(1836 – 1886)
Sri Ramakrishna was born on 18th February 1836 in a poor and Brahmin family at Kamarpukur in Hoogly district. Kshudiram Chattopadhyay and Chandramani Devi were his parents. His real name was Gadadhar. From his early childhood Sri Ramakrishna was devoted to God. At the age nineteen he became a priest at the Kali Temple. He realised God in different names and forms of the one Supreme Being.
Sri Ma Sarada Devi
(1853 – 1920)
Her marriage to Sri Ramakrishna at the early age of five was indeed a divinely ordained dispensation as she was ‘marked’ for the great Master. However, her spirituality flourished into full bloom after coming to Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. ‘Do you want to drag me down into Maya?’ – at this question she retorted to Sri Ramakrishna, ‘I have come only to help you in the path of religious life’. It was a period of training and discipleship – a silent and profound process – during which the ‘Mother’ in her became more manifest, making her ready to take up the leadership of the spiritual movement that the Master inaugurated. Her hours were spent in tireless but silent service to the Master & his disciples as well as in prolonged meditation & devotional disciplines. She was the figurehead, the ‘Mother’ of the spiritual ministry after the passing away of Sri Ramakrishna – serving as guide and the supreme inspiration of the disciples who renounced all worldly ties for the sake of God-realisation. She was the embodiment of all wisdom, as Sri Ramakrishna used to say, and this wisdom, both worldly and spiritual, was the guiding force behind the establishment of the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897.
(1863 – 1902)
Swami Vivekananda was a preacher of ‘Divinity in Man’. Born Narendranath Dutta on 12th January, 1863 in Calcutta, he gave clear indications of self-realisation in his early days. A youth of guts and gumption – with an iron determination and a fiery zeal to seek the highest knowledge of the self, he met Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar Kali temple in 1881; the incident that channelised himself later on towards the greatest cause of humanity. The Great Master inculcated in his foremost disciple the presence of an all-pervading stream of consciousness in every being, the immanence of divinity in all existence in this world. An ardent believer in Advaita, Vivekananda also realised & recognised the dualistic as well as qualified non-dualistic faiths that were lived and approved by the Master. He presented the quintessence of Vedanta in the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago , America , and, the rest is history. In the following years the ‘Cyclonic Hindoo Monk’ transfigured the world; hitherto unaware of its ‘spirit free, blest & eternal’.