Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna

 

 

Sri Krishna

and

 Sri Ramakrishna

 

“He who came as Rama and He who came as Krishna, He Himself has now come as Ramakrishna” – said Sri Ramakrishna.

When we hear this statement two thoughts rise in our minds.

The first one is that the said statement must be true and we have to necessarily accept it without any doubt as it has been told by Sri Ramakrishna Himself.

The second one is that our curiosity in knowing the inner meaning of the said statement.

Now we shall try to understand the hidden message of Sri Ramakrishna’s statement.

  • God assumes human form and descends on the earth not to only to kill wicked ones and thereby protect the virtuous ones but to give one another divine form to the devotees. Thus, the task of killing the demons can easily be got done by the God, from wherever He is. He need not have to come down on the earth for that purpose alone. It is because God came as Rama or Krishna, we have the divine forms of them also as our ‘dhyana murtis’.
  • God’s coming down on the earth in human form is for giving the sweet names of the God, to the devotees just by reciting which millions and millions cross over the world. It is because God came as Rama or Krishna, today we have their sweet and holy names for our recitation.
  • By descending on the earth and giving His Gospel to the society, God thus keeps His mission ever alive and active. The Ravanas and Kamsas that are residing in our hearts in the form of evil tendencies are being destroyed and God is thus establishing dharma even now which will continue in all the days to come.

These three points make us agree that the purpose of God’s assuming different forms according to the need of the hour remains the same though the external appearance of the divine form and the mode of expression of the gospel differ from one another.

This is the hidden message of the statement of Sri Ramakrishna that He who came as Rama and He who came as Krishna, He Himself has come as Ramakrishna.

Now, we shall try to understand the similarity in the philosophy of God in His Krishna Avatara and in His Ramakrishna Avatara.

 

Normally the word philosophy entails in itself three main components viz. the God, the world and the man.

 
 

 

From the point of view of God, He alone exists in the form of Himself, the world and Man.

From the point of view of the world, it is God from whom it has come into existence, it is supported by Him and unto Him, it ultimately gets dissolved.

From the point of view of man, it is God has created himself and the world.

Though, in substance all the three are one only, they appear as different because of our ignorance. We shall discuss each one of them one after another.

 

GOD

 

The word God denotes both of His aspects, namely God with form and God without form. Sri Krishna in the 9th chapter of Bhagavad Gita discusses about 4 types of persons:

  1. The first type is he who out of ignorance does not recognize God in human form.
  2. The second type is he who recognizes God man, but considers Him as confined only to the form they see.
  3. The third type is he who understands the Imperishable nature of God in its Immutable aspect from whom originates all God-men and all objects both animate and inanimate of the world. But he fails to accept both aspects of God as equal as he has the feeling of gradation among the aspects of God with form and without form.
  4. The last type is he who is of high order, endowed with divine virtues understands Him to be the Immutable, the source of all God-men that had come already and that are to come in future and also the source of all living beings and sees no difference between the aspect of God with form and in its formless aspect.

Sri Ramakrishna endorses the same philosophy but expresses in a different way. He says – “God the absolute and God the personal are one and the same. Belief in the one implies belief in the other. Fire cannot be thought of a part from its urging power, nor can its burning power be thought of apart from it. Again, the sun’s rays cannot be thought of apart from the sun, or the sun, apart from its rays. You cannot think of the whiteness of milk apart from its milky whiteness. Thus the Absolute cannot be thought of apart from the idea of God with attributes i.e. personal God and vice versa. The Primordial Power and the supreme Brahman are identical – It is like the snake and its wriggling motion. . . . And He is also that which transcends both form and formlessness. He alone knows what all He is.”

 

WORLD

 
 

 

Sri Krishna, in the 9th chapter of Gita says that He is the father, the mother, the grandsire and the sustainer of this world. It is from Him that the world has come out. It is but He who is manifested as the world and its objects.

Sri Ramakrishna also gives a much greater degree of reality to this world. Though not eternal, it has a relative existence and hence cannot be nullified. It is like ice crystals appearing on water and again dissolving back in water. The ice crystals are as real as water – but do not endure permanently. A sadhaka though keeps him away from active involvement in the world, when he becomes a man of knowledge, accepts the very same world and sees his chosen Lord Himself has become all the objects of the world. Sri Ramakrishna gives a practical lesson in this concept of divine immanence in all the objects of the world. He says that God is in all men, but all men are not in God; that is why they suffer.

