Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Birthname: Gadadhar Chattopadhyaya, Paramahansa, Thakur, Ramakrishna
Advaita Vedanta
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, US, UK, Japan, Russia
Date of Birth: 
February 18, 1836
Place of Birth: 
Kamarpukur, West Bengal, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
August 16, 1886
Other Related Gurus: 
Sri Sarada Devi


Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, was a famous mystic of 19th-century India.

His religious school of thought led to the formation of the Ramakrishna Mission by his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda.

He was born in a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal and became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali, which had the influence of the main strands of Bengali bhakti tradition.

The most widely known among his first spiritual teachers was an ascetic woman, called Bhairavi Brahmani, who was skilled in Tantra and Vaishnava bhakti.

Later an Advaita Vedantin ascetic taught him non-dual meditation, and according to Ramakrishna, he experienced nirvikalpa samadhi under his guidance. Ramakrishna also practiced other religions, notably Islam and Christianity, and said that all religions lead to the same God.


# Like stars in the daylight, God is invisible. Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the sky. During the day? O man! Because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.

# A man thickly imbedded in maya is like a piece of iron thickly imbedded in mud. Just like the iron with mud is unmoved by the power of the magnet, so also the man is unaffected by the Lord. When the mud is washed away with water, it frees the iron. Likewise, when maya is washed away with prayer, man is automatically attracted to God.

# To explain God after merely reading the scriptures is like explaining a city after seeing it on a map. A meteorological report may forecast heavy rainfall, but you cannot squeeze a single drop from the paper on which the report is written. So also many good sayings are found in holy books, but merely reading them won't make you spiritually wise.

# An unbaked cake of flour sizzles loudly when put in heated oil. The more its fried, the less the noise. When it is fully fried, the noise ceases altogether. Likewise, when a man has a little knowledge, he goes about talking and preaching. A truly wise man does not make a vain display of his wisdom.

# Young bamboo bends easily, while full-grown bamboo breaks when bent with force. Likewise young minds bend easily towards spiritual thoughts as their minds has not yet stored up with contamination.

# All women are parts of the Blessed Mother and should be looked upon as mothers.

# A spiritual aspirant may live in the world but the world should not live in his mind. A boat may stay in water but water should not stay in the boat. Live like a lotus-leaf in water, or like a mud-fish in the marsh. A spiritual person lives in the material world without being obsessed with it. Milk poured into water mixes readily with it. When converted into butter, it no longer gets mixed but floats on top.

# Do all your duties, but keep you mind on God. Live with all - with wife, children, Father and mother and serve them. Serve them as if they were very dear to you. But know in your heart of hearts, that they do not belong to you. There is nothing wrong in your being in the world. But you must direct your mind toward God; otherwise you will not succeed. Do your duty with one hand and with the other hold to God. After the duty is over you will hold to God with both hands.

# Vision of God is obtained when the mind is perfectly tranquil. When the sea of one's mind is agitated by the waves of desires, it cannot reflect God. A kite with a fish in its beak was chased by a large number of crows and screaming kites, pecking at it and trying to snatch away the fish. Wherever it went, the flock of birds followed it. Tired of the chase, the kite threw away the fish. Instantly the flock veered off in the direction of the fish. The kite now sat calm and undisturbed upon the branch of a tree. As long as a man does not cast aside the burden of worldly desires, he cannot be at peace with himself.

# Ceremonies and rituals are useful up to a certain point, for the growth of spiritual thoughts. However, they become useless for him who has realized the highest truth, namely, God. Just as the oyster shell that contains a precious pearl is in itself of very little value, but is essential for the growth of the pearl.

# To acquire the power of concentration a person must begin by fixing the mind on a God with a form. Only then can he meditate on the Formless. Once a mind has been trained to focus on an idol, it is easy for it to focus on the Formless. A marksman learns to shoot by first aiming at big objects. As he gets more skilled in shooting, he targets smaller and smaller objects.

# After fourteen years of hard penance a man acquired the super natural power to walk on water. When he displayed of it, his brother rebuked him "What you have accomplished in fourteen years, ordinary men can do by paying a few pennies to the boatman.

# There are several bathing banks or ghats on a large river. A person goes to whichever ghat he pleases, but reaches the same water. There's no point in quarrelling over the merits of the various ghats. Every religion of the world is like a ghat, each has its own plus and minus points. And each leads to the water of Eternal Bliss. The one and the same water is called by different names in different languages. So, the one Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, is invoked by some as Allah, by some as Hari and by others as Jesus.

