Sri Ramakrishna is regarded as the Avatar of the modern age by millions of people around the world.
Born on 18 February 1836 in Kamarpukur, a village about 120 kilometers to the northwest of Kolkata, Sri Ramakrishna had only the rudiments of school education.
At a young age, owing to poverty at home, he became the priest of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, newly built by Rani Rasmani. He could not continue his priestly duties for long, as he absorbed himself in his spiritual disciplines. Possessed as he was by intense longing for God from his childhood, Sri Ramakrishna plunged into intense spiritual practices. After attaining the realization of God as the Divine Mother of the Universe, Kali, he followed the spiritual paths of different sects of Hinduism and the spiritual paths of other religions like Islam and Christianity, and realized the Ultimate Reality through them all. His spotless holiness, utter simplicity, extraordinary spiritual wisdom and love of God drew people to him like a magnet, and a number of sincere seekers gathered around him as his disciples.
- God realization is the ultimate goal of human life as that alone can bring man supreme happiness and peace.
- God is one, and is known by different names in different religions and sects.
- God can be realized through various paths taught in world religions.
- All religions are true in so far as they lead to the realization of the Ultimate Truth.
- God dwells in all people and so everyone, without the distinction of caste, creed or race, should be treated with respect and served with love.
Sri Ramakrishna trained a group of young men, the chief of whom was Narendra, to carry on his mission of spiritualizing the human race all over the glove. After the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna on August 16 1886, this group of sixteen young men under the leadership of Narendra took the vows of Sannyasa and formed a monastic brotherhood, which came to be known as Ramakrishna Math.
Before Sri Ramakrishna passed away, at the Cossipore Garden House, Narendra 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.”
“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 is spirituality. 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. 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.”