  

MAN

 

Sri Krishna, in 18th chapter of Gita says that the Lord dwells in the heart of all beings. It is He who is activating them all as if they are all mounted on a machine. But, because of His mysterious power of illusion, man is not able to recognize the presence of God in Him and thus thinks himself to be the doer and enjoyer of all the actions. Sri Krishna classifies men into the following 4 categories:

  1. Man who is in a distressed situation.
  2. Man who seeks God alone.
  3. Man who seeks wealth and related pleasures.
  4. Man who has experienced Godhood in him.

In verse no.55 of 11th chapter of Gita, Sri Krishna elucidates the way for men to reach on to Him through any one or more of the popular 4 yogas.  Also, He prescribes the preliminary essentials necessary for all aspirants, which are listed hereunder:

  • In the 2nd chapter of Gita, from verse no.55 to 68, the qualities of a man of steady wisdom.
  • In the 13th chapter of Gita, from verse no.7 to 11, the values of knowledge.
  • In the 16th chapter of Gita, from verse no.1 to 3, the divine values.

Above all, it is the performance of ‘svadharma’ that is emphasized very much by Sri Krishna. One’s ‘svabhava’ determines one’s ‘svakarma’, the action for which he has taken birth. ‘Svakarma’ done with a sense of sacred duty towards the society is his ‘svadharma’. So, the collective welfare of the society or the world through thededicated performance of one’s ‘svadharma’, is the grandest ethical teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.

Apart from ‘svadharma’, another distinctive feature of Gita is the concept of religious harmony. In the 21st sloka of 7th chapter, the Lord tells that whatever may be the form a devotee seeks to worship with faith-in that form alone He makes his faith unwavering.

Sri Ramakrishna too is of the view that man is God Himself. He says that as a current of water seems to be divided into two, when a plank of wood is placed against it edgewise, so the Lord appears divided into two, the jivatman and the Paramatman, due to the limitation of maya. Water and a bubble on it are one the same. The bubble has its birth in the water, floats on it, and is ultimately resolved into it. So also, man and God are one and the same, the difference between them being only one of degree.

Sri Ramakrishna, though accepts all men as equal to God, yet classifies them in to 4 types in accordance with their evolution and this classification is only of degrees and not of kinds.

  • The bound men who are not conscious of their bondage.
  • Men who are struggling for liberation.
  • Men who have experienced their divine nature.
  • Men who are ever free but assumed human form for the welfare of the world.

Sri Ramakrishna advises mankind that the way to the world is through God. When one passes through the angle of God, he gains necessary power and knowledge to remain successful and peaceful in the world, for he will see the world in it’s real nature, i.e., as God Himself. But, if he chooses to go straight to the world, he will be loosing not only this world but also the kingdom of heaven. Hence, Sri Ramakrishna pleads to the humanity to gain both here and hereafter. As regards the ways and means for experiencing God nature, Sri Ramakrishna gives the following advice:

  • First, seek a competent spiritual teacher and then practice disciplines according to his directions.
  • One can follow the path of bhakti, jnana, yoga and karma either singly or in combination.
  • But, vyakulata, the great earnestness is an essential condition in all the paths.
  • Accept all paths as true and equally valid in taking men to reach on to God. But one should choose his ishta, the chosen form, to develop a sweet relation ship, through which he will see His own lord manifested in multifarious divine forms.

 

Thus, Sri Ramakrishna’s avatarana, i.e. descent on the earth like Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Christ was to fulfill the same divine mission of help and guidance to the human beings. He came as an ordinary man. Adopted different kings of sadhana, realized the highest truth in every sadhana and set forth an example that whoever will be sincere in his sadhana, he will experience the ultimate truth.

 

 

 

I pray on this auspicious occasion that the Lord, who came as Rama, as Krishna and as all incarnations on the earth before and who has now come as Ramakrishna, the avatara varishtha, the best among incarnations, to bless us all in experiencing our true nature.

Swami Nishthatmananda, Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India

 

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