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Ramakrishna or Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa (shrē räˌməkrĭshˈnə pəräˌməhänˈsä), 1836–86, Hindu mystic. He was born of a poor Brahman family in Bengal, and his given name was Gadadhar Chatterjee. In about 1855 he became a devotee of the goddess Kali and lived for the rest of his life at her temple in Dakshineswar outside Calcutta (now Kolkata). During a 15-year period of intense spiritual practice he mastered all the types of Hindu Yoga and also had mystical experience through Christian and Islamic worship. He concluded that all religions are valid means of approaching God. Ramakrishna had little formal learning, but his saintliness and wisdom attracted a large following. After his death his teachings were spread by his disciples and by his wife Sarada Devi. Ramakrishna's message of universal religion was carried to the West by Swami Vivekananda. The Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Vivekananda, is represented by a large monastic order in India, devoted to both contemplation and social action, and by centers in major cities of Europe and the United States. Ramakrishna's sayings are contained in The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (tr. by Swami Nikhilananda, 1942).


See biographies by S. Saradananda (3d ed. 1963) and D. G. Mukherji (1985); C. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (1965).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Ramakrishna Paramhansa; real name Ga-dadhar Chatterjee). Born Feb. 18, 1836, in Kamarpukur, West Bengal; died Aug. 16, 1886, in Calcutta. Indian mystic philosopher and religious reformer; representative of neo-Hinduism.

Ramakrishna advanced the doctrine of “universal religion,” believing that such forms of religious worship as Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are only different manifestations of a universal striving toward a single divine principle. The philosophic foundations of this universal religion were taken chiefly from the ancient Indian idealist school of Vedanta, whose different trends Ramakrishna attempted to coordinate by presenting them as levels of Yoga spiritual experience.

According to Ramakrishna, bhakti (boundless love and devotion to god) is achieved not by ascetic renunciation of the world but by each person’s fulfillment of his earthly obligations. While asserting the necessity of social activity, Ramakrishna understood such activity in a rather narrow sense, chiefly from the viewpoint of a universal spiritual perfecting. He believed that an ideal of self-perfection was needed for deliverance from the calamities of the “iron age” (kali yuga), an era characterized by the omnipotence of money and domination by foreign oppressors.

Ramakrishna’s teachings became widely known abroad after his most outstanding student, Vivekananda, spoke at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago (1893). In order to progagate Ramakrishna’s ideas, in 1897 his students founded a religious reform society, the Ramakrishna Mission. Located in Belur, near Calcutta, and with branches in Europe and North America, the mission continues its activity to the present time.


Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. Provozvestie Ramakrishny. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Ramakrishna (Biograficheskii ocherk). Moscow, [1915].
Müller, M. Shri Ramakrishna Paramagazma: Ego zhizn’ i uchenie. Moscow, 1913. (Translated from English.)
Rolland, R. Zhizn’ Ramakrishny. In Soch, vol. 19. Moscow, 1936. (Translated from French.)
Ramakrishna, 1836–1886: Memoirs of Ramakrishna, 2nd ed. Compiled by Swami Anhedananda. Calcutta [1957].
Gambhirananda, S. History of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Calcutta, 1957.

Nehru, J. Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, 3rd ed. Calcutta, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Sri . 1834--86, Hindu yogi and religious reformer. He preached the equal value of all religions as different paths to God
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005