Sri Ramakrishna was a great Hindu saint of the nineteenth century who has already an influence on the religious thoughts the teaching of his disciples, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Abhedananda and others. His Saying are full of broad, practical, nonsectarian instruction concerning the spiritual life which cannot but help and inspire the followers of all creed. The present volume contains a larger number of Saying than have yet appeared in any one English collection.
Written by the direct sannyasi disciple, Swami Abhedananda, this book has the added significance of unalloyed authenticity of the teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Deva.
Swami Abhedananda, an apostle of Sri Ramakrishna Born October2.1886 Spent his early life among the brotherhood in Baranagar monastery near Calcutta in severe austerity Travelled barefooted all over India from 1888-1895 Went to London at the call of Swami Vivekananda in 1896 Acquainted with many distinguished savants including Prof. Max Mueller and Prof. Deussen Landed in New York and took charge of the Vedanta Society in 1897 Became acquainted with Prof. William James, Rev. R.H. Newton, Prof. Josiah Royce of Harvard, Prof. Hyslop of Columbia, Prof. Lanmann, Prof. G.H. Howison, Prof. Fay, Mr. Edison, the inventor, Dr. Elmer Gates, Ralph Waldo Trine, W.D. Howells, Prof. Herschel C.Parker, Dr. Logan, Rev. Bishop Potter, Prof. shaler, Dr.Jaynes, the chairman of the Cambridge philosophical Conference and the Professors of Columbia, Harvard, yele, Cornell, Barkeley and Clarke Universities-Travelled extensively all through the United States, Canada, Alaska and Mexico Made frequent trips to Europe, delivering lectures in different parts of the Continent Crossed the Atlantic seventeen times-Was appreciated very much for his profundity of scholarship, intellectual brilliance, oratorical talents, charming personality and nobility of character Made a short visit to India in 1906 Returned to America Came back to India in finally in 1921 On his way home joined the Educational Conference, Honolulu Visited Japan, China, the Philippines, Singapore, Kualalaumpur and Rangoon Started on a long tour and went as far as Tibet in 1922 Established centres at Calcutta and Darjeeling Left his mortal frame on September 8, 1939.
Spiritual Sayings of Ramakrishna is a an anthology of the precepts and parables of the Prophet of Dakshineswar, recorded by one of His Apostles, Swami Abhedananda. These precepts and parables were first published by Swami Abhedananda From the New York Vedanta Society in 1903 and was warmly appreciated by peoples of Europe and America. It was reprinted in 1920 from the San Francisco Vedanta Ashrama with some new additions and corrections by the Swami. The readers will find in this anthology the divine utterancess of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna, beautifully and systematically collected and compiled by His gifted disciple.
Sri Ramakrishna has said that men are born mainly of two tendencies, vidya and avidya. The vidya tendency leads men towards liberation or mukti and avidya tendency binds men with the worldly desires which are known as the chain of nescience or ignorance. "When born, both tendencies are in equilibriun like the scales of a balance. The world soon places its enjoyments and pleasures in one scale and the spirit and its attractions on the other, and if a man chooses the world, the worldly scale become very heavy and gravitates towards the earth, but if he chooses the spirit, the spiritual scale gravitaties towards God". Swami Abhedananda says that Sri Ramakrishna's teaching are like the soft clay which easily takes a form of divine impressions, his mind is stained with the impressions and is purified and that purified mind prepares the ground of attaining Godconsciousness. Sri Ramakrishna's divine teaching were given in different occasions to different disciples and wisdom and it is needless to mention that hundreds and thousands of seekers after Truth from different corners of the world have found the ways of solving their mysteries of life help of those teachings.
In the precepts and the parables of Sri Ramakrishna, we find a spirit of amity and a synthetic attitude that bring harmony among all religions and all religious faiths, and lead all towards the ultimate goal which is realization of God, or the Absolute. His sayings also harmonize the ideals of Yoga. Jnana, Karma and Bhakti and teach that the spiritual aspirants shall select an alternative path of spiritual practice and strive to reach the goal.
In the chapter of Spiritual Sayings of Ramakrishna, Swami Abhedananda has discussed about God, His Divine attributes. His existence, His nature, etc. He has said that though God has been conceived with form and without form, though God is both personal and impersonal and is meditated with attributes and without attributes, yet He is one with the absolute Brahman. He has discussed about maya and the Brahman and has said that Sri Ramakrishna teaches that maya, according to Advaita Vedanta, is unreal, because it has no permanent or lasting existence, because it is relative and dependant and is removed with the dawn of the Divine light of God-realization. The Swami says that Sri Ramakrishna has taught that God revealeth Himself to the Sadhaka, if he resignates his petty self to the cosmic Self, the Atman, or the Brahman. The worship of images of gods or goddesses is not fruitless, but they help the sincere seekers after Truth to see God face to face. The images are the sings or symbols which direct the real substance God. Patanjali has said: 'tasya vachakah pranavah' i.e. the Pranava (omkara) is the pointer or discloser of the real essence of the Brahman. Sri Ramakrishna says : "If a man thinks of the images of gods and goddesses as symbols of the Divine, he reaches the Divinity". God is in everything and He lives in the heart of every living being.
In the second chapter, Swami Abhedananda has dealt with the Saviours, the Sages and the Spiritual Teachers. Sri Ramakrishna says that the Avataras are the Incarnations of God and they descend on earth and live in the world with all living beings and help them to realize their ultimate goal. There are two classes of man, Avatara and Siddha, and there is a great distinction between them, as the Avataras or the Saviours, incarnate and all are saved through His grace, whereas the Siddha, or the emancipated soul, only save themselves with much pain and penance. But it should be remembered that human beings have no power to incarnate, but it is God alone who incarnates as the Avataras and saved the mankind.
