So pure was this Avatar of God, who lived in Kolkata, India, from 1836 to 1886 that even the very touch of money on His hand while He slept caused it to writhe in pain. So pure was He that He was blessed with countless revelations of God (including Lord Jesus) and Goddesses, especially His most beloved Mother Kali. Though born in a peasant’s hut and unlettered, the scholars and sages of the day came in hordes to pay homage at His feet.
So perfect was His purity and state of divine consciousness that the greatest love that men had ever known emanated from His being during His darshan. He naturally attracted many disciples, chief of whom was the world renowned Swami Vivekananda, who brought the message of Vedanta to the West for the first time. As a young and troubled man he came to Sri Ramakrishna in search of God…
'I had read about Buddha and Christ and Mohammed, about all those different luminaries of ancient times, how they would stand up and say, "Be thou whole," and the man became whole. I now found it to be true, and when I myself saw this man, all scepticism was brushed aside.'
'For the first time I had found a man who dared to say that he saw God, that religion was a reality to be felt, to be sensed in an infinitely more intense way than we can sense the world. I began to go to that man, day after day, and I actually saw that religion could be given. One touch, one glance, can change a whole life.
'I had read about Buddha and Christ and Mohammed, about all those different luminaries of ancient times, how they would stand up and say, "Be thou whole," and the man became whole. I now found it to be true, and when I myself saw this man, all scepticism was brushed aside. It could be done; and my Master used to say, ‘Religion can be given and taken more tangibly, more really than anything else in the world.’
Swami Vivekananda (then known as Narendrenath) and a fortunate group of other disciples discovered that His effulgent purity and love were unmatched and became convinced that Sri Ramakrishna was an Embodiment of God.
The purity of Sri Ramakrishna was also redolent with great spiritual power that He could even impart it to others so easily. Swami Vivekananda relates this miraculous experience of the Master’s Grace, in the early days of knowing Him:
'The magic touch of the Master one day immediately brought a wonderful change over my mind. I was astounded to find that really there was nothing in the Universe but God! I saw it quite clearly, but kept silent to see whether the impression would last; but it did not abate in the course of the day.
'I returned home, but there too, everything I saw appeared to be Brahman. I sat down to take my meal, but found that everything—the food, the plate, the person who served, and even myself—was nothing but That. I ate a morsel or two and sat still. I was startled by my mother's words, "Why do you sit still? Finish your meal," and then began to eat again. But all the while, whether eating or lying down, or going to college, I had the same experience and felt myself always in a sort of trance.
'The magic touch of the Master one day immediately brought a wonderful change over my mind. I was astounded to find that really there was nothing in the Universe but God!'
'While walking in the streets, I noticed cabs plying, but I did not feel inclined to move out of the way. I felt that the cabs and myself were of one stuff. There was no sensation in my limbs, which seemed to be becoming paralysed. I did not relish eating, and felt as if somebody else were eating. Sometimes I lay down during a meal; after a few minutes I got up and again began to eat. The result would be that on some days I would take too much, but it did no harm.
'My mother became alarmed and said that there must be something wrong with me. She was afraid that I might not live long. When there was a slight change in this state, the world began to appear dream-like. While walking in Cornwallis Square, I would strike my head against the iron railings to see if they were real or only a dream. This state of things continued for some days. When I became normal again, I realized that I must have had a glimpse of the Advaita state. Then it struck me that the words of the scriptures were not false. Thenceforth I could not deny the conclusions of the Advaita (non-dualistic) philosophy.'
Later Sri Ramakrishna famously blessed Swami Vivekananda again, empowering and sanctifying him to begin his mission to the West of propagating Sanathana Dharma (ancient Indian tradition) for the first time in the United States and Europe. That he succeeded in a historic fashion and brought fame and acclaim to India’s culture and spiritual traditions in America and Britain was no mean feat, as at the time India was a subject nation of the British. Narrating about this momentous event, Swami Vivekananda says:
'On questioning him, he answered me affectionately, "Today, giving you my all, I have become a beggar. With this power you are to do many works for the world's good before you will return." I feel that power is constantly directing me to this or that work. This body has not been made for remaining idle.'
'Two or three days before Sri Ramakrishna's passing away, She whom he used to call "Kali" entered this body. It is She who takes me here and there and makes me work, without letting me remain quiet or allowing me to look to my personal comforts.'
Question: 'Are you speaking metaphorically?'
'Oh, no; two or three days before his leaving the body, he called me to his side one day, and asking me to sit before him, looked steadfastly at me and fell into Samadhi. Then I really felt that a subtle force like an electric shock was entering my body! In a little while, I also lost outward consciousness and sat motionless. How long I stayed in that condition I do not remember; when consciousness returned I found Sri Ramakrishna shedding tears. On questioning him, he answered me affectionately, "Today, giving you my all, I have become a beggar. With this power you are to do many works for the world's good before you will return." I feel that power is constantly directing me to this or that work. This body has not been made for remaining idle.'