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SCULPTURE of Sri Ramakrishna

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Alabaster bust of Sri Ramakrishna
by Malivina Hoffman, 1952


"The next portrait I did for the Center, that of Sri Ramakrishna, was more difficult. I had only inadequate photographs to go on, and though Ramakrishna himself had been filled with spiritual consciousness, his general appearance was more like that of a Roman citizen than like that of an Indian ascetic. Swami Nikhilananda was of great help to me, guiding me and having the power to evoke definite impressions. I found even that the material of alabaster, in which I was doing the portrait, helped me achieve a spiritual quality, for it retains and reflects the light in a curious way impossible with plaster or clay. Eventually the Center kept a little light always burning below the portrait on the altar, and the flame, being irregular, gave a slight impression of living thought with its changing and nonstatic shadings. With these various, even fortuitous, means --hints on the leader's writings, his effect on his followers and friends, the flicker of a light -- you find that you have translated a man's spirit into the modulations of a piece of alabaster."

From "Yesterday is Tomorrow: A Personal History
by Malvina Hoffman, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1965