Gadadhar is Born
The blessed hour for which Kshudiram and Chandramani were anxiously waiting at last drew near. In the early hours of February 18, 1836, in a thatched shed where a husking machine and the small oven were kept, Chandramani gave birth to a baby boy whom the world was to know afterwards by the name Sri Ramakrishna. Learned astrologers predicted a great future for the child, and Kshudiram was overjoyed that the prospective greatness of his son confirmed his previous vision and the experience of Chandramani. He named him ‘Gadadhar’, in memory of his wonderful dream at Gaya.
Since his birth Gadadhar cast a spell of fascination not only over his parents and relatives but also over his neighbours, who could not help paying visit to Kshudiram’s house whenever possible just to have a look at ‘Gadai’, as he was lovingly called.
Gadadhar at School
The years rolled on, and Gadadhar turned five. He began to show wonderful intelligence and memory even at this early age. He learnt the names of his ancestors, the hymns to various gods and goddesses, and tales from the epics.
As he grew to be very restless, Kshudiram sent him to the village school. At school Gadadhar made fair progress, but he showed great distaste for mathematics. He was fond of singing and acting plays with his friends. He directed all his attention to the study of the lives and characters of spiritual heroes.
Gadadhar’s First Ecstasy
Constant study of the lives and characters of spiritual heroes often made him forgetful of the world and threw him into deep meditation. As he grew older, he began to have trances whenever his religious feelings were roused. Soon it was found that not only religious subjects but beautiful scenery or some touching incident was also sufficient to make him lose himself. Once an occurrence of this kind caused great anxiety to his parents and relatives.
Sri Ramakrishna, in his later years, narrated this incident to his devotees in the following way:
“In that part of the country (Kamarpukur) the boys are given puffed rice for snack. This they carry in small wicker baskets, or, if they are too poor, in a corner of their cloth. Then they go out for play on the roads or in the fields. One day in June or July, when I was six or seven years old, I was walking along a narrow path separating paddy fields, eating some of the puffed rice which I was carrying in a basket. Looking up at the sky I saw a beautiful sombre thunder cloud. As it spread rapidly enveloping the whole sky, a flock of snow white cranes flew overhead across it. It presented such a beautiful contrast that my mind wandered to far-off regions. Lost to outward sense, I fell down, and the puffed rice was scattered in all directions. Some people found me in that plight and carried me home in their arms. That was the first time I completely lost consciousness in ecstasy.”
This was not the only time he had such experience.
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