SUNDAY, MARCH 6: It’s the 175th birth anniversary celebration of Sri Ramakrishna, a Hindu mystic whose movement reached out to other faiths and redefined modern Hinduism.
Hindu history and devotion stretches across thousands of years, so Sri Ramakrishna is a relative newcomer. He was revered for contemplating God his entire life—to such an extent that his God-consciousness was even described in psychology books. (Read more about Ramakrishna’s remarkable life and legacy in a profile written for our “Interfaith Heroes” project. That profile also contains a couple of the surviving photos of this unusual sage.)
During Sri Ramakrishna’s lifetime, India faced cultural challenges from the Western world. True Hindu devotion seemed to be eroding, Sri Ramakrishna warned. His popularity as a mystic teacher acted as a kind of unifying revival in India—even as Sri Ramakrishna taught respect for other religious traditions. (Wikipedia has details.)
Historical accounts verify the God-like essence that surrounded this mystic. His tiny room in the Dakshineswar temple garden bustled with men and women, young and old, atheists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians—all gathering to see and hear him. (Ramakrishna.org has a biography. Or, you can read more on his philosophies in an article from The Hindu.)
Although the Gregorian calendar marks this leader’s Jayanti on Feb. 18, the Hindu calendar in India has it penciled in today—and Hindu communities and organizations hold festivals in his honor.