told his wife about the dream he head at Gaya, his wife also told something about her divine vision. She told him that once as she was standing in front of the Shiva temple along with Dhani, (who reared up Sri Ramakrishna from his very birth) suddenly she saw that the Shiva temple was engulfed with a luminous light. The light rushed towards Chandramani, entered into her womb and she felt that she was with a child. When Chandramani told this to her husband, he said, "Well, we should not divulge this to anybody in the village, lest we should be mistrusted". In due course, Sri Ramakrishna was born. He was named Gadadhar by his parents.
During the early days at Kamarpukur, there was ample evidence of his spiritual greatness. One day while he was walking along the paddy fields, suddenly the sky was covered with dark thunderclouds and against this background, some white cranes flew across the sky. At this sight, he thought of the fantastic beauty of God and lost himself in ecstasy. He had another trance on the Shivaratri night at Pynes' house. As the actor who was to enact Lord Shiva's role could not come for the performance, Gadadhar was requested to play the part. Coming on the stage, he was totally absorbed in the thought of the Lord Shiva so much so that he could not enact the role and passed into deep trance and the performance had to stop. Thus his Kamarpukur day passed and when he was about 16 years old, his elder brother took him to Calcutta.
It was at Dakshineswar Kali temple near Calcutta that the real drama took place. Sri Ramakrishna was then the priest in the Kali temple. He looked at the image of the Goddess verily as an embodiment of the spirit and not merely as a stone image. As a true seeker of the truth, he wanted to know the reality behind the stone image and this one idea filled his mind. Everyday he would weep and pray to Her: "Mother, is it true that Thou exist, or is it all poetry? If you are true, O Mother, why are you so unkind to me by not revealing yourself to me? If you are just a black stone image, what is the use of worshiping Thee? Once, when the desire to see Mother Kali was intensified and he thought that he could no more bear to be without seeing Her, he decided to end his life with the Mother's sword in the temple. Just then, the Mother revealed Herself to him. In the years that followed, his spiritual austerities intensified and his devotion grew deeper.
Sri Ramakrishna was guided in the Tantric path by the Bhairavi Brahmani who looked after him as her own son. Under another teacher, the monk Jatadhari, Sri Ramakrishna learnt the mysteries of Rama worship and experienced Rama's visible presence. Further, he communed with God through the divine relationship of father, mother, friend and beloved. A monk, Totapuri by name, who initiated him into Hindu Monasticism, instructed him in the Vedantic Truth of Brahman. In three day's time, Sri Ramakrishna realized his complete oneness with Brahman, the undifferentiated Absolute, thus achieving the culmination of man's spiritual endeavour, though Totapuri himself had to struggle for 40 years to realize his identity.Under the guidance of a Sufi, he followed the Islamic path and in three days, had a vision of Prophet Mohammad. One day in Jadu Mallick's house while looking at the picture of Jesus the Christ with Mother Mary, Sri Ramakrishna fell into a deep ecstasy. Another day at the Panchavati, he had the vision of Jesus, whose form entered into the person of Sri Ramakrishna. Thus on the basis of his own personal experiences and realization of Truth of various religions, he could verify the saying of the ancient Vedic dictum: Truth is one; sages call it by various names".
During his years of intense sadhana at Dakshineswar as a priest in the Kali Temple, Sri Ramakrishna could hardly take care of his health and sleep had totally left him. He used to behave like a mad person. He would sit for hours together in front of the Mother's image without the least consciousness of the world. He would laugh, cry and talk with the image. While offering food he would address the image: "What Mother, you want me to eat first?' Saying so, he would offer the flowers to Mother Kali after touching them with his head, bosom, all his limbs and even his own feet. For such unusual behaviour he was considered mad by all and news reached his poor old mother at the village. She was greatly perturbed by it and at last managed to have him brought to her. Though his health improved a little his mind was always in a different realm. He was as indifferent as ever to all worldly concerns. So, his mother and brother decided to get him married so as to make him interested in household affairs. Unfortunately, no one was ready to give his daughter in marriage to a mad person. On seeing his mother and brother sad at the frustration of all their efforts to find a suitable bride, Sri Ramakrishna himself came to their rescue and said to them in an ecstatic mood: " Why you search here and there? Go to Jayrambati. There you will find the bride providentially reserved for me in the house of Rama Chandra Mukherjee." Sri Ramakrishna's words proved true to the letter. Rama Chandra did have a daughter - Sarada by name. Sarada was barely five years old and Sri Ramakrishna was twenty-three. The marriage took place at Jayrambati.
