Sayings of Ramakrishna
Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats. From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it ‘jal’. From another ghat the Mussalmāns take water in leather bags and call it ‘pāni’. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it ‘water’. Suppose someone says that the thing is not ‘jal’ but ‘pāni’, or that it is not ‘pāni’ but ‘water’, or that it is not ‘water’ but ‘jal’, It would indeed be ridiculous. But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels. This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion. But this is not good. Everyone is going toward God. They will all realize Him if they have sincerity and longing of heart.
A man can reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or a rope-ladder or a rope or even by a bamboo pole. But he cannot reach the roof if he sets foot now on one and now on another. He should firmly follow one path. Likewise, in order to realize God a man must follow one path with all his strength. But you must regard other views as so many paths leading to God. You should not feel that your path is the only right path and that other paths are wrong. You mustn’t bear malice toward others.
Whether you accept Rādhā and Krishna, or not, please do accept their attraction for each other. Try to create that same yearning in your heart for God. Yearning is all you need in order to realize Him.
Direct the six passions to God. The impulse of lust should be turned into the desire to have intercourse with Atman. Feel angry at those who stand in your way to God. Feel greedy for Him. If you must have the feeling of I and mine, then associate it with God. Say, for instance, ‘My Rama, my Krishna.’ If you must have pride, then feel like Bibhishana, who said, ‘I have touched the feet of Rama with my head; I will not bow this head before anyone else.’
It is said that truthfulness alone constitutes the spiritual discipline of the Kaliyuga. If a man clings tenaciously to truth he ultimately realizes God. Without this regard for truth, one gradually loses everything. … After my vision of the Divine Mother, I prayed to Her, taking a flower in my hands: ‘Mother, here is Thy knowledge and here is Thy ignorance. Take them both, and give me only pure love. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy good and here is Thy evil. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy righteousness and here is Thy unrighteousness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.’ I mentioned all these, but I could not say: ‘Mother, here is Thy truth and here is Thy falsehood. Take them both.’ I gave up everything at Her feet but could not bring myself to give up truth.
God laughs on two occasions. He laughs when the physician says to the patient’s mother, ‘Don’t be afraid, mother; I shall certainly cure your boy.’ God laughs, saying to Himself, ‘I am going to take his life, and this man says he will save it!’ The physician thinks he is the master, forgetting that God is the Master. God laughs again when two brothers divide their land with a string, saying to each other, ‘This side is mine and that side is yours.’ He laughs and says to Himself, ‘The whole universe belongs to Me, but they say they own this portion or that portion.’
The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves. A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egotistic ideas as ‘I am such an important man’ or ‘I am so and so’. Level the mound of ‘I’ to the ground by dissolving it with tears of devotion.
One cannot attain divine knowledge till one gets rid of pride. Water does not stay on the top of a mound; but into low land it flows in torrents from all sides.
Many people think they cannot have knowledge or understanding of God without reading books. But hearing is better than reading, and seeing is better than hearing. Hearing about Benares is different from reading about it; but seeing Benares is different from either hearing or reading.
One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred, or fear.
If one has faith one has everything.
By constantly repeating, ‘I am free, I am free’, a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, ‘I am bound, I am bound’, he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’, verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: ‘I have chanted the name of God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?’
All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know their real Self.
There are three kinds of devotees: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The inferior devotee says, ‘God is out there.’ According to him God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says: ‘God is the Antaryami, the Inner Guide. God dwells in everyone’s heart.’ The mediocre devotee sees God in the heart. But the superior devotee sees that God alone has become everything; He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. He finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God.
This māyā, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud. The sun cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun. If by the grace of the guru one’s ego vanishes, then one sees God.
Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind, right and left, everywhere there is water. In that water is placed a jar filled with water. There is water inside the jar and water outside, but the jar is still there. The ‘I’ is the jar.
Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words.
You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises. Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the heavens during the day? O man, because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.
The vanities of all others may gradually die out, but the vanity of a saint regarding his sainthood is hard indeed to wear away.
That knowledge which purifies the mind and heart alone is true Knowledge, all else is only a negation of Knowledge.
Two friends went into an orchard. One of them possessing much worldly wisdom, immediately began to count the mango trees there and the number of mangoes each tree bore, and to estimate what might be the approximate value of the whole orchard. His companion went to the owner, made friends whith him, and then, quietly going into a tree, began at his host’s desire to pluck the fruits and eat them. Whom do you consider to be the wiser of the two? Eat mangoes. It will satisfy your hunger. What is the good of counting the trees and leaves and making calculations? The vain man of intellect busies himself with finding out the ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’ of creation, while the humble man of wisdom makes friends with the Creator and enjoys His gift of supreme bliss.
As a toy fruit or a toy elephant reminds one of the real fruit and the living animal, so do the images that are worshipped remind one of the God who is formless and eternal.
Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the soul of truth.
Sunlight is one and the same wherever it falls; but only a bright surface like that of water, or of a mirror reflects it fully. So is the light Divine. It falls equally and impartially on all hearts, but the pure and pious hearts of holy men receive and reflect that light well.
Who is whose Guru? God alone is the guide and Guru of the universe.
Do yourself what you wish others to do.
As long as I live, so long do I learn.
- Wikiquote: Ramakrishna Paramahamsa — A huge collection of quotes and sayings of Ramakrishna
- The sayings of Ramakrishna — Compiled by Max Muller
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translation by Swami Nikhilananda