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PRABUDDHA BHARATASri Ramakrishna's Impact on Contemporary Indian Society  

 

 

 

              

              Sri Ramakrishna’s Impact on Contemporary Indian Society

 

 

 

               Dr. Jayasree Mukherjee

      

 

     The nineteenth century was for India a period of great expansion of British imperialism vis-a-vis Indian nationalism. The East India Company’s rule was consolidated into the administration of the British Raj. Side by side, different socio-religious and cultural movements were initiated by different personalities in various parts of the country with the search for national identity as their fundamental aim. The inherent conflict between British interests and Indian aspirations was kept concealed for some time, but since the seventies of the nineteenth century Indian nationalism became self-conscious and assertive. Numerous factors, big and small, led to the flowering of these self-conscious nationalist sentiments. The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement with its seat in Bengal constituted a major factor towards this development.

 

 

     Stress on Spiritual Humanism

 

 

     The central figure of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement was Sri Ramakrishna himself, who was an original man with complete Self-realization. He became a symbol of the national soul. He was accepted as one of the prophets of the new age, not because of his acceptance of the principal tenets of traditional Hinduism (implying worship of God in various forms and through images) and the Hindu way of life, but because of the comprehensiveness of his vision and the largeness of his spirit. His ardent belief in the validity of all faiths and his stress on spiritual humanism, as distinct from modern secular humanism, fitted well with the search for identity of the Indian self.

 

 

     Influence on Noted Contemporaries

 

 

     Sri Ramakrishna’s inner spirituality and utter simplicity cast a magnetic spell on persons who came into close contact with him. Even Bhairavi Brahmani and Tota Puri, his two gurus, were profoundly struck by Ramakrishna’s depth of realization. It was Bhairavi who first openly declared that Sri Ramakrishna was an incarnation of God. (1) The Vaishnava leader Vaishnavacharan and the Tantric scholar Pandit Gaurikanta Tarkabhushan heartily endorsed her view. (2) Gaurikanta came to Dakshineswar in 1870 to obtain his spiritual guidance. Pandit Narayan Shastri, an orthodox Vedantic scholar, took sannyasa from Ramakrishna and spread the latter’s name in his homeland in Rajputana. Pandit Padmalochan Tarkalankar, the chief pundit at the court of the Maharaja of Burdwan, came to revere Ramakrishna as God-incarnate. Krishna Kishore, an ardent devotee of Rama hailing from Ariadaha, was benefited by Ramakrishna’s spiritual guidance. Two Tantric sadhakas, Chandra and Girija, coming from East Bengal, received spiritual encouragement from the saint. (83-4) Even Tota Puri’s vision of the ultimate Reality was changed to some extent under Ramakrishna’s influence. (88-9) During this period Ramakrishna also met, among others, Dayananda Sarasvati of the Arya Samaj and Bhagavandas Babaji, the great Vaishnava saint of Kalna. (3)

 

 

     The Influence that Triggered Swami Vivekananda’s Arrival

 

 

     Thus Ramakrishna’s fame as a man of God spread first among the traditional scholars and religious preachers. In course of a few years he began to attract the attention of the English-educated classes of Bengal, and even of the Europeans residing in this country. Among the latter may be counted Principal W W Hastie of the General Assembly’s Institution (now Scottish Church College), Calcutta. In course of explaining the word ‘trance’ contained in a poem by Wordsworth, Hastie told his students that if they wanted to know the real meaning of it, they might go to Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar. This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath Datta (later Swami Vivekananda), to go to Dakshineswar in search of the saint. (4) Hastie thus helped a lot in focusing the attention of the educated youths of Bengal on Ramakrishna.

 

 

     Influence on the Brahmos

 

 

     More important was the role of the outstanding Brahmo leader Keshab Chandra Sen. In fact, Keshab and, following him, other Brahmos publicized Ramakrishna before the larger public of Bengal through their speeches and writings. The discovery of Ramakrishna was one of the greatest gifts of the Brahmos to the Bengali intelligentsia of the nineteenth century. Ironically enough, many Brahmos in subsequent times dubbed Ramakrishna as a protagonist of Hindu religious orthodoxy, which, in fact, he was not.

