India, with her wealth of spiritual tradition, has produced many spiritual giants. One of the greatest was Ramakrishna. Born in a rural village in Bengal, Ramakrishna even as a boy naturally gravitated toward leading a spiritual life. He would often go into high spiritual states where he would merge with the Infinite Reality. In his thirst for the divine, Ramakrishna followed different religious paths within Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. He came to the conclusion, based on his direct experience, that all religions lead to the same goal – a verification of the great saying of the ancient Rig Veda: एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति, “Truth is one; sages call it by many names”. Ramakrishna’s teachings regarding the highest truths of spiritual life were delivered in the simplest language and were punctuated by parables and homely metaphors as illustrations. Many noted writers and philosophers, including Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Aldous Huxley, Romain Rolland, Max Müller, Christopher Isherwood, Thomas Merton, Arnold Toynbee and Joseph Campbell, were deeply impressed and influenced by him.
“When God is realised, the world never appears empty. He who has attained Him sees that the Lord Himself has become all these – the universe and its creatures.” – Sri Ramakrishna
Ramakrishna’s Involvement with Sufism
________________taken from The Great Swan by Lex Hixon p255-256
I received initiation and instruction from the Sufi Master Govinda Rai. He transmitted to my heart the beautiful Divine Name Allah, which I then repeated with every breath. I visited the small mosque behind the Temple Garden, learning to make the Call to Prayer and to perform namaz, the graceful cycle of prostration and praise offered by devout Muslims five times every day.
My practice of Islam was crowned by a vision of the noble Prophet Muhammad – a robed, dignified, bearded figure of supreme sanctity – who merged intimately with my being, pervading my body with rose fragrance and lifting my awareness into union with him and then into mystic union with Allah Most High. It was precisely the same profound samadhi attained along the paths of Veda and Tantra. Muslims call it fana.
During this brief but intense period of Islamic sadhana, I enjoyed Muslim dishes and wore Muslim clothes. I removed the pictures of Hindu deities from my room and constantly chanted verses in Arabic from the Holy Quran.
One afternoon, while returning from a visit to Mother Kali at Kalighat, the carriage was moving slowly through the crowd before the Grand Mosque at Geratala. Through the open courtyard I glimpsed a Muslim sage crying out with palms up raised: “O Allah, O Supreme Beloved, please come! please come!”
I leaped from the moving vehicle, raced madly into the mosque, and tearfully greeted this noble Sufi. We held each other in a long embrace.
The Sufis follow the way of prema, a love so intense that it melts and dissolves the entire being.
Some advice from Shri Ramakrishna on the Divine Names
How soon will dawn the timeless day
when I plunge into the ocean of prema
enjoying the delight of Paradise
during this very earthly life
Beloved companions, please take this mystic hymm most seriously. This present life can become paradise. God is never there but here. A person is ignorant when he assumes that God is far above. He has knowledge only when he perceived all creation filled with Divine Consciousness.
Face shining with Divine Light,
chant the beautiful Names of God
until your secret heart overflows
with the nectar of prema
Drink the elixir ceaselessly
and offer it to all of humanity
You are each destined to share with your generation this drink of timeless bliss. Become intoxicated with the sound and energy of any Beautiful Name of God, and Divine Grace will arise directly from within your heart. You will become a spring of Holy Names – bubbling up ceaselessly, providing refreshment for humankind.
- How Many Sufis Are There in Islam? by Stephen Schwartz (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- Two poignant Line from The Sufis of Afganistan Film (Roughy translated) (mycaravanofdreams.com)