March 11, 1885. Thakur Sri Ramakrishna was talking with devotees in Balaram Bose’s House. He was telling Girish Ghosh:
…If you seek God, then seek him in Man. He manifests Himself more in man than in any other thing. If you see a man endowed with ecstatic love, overflowing with prema, mad after God, intoxicated with His love, then know for certain that God has incarnated Himself through that man…
Thakur told Master Mashai:
…There is no doubt that God exists in all things; but the manifestations of his power are different in different beings. Again in some Incarnations there is a complete manifestation of God’s power. It is the Shakti, the power of God that is born as an Incarnation…
Thakur told Girish:
…And we see God Himself if we but see His Incarnation…
Each and every object in this Universe – animate as well as inanimate – reveals Brahman. But there are variations in Shakti i.e. the capacity of revelation. Man being the most intelligent being in the world it is believed that Brahman or God or Shakti whatever you call reveals Him with more power in the human beings than in any other beings. In some human beings in which God or Brahman manifests Him best on earth – we call him the Incarnation of God or Avatar. Leaving aside the stories of Purana where we find God incarnated as Fish or Tortoise or Boar or a half lion-half man form (Nrisingha), generally the Avatars are all human beings like Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Gautam Buddha, Jesus Christ, Hazrat Muhammad, Sri Chaitanya and lastly our Thakur Sri Ramakrishna.
Now in this entire Universe every object possesses some definite properties. The movements of objects are guided by certain rules and laws. All the animate beings follow the sequence of birth and death. Starting from electrons to massive galaxies, from a microbe to human beings all are bounded by Nature’s rules. Every human being is sensitive, may be to different degrees – to joy and sorrow, to love and hatred, to physical pain and mental agony, to anger and irritation, to ecstasy and grief, to passion and joviality, to sympathy and apathy, to hunger and thirst. Every human body suffers from illness and recovers as well. Even when God incarnates in human form, He is no exception. He cannot be out of Nature’s law. Like other human beings He also would have same sufferings but what makes Him different from others is His capacity of tolerance, His understandings regarding the causes and circumstances of such sufferings. In human form an Avatar is indistinguishable from other human beings but He is quite different from others in human nature as He attains the highest of all moral and spiritual values.
“Panchabhuter phande, Brahman pore kande”
On Sunday, April 15, 1884, Thakur was telling to one devotee Prankrishna:
…But there is a greater manifestation of God in man. You may ask – ‘How it is possible for God to be incarnated as a man who suffers from hunger, thirst and the other traits of an embodied being and perhaps also from disease and grief?’ The reply is – ‘Even Brahman weeps, entrapped in the snare of the five elements. Don’t you know how Rama had to weep, stricken with grief for Sita.’
On another occasion Thakur told Master Mashai (Sunday, June 2 1883 at Adhar Sen’s House):
…Everyone is under the authority of Divine Mother, Mahamaya. Even the Incarnations of God accept the help of Maya to fulfil their mission on earth…
Sri Ramakrishna is now widely revered and worshipped as the Avatar. During his lifetime some of his ardent devotees firmly believed that he was an Avatar and some were sceptic. Even Swamiji had not accepted him as Avatar till he experimented on him even at his death bed. Not only as Avatar Swamiji later saluted him as Avatara Baristhaya.
Dr. Mahendra Lal Sarkar, who treated him for cancer during the last days of his mortal life, was a man of scientific ideas and logical reasoning and a celebrated personality of that time. Whenever he came to see his patient Sri Ramakrishna, he passed hours leaving aside his other jobs. He did not believe in the doctrine of Divine Incarnation but he commented on Sri Ramakrishna – “As a man I have the highest regard for Him”.
If not as Avatar, Sri Ramakrishna was widely recognized by the then educated people of elite society as a holy God-intoxicated man, an honest simple man though illiterate but with profound knowledge in religious thoughts. People were attracted to him for his selfless love, capacity to make one understand complicated religious ideas with plain and simple language and with parables and examples drawn from everyday life, for his purity, selflessness and humble attitude to everybody and frequent ecstatic mood (Samadhi). Those who met him even once couldn’t forget him in their lifetime as is evidenced from many published memoirs.
Sri Ramakrishna was a Paramahansha – a Purnajnani. But from his overall appearance nobody could ascertain that he was a man who realized the supreme reality. He had no Rishi-like or a great Mahatma-like appearance such as clad in ochre or deep red robe with matted hair and strings of Rudraksha. Rather he looked like a most ordinary rural gentleman wearing short dhoti and talking in rustic language instead of Sanskrit verse. Even in his photographs we find him clad in dhoti only or in dhoti – punjabi – coat – chaddar and shoe. Can we match him with pictures of other traditional gods like Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu? Yet Sri Ramakrishna is worshipped by millions today in the same place with our traditional deities.
Sri Ramakrishna was a Brahman-jnani. He was supposed to remain calm and same in all states – bliss or grief. But as a human being he was very soft-hearted. So we find him in grief crying for his nephew Akshay or his mother Chandramani Devi when they died. While talking with Master Mashai at Cossipore garden house regarding his grief-stricken wife Thakur said:
…Oh! Grief pushes out devotion…..Krishnakishore had two sons. They were of same age as Bhavanath and each had two university degrees. They both died. And Krishnakishore, jnani that he was, could not at first control himself. How lucky I am that I have none.