After the marriage, he came to Dakshineswar and dived headlong into his spiritual austerities again, forgetting all about his baby wife. But as days passed on and as Sarada grew up, the village was full of rumours about the condition of Sri Ramakrishna. Her friends told her, "O Sarada, what a person in Gadai (Ramakrishna) your father chose for you knowingly fully well that he is mad!" No chaste wife would feel happy to hear such remarks about her husband. So Sarada wanted to go to Dakshineswar to verify for herself the truth behind this rumour. But she was too shy to talk on the matter to her father. Coming to know about his daughter's wish through a friend of hers, her father told her that on a forthcoming auspicious day, he has to leave for Calcutta to have a holy dip in the Ganges and that she could accompany him if she wished to. Sarada was very happy for two reasons. She herself could have a dip in the Ganges which she revered most and also she could meet her husband after many years of separation.
After all these years, when she entered into Sri Ramakrishna's room, warm and kind words of welcome of her affectionate husband instantly removed all the doubts that had persisted in her mind about his mental state till then, She thought, "Ah my husband is not a mad man. " Once, Sri Ramakrishna said to her, "As for me, the Mother has shown me that She resides in every woman and so I have learned to look upon every woman as Mother. That is the one idea I can have about you; but if you wish to drag me into the world, as I have been married to you, I am at your service. Tell me what you want". She was a pure and noble soul and was able to understand her husband's aspirations and sympathise with them. And so, she said without a moment's hesitation. "No, why should I drag you to the world? I have come to help you in your chosen path."
The Mother, too, one day asked Sri Ramakrishna, as she was stroking his feet: "How do you regard me? Sri Ramakrishna said in reply: " the Mother who is worshipped in the temple and the mother who gave birth to this (pointing to his body) and is now living in the Nahabat - the same Mother is now stroking my feet. Really and truly I always regard you as the embodiment of the blissful Mother of the Universe." Romain Rolland, while referring to the self-denial on the part of Sri Sarada Devi writes: "It was by the consent of his wife that he was free to follow the life of his choice. Magnanimously she renounced the wife's binding right over her husband and encouraged in his mission." Refereeing to his wife's immaculate purity, Sri Ramakrishna once said to his disciples: " if she had not been completely pure, if she had lost self-control, then who can say if I too might not have lost self-control and brought my mind down to the physical level." Judged from this standpoint we can say that Sri Sarda Devi's greatest contribution to humanity is Ramakrishna himself. Living together for eight months, Ramakrishna was fully convinced of the utterly pure nature of Sarda. He was convinced that her purity was not only physical, but that there was no trace of worldliness in her mind. Thus, on an auspicious day, he worshipped her in place of the Divine Mother and offered all the fruits of his life long austerities at her holy feet with his rosary, looking upon her as the Goddess in person. Thus, from that day onwards she came to be known as Sri Sarda Devi, the Holy Mother, not only to the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, but also to the whole of humanity. The Holy Mother once said; " The Master (Sri Ramakrishna) used to see the Divine Mother in everyone. He left me behind this time for teaching the motherhood of God to humanity." Regarding the Holy Mother, Sri Ramakrishna used to say: She is Sarada in very truth, the Goddess Saraswati Herself incarnated for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. Illumination is in her gift. She is profound in wisdom. Is she an ordinary person? She is my Shakti (Power) indeed. Very few actually know to what extent this divine consort of Sri Ramakrishna was responsible for the phenomenal growth and expansion the great Ramakrishna Order.
