Pages of Inspiration – Book Review
Publisher: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Centre, New York (USA) & Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai (India)
First Edition: 1942
Innumerable mahans (saints) have been born in the holy land of India. The mahans incarnate for the special purpose of showing a spiritual path to the masses. They lead a life in accordance with the principles that they have to propagate. Thus they set their life as an example for generations to come.
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the English translation of the Bengali Kathamrita, gives us a rare insight into the life of this great mahatma. What makes this book appealing is that it is informal in nature, capturing the conversations between the Master and his disciples. M. (Mahendranath Gupta), one of the closest devotees of Sri Ramakrishna and the author of the Bengali original, recorded these pearls of wisdom.
In these conversations, Sri Ramakrishna shares some of his divine experiences and some incidents in his life. He also expounds the various spiritual paths to his disciples. Through this book, we also learn a few things about the mahan himself. He is an embodiment of pure love and showers mother-like love on his disciples. At certain instances, he also exhibits his child-like nature and trusts everybody. In his presence, the conversation is always focused on divinity. He does not read books to acquire spiritual knowledge. Yet, he knows the essence of the scriptures. He reveals that The Divine Mother teaches him everything through divine visions. And he shares these teachings with his disciples.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa uses simple stories or analogies to explain profound spiritual concepts. For example, when advising householders, he says:
“Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all – with wife and children, father and mother – and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.
A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her Master’s children as if they were her own. She even speaks of them as ‘my Rama’ or ‘my Hari’. But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all.”
As we read the book, we get transported in time and it feels like we are in the same room as the great saint, and that he is directly addressing us. Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi’s words about the book aptly summarize this feel, “When I heard the Kathāmrita, I felt as if it was he, the Master, who was saying all that.”
This book is a must read for all spiritual aspirants.
Sowmya Balasubramanian, Fremont, CA