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There have been numerous biographies on the 19th century mystic saint Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The biographies written by his direct disciples are stated below:

  • Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master by Swami Saradananda & Swami Jagadananda
  • Sri Ramakrishna: The Face of Silence by Swami Nikhilananda & Dhan Gopal Mukerji
  • The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta & Swami Nikhilananda

All the above books have been written by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's direct disciples and so these books are likely to give the most accurate account of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's life. This is why I would like to know whether any of the above books say that Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ate fish or meat. Most people say He ate fish. However, the following quote from His favourite disciple Swami Vivekananda seems to indicate that Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a vegetarian:

About vegetarian diet I have to say this — first, my Master was a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess, he used to hold it up to his head. The taking of life is undoubtedly sinful; but so long as vegetable food is not made suitable to the human system through progress in chemistry, there is no other alternative but meat-eating. So long as man shall have to live a Râjasika (active) life under circumstances like the present, there is no other way except through meat-eating. It is true that the Emperor Asoka saved the lives of millions of animals by the threat of the sword; but is not the slavery of a thousand years more dreadful than that? Taking the life of a few goats as against the inability to protect the honour of one's own wife and daughter, and to save the morsels for one's children from robbing hands — which of these is more sinful? Rather let those belonging to the upper ten, who do not earn their livelihood by manual labour, not take meat; but the forcing of vegetarianism upon those who have to earn their bread by labouring day and night is one of the causes of the loss of our national freedom. Japan is an example of what good and nourishing food can do. (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 4.486-7)

As a result, a doubt has come to my mind that perhaps Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a vegetarian. But I cannot confirm this without checking the biographies written by His direct disciples. I know many people will argue that Bengalis treat fish as vegetarian but the following quote, again from Swami Vivekananda seems to indicate that fish was seen Swami Vivekananda as non-vegetarian.

All liking for fish and meat disappears when pure Sattva is highly developed, and these are the signs of its manifestation in a soul: sacrifice of everything for others, perfect non-attachment to lust and wealth, want of pride and egotism. The desire for animal food goes when these things are seen in a man. And where such indications are absent, and yet you find men siding with the non­killing party, know it for a certainty that here there is either hypocrisy or a show of religion. (Complete works of Swami Vivekananda, 5.403)

So do any of those 3 biographies indicate Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ate meat or fish?

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    In Ramakrishna kathamrita it was stated clearly that he ate the meat/fish offered at vabatarini kali maa as a Prasad. If you wish I can attach the page but it is in Bengali. – Santanu Debnath Jul 24 '17 at 15:30
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    Actually it was written that, now Sri Ramakrishna unable take the meat/fish Prasad of kali Mata UNLIKE HIS YOUNGER AGE. Now he only take meat/fish between his two fingers and touches his hand to forehead as to show respect towards kali Mata. From this I think it is clear that he ate meat/fish at least as a Prasad. – Santanu Debnath Jul 24 '17 at 15:34
  • @SantanuDebnath Pls provide me the page. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Jul 24 '17 at 15:48
  • @SantanuDebnath Anyway I am a Bengali myself. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Jul 24 '17 at 15:50
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    That I can guess from your surname. Give me some time to go through again. Hopefully I can help you. – Santanu Debnath Jul 24 '17 at 16:04
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I don't have the book in English so have no other option than attach the image in Bengali. This is what you wanted. This is from "Astom porichad" of 1st part of kathamrita. In Bengali pdf, it is in page no. 92. Please have a look on kathamrita.

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Translation of the highlighted part:

[Sri Ramakrishna says to Balarama] In my present state of my mind I can eat a little fish soup if it has been offered to the Divine Mother beforehand. I can't eat any meat, even if it is offered to the Divine Mother; but I taste it with the end of my finger lest She should be angry. (Laughter.)

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    This is an English-language site, so you should translate the quote into English, for those of us who don't know Bengali. – Keshav Srinivasan Jul 26 '17 at 14:52
  • I am requesting @Rickross and Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury to please translate the highlighted lines as I may not translate properly. – Santanu Debnath Jul 26 '17 at 14:58
  • BTW what is kunkro? – Rickross Jul 26 '17 at 17:00
  • I also don't know. Probably crab. – Santanu Debnath Jul 27 '17 at 4:04
  • Just want to add a one note unrelated to this question. In kathamrita there is also written that, Swami Vivekananda ate foul curry (chicken curry) with his friends. – Santanu Debnath Jul 27 '17 at 4:21
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Gospel Of Sri Ramakrishna is English translation of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita by Mahendranath Gupta. The book describes conversations of Sri Ramakrishna with his disciples, devotees, and visitors, recorded by Mahendranāth Gupta, who wrote the book under the pseudonym of "M."

I will provide an answer from this book translated into English by Swami Nikhilananda.

Sri Ramakrishna says he can eat fish soup it was offered Goddess Kali beforehand and jokingly says he will taste sip of meat, to avoid wrath of Goddess, if it was offered to Kali beforehand.

This is what Swamiji says to his devotees Balaram and M (Mahendranath Gupta).

(Swamiji says to Balaram) "A certain person came here the other day. How impudent he was to say to you the other day, 'A paramahamsa came to my father, who fed him with chicken curry!'

"In my present of my mind I can eat a little fish soup if it has been offered to the Divine Mother beforehand. I can't eat any meat, even if it is offered to the Divine Mother; but I taste it with the end of my finger lest She should be angry. (Laughter.)

Swami Ramakrishna also says the same to other devotee Adhar.

ADHAR (to the Master): "Sir, I have a question to ask. Is it good to sacrifice animals before the Deity? It certainly involves killing."

MASTER: "The sastra prescribes sacrifice on special occasions. Such sacrifice is not harmful. Take, for instance, the sacrifice of a goat on the eighth day of the full or new moon.

"I am now in such a state of mind that I cannot watch a sacrifice. Also I cannot eat meat offered to the Divine Mother. Therefore I first touch my finger to it, then to my head, lest She should be angry with me.

"Again, in a certain state of mind I see God in all beings, even in an ant. At that time, if I see a living being die, I find consolation in the thought that it is the death of the body, the soul being beyond life and death.

"One should not reason too much; it is enough if one loves the Lotus Feet of the Mother. Too much reasoning throws the mind into confusion. You get clear water if you drink from the surface of a pool. Put your hand deeper and stir the water, and it becomes muddy. Therefore pray to God for devotion.

"Behind Dhruva's devotion there was desire. He practised austerities to gain his father's kingdom. But Prahlada's love for God was motiveless-a love that sought no return."

We can consider Swami Ramakrishna was following Scriptures which say one doesn't incur any sin if he/she eats meat offered to Goddess.

  • Do you have the other 2 books? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Jul 27 '17 at 4:17
  • @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury you can easily find them by googling. I'm not sure if i can post links here due to copyright problems. – The Destroyer Jul 27 '17 at 5:07

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