The Nectar of the Master's Speech
An Anatomy of Ramakrishna's Kathamrita
The famous spiritual personality of mid-Victorian Bengal, Sri Ramakrishna (monastic name of Gadadhar Chattopadhyay) was, like Socrates of Hellenic Athens, an oral prophet. His method of teaching and preaching was through informal and homely homilies and anecdotes. These, compiled and subsequently published by his devotee Mahendranath Gupta (alias SriM), have been translated from the original Bāṅglā into numerous languages of India and the world titled as Ramakrishna Kathāmṛta. The contents of this compilation have universally been considered deeply spiritual albeit delivered in patois Bengali befitting the nearly illiterate speaker. There are no studies, hagiographical or hermeneutical, examining the Master’s neologisms and his natural gift as a tusitala, that is a story-maker and storyteller, and interrogating the much-publicized spiritual subtext of his logia. This paper addresses the lacunae of what may be called Rāmakṛṣṇāyana, that, Ramakrishna-related literature.
BE Bengali Era that follows the Common Era (CE) by 593 years 3 months 14 days.
CW Svāmī Vivekananda. Complete Works. 8 vols. Mayavati Memorial edn. 1989. 14th rpt. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1990.
GR The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Svāmī Nikhilananda’s (birthname Dineshchandra Dasgupta,1895-1973) translation of KM. 1942. Seventh printing. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1984.
JV Ramchandra Datta. Śrīśrīrāmakṙṣṇa Paramahaṁsadever Jīvanvṛttānta. 1890. 6th ed. 1950. Rpt. With minor rev. Kalikata: Udbodhana Kāryālay, 1995.
JU Satyacharan Mitra. Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣṇa Paramahaṁsa (Jīvanī O Updeś). Calcutta: Great India Press, 1308 BE
KM Śrīśrīāmakṛṣṇakathāmṛta, comp. (ŚrīM) Mahendranath Gupta. 5 bhāgas. 1308-39 BE. Kalikata: Kathāmṛta Bhavan, 1394 BE.
LM Vaikunthnath Sanyal, Śrīśrīrākṛṣṇa-līlāmṛta. 1343 BE. New ed.Kalikata: Nabapatra Prakāśan, 1390 BE.
LP Svāmī Saradananda. Śrīśrīrāmakrṣṇalīlāprasaṅga. 5 pts. I 2 vols. Kalikata: Udbodhan Karyalay, 1398 BE. Vol. 1 in 3 pts.: (Pūrvakathā O Vālyajīvan, Sādhakabhāva, and Gurubhāva). Vol. 2 in 2 pts. (Gurubhāva-Uttarārdha and Ṭhākurer Divyabhāva O Narendranath).
LR Life of Sri Ramakrisha from Various Authentic Sources. 1924. Second ed. 1928. Eighth impression. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1964.
MJ Abhaychandra Bhattacharya, ŚrīMar Jīvandarśan. Kalikata. Graṇtha Bhāratī, 1397 BE.
RA Datta, Mahendranath. Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣṇer Anudhyān. Ed. Dhirendranath Basy. 1350 BE. Revised 6th ed. Calcutta: The Mahendra Publishing Committee, 1396 BE.
RC Barman, Gurudas (alias Priyanath Singha). Śrīiśrīrāmakṛṣṇacarit, 2 vols. Kalikata: Kalinath Singha, 1316 BE.
RH Chetanananda, Svāmī. Ed. & trans. Ramakrishna as We saw Him. 1990. First Indian ed. 1992. Rpt. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1993.
RP Svāmī Jagadishvarnanda, comp. & ed., Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣṇa-pārṣad-prasaṅga. 1357 BE. Belur: Śrīś”How happy we were rīrāmakṛṣṇa Dharmacakra, 1398 BE.
SK Svāmī Akhandananda, Smṛti-kathā. Fourth ed. Kalikata: Udbodhan Kāryālay, 1983.
Aksaychaitanya, Brahmacharī. Ṭhākur Śrīrāmakṛṣṇa. 1378 be. Third ed. Calcutta: Calcutta Book House Pvt. Ltd., 1393 BE.
Atulananda, Svāmī. With the Swamis in America, ed. Pravrājikā Brahmaprāṇā. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1988.
Bhadra, Gautam. “Everything does not have to be measured by historical truth…The politics of fundamentalism reduces every cultural element into a definitive historical origin and contrived facticity.” The Telegraph Online (15 March 2021). Accessed 3/15/2021.
Chatterjee, Partha. “A Religion of Urban Domesticity: Sri Ramakrishna and the Calcutta Middle Class.” In idem & Gyanendra Pandey, eds. Subaltern Studies VIII: Writings on South Asian History and Society. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Conway, Kellyanne. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/kellyanne accessed 3/14/2021.
