Ramakrishna (1836-1886 C.E.) was a famous Saint in the 19th century in India. He was born on 18 February 1836 into a very poor but devoutly religious Brahmin family in the village of Kamarpukur, Hooghly district of West Bengal, India. He became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali and located near Calcutta on the Ganges River. He is famously known as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa among his devotees.
Young Ramakrishna was prone to experiences of spiritual reverie and temporary loss of consciousness. His early spiritual experiences included going into a state of rapture while watching the flight of cranes, and loosing consciousness of the outer world while playing the role of the god Shiva in a school play.
At one point he became frustrated, feeling he could not live any longer without seeing Kali. He demanded that the goddess appear to him. He threatened to take his own life with a ritual dagger (normally held in the hand of the Kali statue). Ramakrishna’s behavior became more erratic as time passed and began to worry his family and employer. He would take on ritual and mythical roles identifying with figures from the Puranas (medieval Indian holy books describing the adventures of gods). The group of respected religious leaders concluded that this was a case of divine madness similar in nature to that of other famous saints such as Caitanya (a fifteenth century Bengali saint). From this point on, people began to treat Ramakrishna with more respect though his unusual behavior in worship and meditation continued. A Yogi named Totapuri then became Ramakrishna’s mentor. Ramakrishna adopted the role of renunciant and learned a nondualist form of Vedanta philosophy from him. In this system, God is understood to be the formless unmanifest energy that supports the cosmos. Ramakrishna experienced a deep form of trance (nirvikalpa samadhi) under the guidance of this teacher. This state can be described as complete absorption of the soul into the divine ocean of consciousness. Ramakrishna also appealed to those with an interest in yoga and esoteric practices by practicing a non-dual form of meditation prescribed by Totapuri which seeks samadhi.
He was married to Sarada Devi who later became his spiritual counterpart and was considered a saint in her own right to take charge of his disciples and carry on his message. Swami Vivekananda was one of his famous disciples. In honor of his Guru, Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Math which works for the welfare of others and spread the spiritual movement known as Ramakrishna Movement worldwide. Belur Math is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission.
According to Hindu lunar calendar it was Dwitiya, Phalguna, Shukla Paksha, Vikram Samvat 1892 when Shri Ramakrishna was born. Each year the birth anniversary of Ramakrishna is celebrated as per Hindu lunar calendar across all Ramakrishna Maths.