Though Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings consist of and urge people to stay off ‘women and gold’ (that translates to “lust and greed”), he had many women devotees too. This post focuses on the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna for women. There was a women devotee who was much in awe of Sri Ramakrishna.
When Sri Ramakrishna talked of women and gold, he literally meant lust and greed. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Nikhilananda probably is an abridged version that though mentioned by the above said devotee, it did not tell us what happened to her later and how Sri Ramakrishna handled her.
For Sri Ramakrishna, every woman was an embodiment of Mother Kali, the creator, preserver, and destroyer. His teachings always asked people to stay away from lust and view women as mothers so that no otherwise feelings arise.
Further, in his discourses with devotees, he said husband and wife should live like brother and sister after a child or two. The part of women devotees was to keep their husbands and children on the path to religion, to the attainment of God and His blessings rather than indulging in worldly affairs.
Of course, a woman has to take care of his husband and kids but if they are proving to be obstacles to realizing God, she might ignore them and immerse herself completely in the love of God. In such case, God Himself will relieve the woman of her duties towards the family and world and take care of her.
According to Sri Ramakrishna, women have an advantage over men. They can generate the bhava of gopis and yearn for a glimpse of Krishna. Gopis were milkmaids whom Lord Krishna (one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu) often teased but loved nonetheless.
At a point in the Gospel, I read that Ramakrishna wanted to take birth as a woman in his next life so that he can cultivate a love for God in form of gopis. It is also mentioned in his biography that while praying to Lord Krishna, he would dress up as a woman and yearn for a glimpse of the Lord. He would move among the women devotees and the latter felt him as one of their own gender. This happened until Lord Krishna provided him with a vision.
The love of gopis for Sri Krishna is not unknown and can never be underestimated. The love of gopis towards Lord Krishna was selfless love; they did not seek anything material from Him and instead loved him for love’s sake.
Loving God for love’s sake and yearning for God with love is the purest form of devotion according to the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna for women. Though Sri Ramakrishna had plenty of women devotees, the Gospel did not cover much of his teachings to them.
That could be because the recorder of the Gospel was a male figure who could not be allowed into the ladies’ chambers at Dakshineshwar or when Sri Ramakrishna visiting his women devotees’ homes. The women were always inside and only Sri Ramakrishna was entitled to enter the inner portions of the house. That deprives us of many teachings he might have imparted to his women devotees, but the basic thing was to shun worldly desires and focus on God as much as possible.
The common teaching of Sri Ramakrishna for women was to love God (for love’s sake and not for materialistic gains); live a chaste life in thought and in deed; keep the focus on God even as the women imparted their worldly duties; and be a spiritual partner to support their husbands and kids on the path to the realization of God. He, as usual, urged them to shun lust and greed to become more attracted to God.
Since not much is mentioned anywhere about what Sri Ramakrishna said to women, except when they were at Dakshineshwar, near Calcutta, I must stop here. I do not have any more information about the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna for women devotees. This and related Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna are also available in Kindle format on Amazon, free for readers having a Kindle Unlimited subscription.
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