Sri Ramakrishna was not a mere ideal man or a world teacher, but was a unique being endowed with the supra-human attributes of the Divine Person. Even during his lifetime he had become an object of worship, and several great scholars, spiritual adepts and religious leaders had considered him an avatar. Today he is being worshipped by millions of people belonging to all strata of society, casts, creeds and nationalities.
What are the marks of a fully illumined soul? According to Sri Ramakrishna these are three: renunciation, knowledge, and compassion. The relevance of the vijnani ideal in the present-day world can by appreciated only when we understand how important these three values are to the modern man’s life.
Greatness is of two types: contemporary and eternal. An ordinary person who has attained greatness in any field like social service, religion, art or science, can influence the lives of a few thousand people but only for a short period, for his influence does not usually survive his death. But world prophets like Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad influence the lives of millions of people for centuries. Their influence is not limited by time. Nay, it undergoes a process of time enlargement: with the passage of centuries the glory of these prophets, instead of decreasing goes on increasing.
20 March 2005 was the day of the public celebration of Sri Ramakrishna’s birth anniversary at Belur Math, and lakhs of devotees had thronged the Math premises. An unusual sight was provided by a handcuffed man moving about on the Math premises with several guards by his side. On enquiry we found out that he was Shyamal Khawas, an inmate of Medinipur District Correctional Home. We also learnt from Shyamal that he was a regular subscriber to Udbodhan, the Bengali monthly of the Ramakrishna Order, and that he also sent regular donations for Math activities.
Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations in 2003-04 witnessed the inauguration of several new service programmes by the branch centres of the Ramakrishna Order. These programmes aimed specifically at reaching out to the masses—especially women and the poorer sections of society. It was a remarkable coincidence that Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Malda, got a chance to initiate a programme of service for the inmates of Malda District Correctional Home during these celebrations; and this programme has since been extended to a number of other correctional homes across West Bengal.