He was very kind hearted. Hriday, His nephew once served him a lot for quite sometime at Dakshineswsar but also tormented him simultaneously. Once Thakur, unable to bear Hriday’s torture went to Ganges to commit suicide. Hriday was later driven out from the garden for some reason by the temple authority. On one Sunday he came to meet Thakur and waited outside. On hearing his arrival Thakur leaving his devotees came out to see him. Hriday wept and lamented for his past deeds. Compassionate Thakur also had tears in his eyes and consoled Hriday:
…One cannot avoid such sorrows in the world. Pleasure and pain are inevitable in worldly life…
Sri Ramakrishna was omniscient. Ramlal His nephew mentioned in his memoirs that once he decided to visit his native village Kamarpukur and came to Sri Ramakrishna to inform Him. Thakur smiled and waiving his fingers above His head said him that he would not be able to go. When Ramlal went to seek permission for leave from the authority his leave was not sanctioned at that time. Yet we find Thakur many a times suffering from tension.
Once, Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda) had been laid up with an attack of fever, while staying at Brindavan. We find Sri Ramakrishna very much worried about him and vowed to worship the Divine Mother Chandi for his recovery. On another occasion Rakhal was not feeling well. Thakur was greatly worried about him and said to the devotees:
… Will soda water help him? What am I to do now? Rakhal please take the prasad from the Jagannath temple.
He loved Keshab Chandra Sen very much. During his illness, Sri Ramakrishna wept and prayed before Divine Mother for his recovery. He offered fruits and sweets to Divine Mother for his well-being.
Sri Ramakrishna was married. But He also took sannyas a few years after his marriage for Vedanta Sadhana. But after becoming an all-renouncing he never left his wife. He rather regarded his wife as one form of his Divine Mother. As a dutiful husband he was worried for the maintenance of his wife Janani Sarada Devi, in future when he no longer would be in this mortal world. He invested some money from his own earnings (salary received as an employed pujary of Bhavatarini Temple) in the zamindari of Balaram Bose, an ardent devotee, who later used to give half-yearly interest of Rs30.00 to Holy Mother.
Sri Ramakrishna had good physique – tall and healthy. But twelve years of intense sadhana made him frail as he passed an extremely hard life then. When he was ill he was treated by good physicians and never had he healed himself by any miracle. He frequently visited his devotees in Kolkata coming all the way from Dakshineswar by horse-carriage because of his weak health. He lamented that Gouranga and Nityananda roamed door to door on foot chanting Harinam but he couldn’t move without carriage. He prayed to His Divine Mother:
…I should like to enjoy the society of Thy jnanis and bhaktas. So give me a little strength that I may walk hither and thither to visit those people. But She did not give me the strength to walk…
One day while going through the pine-grove alone in an ecstatic mood, Sri Ramakrishna had fallen near the railing and dislocated a bone in His left arm. Unable to bear pain, He, weeping like a child, said to the Divine Mother:
…O Brahmamayi! O Mother! Why hast thou done this to me? My arm is badly hurt?
Turning to devotees He asked:
…Will I be all right again?
The devotees consoled Him as one would a child and said: “Surely. You will be quite well again.”
Again we find Him saying to the Divine:
…What wrong have I done, Mother? Do I ever do anything? It is Thou Mother who doest everything. I am the machine and Thou art its operator…
We find him talking and laughing, like a child who though ailing, sometimes forgot His illness and laughed and played about.
Why was he so impatient? He told to devotees (Master and Mani Mullick):
…Now and then I become impatient about my arm. I show it to this or that man and ask him whether I shall get well again…… This childlike impatience of mine is nothing new. I used to ask Mathur Babu to feel my pulse and tell me whether I was ill.
Well! Where there is my faith to God? Once I was going to Kamarpukur in a bullock-cart, when several persons came up to the cart with clubs in their hands. They looked like highwayman. I began to chant the names of the gods. Sometimes I repeated the names of Rama and Durga and sometimes ‘Om Tat Sat’, so that in case one failed another would work. (To Master Mashai) Can you tell me Why I am so impatient?…
Master Mashai replied:
“Your mind Sir is always absorbed in Samadhi. You have kept a fraction of it on your body for the welfare of the devotees. Therefore you feel impatient now and then for your body’s safety.
Sri Ramakrishna replied:
…That is true. A little of the mind is attached to the body. It wants to enjoy the love of God and the Company of devotees.
…Since my arm was injured a deep change has come over me. I now delight only in the NARALILA – the human manifestation of God. NITYA and LILA. The NITYA is the individual Satchidananda and the LILA or sport, takes various forms, such as the LILA as God, LILA as deities, the LILA as man and the LILA as the universe…
After a long intense Sadhana Sri Ramakrishna, by the grace of Divine Mother, realized that God has incarnated in His human body. Attaining the highest level of spirituality, he remained mostly in so high mental state that it was difficult for him to come down in the mental level of common people. Sri Ramakrishna knew that he was committed to Divine Mother to fulfil a definite mission for the well-being of mankind. He had to establish new easy and acceptable religious doctrine based on harmony of different religions and to show the mankind the true object and the way of life. So he sometimes deliberately tried to bring down his mental level to match with other devotees and admirers and during then he also behaved like a common human being.
At the fag end of life Sri Ramakrishna suffered from killer disease cancer for almost a year. Many devotees believed that He could have healed himself by applying his spiritual power if he only wished. Some others thought seeing his sufferings that probably he had fallen from grace. It was not that easy to understand Sri Ramakrishna – the unknown tree. His every action and every incident of his life were purposeful and had some meaning. He has come to earth to show path for both householders and monks. His own life is an example, an ideal for both the classes and is a harmony of householder’s life and monastic life. During his last illness his all-renouncing direct disciples assembled together for His treatment at Cossipore garden house and being associated together for quite a long time for a common cause, soon a strong bond of love developed between them that resulted later in forming Ramakrishna Sangha.
Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Translated by Swami Nikhilananda)