Book Reviews

Thakur: Life of Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna (His devotees call him "Thakur" out of love and reverence) was a living encyclopedia of religions. A faithful record of all his life events including his sadhana, visions, and moods is very well preserved, thereby allowing many creative artists to experiment with their imaginative skills and come up with wonderful work of art. Rajiv Mehrotra is one such successful creative artist who has endeavored to project life of Sri Ramakrishna in a novel video cassette form.

The cassette opens with the focus on the emblem of Ramakrishna Order on the entrance of Belur Temple showing in particular the Swan: Symbol of Paramahamsa. In the background, the music of evening aarti is being played that gives a wonderful serenity and piety to the atmosphere.

The director takes us to the village of Kamarpukur, Bengal, where on 18th February 1836 (Mr. Mehrotra has erroneously mentioned 17th February) was born the hero of this art work, Sri Ramakrishna. Focus then shifts to Sri Ramakrishna's visions and state of samadhi in his early childhood; once while he was overpowered with the beauty of white cranes against the dark background of Monsoon clouds, and secondly during his acting as Shiva in a play in the local community.

In 1852 Sri Ramakrishna accompanies his elder brother to Calcutta and soon takes up the responsibility of officiating as a priest in the famous temple of Kali at Dakshineswar. Here starts the main series of events of his life as an yearning sadhaka. Curiosity and faith combined together propels Sri Ramakrishna to fathom the real nature of the Mother. Is she just a idol of stone, or is she living goddess? 

With love and intensity unknown in realm of spiritual history, Sri Ramakrishna calls on Mother to reveal her true nature. He is even pushed to the point to attempt suicide, when the gracious Deity shows Herself to him as living Mother. His love for the Mother thus strengthened, Sri Ramakrishna begins to see Her in other living and non-living beings. He sees no difference between himself and the Mother, nor between a cat and Her.

But how to authenticate the truth of his visions and to allay his own doubts! For this comes Bhairavi Brahmani, a nun well versed in various Tantra and Vaishnava sadhana. Ramakrishna, as her disciple, engages in and experiences the ultimate truths of sixty four Tantras as well as Dasya and Madhur bhava. Soon, as the final culmination of sadhana, Totapuri, the great Advaita Teacher, reaches Dakshineswar and initiates Sri Ramakrishna as a sanyasin to enable him to undertake the sadhana of Advaita Vedanta. This episode of interaction between Sri Ramakrishna and Totapuri is indeed very nicely done and leaves many a eye wet with a tear.

After the departure of Totapuri, Sri Ramakrishna engages himself to reach the state of non-duality through other religious disciplines, viz. of Islam and Christianity. He then has desire to share his knowledge and experiences in the realm of spirituality with his disciples. Thus comes into the picture greatest of all his disciples: Swami Vivekananda.

All these episodes are nicely depicted and narrated by the director. Scenes from the background folk drama, and reactions of audience watching the same, add novelty and familiarity to the work. Shots from the rural background and melodious tunes of Bengali songs add desired flavour to the narrative. The creative ability in him and his research team has successfully portrayed 'the man who was the consummation of two thousand years of spiritual life of three hundred million people'.

Any attempt to spread the holy message about the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna is welcome; so is this. A five to seven minute clip on the wonderful meeting between Sri Ramakrishna and Brahmo leader Kesav Chandra Sen would have helped highlight the influence of Thakur on the
social religious movements of his time. All in all, the cassette would be welcome by all those who know something about the life of Sri Ramakrishna, or are, even in smallest way, connected with Ramakrishna Movement.

[The viewers are requested to keep the sound volume a bit high which definitely brings more clarity to the narration.]


More by :  Dr. C.S. Shah

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