 

 

     Influence on Keshab Chandra Sen

 

 

     At his very first meeting with Ramakrishna on 15 March 1875, Keshab Chandra Sen was literally spellbound by the simplicity and depth of the saint. He recorded his experience as follows: ‘We met one (a sincere Hindu devotee) not long ago, and were charmed by the depth, penetration and simplicity of his spirit.’ He admitted further, ‘Hinduism must have in it a deep sense of beauty, truth and goodness to inspire such men as these.’ (5) At a time when the Westernized and rational Brahmos cut themselves off from Hindu moorings, such admiring comments about Ramakrishna from one of their topmost leaders proved to be a turning point in Bengal’s socio-religious life.

 

     Keshab himself was deeply influenced by Ramakrishna. His autobiography Jivanveda, Trailokyanath Sanyal’s biography Keshabcharit (1885) and Pratap Chandra Mozoomdar’s Life and Teachings of Keshub Chander Sen (1887) corroborate this point. Mozoomdar, a close associate of Keshab, wrote that Ramakrishna had ‘a powerful effect upon Keshub’s catholic mind’. (6) Through mental anguish and sufferings following the Cooch Behar marriage, Keshab spontaneously accepted the Motherhood of God. Mozoomdar further wrote, ‘And now the sympathy, friendship, and example of Paramahamsa converted the Motherhood of God into a subject of special culture with him. The greater part of year 1879 witnessed the development.’ (7) It became altogether a new feature of the revival which Keshab was bringing about in the Brahmo Samaj.

 

     Another Brahmo stalwart, Vijaykrishna Goswami, admitted that, inspired by the Paramahamsa, Keshab started to cook his food himself and tried to instil the spirit of renunciation into the Samaj. (8)

 

     Keshab was the first person to compile and publish Ramakrishna’s teachings entitled Paramahamser Ukti in Bengali in 1878. Within a few years there took place a transformation of his mental attitude. The rationalist leader was caught by a devotional spirit. He built up before long the Church of New Dispensation, or Navavidhan (25 January 1880), depending on the worship of the Motherhood of God, (9) unity of religions and assimilation of Hindu polytheism into Brahmoism.

 

     In this connection we may note a fundamental difference between Keshab and Ramakrishna, as pointed out by Brajendranath Seal during a session of the Calcutta Parliament of Religions (1937): ‘While Keshab’s Navavidhan implied eclecticism or synthesis, Ramakrishna’s system was based on syncretism.’ (10)

 

     Suniti Devi, the Maharani of Cooch Behar, acknowledged Ramakrishna’s great influence on her father Keshab while talking to Francis Younghusband, who, during the celebrations of Ramakrishna’s birth centenary in Gloucesterplace, England, on 27 March 1936, drove home this point to the audience as chairman of the meeting. (11) Even Keshab’s mother frequently went to Dakshineswar. (12)

 

 

     Influence on Other Brahmos

 

 

     Following Keshab, other Brahmos also started to admire Ramakrishna, propagate his ideals and reorient their socio-religious outlook. Mozoomdar wrote the first English biography of Ramakrishna, entitled ‘The Hindu Saint’ and published in the Theistic Quarterly Review in 1879 (later published in book form entitled Paramahamsa Ramakrishna). This biography played a vital role in introducing Ramakrishna to Westerners like the celebrated German indologist Max Muller.

 

     Vijaykrishna Goswami’s shift towards Vaishnavism was to a large extent due to the influence of Ramakrishna, whom he held in the highest regard. (13) Shivanath Shastri was influenced very much by Ramakrishna’s universalism in religion. (14) Girishchandra Sen wrote two books on him entitled Paramahamser Ukti and Sankshipta Jivani.

 

 

     Brahmos Spread Ramakrishna’s Message

 

 

