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Gospel of Sri Ram a Krishna

Gospel of Sri Ram a Krishna

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Published by: Robin on Aug 21, 2010
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The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
Recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, “M”Translated by Swami Nikhilananda
Reproduced from the site of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad, India
By ALDOUS HUXLEYIN THE HISTORY of the arts genius is a thing of very rare occurrence. Rarer still,however, are the competent reporters and recorders of that genius. The world has had manyhundreds of admirable poets and philosophers; but of these hundreds only a very few havehad the fortune to attract a Boswell or an Eckermann.
When we leave the field of art for that of spiritual religion, the scarcity of competentreporters becomes even more strongly marked. Of the day-to-day life of the greattheocentric saints and contemplatives we know, in the great majority of cases, nothingwhatever. Many, it is true, have recorded their doctrines in writing, and a few, such as StAugustine, Suso and St. Teresa, have left us autobiographies of the greatest value. But, alldoctrinal writing is in some measure formal and impersonal, while the autobiographer tendsto omit what he regards as trifling matters and suffers from the further disadvantage of being unable to say how he strikes other people and in what way he affects their lives.Moreover, most saints have left neither writings nor self-portraits, and for knowledge of their lives, their characters and their teachings, we are forced to rely upon the records madeby their disciples who, in most cases, have proved themselves singularly incompetent asreporters and biographers. Hence the special interest attaching to this enormously detailedaccount of the daily life and conversations of Sri Ramakrishna."M", as the author modestly styles himself, was peculiarly qualified for his task. To areverent love for his master, to a deep and experiential knowledge of that master's teaching,he added a prodigious memory for the small happenings of each day and a happy gift forrecording them in an interesting and realistic way. Making good use of his natural gifts andof the circumstances in which he found himself, "M" produced a book unique, so far as myknowledge goes, in the literature of hagiography. No other saint has had so able andindefatigable a Boswell. Never have the small events of a contemplative's daily life beendescribed with such a wealth of intimate detail. Never have the casual and unstudiedutterances of a great religious teacher been set down with so minute a fidelity. To Westernreaders, it is true, this fidelity and this wealth of detail are sometimes a trifle disconcerting;for the social, religious and intellectual frames of reference within which Sri Ramakrishnadid his thinking and expressed his feelings were entirely Indian. But after the first fewsurprises and bewilderments, we begin to find something peculiarly stimulating andinstructive about the very strangeness and, to our eyes, the eccentricity of the man revealedto us in "M's" narrative. What a scholastic philosopher would call the "accidents" of Ramakrishna's life were intensely Hindu and therefore, so far as we in the West areconcerned, unfamiliar and hard to understand; its "essence", however, was intenselymystical and therefore universal. To read through these conversations in which mysticaldoctrine alternates with an unfamiliar kind of humour, and where discussions of the oddestaspects of Hindu mythologygive place to the most profound and subtle utterances about thenature of Ultimate Reality, is in itself a liberal, education in humility, tolerance andsuspense of judgment. We must be grateful to the translator for his excellent version of abook so curious and delightful as a biographical document, so precious, at the same time,for what it teaches us of the life of the spirit.
Swami NikhilanandaThe Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is the English translation of the Sri Sri RamakrishnaKathamrita, the conversations of Sri Ramakrishna with his disciples, devotees, and visitors,recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, who wrote the book under the pseudonym of "M." Theconversations in Bengali fill five volumes, the first of which was published in 1897 and thelast shortly after M.'s death in 1932. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras, has published in twovolumes an English translation of selected chapters from the monumental Bengali work. Ihave consulted these while preparing my translation.M., one of the intimate disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, was present during all theconversations recorded in the main body of the book and noted them down in his diary.They therefore have the value of almost stenographic records. In Appendix A are givenseveral conversations which took place in the absence of M., but of which he received afirst-hand record from persons concerned. The conversations will bring before the reader'smind an intimate picture of the Master's eventful life from March 1882 to April 24, 1886,only a few months before his passing away. During this period he came in contact chieflywith English-educated Bengalis; from among them he selected his disciples and the bearersof his message, and with them he shared his rich spiritual experiences.I have made a literal translation, omitting only a few pages of no particular interest toEnglish-speaking readers. Often literary grace has been sacrificed for the sake of literaltranslation. No translation can do full justice to the original. This difficulty is all the morefelt in the present work, whose contents are of a deep mystical nature and describe the innerexperiences of a great seer. Human language is an altogether inadequate vehicle to expresssupersensuous perception. Sri Ramakrishna was almost illiterate. He never clothed histhoughts in formal language. His words sought to convey his direct realization of Truth. Hisconversation was in a village patois. Therein lies its charm. In order to explain to hislisteners an abstruse philosophy, he, like Christ before him, used with telling effect homelyparables and illustrations, culled from his observation of the daily life around him.The reader will find mentioned in this work many visions and experiences that fall outsidethe ken of physical science and even psychology. With the development of modernknowledge the border line between the natural and the supernatural is ever shifting itsposition. Genuine mystical experiences are not as suspect now as they were half a centuryago. The words of Sri Ramakrishna have already exerted a tremendous influence in the landof his birth. Savants of Europe have found in his words the ring of universal truth.But these words were not the product of intellectual cogitation; they were rooted in directexperience. Hence, to students of religion, psychology, and physical science, these