# Two persons were hotly disputing over the color of a chameleon they had seen on a tree. One said that it was red, the other asserted it was blue. Unable to resolve their difference, they went to a man who lived under that tree and had watched the chameleon in all its phases. He knew that the chameleon constantly changes color. So he agreed with both the men. For the chameleon was red, as well as blue. Likewise, a devotee who has seen God only in one aspect knows that aspect alone. None but he who has seen him in manifold aspects can say "All these forms are of the one God, for God is multiformed." God is both formless and with form, and infinite are his forms.

# Viveka and vairagya, discrimination and dispassion, are the two purifying agents in our life. Put a purifying agent like alum into a vessel of muddy water, and see how impurities settle down at the bottom, making the water clear again. Similarly, viveka and vairagya help our restless senses to settle down and clear our minds of tensions and anxieties.

# A person who is fond of fishing first gathers detailed information about a pond, the type of fish it contains and the most suitable bait to catch them. He then goes to the pond with his fishing rod and bait, and waits there patiently until he gets an attractive catch. Similarly, a spiritual aspirant should first gain knowledge from scriptures and spiritual masters. He should try to seek God with the bait of faith and devotion, with his mind as the fishing rod. With unceasing patience he must wait for the fullness of time. Only then will he realize the Divine.

Once a disciple asked his Guru - When shall I see God? Then Guru took his disciple to the sea and immersed his head in water. After some time he released him and asked, "How did you feel?" "Desperate for breath", replied the devotee. On hearing the Guru said, "You shall see God when you are as desperate for Him, as you were for breath.

# Love can be unselfish, samartha; reciprocal, samanjasa; or selfish, sadharana. The unselfish lover seeks only the welfare of his beloved, even at the cost of personal hardship and pain. In reciprocal love, the lover desires happiness both for self and his beloved. When love is selfish, the lover cares only for his own happiness.

# Four blind men went out to 'see' an elephant. One touched the leg of the elephant and said, "The elephant is like a pillar." The second touched the trunk and said, "The elephant is like a thick club." The third touched the belly and said, "The elephant is like a big wall". The fourth touched the ears and said, "The elephant is like a big winnowing basket." Thus they began to dispute hotly among themselves as to the shape of the elephant. A passer-by, seeing them thus quarreling, said, "What is it you are disputing about?" They told him everything and asked him to arbitrate. The man said, "None of you has seen the elephant. The elephant is not like a pillar, its legs are like pillars. It is not like a winnowing basket, its ears are like winnowing baskets. It is not like a club, its trunk is like a club. The elephant is the combination of all these-legs, ears, belly, trunk and so on." In the same manner, those who quarrel about the nature of God have each seen only one aspect of the Deity.




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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Ramakrishna: His Life and Sayings

by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Book Description:

"Ramakrishna (1833-86), was a Bengali Hindu sage. Although theoretically a high-caste Brahamin by birth, he came from a poor, low-caste village and had little or no education. He did not know a word of Sanskrit and his knowledge of the Vedas, Puranas, and Hindu Epics was obtained orally (in the Bengali language). In spite of this, he managed to convey in his aphorisms the essence of the Hindu religion. Ramakrishna also worshipped with Muslims and Christians, and propounded a simple approach to religious tolerance: "Creeds and sects matter nothing. Let every one perform with faith the devotions and practices of his creed. Faith is the only clue to get to God." (#200).

His often earthy sayings and short fables are immediately comprehensible to everyone, using vivid metaphors which employ everyday objects and settings to express deep Hindu philosophical concepts. This collection of sayings was collected by his followers after his death and translated by Max Muller." (Quote from sacred-texts.com)

Table of Contents:

Publisher's Preface; Preface; The MahÂtmans; The Four Stages Of Life; SamnyÂsins Or Saints; Ascetic Exercises Or Yoga; RÂmakrishna; DayÂnanda SarasvatÎ; PawÂri BÂba; DebendranÂth Tagore; Rai ShaligrÂm Saheb Bahadur; RÂmakrishna; The Dialogic Process; RÂmakrishna's Life; Remarks On RÂmakrishna's Life; Mozoomdar's Judgement; RÂmakrishna's Language; RÂmakrishna's Wife; RÂmakrishna's Influence On Keshub Chunder Sen; VedÂnta-philosophy; Ekam AdvitÎyam. One Without A Second; GnÔthi SeautÓn; Final Conclusion, Tat Tvamasi; The Sayings Of RÂmakrishna; The Sayings Of RÂmakrishna . 1-99; The Sayings Of RÂmakrishna: 100-199; The Sayings Of RÂmakrishna: 200-299; The Sayings Of RÂmakrishna: 300-395; Index To The Sayings