When a lotus blooms its fragrance draws bees to it. Similarly with the completion of his spiritual austerities, devotees started coming to him from far and near. Along with the harmony of different religions, he taught many other things. His foremost disciple was Narendranath Dutta, who afterwards became known as the world renowned Swami Vivekananda. He was born in the year 1863 in Calcutta. Visiting Sri Ramakrishna for the first time as a college student, he asked him "Sir, have you seen God?" Sri Ramakrishna told, "Yes, I have seen God, only more tangibly than seeing you. My boy, every one shed jugs of tears for wife and children but not for the love of God. If you want you can also see Him". Sri Ramakrishna wanted his disciples to see God in all beings and to serve them in a spirit of worship. Thus one day when Narendranath asked Sri Ramakrishna for a boon to remain merged in samadhi for three or four days at a stretch, he took him to task. "Shame on you! You are asking for such an insignificant thing. There is a state higher than that. Don't you sing that song 'Oh Lord! Thou art all that exists'? I thought that you would be like a banyan tree and that thousands of people would rest under your shade. But now I see that you are seeking your own liberation."
Sri Ramakrishna wanted Narendranath to see Brahman with eyes open. He said: "Is it that God exists when your eyes are closed and does not exist when they are open? All that exists is Lord and Lord alone. Try to see Brahman with eyes open. Every jiva is God." Therefore, from him the world learnt these new doctrines of relationship of jiva and the Eternal Divinity. Thus, we find in Swamiji's writings, letters and lectures throughout the world, the call to know human beings to be our Gods and that service to them alone is the highest religion. Swamiji wanted that the Advaita Vedanta which was till then confined to the forest retreats and monasteries should be brought into everyday life of the people and to accomplish this, he got the key-note in Sri Ramakrishna's teaching. "Every Jiva (living being) is Shiva and service to the Jiva is the worship of Shiva" When we go to a place of worship what we usually do is, we worship the image there. But Sri Ramakrishna wants that our worship should not end there. After coming out of the place of worship, we should worship God residing in all beings. That makes our worship complete.
Before Sri Ramakrishna passed away at the cossipore garden house near Calcutta, one day he called Narendranath to his room and transmitted all his powers to him, saying, Naren, today I have given you my all and I have become a fakir (beggar). With this, you will do great good to the world." It was at this house in August 1886, a few days before he left his mortal coil, something very significant happened. That day Narendranath was sitting near the Master thinking that in the midst of the terrible pain that Sri Ramakrishna was having in his throat, if he can speak out and declare that he is God, then he will surely believe him. No sooner, he thought thus, Sri Ramakrishna said clearly to him: "Well, don't you believe even now? He who was Rama and He who was Krishna is now Sri Ramakrishna in this body."
Let us now refer to what Swam Vivekananda said about his Great Master:
"This is the message of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world. Do not care for doctrines, do not care for dogmas or sects or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which spirituality and the more this is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticize no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realization. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those who have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be great teachers of humanity. They alone are the owners of light. The more such men are produced in a country, the more that country will raised and that country where such men absolutely do not exist is simply doomed, nothing can save it Therefore my Master's message to mankind is "Be spiritual and realize truth for yourself". To proclaim and make clear the fundamental unity underlying in all religions was the mission of my Master. Other teachers have taught special religion, which bear their names; but this great teacher of nineteenth century made no claim for himself. He left every religion undisturbed because he had realized that, in reality they are all part and parcel of the one eternal religion."
"The time was ripe for one to be born, who in one body would have the brilliant intellect of Sankara and the wonderfully expansive, infinite heart of Chaitanya; one who would see in every sect the same spirit working, the same God; one who would see God in every being, one whose heart would weep for the poor, for the weak, for the outcast, for the downtrodden, for every one in this world, inside India or outside India; and at the same time whose grand brilliant intellect would conceive of such noble thoughts as would harmonize all conflicting sects, not only in India but outside of India, and bring a marvelous harmony, the universal religion of head and heart into existence. Such a man was born, and I had the good fortune to sit at his feet for years. Let me now only mention the great Sri Ramakrishna, the fulfillment of the Indian sages, the sage for the time... For the first time I found a man who dared to say that he saw God, that religion was a reality to be felt, to be sensed in an infinitely more intense way than we can sense the world. I began to go to that man, day after day, and I actually saw that religion could be given. One touch, one glance, can change a whole life. I learnt from my Master that the religions of the world are not contradictory or antagonistic. They are but various phases of one eternal religion... The first part of my Master's life was spent in acquiring spirituality, and the remaining years in distributing it... His life is a searchlight of infinite power thrown upon the whole mass of Indian religious thought. He was the living commentary to the Vedas and to their aim. He had lived in one life the whole cycle of the national religious existence in India."
