Sri Ramakrishna (1836 - 1886) well known as the 'Paramahamsa,' is the brightest star that rose on the spiritual firmament of India of nineteenth century. Born of pious parents in the little village of Kamarpukur in the remote part of the Bengal (b. 18th February 1836) he spent his early life there. Ever since he shifted to Calcutta in 1852 to assist his elder brother, until his Mahasamadhi on the 16th August 1886, it was a long life of total dedication to god. Starting his life as an unknown temple priest, he rose to be a world teacher of religion and spirituality, by dint of intense sadhanas culminating in a uniquely comprehensive spiritual experience. From simple image worship right up to the highest flights of Advaita philosophy, he traversed the whole gamut of Indian spiritual life. Not being satisfied with it, he experimented with alien religions like Christianity and Islam and found, to his amazement, that they too lead to the same super conscious mystic state. Being thus armed with the direct experience of truth through the known paths of various cults and religions, he proclaimed the great message of his life: The essential unity of all religions and the consequent need for harmony among the votaries of various religions. He specially prepared a band of disciples under the leadership of Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) to give a practical shape to his teachings and spread them far and wide for the benefit of humanity. The Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are the direct offshoots of this. Through Sri Sarada Devi, his divine consort, he has exhibited to the world the possibility of raising conjugal life to the highest spiritual level and the nature of universal motherhood.
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