Vision of Jesus Christ
In 1874, Sri Ramakrishna came in intimate contact with Shambhu Nath Mallick of Calcutta, who had a garden close to the Dakshineswar Kali temple. Sri Ramakrishna used to spend a good deal of time in this garden-house of Shambhu Mallick, who developed sincere love and esteem for Sri Ramakrishna. Though not a Christian, he used to read the Bible to Sri Ramakrishna, who thus came to know about Christ and Christianity. He felt a strong desire to realize the Divine Mother by this new method, and it was fulfilled in a strange way.
One day Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in the parlour of a neighbouring house belonging to Jadulal Mallick, a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. On the walls were many beautiful portraits, one of them being of Christ. Sri Ramakrishna was looking attentively at the picture of the Madonna with the Divine Child and reflecting on the wonderful life of Christ, when he felt as though the picture had become animated, and that rays of light were emanating from the figures of Mary and Christ and entering into him, altogether changing his mental outlook. With that, his mind became filled with thoughts of Christ. For three days, Sri Ramakrishna was in that condition. Even though he had returned to Dakshineshwar, he did not visit the Kali temple for those three days. On the fourth day, when he was walking near the Panchavati, he found a wonderful person of serene countenance coming towards him. Sri Ramakrishna wondered who he could be, when he heard an inner voice, “This is Christ who poured out his heart’s blood to save mankind.” Then the glorious figure embraced him. At this Sri Ramakrishna went into Samadhi and lost all outward consciousness. Thus was Sri Ramakrishna convinced that Jesus Christ was an incarnation of the Lord.
His Opinion on Founders of Religions
It will be worthwhile to note here Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings on Buddha and other founders of religions.
About Buddha, he shared the view of the Hindus that he was an incarnation of God. Sri Ramakrishna used to offer him his sincere devotion and worship. Once he remarked, “There is not the least doubt about Lord Buddha being an incarnation. There is no difference between his doctrines and those of the vedic Jnana-Kanda.”
About the Tirthankaras, who founded the Jain religion, and the ten Sikh Gurus, Sri Ramakrishna heard a good deal in his later life from the representatives of those religions and developed great regard for them.
In his room at Dakshineswar there were a small statue of Tirthankara Mahavira and a portrait of Christ, before which incense was lit morning and evening.
Of the Sikh Gurus, he used to say that they were all incarnations of the saintly king Janaka.
Thus, as a result of his realization through all forms of spiritual disciplined, the Master was firmly convinced that all religions are true and that every doctrinal system represented a path to God. He perceived Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita and Advaita to be but different stages in man’s progress towards the goal. He held that they were not contradictory, but complementary, being suited to different mental outlooks.
Thus, he used to say to his disciples:
“I have practised all religions - Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God towards whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths. The tank has several ghats. At one, Hindus draw water in pitchers and call it jal; at another, Mohammedans draw water in leathern bottles and call it pani; at a third, Christians, and they call it water. Can we imagine that the water is not jal, but only pani, or water? How absurd! The substance is one under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance. Every religion of the world is one such ghat. Go direct with a sincere and earnest heart by any of these ghats, and you will reach the water of eternal bliss. But say not that your religion is better than that of another. Different creeds are but different paths to reach the one God. Diverse are the ways that lead to the temple of Mother Kali at Kalighat in Calcutta. Similarly, various are the paths that take men to the house of the Lord. Every religion is nothing, but one of such paths.”
He proclaimed, “All faiths are true – as many faiths, so many paths.”
Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan
- Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master by Swami Saradananda, Translated by Swami Jagadananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translated by Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974)
- The Path Divine, Sathya Sai Balvikas Magazine, Dharmakshetra, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093
- A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Swami Tattwavidananda, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Uttarkhand, Himalayas from its Publication Department, Kolkata
- The Story of Ramakrishna, Published by Swami Bodhasarananda, Advaitha Ashrama, Uttarkhand, from its Publications Department, Kolkata