- Swami Vivekananda
"In a recent and unique example, in the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa we see a colossal spiritual capacity first driving straight to the divine realization, taking, as it were, the Kingdom of Heaven by violence, and then seizing upon one Yoga method after another and extracting the substance out of it with an incredible rapidity, always to return to the heart of the whole matter, the realization and possession of God by the power of love, by the extension of inborn spirituality into various experience and by the spontaneous play of an intuitive knowledge. Such an example cannot be generalized. Its object also was special and temporal, to exemplify in the great and decisive experience of a Master-soul the truth, now most necessary to humanity, towards which a world long divided into jarring sects and schools is with difficulty laboring, that all sects are forms and fragments of a single integral truth and all disciplines labor in their different ways towards one supreme experience... Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is the epitome of the whole. His was the great super-conscious life which alone can witness to the infinitude of the current that bears us all oceanwards. He is the proof of the Power behind us, and the future before us."
"Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His sayings are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of his own experiences. They therefore leave on the reader an impression which he cannot resist. In this age of skepticism Ramakrishna presents an example of a bright and living faith which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light. Ramakrishna's life was an object-lesson in Ahimsa. His love knew no limits, geographical or otherwise. May his divine love be an inspiration to all."
- Mahatma Gandhi
"The man whose image I here evoke was the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred million people. Although he has been dead forty years, his soul animates modern India. He was no hero of action like Gandhi, no genius in art or thought like Gandhi or Tagore. He was a little village Brahmin of Bengal whose outer life was set in a limited frame without striking incident, outside the social and political activity of the time. But his inner life embraced the whole multiplicity of men and Gods. It was a part of the very source of Energy, the Divine Shakti, of whom Vidyapati, the old poet of Mithila, and Ramprasad of Bengal sing."
- Romain Rolland
To the Paramahamsa Ramakrishna Deva
"Diverse courses of worship
from varied springs of fulfillment
have mingled in your meditation.
The manifold revelation of the joy of the Infinite
has given form to a shrine of unity in your life
where from far and near arrive salutations
to which I join my own."
- Rabindranath Tagore
"The fervent love of God, nay, the sense of complete absorption in Godhead, has nowhere found a stronger and more eloquent expression than in the utterances of Ramakrishna. They show the exalted nature of his faith. How deep he has seen into the mysteries of knowledge and love of God we see from his sayings... These utterances of Ramakrishna reveal to us not only his own thoughts, but the faith and hope of millions of human beings.. .This constant sense of the presence of God is indeed the common ground on which we may hope that in time not too distant, the great temple of the future will be erected, in which the Hindus and non-Hindus may join hands and hearts in worshipping the same Supreme Spirit -- who is not far from every one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being."
- Max Muller
"Sri Ramakrishna made his appearance and delivered his message at the time and the place at which he and his message were needed. This message could hardly have been delivered by anyone who had not been brought up in the Hindu religious tradition. Sri Ramakrishna was born in Bengal in 1836. He was born into a world that in his lifetime was, for the first time, being united on a literally worldwide scale. Today we are still living in this transitional chapter of the world's history, but it is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending, if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. In the present age, the world has been united on the material plane by Western technology. But this Western skill has not only 'annihilated distance'; it has armed the peoples of the world with weapons of devastating power at a time when they have been brought to point blank range of each other without yet having learnt to know and love each other. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation for mankind is an Indian way. Sri Ramakrishna's message was unique in being expressed in action. Religion is not just a matter for study, it is something that has to be experienced and to be lived, and this is the field in which Sri Ramakrishna manifested his uniqueness... His religious activity and experience were, in fact, comprehensive to a degree that had perhaps never before been attained by any other religious genius, in India or elsewhere."