     History shows that many Brahmos not only became Ramakrishna’s admirers, but also proclaimed his message to the educated public of Bengal through their speeches and writings since 1875. In this connection the reports published in the Indian Mirror, Sunday Mirror, New Dispensation, Dharmatattwa, Sulabh Samachar, Paricharike and others deserve special mention. (15) The Indian Mirror of 11 December 1881 reported that Paramahamsadeva was spreading ‘Love’ and ‘Devotion’ among the educated classes of Calcutta. (16) In its issue of 19 August 1886, the paper reported that Ramakrishna had succeeded in reforming the character of some youths whose morals had been corrupt. Graduates and undergraduates of the University of Calcutta vied with one another in becoming his followers, and some of them had already renounced the world and become ascetics. (17) While this statement contains much truth, the formal acceptance of sannyasa by Ramakrishna’s disciples took place not during his lifetime but after his death, under the leadership of Narendranath. The Dharmatattwa of 31 August 1886 recorded that more than one hundred people, including some prominent Brahmos, had participated in the cremation ceremony of Ramakrishna at Baranagore. It also recorded that a special ceremony had been held at the Navavidhan temple in his honour on the fourth day after the cremation (20 August 1886). (18) Many of his followers, both monastic and lay, had been Brahmos or even atheists in their early life. Documents are numerous to prove that in course of a few years (1875-86) Ramakrishna’s impact rapidly spread among the elite of Calcutta and its suburbs. The Englishman, an organ of the Anglo-Indian community, also observed in its issue of 20 August 1886, ‘The late Paramahamsa was held in the highest respect by all sections of the Hindu community. The educated Hindus appreciated his teachings highly, and among his followers were many graduates and undergraduates of the University.’ (19) Men and women of different castes, creeds and classes visited Ramakrishna and sat spellbound before him for hours together, listening to his words with rapt attention. Religious talks and discussions took place and devotional songs were sung in many households centring round him. (20) Ramakrishna on his part was also curious to meet prominent personalities of the time (21) and to see objects of interest personally.

 

 

     Influence on the Elite of Calcutta

 

 

     It is interesting to speculate why, since 1875, the educated bhadralok (gentlemen) of Bengal started to cluster round Sri Ramakrishna, who was so much different from them in his education, culture and way of living. Ramakrishna did not have formal Western or even oriental education. He had a bare knowledge of the three ‘Rs and with some difficulty could sign his name as ‘Ramakesto’. (22) He was almost a rustic. Second, Ramakrishna was not a traditional monk. He never used saffron robes or followed monastic rules as laid down in the shastras. In fact, he was a married man living with his wife. His lifestyle was simple, but not, strictly speaking, monastic. As recorded by one of his intimate householder disciples, Mahendranath Gupta, popularly known as M or Master Mahashaya, Ramakrishna wore a white dhoti with a red border, used polished slippers and hookahs and slept in a cot under a mosquito net. (23) Third, the Bengali language he used was neither Sanskritized nor anglicized. It was instead very close to the language of a Bengali peasant. In appearance and ordinary conversation he was a humble and unsophisticated villager. A contemporary document describes him as ‘the commonest of the common. He came from the people, he smelt of the earth, and he talked like the peasant.’ (24) His cultural world was pastoral. Socially, however, he came from the highest caste (brahmin) of Bengal.

 

     Notwithstanding these limitations (if they are limitations at all), Ramakrishna was able to attract the elite of Calcutta and its suburbs by his magnetic spiritual personality. As Mahatma Gandhi observed, the story of Ramakrishna’s life was ‘a story of religion in practice’. (25) His complete identification of words with deeds, his profoundly spiritual living and remarkable ability of expressing the highest philosophical thoughts in plain and simple words - all this cast a magnetic spell on all who came into contact with him. He was able to attract the attention of the new generation that was growing up in Bengal in a patriotic and nationalistic climate generated in the 1870s by the writings of Bankimchandra Chatterjee and the orations of Surendranath Banerjee. Keshab Chandra Sen, who had been the idol of Bengali youth in the sixties of the nineteenth century, was outshone by Bankim and Surendranath in the seventies and eighties. It was an age when the spirit of nationalism was growing, and the anglicized babu was no longer an object of veneration in the imagination of the educated people. The youthful generation of Bengal in and around Calcutta, already conscious of their dignity as a part of the Indian nation, did not find an echo of their heart in Brahmoism or Christianity. They turned to Ramakrishna, the protagonist of Neo-Hinduism, as the messiah of the new age. Ramakrishna was not an exponent of orthodox Hinduism, but infused into it a new element of toleration and social service, liberalism and dynamism. He asked his disciples not to stand in isolation from the rest of the world, but to live in it and render selfless service to suffering humanity in a spirit of God worship.