About the Publisher:

Forgotten Books is a publisher of historical writings, such as: Philosophy, Classics, Science, Religion, Esoteric and Mythology. www.forgottenbooks.org

Forgotten Books is about sharing information, not about making money. All books are priced at wholesale prices. We are also the only publisher we know of to print in large sans-serif font, which is proven to make the text easier to read and put less strain on your eyes.

Pro Opinions

Swami Paramhamsa

LeslieTripathy's picture

I love reading Swami Vivekananda,I admire Shri Paramhamsa coz he was Swami Vivekananda's Guru and today I felt like gratifyin my support to the philosophies of Swami Vivekanada on his birthday,jan 12t

madan_gautam's picture

Swami Ramkrishna Paramhamsa

He was and He is the mile stone for the modern Indian Spirituality.

madan_gautam | Fri, 01/30/2009 - 17:59

mile stone

He is complete spiritual path Himself for devotees. If someone desires to find out God or desires to know god or Self-Realization; certainly, He is the perfect path which may be unfolded after getting initiation from Belur Math.

NIDHI PARKASH | Sun, 06/26/2011 - 10:23
radhika.lella's picture

rama krishna paramahamsa - mile stone

He is our spiritual guru. What ever you said here everything is 100 % truth. Thanks for gave this knowledge.

radhika.lella | Mon, 09/19/2011 - 05:38

Most favourite Child of Mother Divine...

archana.anchal's picture

Ramakrishna was among the most favorite child of Mother Divine(Maa Kali), it is said that she used to talk to Swami Ramakrishna for hours........Swami Ramakrishna has always see mother divine in her b



The most precious child of my Mother was Thakur and has been; and other precious children of my Mother are Shri Ganesha and Hanuman Etc.
The most precious being in the sense that He loved the most to Mother, He saw the Mother everywhere and in each thing and also He did each act for Her, therefore he looked Sharada as the same form of Mother Who was in temple Deity and in his physical/biological mother who gave Him birth. In His views Mother is the Highest God and nobody is above Mother and once upon a time I listened from a saint during a lecture in Ramakrishna Auditorium that He (Ramakrishna) knew nothing except God.

It is said, 'He knows nothing except God'.

NIDHI PARKASH | Sun, 06/26/2011 - 10:50



Shri Ramakrishna was the spirituality reincarnated on this earth for the setting of practical harmony of all religions of the world.

ramakrishna Dev

akbanik's picture

He was a master of Swami Vivekananda. His short stories are accompanied by a moral , which touchs to life.


Touches to life

He was not only master of Swami Vivekananda but also many of others----as Shivananda, Brahmananda, Premananda etc. who were called inner circle of his disciples while other circle was of his lay disciples, household disciples etc. His stories lead towards the path of Divinity and teach us how to follow the methods of spirituality.
As you being my brother from Bengal so I wish you study his books in Bengla language available from Ramakrishna Mission called 1. Leelaamrita and 2. Vachanaamrit. originally written in Bangla but their English translations are also available under the following titles----
1. Shri Ramakrishna The Great Master
2. The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna

NIDHI PARKASH | Sun, 06/26/2011 - 10:02

Yugavatar - Thakur Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

G.Srinivas's picture

Words fail to do justice to the greatness of 'Thakur'!



Becoming smaller and smaller child of the Mother mahakali, alnog-with weeping at higher and higher tones for Mother; at that time certainly Divine Mother comes, without delaying even a second, to pick up such a precious child. Ramakrishna was a such kind of her child.

NIDHI PARKASH | Wed, 05/11/2011 - 17:29

A True spiritual Icon of the 20th Century

Indweller's picture

I have just finished reading an amazing book about the life of Ramakrishna and I am totally convinced that he was a divine being.

Pureza Original

Java's picture

Perceber a força dentro de si mesmo, e procurar com afinco, determinação fundamentada, na intuição mais intima do Ser que tem necessidade de florescer.