Ramakrishna, Sri (1836–1886)
An important Indian spiritual teacher on Vedanta and mystic
of the nineteenth-century Hindu Renaissance. He was born
February 18, 1836, in a village in Bengal, after the divine hero
Sri Rama had appeared in a vision to an old Brahmin named
Khudiram, saying that he would be reborn as his son. In due
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Ramakrishna, Sri
1277
course, the boy was born and named Gadadhar. He grew up to
worship the goddess Kali, the great mother, and even when he
was obliged to marry, he directed his veneration toward his
bride, identifying her with Kali. At the age of eighteen, Gadadhar
was taken to Calcutta by his brother Ramkumar, whom he
assisted as a teacher.
He settled in a temple at Dakshineswar, where he became
known as ‘‘Ramakrishna,’’ and after a period of intense spiritual
discipline had ecstatic visions and trances. He was virtually
intoxicated with the bliss of samadhi or divine trance, and a
number of miracles were credited to him. A group of young
spiritual seekers informally gathered around him. One of
these, Swami Vivekananda, went to the United States in 1893
to speak to the World’s Parliament of Religions. Given the
strong public response to his presentation, he stayed on and in
1894 founded the Vedanta Society of New York, the first of a
number of similar centers now present in the west. Upon his return
to India he organized the followers of Ramakrishna into
the Ramakrishna Order, which continues to spread the teachings
of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda worldwide.
Sri Ramakrishna passed into the mahasamadhi (great sleep)
of death August 16, 1886. The Ramakrishna Order is today the
largest and most widely known monastic order in India, with
colleges, schools, hospitals, relief projects, and publishing
houses. Publications and information are available from Sri Ramakrishna
Math, Mylapore, Madras 4, India, or from the
American branches Vedanta Press & Book Shop, 1946 Vedanta
Pl., Hollywood, CA 90028; Vedanta Society, 2323 Vallejo St.,
San Francisco, CA 94123; Vedanta Society, 34 W. 71 St., New
York, NY 10023.
Sources
Gambhrananda, Swami. History of the Ramakrishna Math and
Mission. Calcutta, India Advaita Ashraam, 1957.
Isherwood, Christopher. Ramakrishna and His Disciples, New
York Simon & Schuster, 1965.
Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America. Detroit Gale
Research, 1991.
Ramakrishna, Sri. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Boston Beacon
Press, 1947.

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