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SRI RAMAKRISHNA THE TYAGI

SRI RAMAKRISHNA THE TYAGI

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Article of Vedanta Kesari magazine by Swami Paratparananda, a former Editor of this magazine (1962-1967).
Article of Vedanta Kesari magazine by Swami Paratparananda, a former Editor of this magazine (1962-1967).

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Published by: Estudante da Vedanta on Feb 20, 2010
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SRI RAMAKRISHNA THE TYAGI *
Swami Paratparananda
(Sri Ramakrishna was never tired of repeating that the essence of spiritual disciplineis the renunciation of Kama-kanchana, lust and lucre. Swami Paratparananda, Head of Ramakrishna Ashrama **, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a former Editor of theVedanta Kesari explains how freedom from carnal desires and avarice helps in God-realization and how Sri Ramakrishna the scientist demonstrated by his own life that this can be achieved.)* From the article published in “The Vedanta Kesari” magazine;Sri Ramakrishna Post-Centenary Golden Jubilee Number Nov-Dec 1985, Vol. LXXII No. 11 & 12.** From 1973 to 1988.
Example is better than precept, goes an old adage. It is applicablein a sense more forcefully to spiritual life. Every religion has its scripturesand lofty are their teachings, but the generality of mankind cannotconstrue them properly if it does not see before it persons in whom suchprinciples are embodied in actions. The Upanishads, which form the latterpart of the Vedas, the supreme authority among the Hindu scriptures,says: “Neither by work, nor by progeny, nor by wealth, but by
Tyaga
 (renunciation) alone did they attain immortality.” 
1
The purpose of allreligions is to teach and equip man to attain immortality, freedom from alltypes of bondage, bondage created by attachment to worldly things, topersons, to one’s body etc. As the above passage clearly states,immortality is not possible without
ty 
ā
ga
, renunciation. The above is not asolitary instance. In the Brihadarnyaka Upanishad it is clearly pointed outthat immortality cannot be attained by wealth
2.
In the KathopanishadYama offers Nachiketa celestial damsels, chariot, unlimited wealth, longlife and so on in place of the Knowledge about the life after death.Nachiketa rejects them all as transitory and evanescent and insists onbeing taught that Knowledge, acquiring which one becomes immortal.
3 
The scriptures have classified the desires which impede man fromrealizing God, into desire for progeny, for wealth, and desire to enjoy in
1
 
Kaivalya Up.
2; also
 Mahanarayana Up.
12-14.
2
 
 Brihadarnyaka Up.
2.4.2
3
I. 25-26
 
the heavens or the other worlds.
4
Giving up of these desires isrenunciation. All these teachings of the scriptures would have had nomeaning unless there were persons who practised them and attained thatblissful state that is promised. This want was supplied by the life of SriRamakrishna.The advent of Sri Ramakrishna occurred at a time when bhoga,enjoyment coupled with materialism, was reigning, when religion wasconsidered the opium of the poor, and Hinduism a mass of superstitions.Although there came into being some organisations, such as the BrahmoSamaj, to revive the religious life of India, they concerned themselvesrather with social reforms, which touched only the fringe and not the coreof the problem. They were only trying to adapt religion to the existingatmosphere. The central theme of religion, ty
ā
ga, renunciation, was as faraway from their view as from that of the materialist. And though India didnot lack renouncers, Sannyasins, they mostly lived in the Himalayanregions, far away from the generality of mankind, unbeknown to it. Now,it was the life in the cities which was setting the standard, and here underthe influence of western thought people, especially the young, werebeginning to doubt the veracity of the teachings of the Hindu scriptures.Therefore, it cannot be gainsaid that the advent of Sri Ramakrishna atthis juncture was an effective and solid remedy to the ills that wereplaguing the society. This will be amply verified if we glance throughsome of the major events of his life.One of the practices essential to lead a life of the spirit isdiscrimination between the real and the transitory. From his very boyhoodGadadhar, as Sri Ramakrishna was then called, possessed this virtue in agreat degree. He was also a keen observer. His father’s piety, dedicationto and dependence on God left no doubt in the mind of the boy as to thereal purpose of human life. The minstrels who used to go through thevillages reciting mythological stories from the epics and Puranas used toinspire the villagers to enact them. Gadadhar never missed nay of theseperformances and being possessed of a wonderful memory repeated suchdramas before his friends. Thus “he directed all his energies to the studyof the lives and characters of spiritual heroes.” 
5
The death of his fatherwhen the boy was only seven years of age made him seek solitude andpass long hours absorbed in thought. Moreover the company of thewandering monks who would spend a few days in the village rest-houseon their way to the sacred city of Puri, strengthened in him the feeling of transitoriness of this world, which was beginning to manifest in him. Theconstant association with these monks, listening to their discussions onand readings from the scriptures gave the boy an incentive to meditation.The investiture with the sacred thread which gave him the opportunity to
4
 
 Brihadaranyaka Up.
3.5.1
5
 
 Life of Sri Ramakrishna
, (Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta. 1977) p. 13 (hereafter ‘
 Life
’)
 
worship the family deity Raghuvir filled him with great joy and lifted hismind to a lofty level, in which he had extraordinary visions.Thus was the great renouncer preparing for the final act, so muchso by the time he was seventeen, his decision to shun the educationwhich would provide him only with material prosperity was already made.Therefore, when his brother Ramkumar admonished him for neglectinghis education, prompt came his reply: “Brother, what shall I do with amere bread-winning education? I would rather acquire that wisdom whichwill illumine my heart and getting which one is satisfied for ever.” 
6
 The same spirit of independence and desire for freedom made himevade all overtures of an employment in the Kali temple though he livedthere with his brother Ramkumar. Behind this attitude there was also theintense conviction that the prime objective of life was to attain Godconsciousness by the conquest of the flesh and renunciation of wealth.The death of Ramkumar on whom he had poured all his filial affectionafter the passing away of his father was a tremendous shock to him, for ithappened when his mind was searching for something that was real andimperishable in this transitory world. He was convinced that man could gobeyond all misery and attain immortality only by realizing God, thefountain of eternal bliss. His appointment as the priest of the Kali templehelped him to direct all the energy to have Her vision and pour hisdevotion on the ever affectionate Mother. This one-pointed devotion andanxiety to feel the presence of the Divine Mother, devoured, as it were, allthought about bodily comforts, nay even about its bare necessities. Thusthe difficult struggle to conquer the flesh was made easy and there wasno room left in his mind for thoughts about wealth. And once he had thevision of the Divine Mother his mind never turned towards the objects of the senses, rather his eagerness to feel the perpetual presence of theMother increased a hundredfold.However, he as not saved from undergoing some ordeals. The God-intoxicated state through which Sri Ramakrishna passed, caused him toact sometimes apparently in a strange manner. Rani Rasmani and Mathursuspecting this to be some nervous trouble first arranged for histreatment by an expert physician, but as it brought no relief, they thoughta little deviation from the rigid observance of continence would do himgood. “Accordingly they hired two women of ill fame to enter the room atDakshineswar and tempt this child of the Divine Mother.” 
7
At their verysight Sri Ramakrishna took refuge at the feet of the Mother, loudlyuttering Her name. It is said that on another occasion Mathur took SriRamakrishna to Calcutta and stopped at a house where there were manybeautiful girls waiting and retired, leaving him alone amidst them.
6
 
 Ibid 
., p. 34
7
 
 Ibid 
., p. 68

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