Ramakrishna Paramhansa was born as Gadadhar Chattopadhyay into a poor and orthodox Brahmin family on 18 February, 1836 in Kamarpukur, Hooghly district of West Bengal. His parents were Khudiram Chattopadhyaya, and Chandramani Devi.
Gadadhar as a child was very reluctant going to school. But, he was a gifted boy who had inherent talent of painting and creating models out of clay. He was a sharp learner and good at learning things. He easily grasped the tales, based upon the religion.
As a young boy, he loved the nature so much that he used to spend much of his time in orchards and on the river banks.
His father died in the year 1843 and the responsibilities of the family were handled by his elder brother Ramkumar. The latter left home for Calcutta and started teaching Sanskrit in a local school to earn his livelihood. Ramkumar also served as a priest at different socio-religious functions to support his family. On the other hand Gadadhar, who was still young, started performing regular worshipping of their family-deity in his village.
His stint at Dakshineshwar
Few months later Ramkumar went to Dakshineswar temple where he was invited by Rani Rasmoni, the founder of the temple. He was appointed as the chief-priest of the temple.
In the year 1852, Ramakrishna went to Calcutta and started assisting his brother at the same temple.
In the year 1856, Ramkumar died and Ramakrishna took his place as the chief-priest of the Kali temple. It is believed that Gadadhar was rechristened as Ramakrishna by the son-in-law of Rani Rasmoni.
He was given more responsibilities and consequently Ramkrishna began to spend much time in the "Thakur-Ghar" (home of the deity). He was a great worshipper of Goddess Kali and considered it as the mother of all. He was so obsessed with the divine goddess that he wanted to see the glimpse of her. Therefore many a times he used to go to the jungle and spend the entire night worshipping goddess Kali. Such activities of Ramakrishna were viewed as suspicious by many and people started believing that Ramakrishna has gone "mad". To bring Ramakrishna back into the normal life, his mother started looking for a suitable bride for him.
Ramakrishna married Saradamani Mukhopadhyaya (also known as Sarda Devi) who later on became his first disciple and led the mission started by him even after his death. He married her in the year 1959, when she was just five years old.
Ramakrishna met Vivekananda for the first time in the year 1881 when the latter visited Dakshineswar in the month of November in the same year to know if the god really exists.
To his query Ramakrishna replied:
"Yes, I see God, just as I see you here, only in a much intense sense. God can be realized,"
At first Vivekananda did not believe Ramakrishna and rebuked the idea that such a simple man could see the God. But, gradually he started developing faith in Ramakrishna and his philosophy. A few days later, Vivekananda realized that Ramakrishna's words were honest and that he was an experienced man. Also, Vivekananda started visiting Dakshineswar frequently and eventually a relationship of "Master and disciple" was developed between the two.
In 1885 Ramakrishna suffered from throat cancer. He was shifted to Shyampukur to consult the best doctors from Calcutta.
But unfortunately his health gradually deteriorated and he was shifted to a large house at Cossipore. His condition worsened further and on 16 August, 1886, he said adieu to this world forever at the Cossipore garden house.
After the death of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda headed the monastic disciples who formed a fellowship at a half-ruined house at Baranagar. This was the foundation stone of Ramakrishna Mission.