From the Jacket:
'I am bringing to Europe, as yet unaware of it, the fruit of a new autumn, a new message of the Soul, the symphony of India, bearing the name of Ramakrishna.' - wrote Romain Rolland to his Western Readers.
A biography of anyone is hard to write. But a biography of a saint is the most difficult of all, because most of the drama of a saint's life is lived within - far from the gaze, and even farther from the understanding, of the rest of the world. What then would compel a distinguished, world renowned French writer - a Nobel laureate, in fact - to write the biography of a poor, almost illiterate priest of a Hindu Kali temple in India? And why would he want Westerners to know about him?
'I have dedicated my whole life to the reconciliation of mankind,' Rolland said. He obviously thought Ramakrishna had something extraordinary to say to humanity as a whole; otherwise he would not have spent so much time and gone through so much effort to gather material to write this book. But it was not just what Ramakrishna had to say. It was mainly his life that Rolland wanted to present. Ramakrishna demonstrated in his life that God was a fact of experience - not just for a chosen few, but for all who cared to listen, no matter what their race, position in society, or creed was. This is what Rolland wanted to bring out.
As Rolland said, 'And in the life of Ramakrishna, the Man-Gods, I am about to relate the life of this Jacob's ladder, whereon the twofold unbroken line of the Divine in man ascends and descends between heaven and earth.' To Rolland, 'Ramakrishna is the younger brother of our Christ.' It is always the same Man,' said Rolland,' - the son of Man, the Eternal, Our Son, Our God reborn. With each return he reveals himself a little more fully, and more enriched by the Universe.
Rolland obviously felt greatly enriched himself by his encounter with Ramakrishna. And, like the person who cannot eat a mango without sharing it with others, he wanted others also to have the same experience. As he said to his Eastern readers: 'And it is because Ramakrishna more fully than any other man not only conceived, but realised in himself the total Unity of this river of God, open to all rivers and all streams, that I have given him my love; and I have drawn a little of his sacred water to slake the great thirst of the world.'
'The man whose image I here evoke was the consummation of two thousand years of the spiritual life of three hundred million people. Although he has been dead forty years, his soul animates modern India. He was no hero of action like Gandhi, no genius in art or thought like Goethe or Tagore. He was a little village Brahmin of Bengal, whose outer life was set in a limited frame without striking incident, outside the political and social activities of his time. But his inner life embraced the whole multiplicity of men and God.'
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