In the spiritual environment of nineteenth century India Ramakrishna Paramhansa played a positive role. Different in tone and temperament of his contemporary reformers Ramakrishna through his simple and forceful approach created a stir in the socio-cultural set upon.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, “The story of Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s life is a history of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face. In this age of skepticism Ramakrishna presents an example of bright and living faith which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light.”
Ramakrishna’s life did not have the wealth of events and distinct achievements commonly associated with the lives of great men. Regarding the life of Paramhansa Swami Nivedanda observes” The aristocratic dignity of Maharshi Devendranatha Tagore, the reputed oratory and majestic personality of Keshab Chandra Sen., the vast erudition and political zeal of Swami Dayananda were all in striking contrast with the humble and unostentatious life of Ramakrishna. Neither aristocracy of birth, non wealth, non academic distinction, nor power and prestige in the temporal sense had anything to do with his career. Yes, this humble life had something of immense value and significance, something very subtle that eludes the grasp of common historian.” Ramakrishna was born in early dawn of 18th February, 1836 in Kamarpukur, in the district of Hooghly in West Bengal.
The name of his father was Khudiram Chattopadhaya and mother Chandradevi. The childhood name of Ramakrishna was Gadadhar Chattopadhaya. Born in an orthodox family, Ramakrishna was brought upon a religious environment. At an early age he began showing unusual signs of religious ecstasy.
From his childhood he was deeply attracted towards God and loved the company of Sadhus and Sanyasis. He lost his father only at the tender age of seven. Ramakrishna had only primary education in his village school. At the age of nine, he was duly invested with the holy thread of a Brahman, and the privilege of worshipping the family deity was thrown open to him. The school had very little attraction for him and the only irrepressible desire of his life was to hold communion with God, and consequently, he held in scant regard anything that could not help him in realizing this object. Ramakrishna believed on spiritual practice for realizing God than on book learning.
At the age of nineteen, he came to Calcutta to live with his brother Ramkumar learning. At the age of nineteen, he came to Calcutta to live with his brother Ramkumar who had him appointed the priest of a newly erected temple at Dakhineswar on the banks of Ganges. When Ramakrishna was only 20 years of age his elder brother died and he found himself installed as the head of the priest of the temple. From this time on, almost up to the end of his life, the temple continued to be his permanent residence and the prominent background of his spiritual career.
By accepting the charge of the temple, Ramakrishna entered the second the most momentous phase of his life. The environment of the temple together with his priestly functions went to stir the depth of his soul. Ramakrishna was emotionally devoted to the Goddess Kali. He had the vision of Goddess before him and talked to her.
He had the conviction and realization that the Goddess Kali was not an idol but a living entity. In his spiritual trance Ramakrishna also forgot the external world and had visions. Because of his mad approach he was removed from his duty from the temple. He returned to his village and at the age of 24 married Sarada Devi who became his spiritual companion. Ramakrishna again returned to Dakhineswar and for long twelve years devoted himself to meditation and quest for knowledge.
During this period in 1862 he learnt Tantrik Sadhana from a lady named Bhairavi. Immediately after he had come to the end of the path of Tantras, his mind was drawn irresistibly to approach to God through the avenues of Vaishnavism. Jatadhari, Vaishnava monk initiated the process to Ramakrishna.
He learnt Vedantic knowledge from Totapuri. Immediately after his survey of entire sea of Hindu Sadhan through reading and moving to places like Varanasi, Prayag, Brindaban had been over, Ramakrishna felt urge of exploring the alien paths of Islam and Christianity one after another. Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s quest of spiritual realization did not touch Buddhism.
As time passed on the name and fame of Ramakrishna as a spiritual preceptor spread to different places. People came to the precincts of Dakhineswar temple to have a glance of this prophet and to hear his spiritual realization. After a life of dedication to the cause of spiritual upliftment of mankind Ramakrishna breathed his last on 16th August,1886 but left with a great disciple to carry forward his message and he was no other than Swami Vivekananda.