 

 

     Even the Sophisticated Were Not Excepted

 

 

     Even some elite of this age experienced an inner conflict between their own outlook and beliefs and Ramakrishna’s life and teachings. Their fascination for monotheism, Westernization and intellectualism could not be easily adjusted with the traditional Hindu beliefs of Ramakrishna, who had no educational, urban or social sophistication. Yet they could not help being enchanted by the saint of Dakshineswar. This feeling was beautifully expressed by Pratap Chandra Mozoomdar, who wrote, in 1879, in The Theistic Quarterly Review:

 

My mind is still floating in the luminous atmosphere which that wonderful man diffuses around him whenever and wherever he goes. My mind is not yet disenchanted of the mysterious and indefinable pathos which he pours into it whenever he meets me. What is there common between him and me? I, a European­ised, civilized, self-centred, semi-sceptical so-called educated reasoner, and he, a poor, illiterate, shrunken, unpolished, diseased, half­dressed, half-idolaltrous, friendless Hindu devotee? Why should I sit long hours to attend to him, I who have listened to Disraeli and Fawcett, Stanley and Max Mueller, and a whole host of European scholars and divines? I who am an ardent disciple and follower of Christ, a friend and admirer of liberal-minded Christian missionaries and preachers, a devoted adherent and worker of the rationalistic Brahma-Samaj - why should I be spellbound to hear him? And it is not only I, but dozens like me who do the same. He has been interviewed and examined by many, crowds pour in to visit and talk with him. Some of our clever intellectual fools have found nothing in him, some of the contemptuous Christian missionaries would call him an impostor, or a self-deluded enthusiast. I have weighed their objections well, and what I write now I write deliberately. (26)

 

 

     Some Unpleasant Reactions

 

 

     Contemporary reaction to Ramakrishna was not always pleasant. Upadhyay Brahma­bandhab was originally a critic of Ramakrishna and refused to recognize him as an avatara. (27) Another contemporary scholar described Ramakrishna as

 

     an illiterate priest, crude, raw, unmodern and the commonest of the common. … He respected women, in the only way open to Indians, by calling them ‘mother’, and avoiding them. He would not perform the daily rituals. He would allow non-Brahmins to be initiated. … Yet, and this is the tragedy of the situation, with all the help of the dynamic personality of Swami Vivekananda, Paramahamsa Deb’s influence has not succeeded in shaking our social foundations. A number of people have been inspired, no doubt, but the masses have not trembled in their sleep. (28)

 

 

     Background of His Disciples and Admirers

 

 

     An analysis of the class composition of the early admirers and followers of Ramakrishna reveals that most of them came from the Western-educated middle class of the Bengali society, Latu (later Swami Adbhutananda) or Rasik Hadi being exceptions. Many of them had some Christian or Brahmo leanings before their meetings with Ramakrishna, and a few were sceptics or even atheists. Brahmo leaders like Keshab Sen, Pratap Mozoomdar and Vijay Goswami belonged to this class. Most of his monastic disciples (29) also came from this class. While Vivekananda and Saradananda had Western education, urban sophistication and a Brahmo background, Shivananda, Premananda and Ramakrishnananda came from non-metropolitan areas, representing a traditional Hindu background, education and culture. Some of the monastic disciples were more educated and affluent than others. Four were married, while the rest were unmarried. A striking exception was Adbhutananda, who was an illiterate Bihari coming from the grass-roots level.

 

     Of the non-monastic disciples of Ramakrishna the majority belonged to the educated middle class, but exceptions were also there. A wider degree of variation may be noticed in their social background, family status, economic condition, cultural outlook and religious attitude. There were writers like Girishchandra Ghosh and Nagendranath Gupta, zamindars like Rani Rasmani and Balaram Bose, publishers like Upendranath Mukherjee and Haramohan Mitra, scientists like Ramchandra Datta, officers like Purnachandra Ghosh and teachers like Mahendranath Gupta. There were big zamindars like Mathuranath Biswas, petty clerks like Prankrishna Mukherjee, actresses like Binodini and sweepers like Rasik Hadi. Their religious mentality ranged from scepticism (as in the case of Girish Ghosh) to intense piety and devotion (an in the case of Durgacharan Nag). They came from diverse castes such as brahmin, vaidya, kayastha, subarnabanik, mahisya and even the so-called untouchable castes. (30) They were mostly educated, but some were illiterate. Among the women devotees there were educated nuns like Gauri Ma, childless widows like Golap Ma and Gopaler Ma, and actresses like Binodini. Captain Viswanath Upadhyay, one of Ramakrishna’s householder disciples, was a Nepalese and had served in the army. (31) The Rajasthani philosopher Narayan Shastri took sannyasa from Ramakrishna in 1875. Lakshminarayan was a wealthy Marwari devotee and Hirananda a Sindhi graduate. (32)

