The nineteenth century was an are of many inventions that have added zest to life. Photography was one among them. It came into general use in the latter half of the century. In the case of all previous incarnations of the Divine, it has been necessary, to gain an idea of their appearance, to depend upond upon descriptions handed down from ancient times or revealed by mystics to whom the incarnations appeared in clear vision. Painters and sculptors did their best to give concrete form to such descriptions. However, always the doubt has lingered on as to how those great ones actually did look?
But the incarnations, Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother Sarada Devi, are unique in this regard. We have been able to capture them with the camera. They are the first of the incarnations to be photographed, there's no need for imagination here. We possess their authentic photographs, that too in different postures. Fortunate are we, of this age, to see them in person, as it were.
Today Sri Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi are adored by millions as ideals for monks and householders alike. They are worshipped as saviours of mankind all over the globe by millions and millions of people. Needless to say, their photos are a blessing to humanity.
We consider it a great privilege to have been able to bring together in a single album all the important photos of both the incarnations. The photographs are accompanied by notes explaining the contexts in which they were taken. These notes are based on the research carried out by two eminent scholars late Swami Vidyatmananda, an American monk of the Ramakrishna Order and Dr. (Ms.) Purba Sengupta of Kolkata. Swami Vidyatmananda has done extensive research on the photographs of Sri Ramakrishna. He wrote an article Concerning the Photographs of Sri Ramakrishna in August 1965 issue of Vedanta for the West, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order published from USA. The material for the notes on the photographs of Sri Ramakrishna in the present book is compiled from this article. Dr. Purba is a Research Scholar associated with Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata. She was awarded Ph. D. from the University of Calcutta in July 2002 for her thesis on Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vidyatmananda has done research on the photographs of Sri Sarada Devi too. Based on this Dr. Purba further studied, investigated and wrote an article Sri Sarada Devi. The material for the notes on the photographs of Sri Sarada Devi in the present book is culled from this article. Wherever details regarding the Photographs are not available, inspiring incidents from mother's life are given. In every page a quotation on not available, inspiring incidents from Mother's is life are given. In every page a quotation on and by Sri Ramakrishna and Mother is added. To artist Sri Ravi we owe the layout, sketches and the cover page. We pray to Sri Ramakrishna and Mother to bestow their choicest blessings on all those who have contributed towards bringing out this unique volume. We are very glad to publish this book on this holy occasion of the 150th year of Holy Mother's birth.
To turn these pages and gaze at the photographs of Sri Ramakrishna and Mother by itself can be a deep meditation. All are welcome to this unique spiritual practice, so easy and so blissful.
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