The life of Sri Ramakrishna stands unique in the history of the world, because of all the God-realized teachers, he alone was the one, who through his intense spiritual practices, actually verified the fact that all religions are true and all ultimately lead to the same ocean of consciousness called God (also known as Brahman or Sat-Chit-Ananda in Sanskrit.)
“I have practiced”, Sri Ramakrishna used to say, “all religions – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity – and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom; all are directing their steps, though along different paths. (Source: Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by “M”)
Enclosed in this post, is a wonderful account of how Sri Ramakrishna ascertained the truth of the Christian religion as being one of the many paths to God, by attaining a direct vision of Christ.
The narration presented below has been taken from the works of two highly advanced direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna: Swami Saradananda and Mahendranath Gupta (also known as “M”). About Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna had once revealed that he in an earlier incarnation had been a companion of Jesus. (Source: Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, page 1295)
While reading this post, it is helpful to remember that Sri Ramakrishna worshiped God – the Absolute Ocean of Consciousness, in the form of the Divine Mother Kali, who represents the Sakti (power or energy) aspect of Consciousness, which is responsible for creating the Universe.
Sri Ramakrishna’s Vision of Christ
The year was 1874 and Sri Ramakrishna was then 38 years of age. Towards the end of that year, sometime during the month of November, Sri Ramakrishna felt a great urge to learn the truth about Christianity.
He began to listen to readings from the Bible, by Sambhu Charan Mallick, a devotee of his from Calcutta. Becoming intensely fascinated by the life and teachings of Jesus, Sri Ramakrishna longed to gain a vision of God through the Christian path.
Scarcely had this desire arisen in his mind, when it was fulfilled it in a most marvelous way. The event happened at the garden house of Jadunath Mallick, which was situated to the south of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. Sri Ramakrishna used to go there now and then for a walk. As Swami Saradananda narrates in his book, Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master (pages 414 to 416):
Jadunath and his mother had great devotion to the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) from the time they first had seen him. Therefore, even if they were not present in the garden at the time of the Master’s walk there, the officers would open the door of the parlour and ask him to sit and rest there for some time.
There were some good pictures hanging on the walls of that room. One of those pictures was that of the child Jesus in his mother’s lap (picture shown above).
The Master used to say that he sat one day in that parlour and was looking intently at that picture and thinking of the extraordinary life of Jesus, when he felt that the picture came to life, and effulgent rays of light, coming out from the bodies of the Mother and the Child, entered into his heart and changed radically all the ideas of his mind!
On finding that all the inborn Hindu impressions disappeared into a secluded corner of his mind and that different ones arose in it, he tried in various ways to control himself and prayed earnestly to the divine Mother (Kali), “What strange changes art Thou bringing about in me, Mother?” But nothing availed.
Rising with a great force, the waves of those impressions completely submerged the Hindu ideas in his mind. His love and devotion to the Devas (Gods) and Devis (Goddesses) vanished, and in their stead, a great faith in and reverence for Jesus and his religion occupied his mind, and began to show him Christian padrees (priests) offering incense and light before the image of Jesus in the Church and to reveal to him the eagerness of their hearts as is seen in their earnest prayers.
The Master came back to Dakshineswar temple and remained constantly absorbed in the meditation of those inner happenings. He forgot altogether to go to the temple of the divine Mother (Kali) and pay obeisance to Her. The waves of those ideas had mastery over his mind in that manner for three days.
At last, when the third day was about to close, the Master saw, while walking under the Panchavati (grove of 5 sacred trees), that a marvellous god-man of very fair complexion was coming towards him, looking steadfastly at him.
As soon as the Master saw that person, he knew that he was a foreigner. He saw that his long eyes had produced a wonderful beauty in his face, and the tip of his nose, though a little flat, did not at all impair that beauty. The Master was charmed to see the extraordinary divine expression of that handsome face, and wondered who he was.
Very soon the person approached him and from the bottom of the Master’s pure heart came out with a ringing sound, the words, “Jesus! Jesus the Christ, the great Yogi, the loving Son of God, one with the Father, who gave his heart’s blood and put up with endless torture in order to deliver men from sorrow and misery!”
Jesus, the god-man, then embraced the Master and disappeared into his body and the Master entered into ecstasy (Bhav Samadhi), lost normal consciousness and remained identified for some time with the Omnipresent Brahman (God, the Ocean of Consciousness) with attributes.
– Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master by Swami Saradananda (pages 414 to 416).
In this way,
Sri Ramakrishna realized his identity with Christ, as he had already realized his identity with Kali (Divine Mother), Rama, Hanuman, Radha, Krishna, Brahman (Absolute Ocean of Consciousness), and Mohammed.
Thus he experienced the truth that Christianity, too, was a path leading to God-Consciousness. Till the last moment of his life he believed that Christ was an Incarnation of God. But Christ, for him, was not the only Incarnation; there were others – Buddha, for instance, and Krishna.
– Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta (“M”): (Chapter: Introduction).
Now, after reading this account, two interesting questions naturally arise:
#1: What Exactly is Signified by Christ’s Merging into the Body of Sri Ramakrishna?
The vision of Jesus disappearing into the body of Sri Ramakrishna, is representative of a tremendous spiritual fact. And that is – that the individual soul of Sri Ramakrishna, after following the path of Christianity, had expanded to the same state of consciousness as that attained by Christ. In other words, Sri Ramakrishna had reached Christ-Consciousness, i.e. his individual soul had expanded and became one (merged) with Christ’s.
In this state of expanded Christ-Consciousness, Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the same ocean of God (Sat-Chit-Ananda) that he had previously reached, by following the Hindu spiritual practice of worshiping the Divine Mother Kali. And hence he was able to conclude that the religion of Christianity too led to the same ocean of God-consciousness.
“I see people who talk about religion constantly quarrelling with one another. Hindus, Mussalmans (Muslims), Brahmos, Shaktas, Vaishnavas, Saivas, all quarrel with one another. They haven’t the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is also Shiva and the Primal Sakti (Kali), and that it is He, again, who is called Jesus and Allah. There is only one Rama and He has a thousand names.”
– Sri Ramakrishna speaking to his disciples as recorded in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Chapter 21 – A Day at Dakshineswar) by Mahendranath Gupta (“M”).
#2: What Did Jesus Look Like? The Answer Given by Sri Ramakrishna
Many years after this incident, Sri Ramakrishna was conversing with his disciples, when this topic of Christ once more came up:
(Sri Ramakrishna asked:) “Well, boys, you have read the Bible; can you tell me what is written in it about the physical features of Jesus? How did he look?”
We said, “Sir, we have not seen this mentioned anywhere in the Bible; but as he was born a Jew, he must have been very fair in complexion, with long eyes and an aquiline nose to be sure.”
When told so, the Master said, “But I saw that the tip of his nose was a little flat; I don’t know why I saw him like that.” Though we did not then say anything about what the Master said, we thought, “How could the form seen by him in ecstasy (Bhav Samadhi) tally with the actual form of Jesus? Like all the Jews he too must have had an aquiline nose.”
But we came to know, shortly after the Master passed away, that there were three different descriptions of Jesus’ physical features; and according to one of them the tip of his nose was a little flat.
– Swami Saradananda recounting his guru’s conversation, in his book Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, page 416.
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