 

     True, the majority of devotees and admirers of Ramakrishna came from an educated Bengali middle-class background with roots in Calcutta. But this does not mean that his influence was confined to them. Even during his lifetime (1836-86) his ideas and influence spread beyond the intelligentsia to other sections of the Bengali society including the Bauls and the Kartabhajas. (33) His name even crossed the boundaries of Bengal. During his lifetime, however, there was little of a movement. The only tangible advance was the foundation of the Ramakrishna Order in an embryonic form by the Master himself during his last illness (1885-86). (34)

 

 

     A Realistic Appraisal of Sri Ramakrishna

 

 

     Dr Sumit Sarkar’s assertion that ‘the world of his devotees had a lower middle-class, indeed clerical, ambience’, (35) that the outer resentment of the devotees ‘had been sublimated through a religion of inner devotion and social passivity’, (108) and that Ramakrishna ‘helped hierarchy and oppression to endure by making them appear less unendurable’ (114) are too superficial generalizations to require any serious notice. Such charges cannot be substantiated. Dr Sarkar’s assertion that tensions in gender relations within the household drove men and women paradoxically to Ramakrishna as an alternative is also false and misleading. Neither did Ramakrishna’s devotees show any frustration in excess of what is common with the average man, nor did Ramakrishna ever preach any social passivism and escapism. (36) He always stressed activism, spiritual and social. He was a spiritual guide not only to monks but also to householders. He represented in a sense the old India, and yet had a message for the new India that was emerging. His teachings of ‘Jato mat tato path, As many faiths so many paths’ and ‘Jiva is Shiva’ not only showed the validity of all faiths and spiritual humanism, but also took cognizance of the individuality and freedom of man. He rescued religion from the trammels of tenet and dogma, rite and liturgy. During Sri Ramakrishna’s lifetime his devotees came mostly from the same classes from which the Brahmos also sprang. But while the Brahmo movement remained primarily an elitist movement, the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda movement overstepped bourgeois limits. The way Ramakrishna lived and the language he spoke were closer to the masses than to the elite. As years rolled by, his impact widened and deepened. Apart from the writings of the Brahmos, two remarkable books were written by Ramakrishna’s disciples in the 1880s. These were Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeber Jiban Vrittanta by Ramchandra Datta and Paramahamsa Srimad Ramakrishner Upadesh by Sureshchandra Datta. Vivekananda’s Chicago success (1893) and his subsequent activities, the work of his colleagues and writings of scholars like C H Tawney (1896), Max Mueller (1896), M (1902-32), Romain Rolland (1929) and many others gave currency to Ramakrishna’s sublime ideas within and outside India. (37) As a near-contemporary eyewitness, Prof Tawney wrote that ‘There can be no doubt that he [Ramakrishna] has exercised a potent influence over the minds of the young men trained in our Bengal colleges, and his teaching must count for an important factor in the present movement, which it is the fashion to call the Hindu revival.’ (38) In this connection, mention should be made of the voluminous writings of Vivekananda, Abhedananda, Saradananda and others towards the dissemination of Sri Ramakrishna’s ideas. How his ideas developed into a movement after his demise is an interesting and important chapter in the cultural history of modern India.

 

 

     Notes and References

 

 

     1. Life of Sri Ramakrishna (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1983), 88 ff. Originally published in 1924 with a Foreword by Gandhiji, this biography is compiled from authentic sources under the direction of some direct disciples of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda.

     2. Swami Nirvedananda, Sri Ramakrishna and Spiritual Renaissance (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1978), 55.

     3. Life of Sri Ramakrishna, 121-6.

     4. Christopher Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1986), 192-3.

     5. Indian Mirror, 28 March 1875. Reprinted in Nanda Mookerjee, Sri Ramakrishna in the Eyes of Brahma and Christian Admirers (Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1976), 2. It was the first press report on Ramakrishna.

     6. Pratap Chandra Mozoomdar, The Life and Teachings of Keshub Chander Sen (Calcutta: Navavidhan Publications, 1887), 357.

     7. Ibid., 359.

     8. Vijaykrishna Goswami, Brahmo Samajer Bartaman Abastha ebang Amar Jibane Brahmo Samajer Parikshita Bishay (Calcutta: Navavidhan Publications), 52-3.

