The story of Sri Ramakrishna is the story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face. Sri Ramakrishna is today regarded as an incarnation of God of the Modern Age. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He reached a depth of God-consciousness that transcends all time and place and has a universal appeal. Seekers of God of all religions feel irresistibly drawn to his life and teachings. Sri Ramakrishna, as a silent force, influences the spiritual thought currents of our time.
Through his God-intoxicated life Sri Ramakrishna proved that the revelation of God takes place at all times and that God-realization is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, or people. In him, deepest spirituality and broadest catholicity stood side by side. He was unique in that he practised in turn the spiritual disciplines of all the sects of Hinduism, and of Christianity and Islam, and attained God-realization in each one. At the end of it all, he proclaimed to the world: “As many faiths, so many paths.” His realization and proclamation of the fundamental unity of all religions is a message relevant to our contemporary world, torn by religious conflicts and dissensions, and separated by high walls of sectarian dogmas.
One of the important contributions of Sri Ramakrishna is the reestablishment of the ideal of God realization in the modern world. In a world in which people’s faith in traditional religions has been considerably reduced by the relentless attack of the forces of atheism, materialism and scientific thinking, Sri Ramakrishna established the possibility of having direct experience of transcendent Reality. His life has enabled thousands of people to gain or regain faith in God and in the eternal verities of religion. As Mahatma Gandhi has stated: “No one can read the story of his life without being convinced that God alone is real and that all else is an illusion.”
Drawn by the magnetism of Sri Ramakrishna’s divine personality, people flocked to him from far and near — men and women, young and old, philosophers and theologians, philanthropists and humanists, atheists and agnostics, Hindus and Brahmos, Christians and Muslims, seekers of truth of all races, creeds and castes. His small room in the Dakshineswar temple garden on the outskirts of the city of Kolkata became a veritable parliament of religions. Everyone who came to him felt uplifted by his profound God-consciousness, boundless love, and universal outlook.
Here is an incarnation whose life can harmonize all the apparently contradictory religious ideals, and the various national and social ideals of different races and countries, thus uniting humanity by the ties of love and toleration into a single brotherhood.