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In temples and thousands of homes throughout India and the world one sees this photograph of Sri Ramakrishna. It is one of only a few ever taken of this great master.
This picture was taken in front of the Krishna temple at Dakshineswar in 1884, when Sri Ramakrishna was 48 years old. According to Swami Nirvanananda, “Bavanath Chatterjee, the Master’s devotee from Baranagore, wanted to take a photograph of the Master. One day he requested him very strongly to give his consent, and on the afternoon of the next day brought a photographer along with him from Baranagore. He could not make the Master agree. The Master just went away near the Radhakanta [Krishna] temple.
“In the meantime Narendra arrived on the scene and heard everything; he said, ‘Wait a bit. I shall put everything straight.’ Saying this, he went to the veranda to the west of the Radhakanta temple where Sri Ramakrishna was sitting and started a religious conversation with him. The Master went into samadhi. Swamiji went and called the others and ordered them to get ready quickly to take the picture.
“In the state of samadhi the Master’s body was bent on one side and therefore the cameraman went to make him sit erect by softly adjusting his chin. But as soon as he touched his chin the whole body of the Master came up like a piece of paper – so light it was!
“Swamiji then told him, ‘Oh, what are you doing? Be quick. Get the camera ready.’ The cameraman took the exposure as hurriedly as possible. The Master was completely unaware of this incident.
“After some days when Bavanath brought the printed copy of the photo the Master remarked: ‘This represents a high yogic state. This form will be worshipped in every home as time goes on.’” (“Concerning the Photographs of Sri Ramakrishna” by Swami Vidyatmananda; Vedanta and the West, No. 172).
Swami Vishuddhananda stated that when Sri Ramakrishna saw the photo he went into ecstasy and touched the photo to his head several times, saying: “The photo is nicely taken. This mood is very high – fully merged in Him. Here the Lord is fully depicted in his own nature.”
This information was researched by Swami Chetananda of the St. Louis Vedanta Society, author of numerous book about Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, and the disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.