     9. Romain Rolland, The Life of Ramakrishna (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1954), 170-1 ff.

     10. Brajendranath Seal, ‘Presidential Address’ in The Religions of the World, 2 vols. (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, 1938), 1.111-3.

     11. Vedanta Kesari (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math), August 1936, 157.

     12. ‘Keshabjanani Devi Saradasundarir Atmakatha’, ed. Yogendralal Khastagir, as in Samasamayik Drishtite Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, ed. Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay and Sajanikanta Das (Calcutta: General Printers & Publishers, 1375 BS), 99-100.

     13. Jiban Bandyopadhyay, ‘Sri Ramakrishna o Bharatiya Nabajagaran’ in Bishwachetanay Sri Ramakrishna, ed. Swami Prameyananda, Naliniranjan Chattopadhyay and Swami Chaitanyananda (Calcutta: Udbodhan Office, 1987), 83.

     14. Shivanath Sastri, ‘Atmacharit’ as in Samasamayik Drishtite, 101.

     15. Samasamayik Drishtite, passim; also Sri Ramakrishna in the Eyes of Brahma and Christian Admirers, passim.

     16. Samasamayik Drishtite, 25.

     17. Ibid., 45-7.

     18. Bishvavani (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1379 BS), 322-3.

     19. The Englishman, 20 August 1886, as in Sri Ramakrishna in the Eyes of Brahma and Christian Admirers, 134.

     20. Sulabh Samachar, 3 Paush 1288 BS, as in Samasamayik Drishtite, 25.

     21. The view that Ramakrishna met Bankimchandra Chatterjee, the great Bengali novelist, on the basis of M’s note in the Kathamrita (vol. 5, Appendix), has been questioned by Gopalchandra Roy in his ‘Addition’ in Bankimchandra: Jiban o Sahitya (Calcutta: Dey’s Publishing, 1981), 38-70 and also in Sri Ramakrishna, Bankimchandra o Sri ‘Ma’ (Calcutta: Pustak Bipani, 1988). The latter was written as a reply to Swami Hiranmayananda’s article in Udbodhan, Kartik 1394 BS.

     22. Vivekananda told it to Haripada Mitra as mentioned in Bishwa-Bibek, ed. Asit Kumar Bandyopadhyay, Sankari Prasad Basu and Sankar (Calcutta: Bak Sahitya, 1963), 47.

     23. Sri ‘Ma’, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (Calcutta: Reflect Publications, 1983), 43-5, 60, 922.

     24. A contemporary document as quoted in Dhurjati Prasad Mukherjee, Modern Indian Culture (Bombay, 1948), 28. See Charles H Heimsath, Indian Nationalism and Hindu Social Reform (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1964), 44-5.

     25. Gandhiji’s ‘Foreword’ to Life of Sri Ramakrishna.

     26. Pratap Chandra Mozoomdar, ‘The Hindu Saint’ in The Theistic Quarterly Review, 1879, 323-9, as in Samasamayik Drishtite, 197-200.

     27. Sophia, October 1897, 9-11.

     28. Modern Indian Culture, 28.

     29. For detailed biographies of Ramakrishna’s monastic and lay disciples, see Swami Gambhirananda, Sri Ramakrishna Bhaktamalika, 2 vols. (Calcutta: Udbodhan Office, 1955); Swami Chetanananda, God Lived with Them (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2001); and Swami Chetanananda, They Lived with God (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1993).

     30. In Bengal the traditional fourfold caste structure - brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra - was not prominent.

     31. Life of Sri Ramakrishna, 203-4.

     32. Ibid., 275, 452-4.

     33. Ramchandra Datta, Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadeber Jiban Brittanta (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Yogodyan, 1357 BS), 106.

     34. Life of Sri Ramakrishna, 425, 450-1.

     35. Sumit Sarkar, The Kathamrita as a Text: Towards an Understanding of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (New Delhi, 1985), 106 (in cyclostyle).

     36. For details see Jayasree Mukherjee, The Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Movement: Impact on Indian Society and Politics (1893-1922) (Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1997), chapter 6.

     37. Haridas Mukherjee, ‘Sri Ramakrishna as a World Figure’ in Bulletin (Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture), February 1987, 37-55. See also his article in Bishvachetanay Sri Ramakrishna, 716-37.

     38. C H Tawney, ‘A Modern Hindu Saint’ in Sri Ramakrishna in the Eyes of Brahma and Christian Admirers, 37.





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