The Divine sages are like the inner circle of God's nearest relatives. They are like friends, companions, and kinsmen of the almighty God. They are great and noble, because they are above egoism, narrowness, and shortsightedness. They are above worldly attachments. They realize the death leaves. Sri Ramakrishna emphasized that each man needs a spiritual teacher or Guru to lead him in the path of spirituality. The Guru is the self-realised man and can open the spiritual eyes of all who sincerely practise spiritual sadhana. He can make the disciples free from the chain of nescience.
In the third chapter, Swami Abhedananda deals with the spiritual life of man. Sri Ramakrishna has said that the spiritual life of a man beings when awakes from the slumber of ignorance and knows the real nature of both maya and the Brahman, and knowing the difference between the changing nature of maya and the unchanging nature of the Brahman, he rejects the unreal and accepts the real. In fact, unreality is maya nescience and it deludes men and makes them forgetful of their essence and real existence. But Reality is the Truth or the Brahman-knowledge that dispels the darkness of ignorance and helps a man to realize, nay, recognize his real nature and existence which is no other than the immortal Atman, or the absolute Brahman.
Sri Ramakrishna says that ordinary mortals are attached to lust and gold, because they think that those things will console them and will give them permanent happiness and comfort. But when they come to know the unreality of those changing phenomenal thing through discrimination and meditation, they try to remove the attachment of lust and goad and love God and make their life blessed realisation of the all-blissful Brahman. Sri Ramakrishna repeatedly has instructed the worldly-minded men to take shelter under the sheds of discrimination and renunciation (viveka and vairagya) which will purify mind and make mind shine with pure intelligence for appreciating the absolute Brahman. It is quite true that the absolute Brahman is beyond the reach of mind and intelligence (mana-buddhir pare), but Sri Ramakrishna says that when mind is purified i.e. transformed into shuddha-buddhi or pure intelligence, then it shines like pure consciousness (shuddha-jnana) which apprehends or appreciates that all-consciousness Brahman ("mana-buddhir agochara, kintu shuddha- maner gochara"). Advaita Vedanta says that the Brahman is apprehended by the shining light of intelligence (buddhi) and it happens that when the Brahman is reflected in the mirror of intelligence, nescience, associated with intelligence, is removed or replaced by pure consciousness and the self-luminous and self-revealing lusture of the absolute Brahman shines in its own undying glory. So Sri Ramakrishna instructs the neophite to seek solitude and stillness for making silent the modifications (vrittis) of mind, for pure in heart see God.
Sri Ramakrishna has also explained the nature of the ascetics who renounce their hearth and home and dedicate their lives for the cause of God. The Siddhas, the Saddhus and the Sannyasins are they who maintain in them the saddhu-virttis or good thoughts and good deeds, and make their sole aim and object the absolute Brahman. Concentration, meditation, and perseverance are necessary for attaining the Godconsciousness. Resignation to the will of God and Divine grace are also essential for the realization of the Absolute. Regarding Divine grace, Sri Ramakrishna has said that the wind of god grace (kripa-vatasa) is incessantly blowing. Lazy sailors on this sea of life do not take advantage of it, but the active and the able always keep their mind unfurled to catch the friendly breeze and thus reach their destination very soon. As fans are discarded when the wind blows, so prayers and penances are discarded when the Divine grace of God descends. But sometimes men depend only upon adrishta because adrishta has a definite limit, whereas purushakara is limitless and by purushakara men can change the course of their life, so purushakara is indispensable in one's life for achieving success.
The fourth chapter contains the parables. Swami Abhedananda has included in the Spiritual Sayings of Ramakrishna the parables which were given by Sri Ramakrishna in course of his different conversations. The parables of the alligator and the hunters, the Avadhuta and the angler, the Avadhuta and the bridal procession, the barber and seven jars of gold, the Brahman and the low-cast servant, etc. have been noted. Total fiftyone parables have been mentioned in this book. The parables are the genuine examples of the spiritual teaching and practices. In the end of each parable, there are some spiritual teachings which when follow bring blessings to the human life. As for example, a father was once passing by a field having his two sons with him. One he had taken up in his arms and the other was walking along with him holding his father's hand. They saw a kite flying and this boy, having let go his hold on his father's hand, began to clap with joy, crying, see papa, there is a kite'. But as he had let go the hold of his father's hand, he stumbled and got hurt. But the boy that was carried by the father also clapped his hand with joy, but did not fall as he was held by his father. The former represents self-help in spiritual life, while the latter indicates self-surrender.
The Swami has added an informative Index in the end of the book which will help the readers to keep in memory the whole teachings or sayings of Ramakrishna, along with the parables impregnated with spiritual fervour. It is to mention in this connection that we have selected the new name or title of this fourth new edition as Spiritual Sayings of Ramakrishna instead of Sayings of Ramakrishna to suit the real significance and meaning of the precepts and the parables, contained in the book.
This volume will supply the demand of those whose interest in the unsectarian teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has been aroused by the Blessed Swami Vivekakananda's celebrated work entitled My Master. It contains almost all of the valuable sayings of his great Hindu Saint of the nineteenth century, translated from Bengali, in which the Bhagavan originally spoke.
An attempt has also been made for the first time to classify and arrange in logical sequence the Sayings which were published in the Brahmavadin, The Awakened India, as well as in the Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings by Professor Max Muller, all having been carefully compared with the original and revised.
May these Sayings enlighten the minds and broaden the spiritual ideals of the Western nations in the same manner as they have done in the East is the earnest prayer of Sri Ramakrishna's disciple.
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