Yoga Master - Ramakrishna

In 1836 Ramakrishna was born in Bengal to a poverty stricken family

Early in life, aged 6, he had his first conscious spiritual experience. Ramakrishna is said to have been a very beautiful child. He says he was wandering through the paddy fields, eating puffed rice, when "I raised my eyes to the sky as I munched my rice. I saw a great black cloud spreading rapidly until it covered the heavens. Suddenly at the edge of the cloud a flight of snow-white cranes passed over my head. The contrast was so beautiful that my spirit wandered far away. I lost consciousness and fell to the ground. The puffed rice was scattered. Somebody picked me up and carried me home."

At the tender age of 20 he was appointed as a priest at the Temple of Kali, Dakshineswar. Kali is the form of the Divine Mother, the source of all creativity. Ramakrishna surrendered himself to her worship totally. He experienced multiple visions, fevers and trances for nearly a decade, until a Brahmin nun helped him to understand his spiritual visions and experiences.

Upon gaining some stability, a further teacher came along called Tota Puri or the Naked One. Until then Ramakrishna had worshipped energies of demi-gods which manifested within him, as a Bhagat, or devotee, Tota Puri guided him as to how to go into the formless.

Ramakrishna says of this, "Tota Puri taught me to detach my mind from all objects and to plunge it into the heart of the Atman (self). But despite all my efforts, I could not cross the realm of name and form and lead my spirit to the Unconditional state. I had no difficulty in detaching my mind from all objects with the one exception of the too familiar form of the radiant Mother, the essence of pure knowledge, who appeared before me as a living reality. I said to Tota Puri in despair, 'It is no good, I shall never succeed in lifting my spirit to the "Unconditioned" state and find myself face to face with the Atman.' He replied severely, 'What! You say you cannot? You must!' Looking about him, he found a piece of glass. He took it and stuck the point between my eyes, saying, 'Concentrate your mind on that point.' Then I began to meditate with all my might, and as soon as the gracious form of the Divine Mother appeared I used my discrimination as a sword, and I clove Her in two. The last barrier fell and my spirit immediately precipitated itself beyond the plane of the 'conditional', and I lost myself in Samadhi (unconditioned bliss).

"The Universe was extinguished. Space itself was no more. At first the shadows of ideas floated in the obscure depths of the mind. Monotonously a feeble consciousness of the ego went on ticking. Then that stopped too. Nothing remained but Existence. The soul was lost in Self. Dualism was blotted out. Finite and infinite space were as one."

Ramakrishna remained in this state for many days, to the amazement of Tota Puri, whose master he had now become.

In 1867 he started to communicate with the world once more and share his love, wisdom and inner strength. From 1874 he started to preach and slowly attract sincere disciples to him.

Vivekananda, a main disciple, describes his second visit to Ramakrishna as follows: "I found him sitting alone on his small bed. He was glad to see me, and called me affectionately to sit near him on one side of the bed. But a moment later I saw him convulse with some emotion. His eyes were fixed upon me, he muttered under his breath, and drew slowly nearer. I thought he was going to make some eccentric remark as on the previous occasion. But before I could stop him he placed his right foot upon my body. The contact was terrible. With my eyes open I saw the walls and everything in the room whirling and vanishing into nothingness…. The whole universe and my own individuality were at the same time almost lost in a nameless void, which swallowed up everything that is. I was terrified, and believed I was face to face with death. I could not stop myself from crying out, 'What are you doing? I have parents at home ' Then he began to laugh, and passing his hand over my chest, he said, 'All right. Let us leave it at that for the moment! It will come, all in good time!' He had no sooner said these words than the strange phenomena disappeared.