Erikson, Eric H. Identity: Youth and Crisis. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Ltd., 1968.
Datta, Surechchandra. Śrīśrīrāmakṛṣṇadever Upadeś. 1884-86. 34th ed. Calcutta: Mitra Brothers, 1398 BE.
Gambhirananda, Svāmī. Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi. 3rd ed. Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Maṭh, 1977.
Gay, Peter. Freud: A Life for Our Time. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988.
Gupta, Nagendranath. “Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.” In G.C. Banerji, Keshab Chandra and Ramakrishna. Second ed. Calcutta: Navavidhan Publication Committee, 1942, 257-68.
Mahānirvānatantram. (Ed.) Panchanan Tarkaratna. Kalikata: Bangabasi Edn. 1333 BE.
Jung, Carl G. “What India Can Teach Us?” Asia, XXXIX (February 1939). In idem, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. 20 vols. Princeton, New Jersey: Princetion Uiversity Press, 1957-79, X: 525-33.
Masson, Jeffrey M. The Oceanic Feeling: The Origins of Religious Sentiment in Ancient India. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1980.
Masson. Jeffrey J. [M]. “The Psychology of the Ascetic.” The Journal of Asian Studies, XXXV, 4 (1976): 611-25.
Matchet, Freda. “The Teaching of Ramakrishna in Relation to the Hindu Tradition as Interpreted by Vivekananda.” Religion, XI (1982): 171-84.
McLean, Malcolm D. “Women as aspects of the Mother Goddess in India: A Case Study of Ramakrishna.” Religion, XIX, 1989: 13-25.
Money, John. Venuses Penuses: Sexology, Sexosophy and Exigency Theory. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986.
Mookerjee, Nanda, ed. Sri Ramakrishna in the Eyes of Brahmo and Christian Admirers. Calcutta: Firma KLM Pvt. Ltd., 1976.
Moyers, Bill. “Moyers: A Gathering of Men.” PBS Channel 7 (8 January 1990): conversation between Bill Moyers and the American poet Robert Bly.
Müller, Friedrich Max. Ramakrishna: His Life and Sayings. 1989. Rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1975.
Otto, Walter F. Dionysus, Myth and Cult, trans. Robert B. Palmer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.
Ramakrishnananda, Svāmī. Sri Ramakrishna and His Mission. Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math,
Ray, Gopalchandra. Śrīrāmakṛṣṇa, Baṅkimcandra O ŚrīM. Kalikata: Pustak Bipaṇi, 1395.
Rolland, Romain. Prophets of New India. Trans. Elizabeth Malcolm-Smith. New Delhi: Penguin Enterprise, 2004.
Rosselli, John. “Sri Ramakrishna and the Educated of Late Nineteenth Century Bengal.” Contributions to Indian Sociology, XII, 2 (1978): 195-212.
Sarkar, Sumit. “Kathamrita as Text: Towards an Understanding of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.” Occasional Papers on History and Society, X. New Delhi: Nehru Museum and Library, 1985.
Schneiderman, Leo. “Ramakrishna:Personality and Social Factors in the Growth of a religious movement.” Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, VIII, 1 (Spring 1969): 60-71.
Sen, Akhsaykumar. Śrśrīrāmakṛṣṇapuṅthi: Śrīrāmakṛṣṇer Caritāmṛta. 8th ed. Kalikata: Udbodhan Kāryālay, 1378 BE
Sil, Narasingha P. “Bankim Redivivus: An Appraisal.” The Calcutta Historical Journal (University of Calcutta), XXVII, 1 (January-June 2007).
Sil, Narasingha P. Crazy in Love of God: Ramakrishna’s Caritas Divina. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press/Cranbury: Associated University Presses, 2009.
Tambiah, Stanley J. “Participation in and Objectification of the Charisma of Saints.” In Dick van der Meij, ed. India and Beyond: Aspects of Literature, Meaning, Ritual and Thought. Leiden: International Institute for Indian Studies, 1997: 538-61.
Tyagananda, Svāmī. E-Mail. October 20, 2000. Printouts available from author’s Inbox upon request.
Tyagananda, Svāmī and Pravrājikā Vrajaprana. Interpreting Ramakrishna: Kālī’s Child Revisited. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2010.
Vivekananda, Svāmī. “My Master.” https://vivekavani.com/my-master-swami-vivekananda/ (accessed 4/14/2021).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This is an Open Access journal. All material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence, unless otherwise stated.
Please read our Open Access, Copyright and Permissions policies for more information.