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Notes on Biographical sources[edit]

Ramakrishna never wrote down the details of his own life. Sources for his life and teachings come from the writings of his disciples and live witnesses. Ramakrishna's recorded sayings mainly come from the last four years of his life.[1]

  • The book Sri Sri Rāmakrishna Kathāmrita by Mahendranath Gupta under the pseudonym M., belongs to this class of evidence. Mahendranath Gupta recorded his daily interactions with Ramakrishna in his dairy which were subsequently published as Sri-Sri-Ramakrishna-Kathamrta in 5 Volumes in bengali. The information in these volumes is available with "stenographic precision".[2]
  • Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsadever Jivan-vrittanta (1890) by Ram Chandra Dutta, is one of the earliest published biography of Ramakrishna. Contemporary scholars — Narasingha Sil[3] and Jeffery Kripal[4] cite a letter written by Swami Vivekananda in 1884 asking to "Avoid all irregular indecent expressions about sex etc...because other nations think it the height of indecency to mention such things, and his life in English is going to be read by the whole world"[5] and calling Ramchandra Dutta's translation a "bosh and rot"[5] and allege this book to be "scandalous". They also allege that Ramchandra Dutta faced a possible law suit from Swami Vivekananda. However, as of 1995, this book has been published in nine Bengali editions[6][7] rendering these allegations untenable.[8]
  • In 1887, Akshay Kumar Sen wrote Ramakrishna's life in verse — Sri Sri Ramakrishna Punthi in Bengali. Akshay Kumar Sen later wrote Padye Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Dever Upadesh and Sri Sri Ramakrishna Mahima.
  • Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lilaprasanga by Swami Saradananda. The book was begun in 1909 and left partially incomplete at the author's death in 1927.[9] Swami Saradananda is considered an authority both as a philosopher and as an historian on Ramakrishna.[2] The book provides authentic information on Ramakrishna.[10]
  • My Master, speeches by Swami Vivekananda in 1896.[11] While scholars like Sil argue that Ramakrishna is a product of Vivekananda's "Mythmaking and Propaganda"[12], other scholars have expressed the opinion that Vivekananda has presented a accurate picture of Ramakrishna.[13][14][15]
  • Max Muller's book Râmakrishna: His Life and Sayings (1898) is one of the earliest works by a Western scholar on the life of Ramakrishna and a relatively independent source of biography.[16].It is based on first-hand evidence, analysed in "broad and clear critical spirit".[2] Max Muller based this book on the testimonies of Swami Vivekananda and several independent witnesses, both favorable and unfavorable to Ramakrishna.[17] Scholars consider this book to be "containing the just criticism needed for a true valuation of Ramakrishna's personality and teaching".[18] Max Muller, regarded Ramakrishna as The Real Mahatman.[19]
  • Romain Rolland's book : Life of Ramakrishna (1929) is another biographic work which is based on direct disciples of whom Romain Rolland writes —"I have received glowing testimony at their hands. I have talked with some among them, who were the companions of this mystic being - of the Man-Gods- and I can vouch for their loyalty. Moreover, these eye-witnesses are not the simple fishermen of the Gospel story; some are great thinkers, learned in European thought and disciplined in its strict school."[20], and independent eye-witnesses of Ramakrishna who were alive at his time. He had consulted the Christian missionaries who had interview Ramakrishna.[21]
  • Life of Sri Ramakrishna, compiled from various authentic sources (1925) by Swami Madhavananda is also one of the primary sources of Ramakrishna's biography and a reliable source which contains first hand accounts of his disciples, live witnesses.[2]
    • ^ Neevel, Walter G (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. p. 61. ISBN 9004044957.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    • ^ a b c d Rolland, Romain (1929). "Bibliography". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. pp.232–237. 
    • ^ Sil, Narasingha P (May 28, 1998). Ramakrishna Revisited. America: University Press of America. p. 368. ISBN 978-0761810520. 
    • ^ Kripal, Jeffery (October 1, 1998). Kali's Child. University Of Chicago Press. p. 420. ISBN 978-0226453774. 
