About of the Book
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is an English rendition of the Bengali original Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita by Mahendranath Gupta who hid himself behind his penname ‘M’. The Bengali tile Kathamrita verily sums up the essence of the book. In the ancient India mythology the gods and the demons had churned the ocean in search amrita, which could confer eternity. Sri Ramakrishna who needs no introduction today, has churned the Ocean of Life and has come up with some vibrant ideas which are eternally relevant and can confer immortal strength, infinite inspiration and never ending joy to one and all akin to the mythical amrita. Thus the worlds or kathain kathamrita remains deathless and guides one to a life of immortal enlightenment.
The Present book The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and its Relevance explores how the snow-white glow of the Gospel reveals itself as a rainbow of varied ideas and inspirations when passed through the prism of the wise brains. The current effort was to focus on the relevance of The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna in diverse fields of human interest and activity ranging from Philosophy to Management, Literature to Ecology, Comparative Religion to Humanism. The book will definitely intrigue a newer interest into the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna as a universal treasure and for many a gift unopened which can make a fisherman a better fisherman, a student a better student and a lawyer a better lawyer as envisioned by Swami Vivekananda.
Projit Kumar Palit is working as a Professor & Head of the Department of History, Assam University, (A Central University), Sichar, Assam. He obtained his PhD degree from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal. He specializes in various aspects of Art and Religion History of North East India. He is engaged in teaching and research of this field for twenty years.
Swami Kamalasthananda, is working as a Principal, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Centenary College (College with Potential for Excellence), Kolkata. He specializes in various aspects of Religion, Ramakrishna literature and Environment history. He is engaged in teaching and research of this field for fifteen years.
I am delighted to introduce the present volume entitled, 'The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and its relevance' edited by two scholars Dr. Projit Kumar Palit, Professor and Head in the Department of History, Assam University, (A Central University), Silchar, Assam and Swami Kamalasthananda, Principal, Ramkrishna Mission Vivekananda Centenary College, Rahara, West Bengal. As many as twenty distinguished scholars have articulated on various aspects of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna and its significance in the present society. I hope the readers would be immensely benefited from the learned exposition of the Gospel. Eventually, the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna has become an authentic symbol of the Ramakrishna- Vivekananda Movement in India and abroad.
Mahendranath Gupta recorded his daily interactions with Ramakrishna in his diary which were subsequently published under the title, Sri Sri Ramakrishna- Kathamrita in five Volumes in Bengali language (1902 CE, 1905 CE, 1908 CE, 1910 CE and 1932 CE). Some praised its "stenographic precision", another described it as a "historical record of a saint" of nineteenth century in Bengal, again someone mentioned the Gospel as a well-documented record of not only the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, as also indirectly recorded the political, social values of the nineteenth century in Bengal. There is another point quite fascinating: M tried hard to keep himself hidden by using about a dozen pseudonyms here and there. There you get fleshes of his autobiography.
'M' first met Sri Ramakrishna in 1882. Sri Ramakrishna passed away on the 16th August, 1886. Thus 'M's record covers last four years after meeting his master; 'M' claims that he simply recorded the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. The Gospel was not his creation. It was not a product of his imagination. 'M' humbly submitted that it was a report only of his own understanding. 'M' wrote to Pramada Das Mitra, 'My object has been to present scenes from his daily life as well as his teachings as I understand them.' I am confident that this volume will be well accepted by scholars and readers in the academic world. I congratulate the editors for their sincerity and successful efforts.
The nineteenth century was a very important period of Indian politics, when the British imperialism was expanding rapidly and Indian nationalism was on the rise. The Ramakrishna- Vivekananda Movement was played an important role for the developing of the Indian nationalism. Sri Ramakrishna was the central figure of the Movement and he was one of the most significant spiritual leaders of the modern world and a great lover of humanity.
Ramakrishna (February 18, 1836 - August 16, 1886) was born in a poor Brahmin family in rural Bengal. He was staying in Kolkata from 1852 CE, first in Jhamapukur and then as a priest of the Kali temple in Dakshineswar, dedicated to the goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition. Sri Ramakrishna practised different paths of Hinduism and experienced the same reality. He also experimented with other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that they all lead to the same God. His deep meditative knowledge was expressed by his simple words "yato mat tato path" i.e. "as many faiths, so many paths." which became the popular sign of interfaith understanding. Sri Ramakrishna, though conventionally uneducated, he attracted the attention of the middle class and numerous Bengali intellectuals. Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people. In him, deepest spirituality and broadest catholicity stood side by side. The God-man of nineteenth-century India did not found any cult, nor did he show a new path to salvation. His message was his God-consciousness. When God-consciousness falls short, traditions become dogmatic and oppressive and religious teachings lose their transforming power. At a time when the very foundation of religion, faith in God, was crumbling under the relentless blows of materialism and scepticism, Sri Ramakrishna, through his burning spiritual realizations, demonstrated beyond doubt the reality of God and the validity of the time-honoured teachings of all the prophets and saviours of the past, and thus restored the falling edifice of religion on a secure foundation.
The greatest contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world is his message of the harmony of religions. To Sri Ramakrishna all religions are the revelation of God in His diverse aspects to satisfy the manifold demands of human minds. Like different photographs of a building taken from different angles, different religions give us the pictures of one truth from different standpoints. They are not contradictory but complementary. Sri Ramakrishna faithfully practiced the spiritual disciplines of different religions and came to the realization that all of them lead to the same goal. His one of the important contribution is that the paths may vary, but the goal remains the same. Harmony of religions is not uniformity; it is unity in diversity. It is not a fusion of religions, but a fellowship of religions based on their common goal-communion with God. This harmony is to be realized by deepening our individual God-consciousness. In the present- day world, threatened by nuclear war and torn by religious intolerance, Sri Ramakrishna's message of harmony gives us hope and shows the way. The life and experiences of the Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna afford us an opportunity to understand the nature of mystic experiences. In a religious context, Sri Ramakrishna's experiences were varied and spontaneous, as well as induced, and they had a profound impact on his life as well as that of his culture. This is illustrated by Ramakrishna describing God as a mother who cooks fish differently for her children according to their tastes, temperaments and their ability to digest different types of food. For Ramakrishna, God is both the Mother of the universe and also of individual souls of the children. In India, a mother is considered as one who sacrifices herself for her children and goes to great lengths to satisfy them and bring them happiness. According to Ramakrishna, God as a Mother therefore makes different religions and belief systems according to each person's needs and tastes. Through his experimental inferences Ramakrishna was successful in resuscitating the lost faith in the Indian national ideals of spirituality, renunciation and service. On the other hand, he was the pioneer of setting forth a global culture, uniting the East and West, the different sects and sections of the society based on his experience of the universality of the supreme truth manifesting through varied modes. Thus the advent of Sri Ramakrishna was a turning point ushering a new age of hope, unity and greatness which was never dreamt before not only for India but for the entire world at large. However his impact is still to be assessed with only a few voices of recognition of the fact. Many prominent persons like Debendranath Tagore, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Dayananda, Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, Shivanath Shastri, Trailokyanath Sanyal and Kesab Chandra Sen interacted with him and all accepted his genius and greatness. Many young and educated persons accepted him as their preceptor. One of them, Sri Mahendranath Gupta noted down the dialogues of Sri Ramakrishna in his diary when he visited the Master. Later he wrote down these dialogues elaborately through intense meditation and contemplation. It was published in a book named Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita. He had noted down all the dialogues in a stenographic style.
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