Born: February 18, 1836
Passed Away: 16, August, 1886
Ramakrishna Paramhansa was a popular saint of India. He had a strong
faith in the existence of god. He regarded every woman of the society,
including his wife, Sarada, as holy mother. Swami Vivekananda was one of
the prominent disciples of Ramakrishna, who later formed the Ramakrishna
The original name of Ramakrishna Paramhansa was Gadadhar Chattopadhyay.
He was born into a poor and orthodox Brahmin family on 18 February, 1836
in Kamarpukur, Hooghly district of West Bengal. His parents were
Khudiram Chattopadhyaya, and Chandramani Devi.
Though Gadadhar was very reluctant going to school, he had a god-gifted
ability of painting and creating clay models. He was also good at
learning things. He easily mastered the tales, based upon the religion.
Young Gadadhar loved the nature so much that he used to spend much of
his time in orchards and on the river-banks.
After the death of his father in 1843, the responsibilities of the
family were handled by his elder brother Ramkumar. Ramkumar left home
for Calcutta and started teaching Sanskrit in a local school. Ramkumar
also served as a priest at different socio-religious functions. Young
Gadadhar, back in his village started performing regular worshipping of
Ramkrishna at Dakshineswar
Few months later, Ramkumar was invited to Dakshineswar temple by Rani
Rasmoni, the founder of the temple. Ramkumar was appointed as the
chief-priest of the temple. In 1852, Ramakrishna went to Calcutta and
started assisting his brother at the same temple.
In 1856, after the death of Ramkumar, Ramakrishna took his place as the
chief-priest of the Kali temple. It is believed that the name
Ramakrishna was given to Gadadhar by the son-in-law of Rani Rasmoni.
After being given more responsibilities, Ramkrishna began to spend much
time in the "Thakur-Ghar" (home of the deity). He considered
Goddess Kali as the mother of all. He wanted to see the glimpse of the
god. At times, he would go into the jungle and spend the entire night
worshipping goddess Kali. The activities of Ramakrishna were viewed by
many as gimmick. Many believed that Ramakrishna has become "mad".
With an effort to bring Ramakrishna back into the normal life, her
mother began to search for a bride. In 1959, Ramakrishna was married to
five year old Sarada.
Ramakrishna was the most 'rational mystic'. With scientific precision he
put forward in most simple terms, as parables and stories, the eternal
truth regarding God and God realization. He talked about God only after
directly experiencing the reality of God. To get rid of the thought that
he belonged to a higher brahmanical caste, he began to eat food cooked
by the shudras or lower-caste.
Sarada Devi, Ramakrishna's wife
At the age of eighteen, Sarada, the bride of the Ramakrishna, was sent
to Dakshineshwar to join her husband. It was believed that the
Ramakrishna regarded Sarada as the holy mother. Sarada Devi is
considered as the first disciple of Ramakrishna. Even after
Ramakrishna's death in 1886, Sarada Devi led the movement and worked
hard to make it a success.
Ramakrishna met Vivekananda for the first time in November 1881 when
Vivekananda visited Dakshineswar to know if the god really exists. In
his reply Ramakrishna said, "Yes, I see God, just as I see you
here, only in a much intenser sense. God can be realized,"
At first Vivekananda did not believe Ramakrishna. He felt, how such a
simple man could see the God. But, gradually he started developing faith
in Ramkrishna. Few days later, Vivekananda realized that Ramakrishna's
words were honest and uttered from a deep experience. Vivekananda
started visiting Dakshineswar frequently and a relationship of "Master
and disciple" developed between the two.
In 1885 Ramakrishna suffered from throat cancer. In order to consult
the best physicians of Calcutta, Ramakrishna was shifted to Shyampukur
by his disciples. But with the time, his health started deteriorating
and he was taken to a large house at Cossipore. His condition worsened
and on 16 August, 1886, he expired at the Cossipore garden house. After
the death of Ramakrishna, the monastic disciples formed a fellowship at
a half-ruined house at Baranagar, headed by Vivekananda. This was the
initial stage of Ramakrishna Mission.