    • ^ a b The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda ~ Volume 5 ~ Epistle XXIII
    • ^ Atmajnanananda, Swami (August, 1997). "Scandals, cover-ups, and other imagined occurrences in the life of Ramakrishnaa: An examination of Jeffrey Kripal's Kali's child". International Journal of Hindu Studies. Netherlands: Springer. 1 (2): pp.401–420. doi:10.1007/s11407-997-0007-8.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    • ^ Vrajaprana, Pravrajika. "Review of Kali's child, by Jeffrey Kripal". Hindu-Christian studies bulletin. 10: 59–60.  Unknown parameter |Year= ignored (|year= suggested) (help)
    • ^ Jeffrey Kripal,. "Pale Plausibilities: A Preface for the Second Edition". "I have also, I believe, overplayed the degree to which the tradition has suppressed Datta's Jivanavrttanta. Indeed, to my wonder (and embarrassment), the Ramakrishna Order reprinted Datta's text the very same summer Kali's Child appeared, rendering my original claims of a conscious concealment untenable with respect to the present 
    • ^ Neevel, Walter G (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. p. 62.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    • ^ Isherwood, Christopher (1965). "The Birth of Ramakrishna". Ramakrishna and his Disciples. pp. p.2. Although Saradananda did not begin his work until more than twenty years after Ramakrishna's death, there is no doubt of its authenticity. Many of those who had known Ramakrishna were then still alive, and Saradananda carefully compared his memories with theirs.… A man like Saradananda could not have made it unless it was literally true. 
    • ^ Vivekananda, Swami (1896). "My Master". Complete Works. pp. pp.154–188. 
    • ^ Sil, Narasingha P. "Vivekānanda's Rāmakṛṣṇa: An Untold Story of Mythmaking and Propaganda". Ramakrishna Revisited. 
    • ^ Muller, Max (1898). "The Dialogic Process". Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. pp. pp.30–31. I had made it as clear as possible to Vivekânanda that the accounts hitherto published of his Master, however edifying they might be to his followers, would sound perfectly absurd to European students, ... that descriptions of miracles performed by the Saint, however well authenticated, would produce the very opposite effect of what they were intended for. Vivekânanda himself is a man who knows England and America well, and perfectly understood what I meant. Yet even his unvarnished description of his Master discloses here and there the clear traces of what I call the Dialogic Process, and the irrepressible miraculising tendencies of devoted disciples. And I am really glad that it does so, if only it helps to teach us that no historian can ever pretend to do more than to show us what a man or a fact seemed to be to him or to the authorities whom he has to follow, and not what he or it actually was. 
    • ^ Neevel, Walter G (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. pp. 53–97. …Although Muller claims still to see "the irrepressible miraculising tendencies of devoted disciples", we can assume that Vivekananda, under the admonitions from the leading Indologist of the day, made every effort to make his account as factual and accurate as possible.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    • ^ Isherwood, Christopher (1965). "The Birth of Ramakrishna". Ramakrishna and his Disciples. pp. p.23. When we meet Vivekananda in the latter part of this story, we shall find him a highly skeptical young man with a western-agnostic education in Calcutta, who refused utterly to believe in the supernormal until he had, so to speak, banged his head against it. And even when Vivekananda's disbelief had been modified by personal experience, even when he had become one of Ramakrishna's most passionate devotees, he still discouraged blind faith in others, still urged everyone to find out the truth for himself. And, over and over again, he asserted that it really did not matter whether you believed that Ramakrishna was a divine incarnation or not. Can we accuse such men of lying? 
    • ^ Neevel, Walter G (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. p. 63. ISBN 9004044957.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    • ^ Muller, Max (1898). "Mozoomdar's Judgement". Râmakrishna his Life and Sayings. pp. pp.61. 
    • ^ Maurice Bloomfield (Dec., 1899). "Reviewed work(s): Ramakrishna, His Life and Sayings by F. Max Müller". The American Historical Review. American: American Historical Association. 5 (2): pp. 347–349.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    • ^ Max Muller (1896). "A Real Mahatman". The Nineteenth Century. 
    • ^ Rolland, Romain (1929). "Prelude". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. pp.xxiii. 
    • ^ Rolland, Romain (1929). "The River Re-Enters the Sea". The Life of Ramakrishna. pp. p.205. 
    • ^ Carl E. Purinton (Jan, 1949). "Reviewed work(s): Ramakrishna: Prophet of New India. Abridged from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda". Journal of Bible and Religion. London: Oxford University Press. 17 (1): pp. 67–68.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
    • ^ Neevel, Walter G (1976). "The Transformation of Ramakrishna". Hinduism: New Essays in the History of Religions. Brill Archive. pp. 61–62.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
    • ^ "100 Best Spiritual Books of the Century". Retrieved 2008-08-21. 
    • ^ Zalewiski, Phillip (2000). The Best Spiritual Writing 2000. San Francisco: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0062516701. 
    • ^ Sil, 1993; Hatcher, 1999; Radice, 1995; Kripal 1998