This book consists of articles by the Master’s direct disciples as well as by his contemporaries; several articles by his Eastern and Western admires – monks of the Order, leading men of letters, national leaders, philosophers, statements and other eminent men, each well known in his respective field. All the contributors have the same aim in view studying the unique life and message of the Master and paying their humble homage to this child of the Divine Mother, Sri Ramakrishna, who is acclaimed as the Prophet of Renascent India.
Sri Ramakrishna Temple, Belur Math sprawling over several acres of land on the western bank of the Hooghly (Ganga), is a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world professing different religious faiths. Even people not interested in religion come here for the peace it exudes.
Religion Always in India precedes national awakening. Shankaracharya was the beginning of a wave that swept round the whole country, culminating in Chaitanya in Bengal, the Sikh Gurus in Punjab, Sivaji in Maharashtra and Ramanuja and Madhvacharya in South. Though each of these, a people sprang into self realization, into national energy and consciousness of their own unity. Sri Ramakrishna represents a synthesis in one person of all the leaders. It follows that the movements of his age will unify and organize the more provincial and fragmentary movements of the past.
The sources of the new materials of this volume have been mentioned in the contents. We acknowledge our deep indebtedness to the publishers of the books and journals of these source materials.
May the book in its new form be of some service to the readers in their understanding the great spirituals phenomenon that is Sri Ramakrishna!
I am glad to know that Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati, has decided to bring out in book form some of the important articles on Sri Ramakrishna and the Ramakrishna Order that appeared in Prabuddha Bharata with which I was associated for some years. A publication of this kind, which commemorates a great event, provides an opportunity to see past events in a larger perspective and also to retrieve some of the choice thoughts of the past from the limbo of time.
The birth of Sri Ramakrishna in 1836 and the founding of the Ramakrishna Order in 1886 are two important events the historical significance of which can never be exaggerated. Sri Ramakrishna imparted a tremendous dynamism and urgency to modern man’s religious commitments and spiritual aspirations. Although he stressed only the eternal verities, he nevertheless found a place for even the non- essentials of religion in the divine scheme of universal life. Having realized through actual practice in his own life how all religious paths led ultimately to the transcendental experience of the ultimate Reality, to Sri Ramakrishna religious toleration and harmony were not a mere creed based on moral compulsion.
Nor was his realization restricted to the transcendenta plane; it flowed freely through his whole personality, expressing itself through every action, word and gesture of his and imparting a wonderful harmony and integrality to his life. As a result, traits, attitudes, and ways of life which had for centuries been regarded as mutually contradictory—such as Jnana and Bhakti, Yoga and Karma, monastic life and householder’s life—were found beautifully blended and unified in Sri Ramakrishna. He saw all human relationships as expressions of divine love. Therefore he was able to draw people of different temperaments to him with an intensity of love which can never be experienced in ordinary life.
The monastic order that bears his name and derives its inspiration and power from him is a direct continuation of his mission on earth: Though his physical presence was withdrawn from mortal eyes about a hundred years ago, his spiritual reality continues to work for the welfare and spiritual uplift of humanity through the Ramakrishna Sangha, which Swami Vivekananda regarded as the ‘mystical cal body’ of Sri Ramakrishna. After performing the consecration of the premises of Belur Math on 9 December 1898, Swamiji declared: ‘From this Centre of universal toleration will go forth the shining message of goodwill and peace and harmony to deluge the world.’
The present volume which brings together articles written by people belonging to diverse walks of life, nation ea alities, and cultures bears testimony to the fact that Swamiji’s prophetic wish has already attained a consider co able measure of fulfillment. As such, this anthology has a historical value over and above the intrinsic worth of the individual articles. I hope it will be read with interest by all those who cherish higher values in life.
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