What did the luminaries of the age think of Sri Ramakrishna

Romain Rolland

Romain Rolland
To My Western Readers,
…I present him [Ramakrishna] to you, not as a new book but as a very old one, which you have all tried to spell out (though many stopped short at the alphabet). Eventually it is always the same book but the writing varies….
It is always the same Book. It is always the same Man – the Son of Man, the Eternal, Our Son, Our God reborn. With each return he reveals himself a little more fully, and more enriched by the universe.
Allowing for differences of country and of time, Ramakrishna is the younger brother of our Christ….
I am bringing to Europe, as yet unaware of it, the fruit of a new autumn, a new message of the Soul, the symphony of India, bearing the name of Ramakrishna. It can be shown (and we shall not fail to point out) that this symphony, like those of our classical masters, is built up of a hundred different musical elements emanating from the past. But the sovereign personality concentrating in himself the diversity of these elements and fashioning them into a royal harmony, is always the one who gives his name to the work, through it contains within itself the labour of generations. And with his victorious sign he marks a new era.
The man whose image I here evoke was the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred millions people. Although he has been dead forty years, his soul animates modern India. He was no hero of action like Gandhi, no genius in art or thought like Goethe or Tagore. He was a little village Brahmin of Bengal, whose outer life was set in a limited frame without striking incident, outside the political and social activities of his time. But his inner life embraced the whole multiplicity of men and Gods. It was a part of the source of energy, the Divine Shakti, of whom Vidyapati, the old poet of Mithila, and Ramprasad of Bengal sang.
Very few go back to the source. The little peasant of Bengal by listening to the message of his heart found his way to the inner Sea. And there he was wedded to it, thus bearing out the words of the Upanishads:
“I am more ancient than the radiant Gods. I am the first-born of the Being. I am the artery of Immortality.”
It is my desire to bring the sound of the beating of that artery to the ears of fever-stricken Europe, which has murdered sleep. I wish to wet its lips with the blood of Immortality.

Rabindra Nath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore
To the Paramahansa Ramakrishna Deva
Diverse courses of worship
From varied springs of fulfillment
Have mingled in your meditation.
The manifold revelation of joy of the Infinite
Has given form to a shrine of unity in your life
Where from far and near arrive salutations
To which I join mine own.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi
The story of Ramakrishna Paramahansa’s life is a story of religion in practice. His life enables us to see God face to face. No one can read the story of his life without being convinced that God alone is real and that all else is an illusion. Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His sayings are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of his own experiences. They, therefore, leave on the reader an impression which he cannot resist. In this age of skepticism Ramakrishna presents an example of a bright and living faith which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light.

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood
This is the story of a phenomenon.
I will begin by calling him simply that, rather than ‘holy man’, ‘mystic’, ‘saint’, or ‘avatar’; all emotive words with mixed associations which may attract some readers, repel others.
A phenomenon is often something extraordinary and mysterious. Ramakrishna was extraordinary and mysterious; most of all to those who were best fitted to understand him. A phenomenon is always a fact, an object of experience. That is how I shall try to approach Ramakrishna.

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo
What was Ramakrishna? God manifest in a human being; but behind there is God in His infinite impersonality and His universal Personality. And what was Vivekananda? A radiant glance from the eye of Shiva; but behind him is the divine gaze from which he came and Shiva himself and Brahma and Vishnu and OM all-exceeding.
… “What was the message that radiated from the personality of Bhagawan Ramakrishna Paramahansa? What was it that formed the kernel of the eloquence with which the lion-like heart of Vivekananda sought to shake the world? It is this, that every one of these three hundred millions of men, from the Raja on this throne to the coolie at his labour, from the Brahmin absorbed in his Sandhya to the pariah walking shunned by men, GOD LIVETH.

Subhash Chandra Bose

From Vivekananda I turned gradually to his master, Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Vivekananda had made speeches, written letters, and published books which were available to the layman. But Ramakrishna, who was almost an illiterate man, had done nothing of the kind. He had lived his life and had left it to others to explain it. Nevertheless, there were books or diaries published by his disciples which gave the essence of his teachings… There was nothing new in his teaching, which is as old as Indian civilization itself, the Upanishads having taught thousands of years ago that through abandonment of worldly desires alone can immortal life be attained. The effectiveness of Ramakrishna’s appeal lay, however, in the fact he had practiced what he preached and that… he had reached the acme of spiritual progress.

Edited by Swami Lokeswarananda
World Thinkers on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda;
The Mission, Institute of Culture, Calcutta, 1983