Sri Ramakrishna is regarded variously as a sage, spiritual leader, world teacher, prophet, Avatara of the present age and so on. Finding these terms unsatisfactory, the noted British author Christopher Isherwood described Sri Ramakrishna as a “phenomenon”. The present book is a modest attempt to understand that phenomenon in the context of world thought currents and in the light of authentic sources.
On the occasion of Sri Ramakrishna’s 175th birth anniversary, it gives us great pleasure to present to our readers The Light of the Modern World. In the history of the human race the advent of great spiritual personalities like Krishna, Buddha, and Christ has always been seen to mark the beginning of a new epoch. Though the meaning of their appearance is not discerned by the laity during their lifetime, as time passes their impact on the core aspects of human life begins to be felt. Thus, in retrospect, a new view emerges of their lives, and we begins to ascribe to them the momentous changes seen in society. According to Swami Vivekananda, “With the birth of Sri Ramakrishna the Golden Age has begun.” But today, for the generality of people, such an assertion may appear preposterous, with no sign of such a beginning visible anywhere. Who was Sri Ramakrishna? What was the purpose of his advent? Did he bring about a silent revolution, unseen on the surface?
This book skillfully deals with these issues, taking for its subject the Avatarahood of Sri Ramakrishna and its universal significance. In the course of his discussion the author presents the different facets of an Avatara and the universal relevance of his message. Many other spiritual topics too are dealt with, all of which go into the making of this impressive and inspiring work.
The author is a senior Trustee of Ramakrishna Math and member of the Governing body of the Ramakrishna Mission. He was formerly an Editor of Prabuddhha Bharata for several years, and is currently an Assistant Secretary of the world-wide Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math.
This volume was originally serialized as articles in Prabuddha Bharata. However, the articles have been thoroughly revised and also new material has been added. We believe this work will go a long way in enlightening the readers about the significance of Sri Ramakrishna’s advent and his message, and also in understanding the epochal dimensions of his personality.
This book is being published as a part of the celebration of the 175th birth anniversary of Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna is regarded variously as a saint, sage, spiritual leader, world teacher, prophet, Avatara of the present age and so on. Finding these terms unsatisfactory, the noted British author Christopher Isherwood described Sri Ramakrishna as a “phenomenon”. The present book is a modest attempt to understand that phenomenon in the context of world thought currents and in the light of authentic sources.
By “authentic sources” is meant primarily Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita (translated into English as The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna), Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga (translated into English as Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master), state-ments of Swami Vivekananda and a few other disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, and the original ideas on Avatarahood propounded by Sri Krishna in the Gita. All references to miracles or miraculous events have been avoided. The main attempt is to understand the universal significance of the Avatarahood doctrine associated with Sri Ramakrishna in the light of modern thought.
The book has a prologue and two parts. The prologue, entitled “Sri Ramakrishna the Known and the Unknown”, is intended to serve as a general introduction to the central theme of the book
Part I constitutes the main body of the book. It is a fairly comprehensive study of the phenomenon of Avatarahood as revealed in the person of Sri Ramakrishna, and the universal significance of this phenomenon not only to the devotees of the Master but to all spiritually minded people all over the free world.
Part II is a detailed study of the message of Sri Ramakrishna and its universal significance.
The prologue originally appeared as an editorial in the March 1979 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, the journal started by Swami Vivekananda. The first and second parts also originally appeared as a series of articles in Prabuddha Bharata from January 2011 to May 2012. The original articles have, however, been thoroughly revised and enlarged in the present edition.
Apart from the doctrine of Avatarahood, the book also contains a lot of discussions on the practical aspects of spiritual life which sincere spiritual seekers will find helpful.
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