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The Three Photographs Of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa

Swami Satprakashananda writes about the three photographs of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.

Of the world’s religious teachers of the highest order, Sri Ramakrishna was the first to be photographed. Today humanity has among its cherished treasures three different photographic portraits of the Divine Master, who is venerated by many as an Incarnation of God and by many more as a rare type of illumined soul. ...

None of his three photographs, however, portray Sri Ramakrishna on the plane of normal life, because each time he faced the camera he was absorbed in transcendental experience or mystical awareness (called in Sanskrit samadhi ) while his countenance, radiant with superb joy, testified to the sublimity of his inner consciousness. Looking at one of his pictures Sri Ramakrishna once remarked, ‘It is a picture of a very exalted state of yoga. Time will come when this will be worshipped in many a home.’ Indeed, Sri Ramakrishna’s portrait bears the impress of the state of God-consciousness and is therefore its veritable symbol. It is not possible to render in more realistic terms an expression of that ecstasy of Self-realization which thought cannot attain nor speech disclose.

The meditative poses of deities and of spiritual leaders such as Sri Krishna, Buddha, Shankara, and others delineated by Indian iconography are coloured more or less by the conceptions of the artists.

Sri Ramakrishna’s whole personality was so suffused with divine love, purity, wisdom, and bliss that even in his lifetime he was recognized as the Supreme Spirit incarnate in human form. His image is therefore a genuine representation of the Divinity. I firmly believe that this sacred icon will help
immensely in removing the veil of ignorance from the hearts of men and women and in revealing unto them the spiritual Reality it typifies. ...

... God-men are the very embodiment of moral and spiritual principles. Their images signify the highest ideals. Worshipping God through such images is not idolatry. The great spiritual leaders are the best exemplars of their own teachings. Their lives demonstrate the truths they preach. ... Their human forms are the images of divine attributes.