Adoring the Divine
Dakshineswar temple garden, the place hallowed by the spiritual practices and presence of Sri Ramakrishna; the Bhavatarini Kali temple, where he worshipped and had the vision of the Divine Mother; the Radhakanta temple and the twelve Siva temples; the room where he lived in God-absorption and enacted the divine drama—all these sacred spots are objects of adoration to countless devotees. Those who have studied Sri Ramakrishna’s life know that he was a worshipper in the Kali temple. But what a different kind of worship it was! He longed for the Divine Mother and wept incessantly. Pangs of separation from the Mother filled his heart and consumed his very being. He despaired of ever realizing Her, and wanted to end his life. Then She revealed Herself to him as the all-pervading Supreme Spirit, and from that day on he was in constant communion with his Divine Mother and She with him. This truly began Sri Ramakrishna’s divine play on earth—unceasing adoration and realization of God in one aspect or another, including those prescribed by non-Hindu faiths.
His worship became adoration of God everywhere and in everything. Says Sri Ramakrishna: “One day I was about to gather some flowers. They were everywhere on the trees. At once I had the vision of Virat [the Supreme Spirit in the form of the universe]; it appeared that His worship was just over. The flowers looked like a bouquet placed on the head of the Deity. I could not pluck them.” To him, all existence now stood permeated with divine Consciousness. In his own words, “The universe is conscious on account of the Consciousness of God. Sometimes I find that Consciousness wriggles about, as it were, even in small fish.…Sometimes I find that the universe is saturated with the Consciousness of God, as the earth is soaked with water in the rainy season.” Sri Ramakrishna’s adoration is that of a knower of God, and could be considered the ideal. A spiritual aspirant, however, progresses through various levels of adoration.
Levels of Adoration
The way a spiritual aspirant adores God depends upon his attitude toward himself. In other words, his level of consciousness determines his conception and adoration of God. In his spiritual journey he undergoes changes in his attitude to God corresponding to the different degrees of purity of mind he has attained, and finally reaches the culmination of spiritual life: oneness with God. A verse attributed to Hanuman, the great devotee of Rama, describes this important spiritual principle: “When I think of myself as a body, I am the servant and You are my Master; when I think of myself as a jivatman, I am a part and You are the Whole. When I know I am the Spirit, I am Thou—this is my firm conviction!”
(To be continued) —Swami Yuktatmananda
Copyright© 2014, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.