Ramakrishna Paramahamsa as a Guru

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

It is indeed a great fortune to be gifted with a Sadguru. When one’s devotion to God ripens, God in the form of the Guru shows Himself before the devotee to lead him out of the endless cycles of birth and death. Though we may sometimes think that we have chosen the Guru as his teachings may have appealed to us, the truth is that it is the Sadguru who chooses us and never lets go of us.

Sri Muralidhara Swamiji says in his Tamil kirtan Guru arul ondrey ariven, that a disciple under the hold of a Sadguru is like a goat that can never escape from the mouth of a tiger, and that the Grace of a Guru is such that it can elevate even an inanimate being.

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great mahan who lived in the 19th century, was indeed such a Sadguru, a “kArana rahita krupa nidhi” (one who is a storehouse of compassion for no reason at all!)

One householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna was Girish Chandra Ghosh. He was a great Bengali dramatist, playwright and a pioneer in Bengali theatrical world. Girish was a complicated person; a mixture of shyness, aggression, humility and arrogance. There was a constant conflict between two forces within him – skepticism and urge towards devotional religion. His intellect refused to accept a human being as a Guru although he was longing to find a Guru.

“Who is a Guru?” He once asked Ramakrishna. And Ramakrishna answered, in a language that Girish would understand, “He is like a procurer. A procurer arranges for the union of the lover with his mistress. In the same way, a Guru arranges the meeting between the individual soul and his beloved, the Divine Spirit.” Then he added, “You need not worry. Your Guru has already been chosen.”

Girish was a drunkard, and was violent and quarrelsome when drunk. He frequently visited brothels and smoked. He would say, “I have drunk so many bottles of wine, that if you were to place one bottle on top of another they would reach the height of Mount Everest.”

“Drink to your heart’s content,” Ramakrishna would say, “It won’t be for much longer.”

One day Girish told Ramakrishna, “I have written cartloads of advice to others. It doesn’t help me. Do something to transform my life.” Ramakrishna was greatly pleased by this proof of Girish’s faith in him.

Ramakrishna said “Remember God just before you eat or sleep.” But Girish could not make such a promise because any kind of self-discipline was repugnant to him. “In that case,” said Ramakrishna, “you must give me your power of attorney. From this moment on, I’ll take full responsibility for you. You won’t have to do anything.”

Girish was happy as he thought this was easy. But soon he found out he was wrong. He had made himself Ramakrishna’s slave. When he picked up a bottle of liquor, he saw Ramakrishna’s face in it and couldn’t drink. When he visited a brothel, he saw Ramakrishna there and had to turn back.

This brought a great change in Girish. He tried to surrender his will altogether to Ramakrishna. In later years he would tell young devotees, “Look at me, I am not even free to breathe!” meaning he could not perform anything without the help of the Lord.

Thus Sri Ramakrishna made his disciple a perfect Guru himself for his other disciples. A sparshavedi (a herb that turns iron into gold by mere touch) can convert an object that comes in contact with it, but a Guru’s Grace is beyond that. He can make his disciple also a sparshavedi. Sri Ramakrishna was one such Guru, an Avatara Purusha. His jayanti falls on March 6 this year (2011).

Nithya Rajesh, Boston, MA
Source: Ramakrishna and His Disciples by Christopher Isherwood  and the discourses of Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji

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