Today is Sri Ramakrishna’s Jayanti.
It was the time when Indian tradition, culture, civilization, values, etc. were being challenged by Western education and ideas. India had been at the top of the Human Civilization – economically, scientifically, technologically, philosophically, socially, etc. for several millenia. Repeated invasions and rule by alien culture had already weakened the indigenous culture from the top. British educational “reforms”, withdrawal of support to local educational systems and local languages, destruction of local manufacturing, export of raw material and import of finished goods, etc. had weakened the indigenous culture and economy from the bottom. There was a threat that Indian culture would be completely wiped off the face of the earth, like Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Saxon, Celtic, Bavarian, Irish, Scandinavian, Arabian, and several other cultures.
It was that time that Sri Ramakrishna lived just under the nose of the British in the capital city of the Colonial government. Being there, he attracted the best of the young college youth and reversed the tide silently in their minds. Their leader, the world famous Swami Vivekananda, took the world by storm and re-established the Indian culture within India on a strong footing. His words reignited self-worth in the people, which eventually led to political freedom. He also introduced Indian thought in the West. Though Indian thought had reached the cream of the Western society and was appreciated a lot, it was not available to the common man. Swami Vivekananda took the message of India to Europe and America. He was followed by a train of yogis and spiritual teachers to cater to the Western audience and the world has never been the same.
Here is what Swami Vivekananda wrote to one of this brother disciples (Thanks to Prasad for posting this on FB):
Any of you may join any party you like, I have no objection, no, not in the least, but travelling this world over I find that save and except his (Sri Ramakrishna) circle alone, everywhere else thought and act are at variance. For those that belong to him, I have the utmost love, the utmost confidence. I have no alternative in the matter. Call me one-sided if you will, but there you have my bona fide avowal. If but a thorn pricks the foot of one who has surrendered himself to Shri Ramakrishna, it makes my bones ache. All others I love; you will find very few men so unsectarian as I am; but you must excuse me, I have that bit of bigotry. If I do not appeal to his name, whose else shall I? It will be time enough to seek for a big Guru in our next birth; but in this, it is that unlearned Brahmin who has bought this body of mine for ever.
I give you a bit of my mind; don’t be angry, pray. I am your slave so long as you are his — step a hair’s breadth outside that, and you and I are on a par. … Surrender everything to his feet. What on earth do we want? He has given us refuge, what more do we want? Bhakti is verily its own reward — what else is needed? My brother, he who made men of us by feeding and clothing and imparting wisdom and knowledge, who opened the eyes of our self, whom day and night we found the living God — must we be traitors to him!!! And you forget the mercy of such a Lord! The lives of Buddha and Krishna and Jesus are matters of ancient history, and doubts are entertained about their historicity, and you in spite of seeing the greatness of Shri Ramakrishna’s life in flesh and blood sometimes lose your head! Fie upon you! I have nothing to say. His likeness is being worshipped in and out of your country, by godless and heartless men, and you are stranded at times on disbelief!! In a breath he will create for himself hundreds of thousands of such as you are. Blessed is your birth, blessed your lineage, and blessed your country that you were allowed to take the dust of his feet. Well I can’t help. He is protecting us, forsooth — I see it before my eyes. Insane that you are, is it through my own strength that beauty like that of fairies, and hundreds of thousands of rupees, lose their attraction and appear as nothing to me? Or is it he who is protecting me? He who has no faith in him and no reverence for the Holy Mother will be a downright loser, I tell you plainly.
This much I have understood:
Sri Ramakrishna is the ultimate perfection of all the values cherished by mankind: truth, love, chastity, renunciation, fulfillment, art, music, dance, poetry, story-telling, religion, philosophy, concentration, memory, social service, prayer, contemplation, etc. He is the ultimate ideal of what a human being can achieve. The nearest that another person has come to him is his own disciple – Swami Vivekananda.
Loving Sri Ramakrishna means valuing all that he stood for. Nurturing all that he stood for and disseminating all that he stood for. Doing every action in life as an offering to him. This is the way to reach the kind of perfection that he manifested in his life. Striving towards this human perfection is the biggest service that a person can do to humanity for this generation and the generations to come.
May Sri Ramakrishna give me the strength to follow his footsteps. Just like what Swami Vivekananda says, “I have laid down this life at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna.” Thy will be done. I have no more agenda for this life than to nurture and disseminate everything that he stood for.
Jai Ramakrishna !!!