Selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

Selections from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

By Swami Nikhilananda
Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2002. Paperback, 201 pages.

Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) was surely one of India's most famous-and eccentric-spiritual teachers of the nineteenth century. Particularly through his pupil Vivekananda, who helped to introduce Vedantic philosophy to America, Ramakrishna became and remains widely recognized as a great spiritual guru. He is one of the "patron saints" of the Vedanta Society.

One of the best-known works about him is Mahendra Gupta's The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishnapublished first in Bengali in five volumes (1897-1932) under the pseudonym "M." Swami Nikhilananda first translated The Gospel into English in 1942.

With this work, he offers, excerpts from that much longer original, along with copious notes on each facing page, for those who are put off by the immensity of The Gospel or its sometimes unfamiliar terminology.

This brief work contains a series of fascinating conversations that Sri Ramakrishna had with his disciples, although it is unclear when these dialogues took place or whether they are arranged in chronological order. Ramakrishna's unusual behavior is hinted in the introduction but not in the texts themselves, in which he appears spiritually wise and full of good humor. For those already knowledgeable about Ramakrishna's teachings there will be few surprises. For the uninitiated, however, this volume provides a clear and readable introduction to his way of spirituality.


May/June 2004