Sri Sathya Sai on: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s Devotion and Spiritual Evolution

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was innocent. He did not have anything except love. He always was seeking Krishna and was aspiring to get hold of Him. He did not know anything else. Only educated people know about tricks. Ramakrishna did not have any education. Once he told Vivekananda that he wanted to go home. He said that day was the day when he had to take a pencil. “What is the day of taking a pencil?”, asked Vivekananda. He said, “Having worked for some time, after retirement, I am eligible for some money every month.” Vivekananda corrected it as ‘pension’ and not ‘pencil’. Then Ramakrishna said, “Keep your language with yourself. My language is mine. To me it is pencil only. I don’t need to adopt your language. I have my heart. I have my mind, mouth and my own thought. I follow my conscience. If you like, follow me or else you can take your own way”. He was such an innocent person. 

But he was always aspiring for God. Every day from dawn to dusk, he used to wait to see Krishna. He used to feel that yet another day had passed but he did not see Krishna. He used to pass his days in that search. He could not sleep peacefully. He tried all the means and ways possible to find Krishna. Everyone including Mathuranath (Rani Rasmani’s nephew) scolded that he was going into a vacuum without discrimination. Ramakrishna felt that Krishna is close to Radha and went to the house of Mathuranath and asked for a saree and a few bangles. Mathuranath thought that he was asking them for Devi (Mother Goddess Kali). Mathuranath brought and gave him a good saree that belonged to his wife and sent him. He said that he would come to Ramakrishna at 10 o’clock. Ramakrishna went back and wore the saree and bangles. He also plucked a few flowers from the compound. Mathuranath came there at 10 o’clock. He felt that there were some women in the compound and went back. Ramakrishna went inside. He decorated the Krishna idol with these flowers. He embraced that idol and fell at the feet of Krishna. He forgot himself in ecstasy. He repeatedly said, “I am Radha and You are Krishna”. He used to take sand in one hand and gold in the other and find no difference between the two. He lived in the feeling that there was no difference between Radha and Krishna. It looks like madness to today’s educated people. They think of it as hysteria. Whatever people thought of it, Ramakrishna enjoyed that bliss. 

What people want today is happiness. What if others think of it as something else? If someone is feeling sleepy, neither a cosy bed, nor floor would make any difference. What we need is attaining Divinity. There is no need of discrimination there. It does not work there. After 10 o’clock Mathuranath came there. By that time Ramakrishna came out of his ecstasy and changed his clothes. Ramakrishna asked him as to why he did not come there at 10 o’clock as he had said earlier. Mathuranath replied that he came at 10 o’clock and saw some women in the compound and so he went back. Ramakrishna felt happy. He asked him if he thought that they were women or he really saw them as women. Mathuranath said, “Ramakrishna, have you gone mad? Women are like women. It is not possible to think of them as men!” Ramakrishna felt that Mathuranath thought of him (Ramakrishna) as a woman (as he was dressed like one). He forgot himself thinking of himself as Radha. Ramakrishna attained Divinity out of such innocence. 

- “True Non-Dualism”, Discourse 30, My Dear Students, Volume 05 

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa actually lived the roles of Puranic characters like Radha and Hanuman and realized Krishna and Rama through identification with the experiences of each. Become one with the holy characters you represent; derive inspiration and joy there from, your acting too will thereby improve vastly; you will earn the gratitude of thousands. Feminine characteristics appeared in Ramakrishna’s physical body when he intensely believed himself to be Radha yearning for a vision of Krishna; when he identified himself with Hanuman and spent months on trees, uttering only Rama Nama, his anatomy changed; he grew an incipient tail. That was the measure of the depth of his Bhava (thought power), of the self-effacement. Use the dramatic art and the chances it gives you to develop the Sadhana of self-effacement, for that is the quickest means of realisation of the real Self. 

- “Actors and Action”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 04, December 5, 1964, Kurnool 
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa at a photo studio in Kolkata
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa went through all the stages of Dhyana, from Sakara to Nirakara (from forms to formlessness). During his spiritual evolution, the Divine Mother revealed Herself to him as Kali. But the Atma is formless. That is why the Sadhaka is advised to leave behind all forms and names and strive for the experience of the Formless Brahman. The absolute Brahman without form and attributes gives the highest spiritual ecstasy. 

- “The Four States of Consciousness”, Summer Showers in Brindavan 1979, Brindavan 

Once in Calcutta, in the Kali Temple constructed by Rani Rasmani, a Gopala idol fell down, and its foot was broken a little. Since many elders declare that according to the scriptures a broken image should not be worshipped, Rani Rasmani made arrangements to get a new one made by sculptors. Ramakrishna heard of this and reproached her, saying, “Maharani, if your son-in-law breaks his leg, what will you do? What is the correct thing to do? Bandage the foot and set it right or discard the son-in-law and get another in his place?” The elders and Pandits were dumbfounded. The broken foot of Gopala was set right, and the image was installed and worshipped as before. See, when devotion is purified and is ascendant, the Lord will be patent. This, too, is the Dharma declared in the scriptures (Shastras). 

