The Master’s yearning for His Own Devotees
The jewels of spirituality that Sri Ramakrishna had gathered during three-quarters of His life spent in hard struggle were now ready to be given to humanity. In 1875, Sri Ramakrishna met Keshab Chandra Sen, the leader of Brahmo Samaj who was a popular hero of the time. Keshab and his followers began publishing the fascinating life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna in their journals and as a result many people came to know about the saint of Dakshineswar.
Contact with the Brahmos increased Sri Ramakrishna’s longing to encounter aspirants who would be able to follow His teachings in their purest form. As a loving father is anxious to leave his accumulated wealth to his children, so a true guru wants to give his spiritual treasures to his disciples. Here is a testimony in Sri Ramakrishna’s own words about His longing for the aspirants: “There was no limit to the longing I felt at that time. During day-time I somehow managed to control it. The secular talk of the worldly-minded was galling to me, and I would look wistfully to the day when my own beloved companions would come. I hoped to find solace in conversing with them and relating to them my own realizations. Every little incident would remind me of them, and thoughts of them wholly engrossed me. I was already arranging in my mind what I should say to one and give to another, and so on. But when the day would come to a close I would not be able to curb my feelings. The thought that another day had gone by, and they had not come, oppressed me. When, during the evening service, the temples rang with the sound of bells and conch-shells, I would climb to the roof of the kuthi in the garden and, writhing in anguish of heart, cry at the top of my voice: 'Come, my children! Oh, where are you? I cannot bear to live without you.' A mother never longed so intensely for the sight of her child, nor a friend for his companions, nor a lover for his sweetheart, as I longed for them. Oh, it was indescribable! Shortly after this period of yearning the devotees began to come.”
Coming of Devotees
The first two persons who responded to the call of Sri Ramakrishna were Ramachandra Dutta and Manomohan Mitra, who were cousins and lived in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Later, many people from the nearby city of Calcutta were attracted to Sri Ramakrishna. They were charmed of his kindness, for such cordiality and sympathy at first sight that they had never experienced before. Sri Ramakrishna’s love was so new and genuine to them, because it was selfless. From this time on, their lives took a different turn.
On Sundays, many of them would gather in his room at Dakshineswar. Such occasions were full of joy. There would be group singing of devotional songs, and Sri Ramakrishna would join in and sing in his heavenly voice. Full of divine joy, he would dance and the devotees would dance around him in a circle. Sometimes while dancing, Sri Ramakrishna would suddenly stop motionless, absorbed in God. The devotees would hold their breath and watch him in amazement. Many were the days that passed in Dakshineswar in this way.
These devotees became acquainted with one another, and those who were practising religious exercises under the guidance of the Master formed themselves into a sort of spiritual brotherhood. Now and then Sri Ramakrishna would accept invitations from Calcutta to visit devotees, and these meetings gradually took the shape of little festivals.
Hundreds of such sincere devotees and disciples clustered round Sri Ramakrishna, whose pregnant utterances and magnetic personality completely changed the course of their lives and made them blessed.
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