TEACHINGS AND INFLUENCE OF SREE RAMAKRISHNADEVA ON SOCIETY
– SAMYA MUKHERJEE
Sree Ramakrishnadeva was probably the most celebrated mystic of all times. A simple man, sometimes with childlike enthusiasm, he explained the most complex concepts of spiritual philosophies in simplest parables and stories. His words flowed from a deep sense of belief in Divinity and his experience of embracing God in a very real form. He directed that the ultimate goal of every living soul is the realization of God – “All religions lead to the same ultimate goal and hence they are all valid and true”. Having practised different facets of Hinduism as well as of other religions like Islam and Christianity, Sree Ramakrishna preached that all of these religions were different paths that lead to a single goal – God.
Sree Ramakrishna’s conversations with his disciples were recorded by his devotee Mahendranath Gupta and the collective work was titled as ‘Sree Sree Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ (The nectar of the words of Sree Ramakrishna). In ‘The Gospel of Sree Ramakrishna’, Sree Ramakrishnadeva quoted:
1)“The scriptures contain a mixture of sand and sugar as it were. It is extremely difficult to separate the sugar from sand”- (September 19, 1884).
2)“One cannot get true feeling about God from the study of books. This feeling is something different from book-learning. Books, scriptures and science appear as mere dirt and straw after the realization of God”- (October 26, 1884).
To get rid of the thought that Sree Ramakrishna belonged to a higher Brahmanical caste, he began to eat food cooked by the Shudras and also other lower-caste. His influence reached all strata of the society; he did not differentiate between devotees based on caste. He even embraced the sceptics, won them over with his simplistic charm and unselfish love. Sree Ramakrishna was a force of revival to re-energise the decaying Hinduism in Bengal of nineteenth century. Ramakrishna’s teachings also had profound effect on other religions that were forced to re-evaluate their beliefs.
Sree Ramakrishna was one of the most prominent religious figures of India during 19th century. He translated the complex spiritual concepts into lucid and easily intelligible manner. Born in a simple Bengali rural family in 1836, Ramakrishna was a very simple yogi. He pursued the ‘divine’ throughout his life in various forms and believed in divine embodiment of the Supreme Being in every individual. Sometimes believed to be the modern day reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, Ramakrishna was the embodiment of spiritual salvation to troubled souls from all walks of life. Ramakrishna was a key figure in revival of Hinduism in Bengal at a time when intense spiritual crisis was gripping the province leading to predominance of young Bengalis embracing all religions. Ramakrishna’s legacy did not end with his death in 1886; his most prominent disciple Swami Vivekananda carried on his teachings and philosophy to the whole world through Ramakrishna Mission. In essence, his teachings were as traditional as ancient sages, yet he remains contemporary throughout the ages. Ramakrishna’s main teachings included the realization of God as the supreme goal of life, renunciation of Kama-Kanchana, Harmony of Religions and Jiva is Shiva. Key concepts in Ramakrishna’s teachings included the oneness of existence and the unity and truth of all religions. Amiya P. Sen writes that the deep foundations in bhakti or devotion and faith in God makes Ramakrishna’s teachings look universalistic and not his culturally determined forms. Sree Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s teachings virtually cover the entire gamut of Hinduism and its various facets. It is very difficult to consolidate his core teachings in few sentences.
Sree Ramakrishna told his householder devotees that it is not necessary for them to renounce the world. They can live in their home and easily perform the duties but they should endeavour to surrender all their actions to god. To his young disciples who were to become monk in the years to come, he said that it was very necessary for them to renounce the world. He said, “Brahman alone is real, the world is illusory”. Swami Premananda recalled, “As soon as all the householder devotes would take leave of him, he would shut the door and tell us about the transient nature of the world”. Being an innocent child of the divine mother of the Universe, Sree Ramakrishna would look upon all women as the embodiment of Divine Mother. He also told his devotees to do so. Actually, his words are so unique and his teachings are so many that to compile them into a book would take a lifetime.
Mr. Samya Mukherjee, is a young writer from Kalyani, West Bengal, India who specializes in religion, spirituality, philosophical ideas and ancient cultures. His writings include the areas of hindu scriptures, prophets and eminent religious figures, renowned holy temples of India, mythological stories about hindu Gods and Goddesses as well as the related festivals.