- Arnold Toynbee
"Sri Ramakrishna was completely beyond the average run of men. He appears rather to belong to the tradition of the great rishis of India, who have come from time to time to turn our attention to the higher things of life and of the spirit."
- Jawaharlal Nehru
(About The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna) "Never have the casual and unstudied utterances of a great religious teacher been set down with so minute a fidelity. To Western readers, it is true, this fidelity and this wealth of detail are sometimes a trifle disconcerting; for the social, religious and intellectual frames of reference within which Sri Ramakrishna did his thinking and expressed his feelings were entirely Indian. But after the first few surprises and bewilderments, we begin to find something peculiarly stimulating and instructive about the very strangeness and, to our eyes, the eccentricity of the man revealed to us in "M's" narrative. What a scholastic philosopher would call the "accidents" of Ramakrishna's life were intensely Hindu and therefore, so far as we in the West are concerned, unfamiliar and hard to understand -- its "essence," however, was intensely mystical and therefore universal. To read through these conversations in which mystical doctrine alternates with an unfamiliar kind of humour, and where discussions of the oddest aspects of Hindu mythology give place to the most profound and subtle utterances about the nature of Ultimate Reality is in itself a liberal education in humility, tolerance and suspense of judgement. We must be grateful to the translator for his excellent version of a book so curious and delightful as a biographical document, so precious, at the same time, for what it teaches us of the life of the spirit."
- Aldous Huxley
"This is the story of a phenomenon. I will begin by calling him simply that rather than 'holy man,' 'mystic,' 'saint,' or 'avatar;' all emotive words with mixed associations which may attract some readers, repel others. A phenomenon is often something extraordinary and mysterious. Ramakrishna was extraordinary and mysterious; most of all to those who were best fitted to understand him. A phenomenon is always a fact, an object of experience. That is how I shall try to approach Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna's life, being comparatively recent history, is well documented. In this respect, it has the advantage over the lives of other earlier phenomena of a like nature. I believe, or am at least strongly inclined to believe, that he was what his disciples declared that he was: an incarnation of God upon earth."
- Christopher Isherwood
Sri Ramakrishna, who was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886, represents the very core of the spiritual realizations of the seers and sages of India. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness that transcends all time and place and has a universal appeal. Seekers of God of all religions feel irresistibly drawn to his life and teachings. Sri Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influences the spiritual thought currents of our time. He is a figure of recent history and his life and teachings have not yet been obscured by loving legends and doubtful myths. Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people. In him, deepest spirituality and broadest catholicity stood side by side. The God-man of nineteenth-century India did not found any cult, nor did he show a new path to salvation. His message was his God-consciousness. When God-consciousness falls short, traditions become dogmatic and oppressive and religious teachings lose their transforming power. At a time when the very foundation of religion, faith in God, was crumbling under the relentless blows of materialism and skepticism, Sri Ramakrishna, through his burning spiritual realizations, demonstrated beyond doubt the reality of God and the validity of the time-honored teachings of all the prophets and saviors of the past, and thus restored the falling edifice of religion on a secure foundation. Drawn by the magnetism of Sri Ramakrishna's divine personality, people flocked to him from far and near -- men and women, young and old, philosophers and theologians, philanthropists and humanists, atheists and agnostics, Hindus and Brahmos, Christians and Muslims, seekers of truth of all races, creeds and castes. His small room in the Dakshineswar temple garden on the outskirts of the city of Calcutta became a veritable parliament of religions. Everyone who came to him felt uplifted by his profound God-consciousness, boundless love, and universal outlook. Each seeker saw in him the highest manifestation of his own ideal. By coming near him the impure became pure, the pure became purer, and the sinner was transformed into a saint. The greatest contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world is his message of the harmony of religions. To Sri Ramakrishna all religions are the revelation of God in His diverse aspects to satisfy the manifold demands 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 different religions and came to the realization that all of them lead to the same goal. Thus he 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. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal -- communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness. In the present-day world, threatened by nuclear war and torn by religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna's message of harmony gives us hope and shows the way. May his life and teachings ever inspire us.