- “The House of God”, Dharma Vahini 

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was fascinated by the Sneha that was exemplified by the Krishna-Arjuna relationship. He learned from the Bhagavata and the Bhagavad Gita how the Sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) can go through all the nine stages of Bhakti (devotion). He was also determined to emulate the Gopis (cowherd girls) and earn for himself the Viraha (passionate) type of Bhakti, Madhura Bhakti (sweet devotion), that the Gopis had. When he read the Ramayana, he decided to emulate Hanuman and practise his Dasa Bhakti (devotion of servitude). Of all the Shlokas (verses) in the Bhagavad Gita, Ramakrishna was especially impressed by the one that emphasised the attitude of Atma Nivedhana or Sharanagati. 
Manmana Bhava Madhbhaktho,
Madhyaaji Maam Namaskuru
Maamevaishyasi Yukthvaivam
Atmaanam Mathparaayanah
(Become one with Me. Be devoted to Me. Sacrifice unto Me. Bow down to Me. Thus having made thy heart steadfast in Me, taking Me as the Supreme Goal, thou shalt surely come to Me). 

One day, while Ramakrishna was going to Kamarpukur, night overtook him and he was caught in heavy rain right in the centre of a burial ground. Of course he was in such an ecstatic mood, that the time, place or weather mattered little to him. When he awoke, Ramakrishna called upon God by various names- Rama, Shiva, Krishna, Kali, Hanuman. Then he suddenly realised that the names all referred to the One, and he repeated within himself the verse from the Gita that reminded him of Sharanagati (absolute surrender) to the One. 

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in supreme blissful state
Many interesting incidents took place at Dakshineshwar. When Ramakrishna was once asked to go to the temple office to receive his monthly salary, he was very much upset, for he never wanted any wages for being given the chance of worshipping His Mother. At another time, thieves broke into the Krishna temple. When Ramakrishna and Mathuranath came by there and discovered that Krishna’s idol was absolutely bare and that every jewel had been stolen, Mathuranath fell into a rage and began blaming Krishna Himself. “You are adored as the Guardian of the ‘fourteen worlds,’ but You cannot guard even the jewels on Your own body,” he said. Ramakrishna reprimanded him soundly for this sacrilege, saying, “Krishna has Lakshmi as His Consort, and for Him your gold and gems are as cheap as dust. As a matter of fact, what is gold but dust in another form?” He made Mathuranath repent for his silly outburst, making him aware of the true nature of Godhead. 

...Ramakrishna had the same sense of total dedication (Swami referring to the dedication which Bhishma had towards Krishna). He was in great pain as the result of a cancer, and his disciples asked him to pray to the Mother for alleviation of the pain. Vivekananda was desperate when his master refused to ask this little favour from the Mother with whom he was literally on speaking terms. But Ramakrishna replied that if it was the Mother’s Will that he must suffer, he was not going to pray for palliatives. But his disciples were adamant. They bothered Ramakrishna so much that one day he prayed to the Mother that he may be helped to take a little food in spite of the cancer in his throat. Ramakrishna told his disciples that at that time he heard the Mother admonishing him for his ignorance, “Are you not eating through all these billion throats? Why regret that one throat is incapable of taking down food?” (Vasudevasarvamidam). This truth was brought home to the disciples by this revelation. 

- “Sneha”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 14, August 20, 1978, Prasanthi Nilayam 

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was once asked by someone, “Why do you starve the body and suffer all this misery? Is not all this detachment from material comfort a sign of insanity?” Ramakrishna answered, “Those who find fault with me do not, alas, know their own faults. Is it not insane to suffer all this misery for the upkeep of this bundle of bones and flesh, this bag of dirt and foulness?” The only valid use to which this body can be put is to discover the source of lasting joy that lies at its very core. Ramakrishna rolled on the bare floor of the Dakshineshwar temple and shed tears of anguish, for days were passing one after another without his having realised the source of bliss. That Sadhana has immortalized him, while the silly questioner has faded out of the pages of history. 

- “Horn and Tusk”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 08, March 28, 1968, Venkatagiri 

Worship of the Divine must stem from the heart. When devotion flows from the heart, the voice of the Divine can be experienced in silence, Sabda Brahman (sound of the Supreme Spirit). This was the experience of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He observed perfect silence awaiting the voice of God at any moment. Can the Divine voice be heard in the cacophony of daily sounds? No. Devotees must practice reticence. When speech is restrained, the voice of the Spirit within makes itself heard. That is subtler than the human breath. 

- “Manifest Your Divinity”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 25, January 1, 1992, Prasanthi Nilayam 

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